Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and two points in Pittsburgh's 4-1 Game 1 win. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Why Pittsburgh won: The Pens might have been nervous after goalie Tomas Vokoun allowed a weak goal that tied the score early in the first. But they settled in after that, played a physical game (outhitting Ottawa 40-26 on the night) and made the most of their special teams (scoring on two of four power plays and killing off all five Senators man advantages) to set the tone in the series.
Why Ottawa lost: The Senators usually could count on Craig Anderson to bail out their mistakes, but their star goalie was only ordinary and his defense didn’t give him any support. It was only the third time all year that Anderson gave up four goals in a game and was a direct result of an entire Sens team that wasn’t in sync and didn’t look willing to pay the price to win.
Play of the game: The physical toll the Penguins exacted on the Senators all night long was best exemplified by Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik’s thundering, clean, open-ice check on Senators blueliner Eric Gryba. The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Gryba – infamous for his borderline check on Montreal’s Lars Eller in the first round – was rocked as he brought the puck in across the Pens blueline and he left the game with a suspected concussion. It was an indication Pittsburgh intends on making the Sens earn their ice far more than they did against the Canadiens.
1. Evgeni Malkin: The big Russian stepped up with a goal and two points, moving into a tie with Boston’s David Krejci for the playoff points lead. On a night Pittsburgh lost 31 of 57 faceoffs, Malkin won 8 of 13 draws. He’s as big a threat as anyone on the ice right now.
2. Tomas Vokoun: The Pens goalie fought the puck at times and was aided more than a bit by his teammates, but still stopped 35 of 36 Senators shots. Marc-Andre Fleury will continue riding the pine as long as Vokoun produces as he did in Game 1, even if it’s often not anywhere close to pretty.
3. Chris Kunitz: He played only 17 shifts, but Kunitz was a force in his 13:05 of ice time: he scored once and finished with two points, but just as importantly, he finished tied with Matt Cooke and Chris Neil with a game-high five hits. Kunitz was exactly the physical buzz-saw around the net the Senators didn’t have.
What's Next: Once again, the Penguins demonstrated they have more than enough talent with which to win even if Sidney Crosby isn’t his usual dominant self. The Senators, on the other hand, have a couple days to regroup before Game 2 is played Friday night. They need more discipline, fire in their bellies, and better showings from youngsters such as defenseman Jared Cowen and winger Cory Conacher – but if their special teams don’t improve, the rest is likely to be for naught. – Adam Proteau
Why the Kings won: Jonathan Quick has turned his game on to the special level that wins Conn Smythes and Stanley Cups. And that’s a scary thing for Los Angeles’ opponents. The Kings didn't play much better, if at all better, than the Sharks through two periods, but held a two-goal advantage. Los Angeles fell back in the third and couldn’t deal with San Jose’s speed well enough, which is where Quick came in to save the day. When your goalie solidifies wins like this, you win series.
Why the Sharks lost: They could not solve the riddle of Quick after falling behind by two, even though they piled on shots just as they did in Round 1. The Kings bring a size and presence the Canucks don’t have, so the Sharks can’t afford to fall behind – it’s unlikely they’ll win three come-from-behind games as they did against Vancouver. But they put up one heck of an effort in the third period, applying all kinds of pressure and not allowing the Kings offense a whiff.
Play of the game: Slava Voynov created both Kings goals, but the one he got credit for was on was a perfectly placed shot in the top-right corner. Voynov is an improved defenseman over last year’s run and is coming on as a key offensive contributor.
1. Jonathan Quick: These are the types of performances that won him the Conn Smythe last year. Quick made 16 of his 35 saves in the third period, holding off a late San Jose surge.
2. Slava Voynov: His 23:54 of ice time was the most on either side – even more than Drew Doughty. Voynov’s goal is highlighted above, but he also got an assist on his tipped shot from the blueline.
3. Mike Richards: A goal and an assist for the proven playoff performer who leads the Kings with seven points in seven games.
What’s next: San Jose had the worst road record among playoff teams, Los Angeles had the best home record and if this series is going to have a different outcome than Game 1, the Sharks are going to have to win at least once at Staples. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have five shots between them and didn’t generate enough opportunities, but the Sharks are about more than just their Big Two now. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, so good against Vancouver, had four shots between them. Los Angeles is a different beast to create successful offense against, but the Sharks have to figure it out fast. – Rory Boylen
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