A few thoughts as we get ready for the second weekend of the playoffs.
Duck Soup? --
The Anaheim Ducks
' reign as Stanley Cup champs may last only a few more hours unless they find a way to solve Dallas goaltender Marty Turco
Thursday night, Anaheim out-shot the Stars for the first time in the series, but Turco was up to the task with 27 saves in a 3-1 victory at American Airlines Center that gave Dallas a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
"Dallas is outplaying us," Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere
said. "We just haven't played at the level we need to be successful."
They'd better find that level quickly -- Game 5 is tonight at Honda Center, and a loss will send last year's champs home for an unwanted early vacation. Dallas has already won Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim.
"We understand the situation," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle
said. "We've got to give ourselves a chance."
Turco stopped only 11 of 15 shots in a 4-2 loss in Game 3, but was sharp in Game 4, Only a goal by Mathieu Schneider
with 7.6 seconds remaining in the game spoiled his shutout.
"Tonight I felt really good," Turco said. "I had an opportunity to see all the shots that came my way. There were some anxious, scrambly moments in the second period. But the guys were doing all they could to help me."
A win in any of the next three games would give the Stars their first playoff series win since 2003 — a long time for one of the NHL's most successful franchises.
At last --
The Boston Bruins
proved Montreal rookie goalie Carey Price
is still human after all.
Price had played with skill and poise far beyond his 20 years while leading the Canadiens to three wins in their first four playoff games against Boston.
But it was Price's mistake that opened the door for Boston's four-goal third period in a 5-1 win Thursday night that pushed this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to a sixth game.
With the score tied 1-1, Price gloved a puck at the side of his net and dropped it in front of him. But Boston's Petteri Nokelainen
got his stick on it before Montreal's Maxim Lapierre
could, and Glen Metropolit
batted the puck into an open net 3:31 into the third to put the Bruins up 2-1.
It's a good feeling, we knew what we were facing tonight, and that's how we approached it. We played really desperate hockey. We gave up the first goal, but we never gave up. - Zdeno Chara
Goals by Zdeno Chara
, Marco Sturm
and Vladimir Sobotka
put the game away and sent the series back to Boston for Saturday night's Game 6.
"It's a good feeling, we knew what we were facing tonight, and that's how we approached it," Chara said. "We played really desperate hockey. We gave up the first goal, but we never gave up."
Just don't expect Price to dwell on his boo-boo when he skates out onto the ice Saturday night.
"I won't think about it again after I leave this dressing room," he said.
Savoring the moment --
After 11 NHL seasons, Philadelphia's Mike Knuble
finally owns a playoff overtime goal.
Knuble poked in his second goal of the series 6:40 into the second OT to give Philadelphia a 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals
on Thursday night and a 3-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to score in this town and hear the building go nuts," Knuble said after lifting his own rebound over a helpless Cristobal Huet
. "You pinch yourself. You can't believe it's happening."
Knuble was mobbed by his teammates while the sellout crowd howled in celebration.
"It popped right to my forehand, and I was able to chip it up," Knuble said.
Knuble has 188 regular-season goals and five playoff tallies. There's no question which one he remembers most.
"It was by far my biggest one," Knuble said.
At least for now.
Everything but goals --
Two nights after an awful performance in a 5-1 loss to Colorado, the Minnesota Wild
did almost everything a coach could ask for -- skate, hit, control the play and put puck after puck on the net.
The only thing they didn't do was score -- and for that, they can blame Avs goaltender Jose Theodore
, who stopped 38 of 40 shots as the outplayed Avalanche nevertheless beat the Wild 3-2 to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
"We kept going and playing hard and getting chances through the whole game because we felt we would get it," coach Jacques Lemaire
said. "But we had no breaks. Nothing. Rebounds, we were close, but never got the puck on the stick, and the great chances we had, he made some saves."
Theodore denied all kinds of shots —
whether it was making a toe save on still-scoreless Marian Gaborik
's wrist shot from just outside the crease, or squeezing his glove around another sizzling slapper by Brian Rolston
"He was the only reason we were in the game. Great's not even the word to describe it. Being tied (1-1) going into the third was almost like winning going into the third," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville
The Avs went from virtual victory to an actual one when Wojtek Wolski
and Paul Stastny
scored 79 seconds apart in the third period. Rolston scored with 2.5 seconds left, but it was too little, too late.
"He made quite a few saves, obviously," said Rolston, who had eight of the Wild's 40 shots. "We out-shot them pretty good. … But he played well. He played very well. This is the playoffs, and sometimes it takes a little bit more to score in the playoffs."
Marleau mania --
San Jose captain Patrick Marleau
has heard all the questions -- about his play, about his leadership, about his big-game ability. He's answering them with his play in the Sharks' first-round series against Calgary.
Marleau took a lot of heat last spring when he went pointless and was minus-5 in the Sharks' second-round loss to Detroit. He followed that with a mostly disappointing regular season and ended up with just 19 goals, his lowest total in eight years.
Patty was doing everything: forechecking, backchecking, winning faceoffs. He scored a great goal that gave us a chance to breathe a bit going into the third period. ... Patty's leading by example. You can't ask for anything more. - San Jose head coach, Ron Wilson
But in the playoffs, Marleau has been at the top of his game. He continued to excel with a goal and an assist in Thursday's 4-3 win against the Flames that gave the Sharks a 3-2 series lead.
"Patty was doing everything: forechecking, backchecking, winning faceoffs," coach Ron Wilson said. "He scored a great goal that gave us a chance to breathe a bit going into the third period. ... Patty's leading by example. You can't ask for anything more."
Marleau has also answered any doubts about his toughness by bouncing back from a crushing hit by Cory Sarich
in Game 3.
"There were a lot of questions whether he could come back after the hit," teammate Joe Pavelski
said. "But he stood up right after and wanted to get right back on the ice. That's our leader. He knew we need Patty at his best and he's been at his best. He's scoring big goals, setting up big goals."
You can e-mail John Kreiser at email@example.com.