The Top 10 Highlights of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs So Far
The first round of the 2014 NHL playoffs is half-settled.
With series wins for the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, four participants in this year's second round are now confirmed. The other four will be determined over the next three days.
It's been a great postseason so far, with an intriguing mix of old and new faces, great offense countered by impressive defense, and plenty of physical play.
This look at the top 10 highlights of the playoffs so far strikes a balance between the memorable, the spectacular and the important. There have been plenty more great moments that didn't make the list, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments section.
All stats are courtesy of NHL.com and current through end of play Sunday, April 27.
10. Dan Carcillo Scores on Ray Emery, Taunts Philadelphia Crowd
Date: Tuesday, April 22
Game Situation: Game 3, New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers, series tied 1-1
Highlight Situation: Appearing in his first game of the playoffs, Carcillo reacts angrily after being called for hooking on Matt Read as the Rangers hold a 3-1 lead midway through the third period. After serving his penalty, the ex-Flyer bursts out of the box to score his first goal of the playoffs and then taunt the jeering Flyer fans.
Impact: Carcillo's act fired up the emotions on both sides of the rivalry and may have inadvertently helped spur the Flyers to a 2-1 win in Game 4.
Carcillo was scratched by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault in Game 5 in favor of the more mild-mannered J.T. Miller, who contributed an assist and was a plus-two in New York's 4-2 win.
9. Ryan Getzlaf Takes Slap Shot to the Face
Date: Wednesday, April 16
Game Situation: Game 1, Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks
Highlight Situation: With the Stars trailing 4-3 in the dying seconds and their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, a Tyler Seguin slap shot catches Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf in the face.
Impact: The Ducks hung on to win Game 1 and Getzlaf has been a warrior ever since his injury.
It took Anaheim six games to dispose of the Stars, with Getzlaf sitting out one game along the way, but he was Anaheim's best player in Game 2 and Game 5. He won't let something as trifling as a jaw injury stand in the way of the Ducks' quest for the Stanley Cup this season.
8. Tuukka Rask Denies Brian Lashoff and Justin Abdelkader
Date: Tuesday, April 22
Game Situation: Game 3, Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings, series tied 1-1
Highlight Situation: With Boston holding a 2-0 lead in Detroit going into the third period, goaltender Tuukka Rask robs Brian Lashoff on the preliminary shot and then makes a sprawling save from his side on Justin Abdelkader to keep the Red Wings off the scoreboard.
Impact: With the series tied at one game apiece, the underdog Red Wings were desperate to make a good showing in front of their home fans in Game 3 to give themselves a chance to win.
Rask's 3-0 shutout not only secured the win and the series lead for Boston, it also served notice that the Wings were facing an uphill battle. They eventually bowed out to the Bruins in five games.
7. Mikael Granlund Scores Overtime Winner on Semyon Varlamov
Date: Monday April 21
Game Situation: Game 3, Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild, Colorado leads series 2-0
Highlight Situation: After more than 65 minutes of scoreless hockey in Game 3, Mikael Granlund's tremendous individual effort gave the Wild a 1-0 win in the game and pulled them back to 2-1 in the series.
Impact: Granlund's goal sparked the Wild to a dominating performance in Game 4, when they outshot Colorado 32-12 on their way to a 2-1 win that tied the series and dramatically shifted the momentum.
Colorado was able to rally for a come-from-behind win in Game 5, but this series is still wide-open. If Minnesota advances, Granlund's goal will be singled out as the turning point of the series.
6. Brandon Dubinsky Ties Game Against Marc-Andre Fleury
Date: Wednesday, April 23
Game Situation: Game 4, Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh lead series 2-1
Highlight Situation: After Columbus cut an early 3-0 Penguins lead to 3-2, the Blue Jackets pulled Sergei Bobrovsky for an extra attacker. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury mishandles the puck behind the net on a Columbus dump-in, leading to a wide-open net for Brandon Dubinsky, whose goal sends the game to overtime.
Impact: The Blue Jackets needed just 2:49 of the extra frame to score the overtime winner, tying the series at two games each and igniting the annual firestorm of criticism around Fleury.
To the Penguins' credit, they rebounded with a strong effort for a Game 5 win and now have two chances to successfully close out their first-round series.
5. Brent Seabrook Suspended for Hit on David Backes
Date: Saturday, April 19
Game Situation: Game 2, Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues, St. Louis leads series 1-0
Highlight Situation: With the 'Hawks leading 3-2 in the third period and tempers starting to flare, Brent Seabrook follows up a kneeing penalty on Bryan Bickell with a devastating hit on Blues captain David Backes, knocking him out cold.
Impact: Seabrook was assessed a charging major and game misconduct. The Blues were able to tie the game on the power play with seven seconds remaining and then take a 2-0 series lead on Barret Jackman's overtime winner.
Though Seabrook was suspended for three games for his actions, the hit also knocked Backes out of action for two games. During that time, the Blackhawks rallied, eventually winning the series in six and declaring themselves, once again, to be dangerous Cup contenders.
4. Nathan MacKinnon Scores Overtime Winner on Darcy Kuemper
Date: Saturday, April 26
Game Situation: Game 5, Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche, series tied 2-2
Highlight Situation: After P.A. Parenteau's controversial goal tied the game late in the third period, amazing rookie Nathan MacKinnon scored the biggest goal of his career, as he poked the loose puck past Darcy Kuemper at 3:27 of overtime.
Impact: The goal was MacKinnon's third point of the night—the third time in five playoff games that he has posted three or more points. He's leading the playoff scoring race with 10 points and, at 18 years old, has nothing but upside ahead of him.
After stumbling badly on the road in Games 3 and 4, the win gives Colorado a 3-2 edge in the series. Momentum from the victory could help the Avs play a better game when they return the to Xcel Energy Center for Game 6 on Monday.
3. Jonathan Quick Denies Tommy Wingels
Date: Saturday, April 26
Game Situation: Game 5, Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks, San Jose leads series 3-1
Highlight Situation: With the Sharks down 3-0 in the third period, Jonathan Quick kicks his leg up to make a point-blank save on Tommy Wingels. Don't believe the announcer, who says the shot hits the post. It's all Quick.
Impact: After three disastrous games to open the series, Quick and the Kings have shut the door defensively and given themselves a chance to stage a rare 0-3 playoff comeback.
As NHL.com's Curtis Zupke points out, while only three teams in history have come back from that deficit to win a playoff series, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were members of the Philadelphia Flyers when they accomplished that feat against the Boston Bruins in the second round of the 2010 postseason.
Carter didn't play in that series due to a broken foot, but did return later in the playoffs.
The Kings appear to have dialed into that never-say-die spirit in Games 4 and 5, suddenly leaving the Sharks' first-round fate very much in doubt.
2. Dale Weise Scores Overtime Winner on Anders Lindback
Date: Wednesday, April 16
Game Situation: Game 1, Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning
Highlight Situation: After Steven Stamkos' second goal tied the game at 4-4 midway through the third period, Dale Weise became the unlikely overtime hero for Montreal. He made no mistake on a wide-open wrist shot with 1:52 remaining in a back-and-forth first overtime period.
Impact: After the Canadiens were spanked by the Ottawa Senators in the first round last year, the team and its fans weren't exactly exuding confidence going into this year's playoffs. Tampa Bay and Montreal were two evenly matched teams and the Lightning had stolen home-ice advantage by edging the Canadiens by one point during the regular season.
Weise's goal was the spark that lit the Habs' fuse as they steamrolled their way to a first-round sweep. The question now is whether they'll lose too much of that momentum during their long layoff before Round 2.
1. Jonathan Toews Scores Overtime Winner on Ryan Miller
Date: Friday April 25
Game Situation: Game 5, Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues, series tied 2-2
Highlight Situation: After Corey Crawford surrenders a huge rebound from a David Backes wrist shot, Duncan Keith's quick pass up to Jonathan Toews springs him free behind the Blues defense. Within seconds, the game is over.
Impact: After surrendering its 2-0 series lead, St. Louis stumbled to elimination after a 5-1 defeat in Game 6 on Sunday.
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