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NHL Playoff Game Day 20: Bruins-Rangers; Penguins-Senators

Boston won Game 2 by a 5-2 count to take a 2-0 series lead as it turns to New York. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Boston won Game 2 by a 5-2 count to take a 2-0 series lead as it turns to New York. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

GAME 2: BOSTON 5, NY RANGERS 2 – BRUINS LEAD 2-0

Why Boston won: New York has had trouble generating offense in the playoffs – especially on the power play and Boston has the depth and talent to trump them in that category too. The Bruins may not have scored on their only power play, but they took advantage of a few Rangers defense hiccups and a rare bad game from Dan Girardi to take a 2-0 series lead.

Why New York lost: Their atrocious power play was again shut out, going 0-for-5, and while they continued to struggled on offense, their defense also left a lot to be desired in Game 2. Even at the end of the game, when all was lost, the Rangers had a chance to create some momentum on their last man advantage to carry into Game 3, but even at that juncture they gave up a shorthanded breakaway.  

Play of the Game: The dagger goal was scored off a rush by Milan Lucic – who is beginning to impose himself on Round 2 – and shows the kind of sprawling defense New York was guilty of at times. The trailer didn’t keep up with the guy in front and Dan Girardi probably bailed on the play a little too soon.

 



Three Stars
1. Patrice Bergeron: There was no one Bruin who stood out above all others, but Bergeron’s 17:43 of ice, 57 percent success rate at the dot and two assists showcased is persuasive two-way game.

2. Torey Krug: The undrafted defenseman had a great second career game with 12: 56 of ice, a goal and an assist. He now has three points in two games.

3. Tuukka Rask: Turned aside 35 of 37 shots – some of which were goal-robbers – and kept playing with the consistency the Bruins need from the No. 1.

What’s Next: If the Rangers don’t figure out how to a) get their power play in action or b) score more than two goals a game, they won’t be long for this series. It’s a shame Henrik Lundqvist’s all-world play is being lost behind such shoddy production from what should be a more than capable lineup. The Bruins seem to be waking up more with each passing game and are becoming more dangerous as this series moves along.

GAME 3: OTTAWA 2, PITTSBURGH 1 (2OT) – PENGUINS LEAD 2-1

Why Ottawa won: Because their best player – goalie Craig Anderson – was the best player on the ice. Anderson, wasn’t at his best in Games 1 and 2 (getting the hook in the latter), but he stopped 49 of 50 Penguins shots and often bailed out his often-sloppy teammates, who had 20 giveaways (compared to just seven for Pittsburgh) in front of him. The Sens kept the Pens scoreless through nearly two periods – and although Tyler Kennedy put the visitors in Ottawa on the scoresheet first with a goal scored at 18:53 of the second, they showed their now-well-established resolve as a team by getting the tying marker (shorthanded, even) from Daniel Alfredsson with 29 seconds remaining in regulation, then won the game at 7:39 of the second overtime on a backhand shot from Colin Greening. But they wouldn’t have got there without Anderson.

Why Pittsburgh lost: Because their best players – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – could not solve Anderson. To be fair, it wasn’t only their two star forwards who failed to generate any offense; a deep supporting cast couldn’t do anything, even when the Senators gave them six power plays. Maybe it was because the Sens pounded them with physicality (outhitting the Pens 47-36), but regardless of the reason, the fact is that goaltending has been an issue for Pittsburgh throughout this post-season, but on a night when veteran Tomas Vokoun gave them about as good a performance in net as he’s capable of, they couldn’t support him with sufficient offense.

Play of the game: The game was very close to ending 1-0 in favor of the Pens when Milan Michalek’s astonishing pass to Alfredsson was converted into a goal to send the game to overtime. It was Michalek’s first big contribution of the series and it came when they needed it most.



Three stars

1. Craig Anderson: In the wake of his sub-par Game 2 play, there was some debate whether Anderson deserved to start Game 3. He answered those questions with a resounding “yes,” gaining confidence as the game went on and holding the Pens off the board for the final 48:46. There is no goalie controversy heading into Game 5.


2. Tomas Vokoun: It was a shame to see Vokoun not rewarded with a victory as he turned aside all but two of Ottawa’s 47 shots. His rebound control was better and deserves the next start.

3. Erik Karlsson: Another star Senator who needed to improve and did was Karlsson, who played a game-high 39:48 and posted five shots, three blocked shots and a pair of hits. He wasn’t perfect – he was on the ice for Pittsburgh’s only goal – but Karlsson was much better than he had been in the first two games of the series.

What's Next: Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday and if there’s one thing we know, it’s that there’s no telling whether it will be a poorly-goaltended shootout (as we saw in Game 2) or a tightly-contested defensive affair as we saw Sunday night. The Penguins can’t ask for much more from their back end, putting the onus on the forwards to get more traffic in front of Anderson. And the Senators need to continue cutting down on penalties, because the Penguins mighty power play won’t stay dormant for very long.  – Adam Proteau

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