A few thoughts while we welcome back Sergei Zubov:
Two more road games to start a best-of-seven series, two more wins for the Dallas Stars
After winning Games 1 and 2 of their first-round series in Anaheim, the Stars pulled off the remarkable feat again in the Western Conference semifinals, as their 4-2 win Sunday night in San Jose gave them a 2-0 series lead over the Sharks. The series now heads to Dallas, with Game 3 slated for Tuesday night.
So, what’s the Stars’ secret?
“We've had amazing third periods so far in the playoffs,” said veteran forward Mike Modano
, who broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal 3:39 into the third on Sunday night. “It was a big trip for us. Now it's up to us to respond to this at home. We know this is far from over, but at the same time, we had a great two days here. Every shift, every night, we've looked hungry.”
The Sharks are probably starving for something positive, so here you go, San Jose: Ron Wilson’s club won three of its last four meetings in Dallas during the regular season.
“We've played very well in Dallas all season long,” Wilson said. “We can just relax now and push the pace, and play as a desperate hockey team. You just have to keep playing on. You can't worry about your missed opportunities.”
Quick question, Mr. Wilson … how can you relax AND play desperate hockey at the same time? Sounds as dangerous as driving with your eyes closed.
Marc-Andre The Giant
|Rangers' forward Scott Gomez can't get a shot off in front of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during the third period of game 2 yesterday afternoon.
-- Every hockey prognosticator from here to Moscow probably gave the edge in goaltending to the New York Rangers
in this Eastern Conference semifinal with the Pittsburgh Penguins
Sure, Henrik Lundqvist
is a Vezina Trophy finalist and looked awfully sharp on Sunday. But Marc-Andre Fleury
showed that he, too, is pretty darn good.
Fleury stopped 26 shots in Game 2 at Mellon Arena and picked up his second shutout of the postseason in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win over the Blueshirts. The Pens take their 2-0 series lead to Broadway Tuesday night, when the series shifts to Madison Square Garden.
Sunday provided Fleury an opportunity to respond after struggling a bit in Friday night’s 5-4 win. The No. 1 overall pick from the 2003 Draft allowed four goals on just 24 shots, as the Pens had to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win Game 1.
“It feels good. As a goalie, it never feels good to give up four goals,” Fleury said. “I was happy to come back and have a pretty good game. I was pretty confident. I think all game the guys did a great job.”
The Penguins certainly did a great job on the penalty kill. Pittsburgh killed off six New York power plays on Sunday, dropping the Rangers to 1-for-9 with the man advantage in this series. After their latest loss, Blueshirts coach Tom Renney said his team needs to create more havoc in front of Pittsburgh’s net in order to beat Fleury, who is now 6-0 in this tournament.
“We need a little more traffic (in front against Fleury),” Renney said. “I’m not going to suggest it was really easy for him, but it certainly could have been tougher. The big thing for us is to create some momentum of our own at MSG and really take this series back.”
“We have to feed off the energy in the building and being at home. We did what we had to do in Montreal, and now we have to take care of business here.” - Flyers goalie Martin Biron
Taking The Positives
-- Yes, the Montreal Canadiens
came out on the short end of the stick with Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers
in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal at the Bell Centre.
And while the scoreboard is really the only statistic that matters, the Habs know they have a legitimate shot to regain their lead in this series if they play as well in tonight’s Game 3 as they did on Saturday.
Truth be told, Martin Biron
did everything but balance his teammates’ checkbooks in Game 2. He is unquestionably the main reason why this series is 1-1 heading to the Wachovia Center.
"We did a lot of the right things to get opportunities around the net, but it's the playoffs and we have to start putting them in," said Montreal forward Christopher Higgins
, who added to the frustration when he struck a post with in the third period despite having the entire net to shoot at. "It doesn't really matter how many chances we get. The only thing people will remember is who won the series."
As for Biron, who has been tremendous in his first postseason, the Flyers’ netminder is eager to feed off what will surely be a raucous crowd in the City of Brotherly Love.
“Hearing people talking about the game (Saturday) night and what it’s going to be like with our fans and the atmosphere in the building … I think we fed off of that in the first series against Washington and that’s what we have to keep doing,” Biron said. “We have to feed off the energy in the building and being at home. We did what we had to do in Montreal, and now we have to take care of business here.”
Contact Brian Compton at: firstname.lastname@example.org.