NHL Playoffs: Chicago Unravels, Colorado Soars, Columbus Makes History

St Louis Blues
Apr 19 2014 St Louis MO USA St Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman 5 is congratulated after scoring the game winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during overtime in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center The Blues defeated the Blackhawks 4 3 Scott Rovak USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues – STL Wins 4-3 in OT

For the second time in as many games, Chicago and St. Louis needed overtime to decide the outcome. Unlike the first game that St. Louis won in triple overtime, this one ended less than six minutes into the first overtime on a point shot by Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. That was only after Vladimir Tarasenko tied the game with seven seconds left in the third period. Of course, in some ways, the result of this game was secondary to what transpired towards the end of the third period.

With a little under five minutes left in the third period, Chicago’s Brent Seabrook laid a very hard check on St Louis’s David Backes, a hit that sent the captain to the ice seemingly unconscious, or extremely disoriented at best. For those that haven’t seen it, there’s a GIF here from @PeteBlackburn. That hit landed Backes in the dressing room for the rest of the game, along with Seabrook who earned a five-minute major and an ejection.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Seabrook will be earning a suspension for that hit but Backes may be out much longer than that suspension lasts. Either way, the Seabrook hit kind of typifies what has been going on with Chicago so far this series. It seems as though they are trying to play St. Louis hockey – the rough, tough type of hockey that can be likened to Boston – while forgetting that what makes them successful is their skill, not their shoulders or elbows. Heck, Duncan Keith was slashing every Blues player that came near him, and that is not his game. Chicago has given St. Louis thirteen power plays in two games (St. Louis has given Chicago 10). If Chicago wants to get back in this series, they have to play their brand of hockey, not someone else’s.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins – CBJ wins 4-3 in 2OT

Pittsburgh blew a 3-1 lead that they had after the first period to lose 4-3 in double overtime to Columbus, the first playoff win in the history of the Blue Jackets franchise. Matt Calvert was the hero of the day for Columbus as he put his own rebound over an out-stretched Marc-Andre Fleury, with four Pittsburgh Penguins players leaving him alone to do so in front.

Speaking of teams being undisciplined, Columbus gave Pittsburgh five power plays in the first half of the game. Amazingly, they ended up even on those five power plays, as Pittsburgh converted one and Columbus scored a short-handed goal. Even though the penalties didn’t directly affect the scoreboard, what it did was limit the amount of time that Columbus had to tie the game at even strength. The Pens then gave Columbus three power plays in the third period, the final one costing them their lead.

Pittsburgh really let off the gas in the second period when they had a 3-1 lead (what is known as score effects) and Columbus managed to pull within one with the short-handed goal. The Blue Jackets also hit a couple of posts in the period, so what was a 3-2 score could have easily been a 4-3 Columbus score going into the third. Those posts were forgotten as Jack Johnson tied the game with 6:01 left in the third period on a power play goal.

As the CBC broadcast of the game noted, Marc-Andre Fleury was his usual floppy self in net for this one, though at the end of the day, it’s not “how” it’s “how many”. On the game-winning goal, the Jackets were allowed to take three shots within about 5 feet of the crease, largely untouched by the Pittsburgh defense.

The Penguins should have a bit of fear put in them with this game, as they really eased up from the second period on, and frankly may have been a bit fortunate to even get to overtime. Full marks to Columbus on this one, they never slowed their attack once Pittsburgh sat back and that eventually led to the winner by Calvert.

Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche – COL wins 4-2

Off the heels of a dramatic comeback in Game 1, the Avalanche took Game 2 as well to take care of both games at home to start the series. The big headline out of this game was the play of Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny, and Nathan MacKinnon though.

The first goal saw MacKinnon streak through the neutral zone (and right past Mikko Koivu, mind you), go inside-outside on Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon and then put one through Ilya Bryzgalov. The second goal saw MacKinnon carry the puck with speed again through the neutral zone before dishing to Landeskog, who promptly went top shelf to make 2-1 Colorado. The third goal was a very pretty passing play as MacKinnon picked up a pass between his legs in full stride through the neutral zone, dropped it to Paul Stastny, who in turn went behind-the-back to Landeskog for his second of the night.

Colorado had a bit of a scare early in the third period as MacKinnon was hit into the boards behind the Minnesota net by Ryan Suter and fell awkwardly with his right leg bending under him. He skated gingerly to the bench but was right back out for his next shift and showed no ill effects the rest of the way.

Semyon Varlamov was sharp for the Avalanche, stopping 30 of 32 shots for the win. Bryzgalov was pulled after the third goal in favour of Darcy Kuemper, who stopped all 14 shots he faced in relief. The top line for Colorado was the story, though, as the trio of Landeskog/Stastny/MacKinnon combined for all four goals, while Stastny and MacKinnon had four points each.

For those who haven’t seen the quality of the first three goals from Colorado, again here are the GIFs, and again from Pete Blackburn.

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