In the first two games of the Western Conference Final between his Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks, superstar right winger Patrick Kane did not have a point. If you know him, that’s kind of unlike him. So he was probably due for a spectacular goal or setup of one – and sure enough, in Game 3 Thursday, Kane added to his already-impressive playoff scoring total with a no-look, backhanded goal most of us couldn’t perform on a video game.
The host Hawks were trailing Anaheim 1-0 late in the first period at United Center when Kane picked up the puck between the faceoff dots and directly in front of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen; in one fluid motion, he took the puck on his backhand, and, without glancing toward the net, perfectly fired it between Andersen’s right arm and hip for his eighth goal of this post-season: Read more
Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos doesn’t care whether he’s in the spotlight, but there was something odd about seeing Tyler Johnson excel thus far in the NHL playoffs while Stamkos struggled (at least, by his standards). But Wednesday in Game 3 of the Bolts’ Eastern Conference Final series against the Rangers, the Lighting captain was a threat to score – and to run the opposition over with a robust physical game that included a massive hit on Blueshirts winger Kevin Hayes.
Just two minutes into the first period, Stamkos leveled Hayes, who was carrying the puck behind the Rangers’ net with his head down: Read more
One of the great things about the Stanley Cup playoffs is that when it comes to overtime — and especially double-, triple- or even quadruple-overtime — it’s rarely the player you would expect to get the game-winner that eventually ends the game. Case in point: Chicago’s Marcus Kruger can now add triple-overtime hero to his resume.
In the role Kruger plays on the Blackhawks, he’s not exactly what one would call a sniper or a star. He’s a bottom-six center — one of the best in the league, at that — with some nice offensive tools that doesn’t find the back of the net very often. Granted, he’s usually playing out of his own zone which makes it tougher to score, but that he scored seven goals in 81 games doesn’t put visions of him scoring an overtime-winner into one’s head.
That’s why it was surprising when, of all people, Kruger found himself alone at the side of the Anaheim Ducks goal in triple overtime and evened the Western Conference final at one game apiece:
The Chicago Blackhawks played nearly two full games of hockey Tuesday, and by the time Game(s) 2 ended – four hours and 53 minutes after it began in Anaheim – they dodged a number of bullets and beat the Ducks to pull even in their Western Conference Final series.
The Hawks were outplayed by the Ducks for long stretches at Honda Center and Anaheim was the better possession team on the night. Chicago did storm out of the gate with a 2-0 lead on goals from Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa, but Anaheim cut Chicago’s lead in half before the first intermission and dominated the visiting team in the second period, outshooting the Hawks 19-7 and tying the game on Corey Perry’s eighth of the playoffs.
From then on, it was a goaltending duel for the ages, with both Corey Crawford and Frederik Andersen coming up with a number of huge saves to keep their team alive. The game nearly ended in the second overtime period when Andrew Shaw head-butted – that’s correct, head-butted – the puck past Andersen: Read more
Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw had scored just one time in 11 playoff games this year before Tuesday’s action, but he came through early in Game 2 of Chicago’s Western Conference Final series against Anaheim with a slick deflection on a Duncan Keith shot that gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Shaw, who had 15 goals and 26 points in 79 regular-season games for Chicago this season, positioned himself in front of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and redirected a blast by Keith to give the Blackhawks a power-play goal just 2:14 into the first period: Read more
With eight goals in 14 games, Lightning center Tyler Johnson led all playoff scorers through two rounds. And he continued the hot streak Monday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final by scoring the first goal of the night – and then Tampa’s second of the game – to give the Bolts a 2-1 lead on the New York Rangers after 20 minutes of play.
Johnson’s ninth of the post-season was a shorthanded goal 5:38 into the opening frame after a turnover from former Lightning star Martin St-Louis: Read more
The Anaheim Ducks’ Game 1 game-winning goal didn’t come off the stick of Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf, but rather Kyle Palmieri. Thanks to the NHL, you can hear the Ducks — and Nate Thompson who got the primary assist — go wild during the on-ice celebration of Palmieri’s tally.
Thompson, who also notched the third goal of the game for the Ducks, was the most vocal of the celebrators as the Ducks crowded around a downed Palmieri. Check it out:
One of the big matchups in the Western Conference final is going to be Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen against the collective firepower of the Chicago Blackhawks, and in Game 1 of the series Andersen stole the show early.
Following an Anaheim turnover inside their own blueline, Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane jumped all over the loose puck and had a clear path to the net. Kane, the ever-patient sniper, waited out Andersen until it looked as if he had the netminder entirely out of position and a wide open net to shoot at. That’s when Andersen reached out his paddle and denied Kane with what could stand as the save of the series for the entire round: