by Lauren Fredericks
On May 18, Round Two of the NHL playoffs came to an end. This round was full of energy and enthusiasm as teams struggled to win another game and make it to the Stanley Cup Final. Round One, true to expectations, proved to be exciting and surprising as well.
In Round One, the Montreal Canadiens outperformed most hockey fans’ expectations by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, sweeping them in four games despite a home ice disadvantage. In Round Two, they surprised many by forcing the Boston Bruins, the highest-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, into game seven. The Canadiens beat the Bruins in a 4-3 victory to move on to Round Three.
Highlights from Round One included three matchups lasting seven games. The Minnesota Avalanche and Colorado Wild played a furious series, with Colorado managing to either lead the series or tie it through the first six games. However, an overtime goal by Minnesota right-winger Nino Niederreiter in game seven cost Colorado the series. However, Minnesota fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in Round Two’s game six, making it the only series in that round not to go to game seven. The New York Rangers also went into game seven having never trailed the series, but unlike Colorado they prevailed and beat the Philadelphia Flyers. In Round Two, New York forced the Pittsburgh Penguins into another game seven after they were losing the series 1-3 going into game five, and beat them to move on to Round Three.
After winning the first three games of their series, it seemed the San Jose Sharks would sweep the Kings in Los Angeles in Round One. The Sharks were playing with energy and heart, embarrassing the Kings with five straight goals in game one and seven straight goals in game two. However, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stepped up his game in game four, and the Sharks’ defense began to fall apart. Significant players for the Sharks failed to rise up, and the loss of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, perhaps the Sharks’ best defenseman, in game five proved in the end to be another fatal flaw that caused the Sharks to spiral out of control. The Kings won the series in San Jose with a 5-1 victory. It was only the fourth time in NHL history for a team down the first three games to come back and win the series.
For the final round, the winner of the Chicago and LA series will face the winner of the Montreal and New York series to fight for the Stanley Cup. After what fans witnessed in the first two rounds, the future games will undoubtedly be exciting.