Just over two weeks into the playoffs, and round one is all squared away. Last night featured a couple of really entertaining game seven matchups, including another overtime winner.
Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh – Without Sidney Crosby, things seemed shaky for the Penguins heading into the playoffs. Despite not having their two stars (Crosby, Malkin), the Penguins fought their way to a 3-1 series lead, before allowing the young Lightning to battle back and even the series.
Game 7 was all about goaltending. Marc-Andre Fluery vs. Dwayne Roloson. Through the first period, neither keeper had an advtange as both teams remained scoreless. It wasn’t until early in the second when Tampa Bay broke the tie. The goal came on a play that was nearly identical to one in game six. As Dominic Moore skated behind the net, he dropped a pass back to the short side where Sean Bergenheim easily beat Fluery, who was confused on the play and going to cover the far post.
The play is actually so eerily similar that it featured the same goal scorer (Bergenheim), the same primary assist (Moore), as well as the same secondary assist (Steve Downie). To take it even further, the goal occurred at 5:44 of the second period of game six, and 5:41 of the second in game seven.
That was all the Lightning would need offensively in game seven. Dwayne Roloson stood on his head throughout the rest of the game, making 36 saves in the shutout. He definitely took control late making big saves after Nate Thompson took a slashing penalty at 18:27 of the third period. Now Roloson will look to take that stellar play to Washington where he will be forced to shut down some of the leagues best snipers in Ovechkin and Semin.
Boston vs. Montreal – Things were looking good for the Bruins on home ice as Johnny Boychuk got the team off to a quick start. It was only 3:31 into the first as he blasted a slapshot from the point to beat Carey Price. Just two minutes later, it was veteran leader Mark Recchi with a beautiful snipe from the slot that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead. At 9:49, Yannick Weber found the top shelf with a nice power-play goal to put the Canadians on the board. Early in the second, Tomas Plekanec would steal the puck, while shorthanded, and beat Tim Thomas on a breakaway to tie things up at two.
In the third, Chris Kelly came up huge for the Bruins and gave them a 3-2 lead as he smacked home a rebound. For a while, it was looking like the Kelly goal would be all they needed. But late in the third, Patrice Bergeron took a real bad high-sticking penalty, giving the Canadians a man advantage heading down the stretch. It wouldn’t take long before P.K. Subban tied things up at three with an absolute bullet from the point.
Things were busy in the extra period, with both squads exchanging shots and quality chances. No shot was more important, however, than the Nathan Horton blast at 5:43. His shot beat Carey Price and sends the Bruins to the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers lack a quality goaltender at this point, and with Thomas playing strong for the Bruins, things could be looking up for Boston.