Playoff Roundup: Blues, Rangers and Oilers advance to second round
It took Mike Yeo 435 days to get his revenge.
Back on the Feb. 13, 2016, the Minnesota Wild decided to cut ties with Yeo, who became the coach-in-waiting for the St. Louis Blues, eventually taking over for Ken Hitchcock midway through this season.
The first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs fittingly paired Yeo’s current team with his ex, and while Yeo downplayed the whole storyline, it certainly felt nice for him, even if he kept it professional throughout, to see his team pull out the Game 5 overtime win 4-3 and win the series 4-1.
He has Magnus Paajarvi, who became the first Blues player since Pierre Turgeon in 1999 to record a series-clinching OT goal, to thank.
A turnover by Wild netminder, Devan Dubnyk was corralled by Vladimir Sobotka along the boards. Sobotka twirled his way towards the net before dishing a back-handed pass onto the stick of a wide-open Paajarvi, who buried the shot over the outstretched right shoulder of Dubnyk.
Jake Allen had another strong performance between the pipes for St. Louis. On the series, he stopped all but eight of the 182 shots he saw (.956%) and maintained a sub-1.50 goals against average.
The Blues struck first on a Vladimir Tarasenko goal, and then hit paydirt again three minutes later when Alexander Steen found the back of the net for the early 2-0 lead. Ryan Suter answered on the power play for the Wild before the first intermission.
Following a scoreless middle frame, Paul Stastny scored for the blues in his first game of the postseason after not playing a game since taking a shot off the foot on Mar. 22.
The Wild didn’t shy away on the brink of elimination, scoring twice in a five minute span on goals from Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker to force the extra period.
Here's a look at what happened in the rest of Saturday's playoff action:
Rangers 3, Canadians 1 | NYR wins 4-2
Remember when it looked like Henrik Lundqvist was—well—human?
Yeah, that’s nothing but a distant memory now as those early season struggles he had were nothing more than a brief case of the yips as The King reclaimed his throne after another stellar performance in net as the Rangers clinched the series in a 3-1 victory in Game 6.
Lundqvist stopped 27 of the 28 shots he saw, finishing with a 1.70 GAA and a .946 save percentage in the series.
Making sure Lundqvist’s effort weren’t all for naught, the Rangers relied on offensive spark plug Mats Zuccarello. The Canadians led 1-0 on a first period goal by Alexei Emelin before Zuccarrello buried a pair of second period scores. Derek Stepan delivered the nail in the coffin by way of a long empty netter with 18 seconds to go.
For Montreal, it’ll be a series they’d like to forget, particularly for Max Pacioretty, who led the team in goals during the regular season but failed to get on the board in any of the six games. On the other end of the spectrum, Alexander Radulov picked up yet another point, giving him a total of seven points before the first-round exit.
Oilers 3, Sharks 1 | EDM wins 4-2
One minute and six seconds. That was the time it took for the Oilers to score a pair of goals on the Sharks, building a 2-0 lead in the second period that they’d never let go of as they knocked off the defending Western Conference champs.
It began with a breakaway goal from Leon Draisaitl that was quickly followed by a déjà vu-evoking goal from Anton Slepyshev. Each one marked the player’s first career postseason tally.
The Sharks finally got on the board in the third period when Patrick Marleau potted his third of the postseason. That would ultimately be their first and final bite in this contest, though, as Cam Talbot stood strong the rest of the way… except on a wild scene in which a Joe Pavelski backhand hit both the crossbar and far post before sputtering out of harm’s way.
To cap off the evening, it was Connor McDavid who sank the Sharks with an empty-netter for his second goal of the series. Talbot wound up stopping 27 of the 28 shots he saw.
This was yet another game of offensive miscues for the Sharks, who struggled to convert in much of the series outside of a seven-goal performance in Game 4.
Hightlight of the Night, Part I
It’s not only a game-winner… it’s a series-winner. That’s automatically Play of the Night.
Highlight of the Night, Part II
That leg save... in that situation with the series on the line... yeah, that'll get you on the nightly highlight reel. The King of the
Quote of the Night
Blues head coach Mike Yeo sat down and spoke with Saturday’s hero the day before the game. It turns out Yeo may be a “goal-scorer’s whisperer.”
Yeo had a chat with Paajarvi yesterday, telling him he had more to give offensively. "I wasn't expecting the overtime winner!" Yeo said.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) April 23, 2017
3. Cam Talbot (EDM) – Not only did Talbot stop all but one of the 28 shots sent his way in the series-clincher, he proved once again that he’s more than capable of winning games for his team in the postseason. He held the Sharks to one or fiewer goals in half of the games.
2. Vladimir Sobotka (STL) – Paajarvi will get the headline as the scorer, but the effort by Sobotka on the winner was superb as he forced the turnover, maneuvered around his man and dished the perfect pass to the slot. He also blocked three shots.
1. Mats Zuccarello (NYR) – One of the smallest guys on the ice shined the brightest on the biggest stage as he buried two goals, one to tie and other giving the Rangers a lead they’d never lose.