Saturday April 24th, 2010

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres: A three-goal lead heading into the third period should be as sound as the pound, but the Sabres have seen this movie before. Boston has owned the final stanza in this series, outscoring Buffalo 6-0 and outplaying it by a wide margin. No surprise then that it was more of the same tonight. Miller could have played Words With Friends through the first two periods but he was in the weeds during the third as the Bruins blitzed him with 14 shots in the first 10 minutes alone. A late goal by Johnny Boychuk snapped his shutout bid, but that was hardly the point. The Sabres bent, but he refused to break.

Jaroslav Halak, Montreal Canadiens: What was Jacques Martin to do? After watching Carey Price melt down in Game 4 and with his team facing elimination, Montreal's coach had no choice but to turn back to the goalie he'd yanked from Game 3. Halak responded with an act of personal redemption, stopping 37 shots to lead the Habs to a 2-1 win that extended their series against the heavily-favored Caps to a sixth game. His night included several highlight-worthy moments, but none better than a pair of larcenous stops on Tomas Fleischmann and Alexander Semin during a third period Washington power play that did everything but tie the contest. If he can bring this intensity back to Montreal, this series could go seven. And while he's not eligible for a star, let's give an honorable mention to Martin, who made some deft bench management decisions, including the virtual benching of disaster-in-waiting Roman Hamrlik in the third.

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings: Invisible for long stretches during the first two periods, Datsyuk was at his battle-tested best in the third, helping turn a tight game into a decisive 4-1 win for the Red Wings. He set up the winning goal after besting Martin Hanzal in the face-off circle, then netted the insurance marker just over a minute later with a display of in-tight manual dexterity that left Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov shaking his head in disbelief.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.