Penguins edge pesky Islanders, Blackhawks fall to determined Wild, Justin Abdelkader suspended, plus updates on the Bruins, Rangers, Capitals, Kings and Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recaps and analysis of last night’s Senators-Canadiens and Sharks-Canucks games can be found in “Canadian Corner”.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/NEWSDAY: Chris Kunitz scored in overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins nipped the NY Islanders 5-4 to take a 2-1 series lead. The Islanders had rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the third period to force overtime, but penalties incurred from trying to defend against Penguins captain Sidney Crosby set the stage for Kunitz’s goal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins didn’t win the game as much as survive it. While they rallied from an early 2-0 deficit themselves, they’re having trouble defending against the Islanders speed. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has also drawn criticism for his performance in the past two games. The result is a series proving far more entertaining than expected, which could also go on longer than most observers (myself included) predicted.
STARTRIBUNE.COM/CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Minnesota Wild avoided falling into a 3-0 series deficit against the Chicago Blackhawks, as Jason Zucker scored in overtime to give the Wild a 3-2 victory. The Blackhawks simply couldn’t match the Wild’s “do-or-die” mentality in this game, and there’s concern over the lack of production from the ‘Hawks top line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad. The ‘Hawks still lead the series two games to one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks seemed poised to blow this series open following their 5-2 win in Game Two, but the Wild played desperate hockey, buoyed by their hometown fans. I still expect the Blackhawks to win this series, but in two of the three games, the Wild have proven they won’t be an easy out.
NHL.COM: The NHL has suspended Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader two games for his hight hit on Anaheim Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman.
BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins travel to Toronto for Games Three and Four of their series against the Maple Leafs with their last road win coming on March 31.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were 3-8-1 in their last 12 road games, so they’ll have to be better if they hope to sweep the next two games and return home with a chance to clinch the series.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers coach John Tortorella will be forced to shake up his roster for Game Three against the Washington Capitals in hopes of reigniting his struggling offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He has no choice. The Rangers have managed only one goal in the opening two games of this series. If they don’t start finding the back of the Capitals net more often, this series won’t go beyond Game Four.
WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals hope to have learned from their recent dubious history when they’ve held 2-0 leads in previous playoff series.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings coach Darryl Sutter isn’t interested in statistics regarding his team’s faceoff percentages and shots on goal in their series against the St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not gonna sit well with stats wonks!
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have hinted rookie forward Vladimir Tarasenko, a healthy scratch in their opening three games of their series against the Kings, may return to the lineup tonight for Game Four.