Conference Semifinals – Day 2

Two more teams began second round action. And for the 10th time in the last 11 days, we see a game that went past 60 minutes.

Tampa Bay vs. Washington- In the more exciting matchups on the Eastern side of the ledger, the Lightning became the first team to win on the road in the second round with an upset over the top-seeded Capitals 4-2. Washington appears to have a difficult road ahead of them this series if they continue to play the way they did last night. After their collapse last season against Montreal, coach Bruce Boudreau changed their approach and playing style. He opted for more defensive-oriended hockey and they did everything but that last night. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher and his team stuck to their game plan and allowed the other team to make mistakes.

It didn’t take long for the scoring to get started as Sean Bergenheim scored his fourth of the postseason 2:12 into the contest when he poked a loose puck past goalie Michal Neuvirth. Less than two minutes later Washington got on the board when Alex Semin scored his fourth goal of the playoffs. Just like Tampa Bay in the first period, it was Washington who struck early in the second period when a wide open Eric Fehr took a pass from Jason Chimera behind the net and fired the puck past Dwayne Roloson.

However, that would be all the Capitals would do offensively as lightning struck twice late in the second period for Tampa Bay. The first goal came at 16:17 by Steve Downie. The game winning goal was the only goal scored via special teams when Steven Stamkos backhanded a rebound past Neuvirth with 30 seconds remaining in the second period. An empty net late in the game sealed it for Tampa Bay, who won their foruth consecutive game. Three of those four wins came on the road, which has been very friendly to teams in the playoffs as the road team has won more games than the home team this season. Neuvirth made 20 saves in the loss while Roloson stopped 26 shots.

Detroit vs. San Jose- The Red Wings were on the road to begin the second round. They had a nine-day break after finishing Phoenix and before heading to San Jose. Their lack of game action showed in the first period as they were getting beaten to loose pucks. Despite not scoring, the Sharks played like the better team after 40 minutes. The least likely player, goalie Jimmy Howard, was clearly the Red Wings’ best player.

The scoring got started midway through the first period when Nick Lidstrom scored his fist goal of the playoffs when he fired a slapshot through traffic and past goalie Antti Niemi. The second period did not feature any scoring but it was dominated by San Jose as they out shot Detroit 18-9 in the second period. Detroit was playing unlike themselves, as San Jose was bringing a physical, rough style of play. Detroit is usually more mentally tough, letting the after-whistle scrums not bother them. But it bothered them this time around, as seen when Jimmy Howard shoved Joe Pavelski into the net after Pavelski sprayed Howard with snow. Both players were penalized for roughing. Pavelski was also a key component in tying the game when he drew a boarding penalty from Todd Bertuzzi. During that power play, Jow Thornton fired a shot towards Howard from the point, Howard made the save and Pavelski knocked a puck that was waist-high into the net for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

The game would enter overtime, the fourth extra session game for the Sharks in seven games. They had a big opportunity to score when they had a four-minute power play thanks to Justin Abdelkader’s high sticking penalty. They failed to score, but did win the game 20 seconds after the penalty expired. The Red Wings failed to clear the puck out of their own zone to make a line chance when Benn Ferriero, playing in his first career NHL playoff game, scored the gane winning goal when his shot deflected off the shaft of defenseman Brad Stuart and through the legs of Howard. It was the fifth consecutive one-goal victory for the Sharks over the Red Wings in the playoffs, dating back to last season when San Jose won all four games by one goal. Game two is tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. EDT

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