On Friday night, there was only one game on the schedule and it was the Washington Capitals who were behind the 8-ball at the beginning of night. The series shifted to Washington for Game 5, where the Capitals were already in a must-win situation. Amazingly enough, it really wasn't the pool players for Washington that helped propel the team into a Game 5 victory, rather it was the depth players and the back-up goalie that led Washington on the run. The best night in the pool came from both Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin, who each had a goal in the game, which ended at 4-0 for the Capitals.
Saturday's afternoon action saw one team eliminated, as the Pittsburgh Penguins knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-3, to advance to the Conference Semis, against an opponent still to be determined.
The Flyers did manage to garner a fair amount of selections in the pool, 65, to be exact. That was actually 35.5% of their possible number of selections, which is fairly good for an underdog. The only series to be closer was the Carolina/New Jersey series.
The most popular player on the Flyers to be eliminated was Daniel Briere in Box 17, who was taken 13 times in the pool, followed by Matt Carle, the Box 22 defenseman, who had 12 selections.
Leading the way on Saturday night was three players, with 3 points a piece. The Penguins & Flyers game could not get a player with more than 2 points, so that game is null & void in this paragraph. The Blackhawks took a 3-2 series lead against the Flames on Saturday night, thanks in large part to Brent Seabrook, who had a goal and 2 assists in the 5-1 win. In the late game between the Sharks and Ducks, San Jose managed to claw back and get another game under their belts, making the series 3-2 for Anaheim, heading back to the Duck Pond on Monday night. In that game, both Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were the team's best players, having 3 points in the pool each to help their team's cause (finally!). Now, the real question is, can the team take any momentum from that victory into Game 6 to force a Game 7?
The theme of Sunday's action was 'staying alive' and moving towards Game 7's. In order to do that, the Capitals and Hurricanes needed to have some pretty big performances and that's exactly what they got. The biggest performance of the night came from Ray Whitney of the Hurricanes, who managed to have the winning goal and 3 assists for a whopping 5-point night in the pool. The 5 points managed to overshadow Cam Ward's play, which resulted in a shutout, thanks to a 28-save performance. In the Big Apple, it was Tom Poti who had the big game for the Capitals, scoring a goal and adding 3 assists for a 4-point effort in the afternoon. The Capitals won the game, 5-3, to send that series to a seventh game, which will go Tuesday in Washington.
It's time to look after the game-winning goals bonus points. On Friday, there was only one game and the goal didn't even count towards the pool. Matt Bradley of the Capitals scored the first goal of the game, shorthanded no less. It turned out to be the winner in a 4-0 win against the Rangers. On Saturday, it was Sergei Gonchar's third period blast that eliminated the Flyers in Pittsburgh's 5-3 win. Gonchar was suprisingly on taken 5 times in the pool, which really limited the bonus points handed out. The Blackhawks moved past the Flames with a 5-1 victory and the second Blackhawks goal was scored by Patrick Sharp, which gave a bonus point to 15 pool teams. In the late game, it was an overtime winner from Patrick Marleau that kept the Sharks in their series with Anaheim. Marleau was taken 13 times in the pool, but he was far from being the most popular Sharks player. Sunday, there were only two games on the schedule and both game-winners were on the Sheet. In New York, Viktor Kozlov scored the winner for the Capitals, sending that series to seven games. Kozlov was taken 5 times in the pool, making it a less significant bonus point. Finally, it was again the first goal that won the game, thanks to another shutout. Ray Whitney was the eventual game-winning goal scorer, but that was an even less popular pick. Whitney was only taken 3 times in the pool this time around.
In the first of two elimination games tonight, the Flames will be hosting the Sharks in Calgary, to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 on Wednesday. The Flames have won the first two games at home in this series and will have to continue their winning ways if they do not want to be eliminated this early. The Flames being knocked out won't be considered an upset in the standings, nor will it be an upset in the pool, having a distinct number of picks less than the Blackhawks in the pool. The game will go at 7:30pm MT on TSN.
Going in the second elimination game will be the Sharks trying to force a Game 7 against the Ducks tonight, but they'll have to do it away from home. The Sharks did take one game in Anaheim in this series, so that should give the team a small glimmer of hope tonight. The Sharks were a major favourite to win this series, especially as the President's Trophy winner in the league and in the pool, taking 88.5% of their possible selections. This game will be going late tonight, an 8:30pm MT start on CBC.