Biggest Takeaways from Tuesday's NHL Playoff Action
Tuesday night's NHL playoff action featured two series headed in very different directions.
Though the New York Rangers had not lost a playoff game this year when leading after two periods, the Boston Bruins came from behind with a 2-1 win to take a 3-0 stranglehold in their best-of-seven series.
Meanwhile, the feisty San Jose Sharks stormed hard out of the gate to dominate the Los Angeles Kings early, then hang on for a 2-1 win to tie their series at two games each.
Here's a look at some of the pivotal moments and key takeaways from Tuesday's games.
Boston Is Crazy-Deep at Forward
Boston's David Krejci may lead the NHL in playoff scoring so far this year, but he was held pointless for the first time in four games on Tuesday night.
Instead, the Bruins' grinders stepped up to provide the offense in Game 3. Johnny Boychuk tied the game at 1-1 early in the third period, and Daniel Paille potted the winning goal by keeping his eye on a deflecting puck behind Henrik Lundqvist, eventually tapping it into the New York Rangers' net.
Sniper Tyler Segiun might not be able to buy a goal, but as long as his teammates up and down the lineup are doing their part, Boston's having little trouble with the Rangers. The Bruins have this series well in hand and should remain dangerous as they head into the Eastern Conference Final.
Henrik the Great Can't Do It Alone
After an unusually subpar effort in the Rangers' 5-2 loss to Boston in Game 2 on Saturday, Henrik Lundqvist did his part to help his team get back into its series on Tuesday night.
Lundqvist was brilliant on a couple of point-blank opportunities by the Bruins in the first period of Game 3 and kept Boston off the scoresheet until the 3:10 mark of the third.
Johnny Boychuk's goal came through an elaborate screen and on the winner, the puck bounced around like a pinball before Daniel Paille was finally able to tap it home.
Lundqvist has done everything he can. A lack of offense, especially on the power play, is what has dug the Rangers into a virtually insurmountable 0-3 hole in this series.
Bruins Don't Need the Man Advantage
Going into Game 3, the New York Rangers owned the least productive power play of the remaining playoff teams with a 2-for-31 record.
After Game 3, the record was 2-for-33. The Rangers barely got a sniff on their two man-advantage opportunities.
In a one-goal game, it's easy to fantasize about how different the outcome might have been if New York was able to take advantage of its chances.
Carl Haggelin earned a dressing-down from coach Tortorella after Game 2 for not providing more special teams offense. Torts' comments may have been intended to provide a spark, but the power play fizzled once again in Game 3.
To rub salt in the wound, the Rangers played an ultra-disciplined game. Their only penalty of the night was a coincidental minor called against Derek Dorsett when he got into a scuffle with Brad Marchand in the first period.
Boston didn't get a single power play, but still came away with the win.
Sharks' Bite Remains Lethal at Home
During the regular season, the San Jose Sharks posted a stellar 17-2-5 record on home ice at the HP Pavilion.
So far in the playoffs, they are now 4-0 after their Game 4 win against the Kings on Tuesday. They epitomized being hard to play against in their own barn.
Los Angeles still has home-ice advantage, so San Jose is going to need to pick up a "W" at the Staples Center if the team hopes to advance to the Western Conference Final.
Galiardi Is the New Superpest
T.J. Galiardi did a masterful job of getting under the Kings' skin in Game 4.
Whether it's some subtle stickwork, a sneaky snowshower, an embellished trip or the slightest contact with Jonathan Quick, Galiardi left his opponents thinking more about vengeance than about scoring, which is the sign of a pest's work well done.
Now in his second season with the Sharks, 25-year-old Galiardi seems crystal clear about his role on the team. On Tuesday, he was able to raise the Kings' temperatures during the earlier stages of the game, then back off with his antics in the third period when the game was on the line.
Players like this are not forgotten from one game to the next. Watch for the Kings to continue to react to Galiardi in Game 5.
Bad Calls Can Even Go Against the Kings
The Los Angeles Kings got a bad break at the 13:54 mark of the second period of Game 4. Already trailing 2-0, Tyler Toffoli got a shot through to Antti Niemi that trickled through the goaltender's pads and across the goal line.
The only problem was, referee Brad Meier blew the whistle as soon as Niemi absorbed the initial shot. It seems pretty clear that Niemi had not frozen the puck, and play should have been allowed to continue, as Greg Wyshynski asserts over at Yahoo's Puck Daddy.
A different call on the play could have been a game-changer, but bad calls seem to happen to every team at some point. The refs are only human, after all.
It seemed like the Kings were blessed with an unprecedented streak of good luck as they cruised to their Stanley Cup championship in 2012. How will they respond to a little ill fortune as their series heads back to Staples Center for Game 5 on Thursday?
Thanks for reading. Check out my Twitter page for links to lots more hockey stories and playoff coverage: