NHL playoffs: Sidney Crosby's got that look, which is bad news for Rangers
Best game: Anaheim 2, Winnipeg 1. The Ducks did it again. Anaheim won an NHL record-tying 12 games when trailing after two periods during the regular season. The Ducks have done it twice in two games in their Western Conference quarterfinal series with Winnipeg. Patrick Maroon deflected Cam Fowler's shot from the point past Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 9:17 left in the third period to tie the game, 1-1. Jakob Silfverberg buried a wrist shot with 21 seconds left to win it for the Ducks, who were 33-1-7 in one-goal games during the regular season. This arguably has been the best series of the first round and Winnipeg was much better in Game 2, playing with more poise yet still bringing the heavy hits. Pavelec was sensational in goal with 37 saves as the Jets, who began as the Thrashers in Atlanta, looked poised to win the franchise's first playoff game before the Ducks did what the Ducks do. "I don't think our team quits," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Best stat line: Vladimir Tarasenko, F, St. Louis. Sure, the final goal of Tarasenko's first career playoff hat trick was into an empty net, but Tarasenko was brilliant. He deserved the icing on the cake after scoring two first-period goals to give St. Louis a lead it never surrendered. It was the Blues' first playoff hat trick since Mike Sillinger's performance on April 12, 2004 vs. San Jose.
Best stat: Adam Pardy, D, Winnipeg. Pick 20 guys you thought might score in the Ducks-Jets game and Pardy's name would not have come up. Pardy scored his first goal since Jan. 26, 2011, ending a 172-game drought to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead that nearly held up.
Best new approach: Fewer shots, more goals. Tampa fired 46 shots at Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek on Thursday and lost Game 1, 3-2. So the Lightning did the logical thing in Game 2: They got 16 fewer pucks on net and scored three more goals in a 5-1 win over the Red Wings. Tyler Johnson had a pair of goals. Alex Killorn, Andrej Sustr and former Red Wing Valtteri Filppula added goals and the Lightning evened the series. Detroit coach Mike Babcock went to goalie Jimmy Howard in the third period but Mrazek will be back in Game 3.
Best positive sign: Sidney Crosby's streak-busting two goals. The Penguins captain clearly brings more to the table than just offense. He is a terrific two-way player, one of the best at driving possession and he is clearly a leader. Still, it was impossible for a guy making $12 million this season to dodge this nagging stat: Crosby had only one goal in his previous 19 playoff games entering Saturday. The Penguins needed their best player to produce if they were going to pull even with the No. 1 seed New York Rangers. He did, scoring a pair of goals in a 4:39 span late in the second period to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead they never relinquished.
GOAL GIF: Sidney Crosby being Sidney Crosby. pic.twitter.com/lG7CPkLB8N— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 19, 2015
Best visual: Bug Buff's hit on Kesler. Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is a gamer; a guy who brings a rare combination of stick skills and physical play. The fact that Ducks forward Ryan Kesler jumped before Byfuglien hit him near the Anaheim bench surely helped the theater, but it's always a good visual when a guy gets knocked clean off the playing surface.
GIF Byfuglien hits Kesler into the bench pic.twitter.com/uOkWmnpRxY— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 19, 2015
Best quote, via The Detroit Free Press: "I'll be in my hot tub by 10 tonight and the sun is going to get up tomorrow and we'll get a five-game series against Tampa," Detroit coach Mike Babcock after his team's 5-1 loss to the Lightning on Saturday that evened the series, 1-1.
Best thing to look forward to Sunday: Chicago's goalie decision. After watching Corey Crawford surrender nine goals in four periods, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville made the difficult but logical decision to replace him with Scott Darling for Game 3 against Nashville at the United Center. Darling stopped all 42 shots he faced in the Hawks' rally from a 3-0 first-period deficit when Crawford was pulled in Game 1. The decision was difficult because Crawford was arguably Chicago's best player down the stretch and had perhaps the best season in his career, finishing sixth in save percentage (.924). Flip-flopping goalies in the postseason normally does not produce great results, but there is no rule that Quenneville must stick with Darling now that he has chosen him. "It's not like [Crawford] is never going to play again; he's a big part of the team," Quenneville told reporters covering the series. "Things change instantly in our game. Here we are with a chance at a different decision for Game 3. That's the business we're in. It's performance-driven a lot of times. This one is strictly because Scott's played outstanding in the series and it's been the differential."