On Saturday, April 19, 2014, three Stanley Cup playoff games were played. As a result, St Louis, and Colorado took a 2-0 lead in their respective series', while Columbus squared their series with Pittsburgh.
Chicago Blackhawks @ St Louis Blues - Once again, there was high drama. Once again, there was a game-tying goal scored in the waning moments. Once again, it was the home team which scored that goal. Once again, there was overtime. Once again, the St Louis Blues prevailed. This series is quite frenetic, and is becoming rather brutal. St. Louis appears to have taken the Blackhawks out of their game plan. Chicago is playing uncharacteristically rough hockey, and this is working in the Blues' favor. The result of this game, was yet another nail-biting 4-3 OT win for St Louis. St Louis scored the first two goals of the game, but Chicago then scored 3 unanswered goals to take the lead. Chicago's rough play may have cost them more than just this game. Chicago held a 3-2 lead just 4:51 to play, Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook knocked David Backes momentarily unconcious with a vicious head high check into the end boards. The woozy Blues' captain left the ice and did not return. The result was a 5 min major penalty. This gave the Blues an extended powerplay, and Vladimir Tarasenko scored with only 7 seconds left in regulation time. This time it was Barret Jackman who provided the OT heroics just 5:50 into the first overtime period. Of much more concern, is the health and availability of David Backes for the rest of the series, and the rest of the playoffs should the Blues advance. St. Louis now leads the series 2 games to none, with games 3 and 4 to be played in Chicago on Monday night and Wednesday night.
*The NHL has scheduled a telephone hearing with Seabrook, on Sunday, April 20. This means he is facing a suspension. The length of suspension will be determined at that time, but it will be no longer than five games.
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Pittsburgh Penguins - In Game 1, Columbus had a 3-1 lead, but could not hold on. As a result, they suffered a heart-breaking 4-3 loss. This time around, it was the Pens who built the early 3-1 lead, and were unable to hold on, as Columbus again outplayed them and went on to win the game in double OT; Matt Calvert provided the heroics at 1:10 of the second overtime period. The Pens outshot Columbus 15-4, to build a 3-1 lead in the first period, but the visiting team got stronger as the game wore on. The Blue Jackets went on to outshoot the home team 15-8 in the second period, 12-7 in the third, and 14-12 in overtime. With the 4-3 win, Columbus not only won their first playoff game in team history, but also effectively wrested home-ice advantage from the Pens. The series is now tied 1-1, with the next two games scheduled for Monday night and Wednesday night in Columbus.
Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche - In Game 1, Down 4-2 going into the third period, Colorado scored twice. Paul Stastny got the tying goal came with 14 secs left to play, and then Stastny scored at 7:27 into OT, to give the Avs a 5-4 win. There would be no such drama this time, as the Avs came out with a purpose. Though they did yield the first goal of the game, the Rocky Mountain squad then scored 3 unanswered goals, to chase starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and effectively put the game out of reach. Darcy Kuemper came in to relieve him, but the damage had already been done. Minnesota did surge in the third period, and scored a short-handed goal at 18:41 of the third to pull within one goal, but Paul Stastny ended the drama with an empty-net power play goal just 1:04 later. The 4-2 win gave the young Avs a 2 game to none lead in the series. Games 3 and 4 will be played on Monday night and Thursday night, in Minnesota.