By: Dan Cole| KFAN.com
This past week saw the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs come to an end and moved into the second round with a number of timeless rivalries at hand.
The first round, characterized by upsets, concluded with the second, third and fourth seeds be ousted from the Western Conference, while the second and third seeds from the Eastern Conference bid farewell to their playoff aspirations, as well.
The week began with two game sevens on Monday evening, one between Boston and Toronto and the other between Washington and the New York Rangers.
In the Boston/Toronto matchup, fans saw what has come to be expected from a game seven. The Bruins, down 4-1 halfway through the third period, scored three goals in the final 10 minutes to send the game to overtime, including goals from Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron just 30 seconds apart in the final 90 seconds.
Then, in overtime, Bergeron added to his heroism, netting the game-winner just over six minutes into the period and sending the Bruins to the conference semis. Bergeron, who was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the league this week, had a hand in each of Boston’s last three goals and won 73 percent of his faceoffs on Monday night.
In the Washington/New York matchup, however, fans saw a much less entertaining bout, especially from the Capitals’ perspective. Despite outshooting the Rangers 35-27 on Monday, the Caps failed to show up and surrendered by way of a 5-0 shellacking at Verizon Center.
The loss added to Alexander Ovechkin’s playoff woes, marking the fourth time he has lost a game seven on home ice. In this, his eighth NHL season, Ovechkin still has yet to reach the conference finals.
The second round got underway on Tuesday night. Two original six rivalries are set to face off in the second round, as Chicago and Detroit are matched up in the west, along with Boston and New York in the east. Los Angeles and San Jose are pitted against one another in the west semis, as well, adding to the geographic rivalry of this round.
The Pittsburgh/Ottawa series began on Tuesday night, with the Pens snatching a convincing 4-1 victory. Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz tallied two points apiece for top-seeded Pittsburgh, while goaltender Tomas Vokoun continued to shine in relief of the struggling Marc-Andre Fleury.
Tuesday night’s other game kicked off the Kings/Sharks series with Jonathan Quick picking up his second shutout of the postseason as the Kings prevailed 2-0 to jump ahead in the series. Quick has been stellar thus far in the playoffs, currently owning a 6-2-1 record, .947 save percentage and 1.56 goals against average.
The lone game on Wednesday night was game one between the Blackhawks and Red Wings, a rivalry as old as the league itself. The Hawks had not lost to the Red Wings in seven meetings going into Wednesday, and saw that trend continue at United Center in game one.
Despite being knotted at one goal apiece going into the third period, Chicago was able to net three goals in the final 20 minutes to put the Wings down quietly. Hawks winger Patrick Sharp continued to thrive offensively, potting a goal and adding two assists on Wednesday to give him nine goals in six games this postseason.
The Bruins and Rangers, both fresh off game seven victories, got their second round series underway on Thursday in, once again, dramatic fashion. The rivals played to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation before Bruins forward Brad Marchand tapped home a beautiful odd-man rush setup from Bergeron. Bruins lead the series 1-0.
The Kings built on their series lead over the Sharks on Thursday night with the help of two powerplay goals late in the third period. San Jose, up 3-2 with just three minutes remaining in the game, took two penalties less than 30 seconds apart to give L.A. an extended powerplay. The Kings, who have a 22.7 percent success rate with a man advantage this postseason, capitalized via goals from Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis with over a minute left, resulting in an exciting 4-3 victory and 2-0 series lead.
Pittsburgh and Ottawa are slated for game two of their series on Friday night, followed by Chicago/Detroit and Los Angeles/San Jose on Saturday.