The NHL playoff action stretches from coast to coast Monday night, and the league has to be concerned with the amount of free hockey given away so far. It seems that the NHL cannot go a single night without a game going into overtime. If the fans have it their way, Monday will bring more of the same extended results.
Monday features more of the historic Southern California playoff matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks, a contest 20 years in the making. On the Eastern seaboard, the New York Rangers look to reverse their fortunes against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which have drubbed the squad in postseason play for many years.
Here is the TV schedule for Monday's second-round games, followed by a look at how each team will fare as they begin another week of postseason play.
|2||Kings at Ducks||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Penguins at Rangers||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers, Game 3
The Rangers, which have a tormented history against the Penguins in the playoffs (4-16 all time prior to this year), managed a 3-2 overtime victory to take Game 1 of the series.
The Rangers were led by Benoit Pouliot, who notched two points on a goal and an assist in the opening chapter. His powerful shot in overtime proved to be the game-winner.
Although Pittsburgh outshot the Rangers 36-27 during Game 1, they went 0-for-4 on the power play. Bleacher Report's Dave Lozo noted that the Penguins were working on getting back their mojo on the power play Sunday morning:
Penguins are working on their power play this morning. Noted Finn Matt Niskanen still with the top unit. #TopUnit— Dave Lozo (@DaveLozo) May 4, 2014
Look for Pittsburgh to get a boost on the defensive end as well as the series goes on. Matt Niskanen was disappointing in Game 1, but he has eight points so far in the playoffs and should return to form soon to supply Sidney Crosby up top.
The Penguins will also be counting on the return of defenseman Brooks Orpik as he makes his way back from injury.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik is on the ice for optional practice at Southpointe. He's missed last 3 games with undisclosed injury #Pens— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 3, 2014
The Rangers have been stretched thin so far in the playoffs and are set up for a letdown in Game 3 after another grueling back-to-back set of games.
Prediction: Penguins win
Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks, Game 2
The vaunted Freeway Series got off to a sensational start in Game 1. The Kings, down 2-1, were seven seconds away from dropping the first game of the series when Marian Gaborik put one past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller to force overtime.
Gaborik finished tormenting the Ducks in overtime as he slotted the puck home again thanks to a fantastic pass from center Anze Kopitar, and just like that, the Kings stole Game 1 with a gut-punch, 3-2 victory.
Gaborik continued his strong play for the Kings, and he now has five goals and eight points in eight playoff games so far.
Hiller started Game 1 in goal for the Ducks, a surprise to some considering he was replaced by rookie Frederik Andersen for the majority of the opening series against the Dallas Stars. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau had confidence in his goalie despite the loss, via Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register:
“I think he played really good tonight,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know where you could fault him on anything. You’re looking at a 3-2 overtime loss where both teams played equally."
The stats certainly back up Boudreau's assessment. The Kings narrowly outshot the Ducks 36-35, and each team racked up four power plays, although the Ducks were unable to find the net when they had numbers.
Teemu Selanne, the ageless wonder, popped up for a goal in the opening game, and he could be an X-factor for the remainder of this series.
Considering how tightly contested Game 1 was, look for the Ducks to bounce back and even up the series in front of the home crowd.
Prediction: Ducks win