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Three Teams Face Possible Sweep

Pens, Stars, Wings all win to take 3-0 series leads

 

I could not believe my eyes Tuesday night when I realized that three teams have a chance to sweep their opponents the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs semifinals round. Henrik Lundqvist promised a Game #3 win for the Rangers and than played his worst game of the 2008 playoffs as Pittsburgh improves to 7-0 in the playoffs. Colorado has the injury bug in their locker room while the Sharks are simply being outshined by the Stars.

 

Game #3 – Pittsburgh Penguins 5 – New York Rangers 3

Marian Hossa quickly diapered Lundqvist’s victory promise when he scored one minute into the game immediately zipping the mouths of 20,000 New Yorkers. It was clear to see the speed of the Pens’ was far too much for the Rangers to handle. Martin Straka did tie the game at 14:32 of the first period on a shove-in goal that had to be reviewed. These 20 minutes were full of aggressive play that showed more entertainment than the entire Game #2.



It was penalty-central and even Georges Laraque, who had 137 more penalty minutes than goals during the season, sniped a playoff goal. Evgeni Malkin had begun his two goal, three point night, by blasting a power goal late in the first period from the blue line. The Rangers finished their series home opening period trailing by two while being booed off the ice.

New York played with much more desperation in the second and it paid off by Ryan Callahan and Jaromir Jagr both scoring to tie the game by the 13:11 mark. Again, Marc-Andre Fleury played phenomenal making 36 of 39 saves, leaving Lundqvist and the Rangers in their dust.

Malkin’s second goal was the game winner at the end of the second frame, again on the PP, that sent a hush throughout the air in Madison Square Garden. The Penguins won the game and take complete control of the series. It is now theirs to lose.

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Jagr held back tears after the game in the locker room from his fear that Game #4 may be the last of his long career. I am sick of these players with their side-tracking attention gimmicks. There is no way he is retiring with the money this former mullet supporter makes.

New York is on the verge of being swept in front of their home crowd on Thursday night.

The key factors in this series as stated in our Eastern Conference Semifinals preview:

  • Fleury finished with save percentage of .923, while Lundqvist’s was .706.

  • Malone/Sykora combined for three points in Game #4 and are murdering the Shanahan/Avery pair, who only accounted for one.

  • The Rangers simply cannot handle the young, speedy Penguins.

Pittsburgh leads series 3-0.

 

Game #3 – Detroit Red Wings 4 – Colorado Avalanche 3

Injuries have really helped the Avalanche tumble to a 3-0 deficit in this series. Colorado came into tonight’s game unsure about Peter Forsberg’s, Scott Hannan’s or Jose Theodore’s health, but all did play - just not well. They knew that Ryan Smyth (foot) and Wojtek Wolski (shoulder) were definitely not going to play, leaving two big holes in the line-up. To add gas to the fire, their leading scorer, Paul Stastny hurt his knee in the first period of the game, forcing him to leave.

I cannot remember a series that ended in a sweep between these two teams. Nor does my memory recall such a timid determination by the Wings to want to embarrass the Avs. There has not been blood or violence that is stereotypically in the Detroit/Colorado playoff game; instead a real focus on hockey. This could be due to the fact that the Avs are losing bodies left and right and cannot afford to get involved in a ruckus.

Pavel Datsyuk scored twice in this game and added an assist that comes as no surprise. The series breaker has been the “Mule” himself, Johan Franzen, who put away another goal in Game #3, making it six goals in three games against Colorado.

Peter Forsberg made an impact during the game, just not for the Avs. How many times do I have to say that penalties cost teams the Cup. Forsberg high sticked Mikael Samuelsson’s tooth out of his mouth which cost Colorado a double minor and the game as Zetterberg scored the game winner. This came shortly after John-Michael Liles scored to bring the Avalanche within one goal while carrying momentum from the home fans.

Colorado kept it respectable, but these injuries have dug a hole that, I think, is impossible to climb out of. Detroit has now beat the Avalanche seven straight times and look to make it is eight on Thursday night, to complete the sweep.

The key factors in this series as stated in our Western Conference Semifinals preview:

  • Ryan Smyth is out with a injured foot. This is one of the worst things that could have happened to Colorado.

  • Paul Stastny is out with a knee injury. For the sake of the Avs, hopefully it is not as bad as it looked.

  • Jose Theodore has not looked good thus far. He claimed to have the flu in games #1 and #2, but the illness looked to still be there in Game #3.

All three of my key factors are officially one-sided; Colorado is in deep trouble.

Detroit leads series 3-0.

 

Game #3 – Dallas Stars 2 – San Jose Sharks 1 (OT)

For the second time in this series, overtime was needed to decide the winner. Playing hard is not good enough when the other team is playing harder, which is the lesson that Dallas is feeding the Sharks. San Jose was on a mission in game #3 with their early energy that lead them to come out of the gates motivated. The Sharks lost another heartbreaker with a little controversy, an early whistle that cost them an enormous goal.

The referee blew the whistle prematurely just as Patrick Marleau somehow squeezed the puck under Marty Turco into the net. The Sharks were celebrating a 1-0 lead four minutes into the game, until they saw the ref waving the goal off. No goal.

Keeping his head high, with 35 seconds left in the first period, Marleau snuck on a shorthanded breakaway on which he scored. This time, the goal was not waved off and he led the Sharks into the intermission up by a goal, followed by an absolutely boring second period. No fun, no goals, minimal shots on net, but one game changing penalty. Alexei Semenov got caught with his hand in the cookie jar at the 19:06 mark of the second, which would extend to the beginning of the third.

Sergei Zubov, in his second game back from injury, scored on that power play, tying the game up. I could honestly feel the hearts drop from the Sharks chests and hide under the bench, almost wanting to give up. How crucial was that disallowed goal now. Inevitably, the way the game was going, overtime was no shocker.

The extra-frame is a great time for hero picks. From Dallas, people usually take Mike Ribeiro, Mike Modano, or Brad Richards, and from San Jose, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau are picked first. Did anyone have Mattias Norstrom as their overtime winner? I did not even have him on my second page, but he pulled game winner 4:37 into OT.

Norstrom will no longer be remembered for scoring two goals in 66 games in the regular season, but instead for his overtime winner in game #3 against the Sharks.

The key factors in this series as stated in our Western Conference Semifinals preview:

  • Marleau did win the battle of captains in game #3, but did lose in a tight loss. Morrow used his aggressiveness to put some damage on Sharks defenseman Craig Rivet though.

  • Brian Campbell played 12 seconds shy of 30 minutes in this game. Where is he? And what does he do during this time?

  • Since Turco has yet to lose a game in this series, he is showing he can handle the pressure of close games. Thornton is trying is best…..I think.

Dallas leads series 3-0.

 

 

By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer

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