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NHL Playoffs: Flyers and Kings both one win away, Rinne fantastic against Red Wings
Sunday's NHL playoff action, saw both the Flyers and Kings jump to 3-0 series leads over the Penguins and Canucks. While in Detroit, the Nashville Predators took a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings thanks to the strong play of netminder Pekka Rinne.
Philadelphia 8 Pittsburgh 4 - (Flyers lead series 3-0)
On the strength of two first period goals from Daniel Briere and anther two from former Penguin Max Talbot, the surprising Philadelphia Flyers find themselves on the verge of sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins. Netminder Marc-Andre Fleury continued his disastrous playoff campaign, allowing six goals on twenty-eight shots before being yanked from the cage of forty minutes. Fleury has now allowed seventeen goals on eight-four shots, leaving him with an embarrassing .798 save percentage for the series.
Centre Jordan Staal potted a pair for the visitors, including the ice breaker at the 3:52 mark but just as they did in the previous two games, Philly found a way to come back and pick up the win. Winger James Neal did all he could to keep the Pens from dropping their third straight, with two goals and an assist but the rest of his teammates seemed to be more interested brawling it up with the Flyers then ensuring they could themselves back into the series.
The two sides combined for a total of 158 minutes in penalties, which included three fighting majors and a boneheaded match penalty to Pittsburgh's Arron Asham. The Pens winger cross checked Brayden Schenn in the face after Scheen nailed Paul Martin with what appeared to be a clean hit, though the youngster was assessed a charging minor.
Philadelphia's Claude Giroux continued his strong play with two more points, giving him a league leading eight through three games. While veteran Jaromir Jagr picked up three assists giving the future Hall of Famer five points against his former club.
Los Angeles 1 Vancouver 0 - (Kings lead series 3-0)
In a game that Vancouver bench boss Alain Vigneault decided to sit starting netminder Roberto Luongo in favour of backup goalie Cory Schneider, the Canucks problems continued to have nothing to do with the performance of their goaltenders but rather with the play of the man down at the other end of the ice.
Jonathan Quick did what he has done all season long, backstopping the Kings to yet another 1-0 victory and in the process, registered his eleven shutout of the year. The Vezina trophy hopeful stopped all forty-one shots directed his way, as he continued what has been a magical season for the Los Angeles puck stopper.
The Kings lone goal came just past the six minute mark of the final frame and not surprisingly, it came off the stick of their captain. Dustin Brown had already got under Vancouver's skin during Game Two but after he destroyed Henrik Sedin with a solid hit that sent the highly skilled Swede to the dressing room in the second period, the Canucks level of frustration hit a whole new level.
Vancouver likely deserved better, out shooting the Kings by a 41-20 margin but they like much of the NHL, found it almost impossible to sneak one past the Los Angeles netminder. While all the talk surrounded Schneider getting the start in game three, the Canuck goaltender did not face his first shot until the twelve minute mark of the opening period. While he did make a few big saves, his poor rebound control led directly to Brown's game winner.
Nashville 3 Detroit 2 - (Predators lead series 2-1)
Coming into this series, many felt it could come down to goaltending and hence why many had the Predators as the favourites heading into their first round series. After splitting the first two games in Nashville, the series shifted to Detroit and thanks to the play of Pekka Rinne, the Preds found themselves leaving Joe Louis Arena with a 2-1 series lead on Sunday afternoon.
Nashville opened the scoring early on, when defenceman She Weber knocked in his second of the series with less then three minutes gone. They managed to sneak a puck past Red Wing netminder Jimmy Howard in each of the next two periods, while Rinne did the rest and shut the door at the other end of the ice. The former eighth round selection stopped forty-one shots on the afternoon, including eighteen pucks fired his was in the final period.
Detroit thought they had evened the score at two in the dying seconds of the middle frame, when Johan Franzen put the puck past the down and out Predators netminder. Unfortunately for the home side, video review clearly showed that time had expired before Franzen's shot crossed the line and hence the goal was waived off.
Florida 3 New Jersey 2 - (Series tied 1-1)
After dropping Game One to the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, the Florida Panthers were all business on Sunday evening, getting back on even terms with a hard fought 3-2 victory. The win marked the first time the Panthers had won a playoff game in fifteen years and puts them in a perfect frame of mind heading to New Jersey for the next two contests.
Stephen Weiss led the way, scoring power play goals in the opening moments of period one and two, while Marcel Goc chipped in with a goal and an assist in helping the Panthers jump out to a three goal lead after forty minutes of play.
The Devils tried to make a game of it in the third period, when Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the opening two minutes of the final frame but Jose Theodore would allow nothing else to slip past him, clinching the win for the Southeast Division winners.
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