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|Kings, Preds win; Flyers overcome three-goal deficit in OT win|
|Written by Blake Benzel|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 00:00|
Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Scores| Philadelphia 4, Pittsburgh 3 OT (Flyers lead series 1-0)
| Nashville 3, Detroit 2 (Predators lead series 1-0)
| Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 2
Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 2The saying goes that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The Kings were a bit of both on Wednesday night.
Dustin Penner used some of that luck to attack the net like he’s known for attacking a plate of pancakes, putting home the tie-breaking goal with 3:14 remaining in the third period to give the Kings a 3-2 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
A Mike Richards pass deflected off of the skate of Jeff Carter, who had spent all of last week in a walking boot due to a bone bruise on his ankle, and right onto Penner’s stick, who buried he puck in the empty net.
“I was more surprised it went in,” Penner, who scored just seven goals all season long, joked with reporters after the game.
If it was a lucky bounce, however, it was one that the Kings greatly deserved after outplaying the Canucks for the majority of the game thanks, in large part, to an undisciplined game by Vancouver.
Los Angeles had a staggering eight power plays and fired 12 of their 39 shots on net during those man advantages and, even though they only converted two of them, were able to generate a great deal of momentum from their power play unit.
“Obviously we spent a lot of energy trying to kill those penalties, but they were the better team tonight,” Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters following the game.
One of those eight penalties might find Byron Bitz facing supplemental discipline from the league.
Bitz was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Kyle Clifford with 7:48 remaining in the second period, giving the Kings a five-minute power play that they would convert.
Clifford went back to the Kings’ dressing room after the hit, which saw Bitz run Clifford face-first into the boards from behind. He was back on the bench quickly after heading to the dressing room, but didn’t play another shift in the game. Kings head coach Darryl Sutter didn’t offer an update on Clifford’s status after the game either.
The Canucks weren’t entirely punchless during the game, however. In the third period, the Canucks had a strong power play in the Kings zone that they just couldn’t convert, thanks to some fantastic goaltending by Jonathan Quick.
The Kings turned them away, however, and got some puck luck down at the other end to get the win shortly after the Vancouver power play expired, showing that sometime you’ve got to make your own luck.
Game 2: at Vancouver, 10 p.m. ET Friday (CBC, NBCSN, RDS, KCOP-13)
Philadelphia 4, Pittsburgh 3 OTThe Philadelphia Flyers have a strategy this season that is tried and true, and it’s also one that they and their fans would most certainly like to see them deviate from.
Once again, the Flyers fell behind early in the game – allowing Pittsburgh to score three unanswered goals in the first period – before scoring three goals in the final 33 minutes of regulation to force overtime and allow Jakub Voracek to score the game-winner 2:23 into the extra frame.
“We’ve done this all year and that’s what we’ve got going our way after the first period,” Flyers forward Daniel Briere, who scored twice in Philly’s comeback win, told reporters after the game.
Whatever the reason, the Flyers have had difficulty getting early leads on the Pens of late, falling behind 2-0 to Pittsburgh twice in the last month of the season before falling behind 3-0 on Wednesday.
“We have to find a way to rectify that because it’s not going to happen every night, especially in the playoffs,” Briere continued. “We got away with it tonight. We’re not going to come back from two or three goals every single game. We’ll take it, but let’s be better.”
The Flyers’ downfalls in the first period of play should be easy enough for them to pinpoint, however, as they sat back and allowed the Pens to attack them in the first, allowing Sidney Crosby, Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis to give Pittsburgh the advantage. The second period, however, the Flyers began pushing back and outshot the Penguins 20-15 over the last two periods and overtime, including 11-5 in the third period.
It wouldn’t be a “Battle of Pennsylvania” without some controversy, of course.
The Flyers started to come back after Briere scored a goal that probably shouldn’t have counted for the Flyers’ first goal, 6:22 into the second period.
Briere got on a semi-breakaway and rifled the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury, but the replays showed that Briere was in the offensive zone offside, but the whistle didn’t blow and the goal counted.
“It was clearly offside, but what are you going to do?” Penguins forward Craig Adams told reporters. “It’s frustrating now. At the time you say, ‘It’s 3-1, let’s not get too worked up about it and make sure it’s not a difference-maker in the game.’ But it ended up being a difference-maker.”
Briere’s offside goal, however, didn’t decide the contest. What decided the game was the Flyers’ unrelenting attack in the third period, which ended up pulling Philadelphia back into it.
“We know what makes us successful and we know what we need to do to play a game we are happy with,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette told reporters. “We weren’t happy with the first 20 minutes. We started skating better in the second and we were skating at our best in the third. When you’re skating good things happen.”
And the Flyers’ win on Wednesday is certainly proof of that.
Game 2: at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. ET Friday (TSN, NBCSN, RDS, CSN-PH, ROOT)
Nashville 3, Detroit 2The Predators brought Alexander Radulov back into the fray to be a game breaker for the team heading into the playoffs, but he was kept off the board on Wednesday.
Instead, Gabriel Bourque showed that he has some game-breaking potential as the 21-year-old scored twice in his NHL playoff debut to help the Predators past their Central Division rival Detroit Red Wings to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
“At first I was pretty nervous,” Bourque said. “You see a lot of noise and all that stuff. It was pretty cool. But after a couple of shifts, you feel better on the ice.”
He certainly felt better, putting the Preds up 2-1 late in the second period before scoring the eventual game-winner with 8:25 remaining in the third period of a game that was called unusually close, especially considering that Detroit and Nashville were the two least-penalized teams in the NHL.
The frustration level was evident by both teams, even causing Mike Babcock to question the officiating during a bench interview with Brian Engblom.
The frustration also boiled over at the end of the game, with Nashville defenseman Shea Weber grabbing the head of Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg and slamming it into the glass – an action that Weber could see supplementary discipline for on Thursday.
When Weber was asked by reporters about the chance of supplementary discipline, he responded, “I don’t know. He hit me from behind, so we’ll see. I don’t know.”
UPDATE: The NHL has fined Weber $2,500 for the play in question.
The incident put a black mark on what, otherwise, was a tremendous hockey game, with both goaltenders playing spectacularly and Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne robbing the Red Wings on a couple sequences in the third period and, ultimately, saving the game for the Predators with what he called a “desperation” save.
“You just always need luck, too, when you make that kind of save,” Rinne told reporters. “I knew half the net was open. I just needed to dive there and use my soccer goalie skills.”
Despite the closely officiated game on Wednesday, there’s no doubt that the shenanigans that were a product of Detroit’s late-game push will certainly make for an intense game when the two teams meet again on Friday.
Game 2: at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. ET Friday (CBC, CNBC, RDS2, FS-D, SPSO)
Photos by Getty Images
|Last Updated on Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:11|