Joe Thornton, Antti Niemi and the San Jose Sharks take a 2-0 series lead to Detroit. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The NHL Playoff Recap gives you our take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round and kept track of each day in our Playoff Game Day Preview. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there's the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn't get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
THN’s Take: The Sharks continued to hold the Red Wings in check (and home ice advantage) with solid puck control and a barrage of shots on Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard that eventually paid off with a soft goal early in the third period. Prior to that, San Jose had out-shot their opponents by a 12-7 margin in the first frame and by a whopping 19-9 in the second and led 1-0 after a first-period power play goal by defenseman Ian White. The Wings at times lacked in energy, could not convert on their first five man-advantage opportunities and grew more frustrated as the game went on. The Sharks, on the other hand, got timely saves from Antti Niemi – and even when the Wings scored with six minutes left in regulation, San Jose held the fort for the victory.
1. Antti Niemi – Stopped 33 of 34 shots, including 12 of 13 in the third period and now has allowed just two goals on 59 shots for a .966 save percentage in the second round.
2. Pavel Datsyuk – Led all Wings in shifts (31) and led all players from both teams in time on ice (24:11), while setting up Detroit’s only goal. He can’t do it all, though.
3. Ian White – Scored his first career goal of the playoffs (and sixth point) and blocked a team-high four shots in 22:16 of ice time. Not bad for a guy on his third team of the season.
The Black Hole
Tomas Holmstrom - One of the key members of Detroit’s Stanley Cup winning teams was not his usual self in Game 2. Rather than parking himself in front of the Sharks net and causing enough chaos to result in a Wings goal, Holmstrom took not one, but two penalties in the offensive zone and gave the Sharks more puck control opportunities than they were creating for themselves in the first place.
THN’s Take: Suffocating defense and Lightning-strike opportunism have been the difference in this series and are the biggest reasons why Tampa Bay goes home two wins away from an appearance in the Eastern Conference final. The Washington Capitals, on the other hand, are playing right into the Lightning’s hands by playing an enormously passive game. If the Capitals don’t start being more aggressive in their offensive approach and making life more difficult for the Tampa defensemen and goalie Dwayne Roloson, they’re destined for another playoff failure of biblical proportions. While the Capitals are now all about defense and the triumph of the collective, this is getting ridiculous. Washington’s top three offensive players – Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom – have two goals and one assist in the series, compared to 4-3-7 totals for Tampa’s grand trio of Martin St-Louis, Steven Stamkos and Lecavalier.
1. Vinny Lecavalier – The big fellow is making up for a couple of rather lean offensive seasons with a monster playoff. He bookended the scoring in Game 2 and made a very patient and nifty play in tight on the overtime-winner.
2. Martin St-Louis – Coming up big in big games is nothing new to St-Louis, who was a force in Game 2. Battling for loose pucks, hustling in all three zones and a goal and an assist made him a difference maker.
3. Dwayne Roloson – The Lightning gave up 37 shots, including 27 in the first two periods. The 41-year-old wonder gave up just one goal in the first two periods and kept the Lightning in the game.
The Black Hole
Mike Green – The Capitals defenseman has struggled in past playoffs and this spring is no exception, although we suspect injury is a factor. St-Louis’ goal going in off Green’s foot was bad luck, but his terrible read on the 2-on-1 in overtime was a bad play.
POLL: Who was your first star of the game?
The NHL Game Night Recap will get you caught up with all the playoff action. THN will name our Three Stars for each game and tabulate the results after each series. First Star = three points, Second Star = two points, Third Star = one point.