Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues
When the NHL added video review and the coaches challenge for goals scored and offsides, some coaches liked it, some coaches did not, and some coaches were skeptical. As the season progressed, some voiced displeasure with it and were concerned that reviews would affect playoff games.
Friday night’s game in St. Louis between the Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks saw two reviews that, although, the results of the reviews were correct, did indeed affect the outcome of the game.
The first came with the game tied at 1-1 with 7:54 remaining in the third period.
St. Louis thought it had taken a 2-1 lead on a goal by Vladimir Tarasenko, however, the play was ruled offside resulting in the goal being called back.
The second review took place with the clubs still tied at 1-1.
With 4:19 remaining in the third period, Chicago’s Andrew Shaw skated into the St. Louis crease and put a wrist shot behind Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. The play was reviewed for goaltender interference and judged to be a good goal and the Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead.
After the game, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his team needs to move on from the reviews and play harder.
“You’re not going to get the officiating you want,” Hitchcock said. “It’s always going to seem one sided, big deal. Fight through it.”
Artemi Panarin scored at the 18:34 mark of the third period to increase the Blackhawk’s lead to 3-1.
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2 with two seconds remaining in the game.
With the victory, the Blackhawks tied the series at 1-1 with the teams heading to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.
In the win, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith recorded a goal and an assist in his first game of the postseason. He returned from a six-game suspension levied upon him by the League near the end of the regular season.
Patrick Kane, the NHL’s leading scorer during the regular season, contributed two assists.
Goaltender Corey Crawford made 29 saves in the win and passed legendary netminder Tony Esposito for most playoff wins (46) in franchise history.
Game 3 will be played on Sunday, April 17th at 3:00 pm ET (NBC).
Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks
In the night’s other Western Conference contest, the Anaheim Ducks opened their series versus the Nashville Predators in Southern California.
The Predators, the conference’s first Wild Card team, struck for the game’s first goal just 35 seconds into the game off the stick of James Neal and outplayed the Ducks for large portions of the game which resulted in a 3-2 win for Nashville and a 1-0 series lead.
After Neal’s goal, the Pacific Division champion Ducks came back to take a 2-1 lead on goals by Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler but Nashville’s Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg closed out the scoring. Forsberg scored his unassisted goal 10:25 into the third period for the game-winner.
After the contest, Neal spoke about his team’s performance.
“We got off to a good start,” said Neal, who put nine shots on goal on 16 attempts. ” We were on the kill a little bit towards the end of the first. In the second we got our legs going. That’s when we started to feel good about our game. We had a great third period and scored a huge goal.”
Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 27 shots to record the victory.
Anaheim will try to even the series in Game 2 at the Honda Center Sunday, April 17th at 10:30 pm ET (NBCSN).
New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers
Due to a scheduling conflict with the New York’s Barclays Center, the Islanders and Panthers played for a second consecutive night in Florida.
With New York holding a 1-0 series lead, the Islanders were hoping to return home holding a commanding lead in games, but the Panthers had other things in mind and despite being outshot 42-31, they scored one goal in each of the game’s three periods while giving up one to earn a hard-fought 3-1 win.
“It was important to get one at home before heading over there (New York). It was a complete team effort tonight. A typical playoff game, low scoring, grinding down, and we found a way to win.” said Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who made 41 saves in leading his club to the win.
Offensively, Reilly Smith, Dimitri Kulikov, and Nick Bjugstad each contributed a goal and an assist for Florida.
John Tavares scored New York’s goal. He put nine shots on goal. Teammate Kyle Okposo sent eight shots on goal on eleven attempts.
The clubs will play Game 3 in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, April 17th at 8:00 pm (NBCSN).
Detroit Red Wing vs Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning defeated the Red Wings 5-2 in Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference series and the big question is, can the Red Wings find a way to stop the Lightning’s dominance, specifically that of the line of Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov.
The Tampa Bay trio combined for four of their club’s five goals in leading their team to the victory.
Johnson struck for two goals and two assists while Killorn and Kucherov each netted a goal and an assist.
In two games, Johnson has produced two goals, four assists, totalling six points to lead all playoff scorers. Kucherov is third in league scoring with three goals and two assists for five points and Killorn is fifth in scoring with two goals and two assists for a total of four points.
After the game, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper praised his three forwards.
“That line has been fabulous for us,” said Cooper. “Johnny (Johnson) doesn’t do it all by himself, those guys pick each other up so when you say one, you should say all three.”
Brad Richards and Dylan Larkin scored for Detroit.
The series shifts to Detroit where Game 3 will be played on Sunday, April 17th at Joe Louis Arena at 7:00 pm (CNBC).
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.