The biggest round of the playoffs for scoring and every team seems to want to stick around, except for New Jersey, of course. We had two elimination games on Friday night and neither of them finished themselves off, while the two Western games each had to decide which team was going to take the lead and run with it.
We'll start the recap in Washington, with the Capitals looking to move past the Habs and into the 2nd round. The Habs jumped out to an early 2-0 start and managed to hang on for dear life to a 2-1 win. Jaroslav Halak had to be the man for the Canadiens and it sure looks like he was, making 37 saves, inlcuding 12 in the 3rd period to force a Game Six back in Montreal on Monday night.
In Buffalo, the Sabres were the favourites going into the series and they had to fend off a charging Bruins team that has them on the ropes in their series. The Bruins scored early and late in the 1st period and didn't have to look back from there, winning the game 4-1. Jason Pominville was the star for the Sabres, picking up the eventual winning-goal and an assist for a 3-point night. The Sabres will now have to test their might back in Boston, where they haven't won a game yet in the series to try and force a Game Seven. Game Six will go on Monday night as well.
In the West we go and it's up to Vancouver we go, according to NHL.com's order of play, where the Canucks and Kings try to solve the problem of who wants to go ahead in this series. It didn't seem like there needed to be much coaxing by way of the score, as the Canucks ended up beating the Kings out of their own barn, 7-2 for a 3-2 series lead. The Canucks were led by Mikael Samuelsson (2 goals & assist), Pavol Demitra (goal & 2 assists) and Daniel Sedin (game-winner & assist), all having 3 points in the game. The Canucks managed to chase both goalies out of the game at least once as well. Game Six will go in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Finally, in the late game, the Coyotes hosted the Red Wings in their quest for a first round upset, of sorts, but it was the veteran Red Wings who got the last laugh and took the 3-2 series lead, thanks to a 4-1 win on Friday night. The Coyotes held on for as long as they could on Friday night, going into the 3rd period tied at one, but the roof caved in on Jobing.com Arena and the Red Wings scored three, including an empty-netter to put the desert dogs away and take the series lead back to Detroit. Tomas Holmstrom was the hero of the night for the Red Wings, scoring the winner and adding an assist for a 3-point night. Game Six will be the afternoon feature on NBC on Sunday, starting at Noon MT.
As you saw from our recaps from last night, three of our game-winning goal scorers were named, because it did vault them up into the top scorers of their respective games, but there was one point stolen away from the pool in the Montreal/Washington game, as Travis Moen ended up getting credit for the eventual winner for Montreal. Otherwise, it's just a quick recap here of the winners... Jason Pominville for Buffao, Daniel Sedin for Vancouver and Tomas Holmstrom for Detroit.
There was no change to the game-winning goal lead in the pool after Friday night, as both Tony and Russ still sit with 7 bonus points each, but now there is eight teams that have 6 bonus points a piece, quietly tracking down our leaders.
It was definitely a surprise to many, likely to the player himself, but Raffi Torres ended up being a healthy scratch for the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, as the coaching staff wanted to shake up their line-up by adding an influx of youth and taking their veteran trade deadline acquisition out. Torres had 2 assists in the playoffs thus far, one of the leadings scorers on the team going into the game, but obviously that wasn't enough. Torres was taken four times in the pool and since the Sabres won, I would be curious to see if Torres fits back into the line-up right away.
The Coyotes are now in scramble mode, now that they have lost a couple games in a row to the Red Wings. The team is still without Shane Doan to his upper-body injury and they also decided on Friday night to scratch Robert Lang again, who hasn't made much of an impact in his two games witht he club in this series. The loss on Friday night will definitely make Sunday afternoon's line-up decisions very critical, if the Coyotes want to keep going in these playoffs.
We're going to start with the late game tonight, because that gives us an opportunity to show you a new 8-Ball for tonight. The Colorado Avalanche are now officially behind the 8-Ball going into tonight's tilt with the series at 3-2 for the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are an overwhelming favourite to win this series, according to the picks in the pool, so it shouldn't come as a terrible surprise that way, but it is kind of a surprise with the way the Sharks opened up their playoff run and how poorly they were playing. That being said, it is always a 7-game series and lots can happen between Game One and the end of it all, so hold onto your hats Denver, this is going to be a desperate game.
This series has been about the goaltenders so far, as both of them sit atop of the scoring lead for this series. Evgeni Nabokov has 3 wins and a shutout for 8 points in the series, while Craig Anderson has 2 wins, a shutout and an assist for 7 points. It's been a fun ride so far, so why stop now, am I right?
There is one afternoon game on Saturday, as the Blackhawks and Predators do their little dance at the United Center in Chicago. This series is tied at two wins each and it will be 8-Ball time for the loser of this game and no team wants to be behind the 8-Ball in the series. This series is being led in scoring (in the pool) by David Legwand of the Predators, who currently sits with 6 points (GWG & 4 assists), so there is a slight edge in the scoring department to the Predators, but I don't know if it's worth quite as much going into today's game as it should be.
Finally, in the 5pm MT game, the Ottawa Senators will try to stave off elimination yet again in Game Six of their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Senators have already defended their right to stay in the playoffs once in this series, thanks to a triple-overtime stunner on Thursday night and now they have to do it all over again, but this time they get the luxury of being at home for the game. Another elimination game means that there is going to be plenty of fingernails chewed off in Ottawa tonight.