Friday May 6th, 2016

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Three periods and 60 minutes were not enough to decide a pair of pivotal Game 4s in Thursday night’s Western Conference Semifinal matchups. The Stars pulled level with the Blues thanks to a gutsy road win, then hours later the Predators tied up their own series at 2-2 after outlasting the Sharks in a frantic triple-overtime thriller.

Here’s who stood out to us on Thursday (and early Friday, for much of the country):

Mike Fisher, Predators

The puck kept finding Fisher in Game 4, and he did not spoil his golden looks at the net. His first goal came off an especially cushy Martin Jones rebound, but he had to work for the game-winner, guiding the puck onto his stick from a tight angle and then jamming it into the open net in one smooth motion. Linemates James Neal and Colin Wilson each found the back of the net, and all three forwards finished +3, but Fisher’s dirty work down low was what finally cracked the Sharks.

Cody Eakin, Stars

NHL
Dallas evens series with Blues on Eakin’s OT goal in Game 4

​Eakin may have only had one shot on Thursday, but it was the most important shot of the night, as it beat St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott in overtime to give the Stars a 3–2 win and even the series. It was just Eakin’s third career playoff goal, and first this postseason, but it prevented Dallas from having to face an almost insurmountable 3–1 series deficit.

Pekka Rinne, Predators

The shaky moments that made Rinne look like a liability at times during regulation of the Predators’ marathon victory are now all lost to history. Rinne spent most of the three overtime periods under siege, including two full-on scrums around his crease in the first extra session that each ended with Sharks players claiming they had scored the game-winning goal. As the night wore on, Rinne’s reflexes appeared to sharpen, his glove became more sure and his double-clutches on redirected pucks started to look intentional. It was a callback to the level of play Rinne reached in the 2011 playoffs against the eventual conference champion Canucks—the only other time in franchise history that Nashville has won six playoff games.​

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