1. Dan Boyle, Sharks: On a team long in need of a clutch performer, Boyle turned in a stirring performance with the Sharks down 2-0 in the series and on the road in Anaheim. He produced two goals and an assist for the first three-point outing of his playoff career, which includes winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boyle also made sure his play turned around a power play that had failed to the tune of 0-for-13 in the first two games of the series on home ice, both loses. On this night, the Boyle-led power play counted twice and, as a result, the Sharks are back in the series.
2. Marc Andre Fleury, Penguins: How good was he? Well, if you could go to sportscliche.com this morning, the update would have Fleury's picture beside the term "in the zone" after his 45-save goaltending gem. With the Flyers pressuring early, Fleury remained composed and made several tough saves look relatively easy. He frustrated the Philly faithful and kept the score 0-0 through 20 minutes. That proved only a warm-up for what was to come. After his team quickly scored twice in the first half of the second period, the balance of the game became a show-stopping showcase of Fleury at his finest, sending his team home up 3-1.
3. Dennis Seidenberg, Hurricanes: He became the latest jilted player to return to a lineup and contribute after being a healthy scratch. It's an age-old playoffs theme. Canes coach Paul Maurice took Seidenberg out after a 4-1 Game 1 loss to the Devils and reinserted him for Game 4. Seidenberg got the message, assisting on the game-opening goal by rushing the puck up ice before dropping it to Eric Staal. Then, with the game headed to overtime after the Hurricanes had relinquished their three-goal lead, Seidenberg's point blast hit teammate Jussi Jokinen, positioned in front of goaltender Martin Brodeur, and provided the margin of victory with two-tenths of a second remaining in regulation. Odds are Seidenberg will be in the lineup for Game 5.
1. Congratulations to the Blue Jackets for hosting their first playoff game after enduring 648 regular-season tilts to get to this point. Tough for them, though, that the defending Stanley Cup champions are their first round opponents. The Red Wings were anything but the obliging guests, with Tomas Holmstrom scoring 67 seconds after the opening puck drop and goaltender Chris Osgood making 11 first-period saves, several of them momentum-mounters. Sure enough, after Osgood's exploits, the Wings tallied again in the period's final minute to really fizzle the festivities. Thursday, the CBJ's will try to win their first playoff game and avoid being swept in their inaugural postseason appearance.
2. Speaking of sweeps, the Canucks completed the feat with a 3-2 OT win at the expense of the Blues, who battled hard -- just as they had in securing a playoff spot in the first place -- while erasing a 2-0 deficit to tie the game and get to the extra session on home ice. The Blues pressed as you would expect from a team facing elimination, but Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo stopped all 18 shots sent his way. Much of that zone time had to do with the Canucks affording the Blues three man advantage opportunities in OT. But their power play deserted them, as Luongo and the Canucks survived being short-handed, including a four-minute stretch after a high-sticking infraction by Ryan Kesler. In all, the Blues' eighth-ranked regular-season power play went 0-for-7 on the night and only 1-for-24 in the four games. That was their undoing in the sweep, but in the big picture, the Blues and their fans can take pride in how far this young team came in the season's second half.
3. Then there is the micro/macro dilemma when assessing Sean Avery. In the grand scheme of things, the Rangers seem to be a better team with Avery in their midst. His energy can be contagious and his antics distracting to the opposition. But in the short-term, sometimes his hockey energy is pure fourth-line talent and his antics a detriment to his team's cause. Such was the case in Game 3 against Washington. Avery went to the box four times and his attempts to unnerve the Capitals amounted to nothing. So be it. Like any player of any ilk, Avery cannot always be at his best. Wednesday night in Game 4, though, Avery needs to stick to hockey and play with an edge in the corners and in front of the net while not going over the line emotionally.
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