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Cullen: Ducks' and Canucks' stars get the job done

Scott Cullen
4/16/2011 2:05:05 AM
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The Canucks and Ducks had their top guns firing, as the Canucks and Capitals pulled ahead two games to none, while the Lightning and Ducks evened their respective series.

PITTSBURGH-TAMPA BAY
After a rough opening game, the Lightning raced to an early lead and the Penguins couldn't catch up, despite outshooting the Lightning 28-12 over the last two periods.

Tampa Bay was led offensive, with three points apiece, by Eric Brewer and Simon Gagne.  It was the first time since February, 2008, that Brewer had at least three points in a game and the first time since January, 2006, that Gagne registered three assists in a game.

Oh, and Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist a day after having a double root canal.

After thwarting the Lightning at every turn in Game One, Marc-Andre Fleury only stopped 16 of 20 shots in Game Two.

After going 0-for-7 in Game Two, the Penguins' power play is now 0-for-13 in the series.

Going home with a split, the Lightning are in good shape, particularly if they can figure out a way to jumpstart Steven Stamkos, who has two shots on goal through the first two games.

WASHINGTON-NY RANGERS
Michal Neuvirth recorded a 22-save shutout for the Capitals and if that sounds like an easy shutout, it appeared to be with relative ease, as the Rangers didn't mount any consistent assaults on the Washington net.

With one goal through the first two games, the Rangers have some serious offensive doldrums to shake, epitomized by Marian Gaborik's struggles.  Through the first two games of the series, Gaborik has played 49:35 -- his two highest ice-time games of the season -- yet he's managed nothing but eight shots on goal.

Gaborik has had a hard time shaking the tight-checking of Karl Alzner and John Carlson, Washington's shutdown pair,

On the other hand, Capitals winger Jason Chimera was an efficient bundle of energy, scored the first goal of the game, recording five shots and five hits, yet only played 11:01, second-lowest among Washington's forwards.

While Alexander Ovechkin registered an assist on the power play, the Rangers' defensive duo of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi was relatively effecting against the Capitals' top line, limiting Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble to a total of five shots on goal.

It's easy to be excited about the Capitals' chances, up two games to none, but with a total of five goals scored between both teams through two games, it would seem there is more to discover before this series is finished.

VANCOUVER-CHICAGO
Similar to Game One, the Canucks got on the board early, pulled ahead and then held on to win, despite a furious finish.

Hart Trophy candidate Daniel Sedin was exceptional, scoring two goals and an assist to lead the Canucks, with his assist setting up the first goal of the game, Jannik Hansen's second goal of the series.

Chicago's comeback was sparked by unlikely sources.  Rookie Ben Smith scored a pair of goals and Viktor Stalberg added one.  As the game went on, Smith appeared to gain confidence with the puck, so he may be a factor for the Blackhawks later in the series.

While it was encouraging for Chicago to get production from players lower on the depth chart, they're going to need more from their top dogs if they have a chance to come back in the series.

Jonathan Toews had no shots on goal in 22:04 and, late in the game, looked exhausted.  Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa combined for a total of six shots on goal and one lonely assist by Kane.

It's working similarly on the blueline too, as Chris Campoli was plus-3 going up against the Canucks' grinders, while Duncan Keith was minus-2 in his customary role against Vancouver's number one line.

The Blackhawks are in a hole going home, making Game Three ever-important if Chicago is going to push the Canucks at all.

NASHVILLE-ANAHEIM
Locked down in the first game, the Ducks' first line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan combined for four goals and eight points, getting the Ducks back to even.

Ryan Getzlaf had five shots on goal while playing 25:03; Getzlaf had more than five shots on goal just once all season and he surpassed 25 minutes of ice time in ten of 67 regular season games.

Patric Hornqvist had a big game for Nashville, scoring once, registering nine shots on goal -- a dangerous presence around the Ducks net all night long.

Predators defenceman Shea Weber added two more points, giving him three through the first two games of the series, but the Predators couldn't get him out against Anaheim's big line as often as they might have liked.

With the Game Two win, the Ducks at least head to Nashville even.  Losing the first two at home would have been devastating to their chances.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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