By: Dan Cole | KFAN.com
The past week of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has seen the near-completion of all four second round matchups, with each series being just one game away from a victor being decided. After a first round that was characterized largely by upsets, the second round has been a little more predictable. Only one lower seed, Detroit, currently owns a series lead.
The week began with Game 3 of the Blackhawks/Red Wings series at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Hawks, who had been beaten 4-1 on home ice just two days prior, struggled in the hostile environment of the Joe. Two second period goals by Detroit put them ahead 2-0 going into the third. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane buried a breakaway goal at the start of the third period to bring Chicago within one, but Pavel Datsyuk netted a wrister of his own just two minutes later, securing the 3-1 victory for the Wings, putting them ahead 2-1 in the series.
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard stopped 39 of 40 shots on Monday night, including all eight of Chicago's shots on the powerplay, which is only 12 percent successful this postseason.
The two games on Tuesday night between the Bruins/Rangers and Kings/Sharks both finished 2-1 and were both knotted at 1 at some point in the third period.
Boston, up 2-0 over New York going into Tuesday's game, waited until the third period to get on the board. A Johnny Boychuk goal, his fourth of the postseason for Boston, tied the game at one. Bruins forward Daniel Paille would become just another hero in the locker room, scoring the game-winner for Boston with just under 3:30 remaining in the game. The Bruins had been all over New York in that series, going up 3-0 with Tuesday's victory.
On the west coast, the Kings and Sharks battled to a 2-2 series tie. A third period goal by Kings center Mike Richards pulled L.A. within one but did not create enough of a push for them to tie the game, resulting in a 2-1 victory for San Jose.
There was only one game on Wednesday night, but it featured about three games' worth of goals. The Penguins, who lead the playoffs with 41 goals scored this postseason, ran up the score on Ottawa in a big way, culminating in a 7-3 victory. Defenseman Kris Letang was the leading scorer in the game for the Pens, finishing with four assists. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Letang currently rank 2-3-4 in the league in points this postseason.
Thursday consisted of a hefty slate of games. The Bruins/Rangers, Blackhawks/Red Wings and Sharks/Kings all faced off with one team walking away from each series just one win from advancing.
The Rangers, facing elimination on home ice, managed to survive -- just barely -- by way of a 4-3 victory. The two teams were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation before Rangers forward Chris Kreider tallied his first goal of the playoffs on a tip-in from the stick of Rick Nash just over seven minutes into the overtime period. The Bruins, who outshot the Rangers 40-32, will have to wait until at least Game 5 to end New York's season.
The road struggles would continue for the Blackhawks in Game 4. After playing to a 0-0 tie at the end of one period, the Red Wings got on the board by way of a Jakub Kindl slapshot on a powerplay midway through the second period. Daniel Cleary would seal the deal for the Wings with an empty-netter late in the third period, putting them up 3-1 in the series and increasing the top-seeded Blackhawks' anxiety.
A shutout occured on the west coast, as well. where the Kings jumped ahead 3-2 in the series at home against the Sharks. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick only needed to make 19 saves to pick up his third shutout of the postseason, the most in the league.
Ottawa at Pittsburgh, 6:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network