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Cullen: Goalies stake Sharks, Lightning to 2-0 leads

Scott Cullen
5/2/2011 12:43:56 AM
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San Jose and Tampa Bay both jumped out to 2-0 leads, stifling talented Detroit and Washington scorers in the process.

SAN JOSE-DETROIT
While it would be fair to say that the Sharks won physical battles against the Red Wings Sunday afternoon, the difference ended up being in goal, as Antti Niemi stopped 32 of 33 Detroit shots for the win.

Niemi didn't allow fewer than two goals in any game in Round One against Los Angeles, but has done so in both games to start this series.

Jimmy Howard was strong in the Red Wings goal, stopping 35 of 37 shots, but the second goal he allowed was a softie, a wrist shot from Niclas Wallin that Howard couldn't catch and it bounced over and behind the goaltender on its way into the net.

Ryane Clowe, San Jose's leading scorer in the playoffs with nine points in eight games, assisted on both San Jose goals, ending a three-game pointless streak.

Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle had eight shots on goal, his most in a game since last year's playoffs, when he accomplished the feat twice.

Red Wings centre Pavel Datsyuk played 24:11, more than he played in any other game this year, recording an assist on the lone Detroit marker.  The goal was scored by Henrik Zetterberg who, in his second game of the postseason led the Red Wings with six shots on goal, played 23:22, his highest total since a series of games in the first half of January this season.

Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall blocked seven shots, matching his season high.

San Jose's Ben Eager achieved a rare feat, accumulating 12 penalty minutes after a run-in with Todd Bertuzzi, while getting on the ice for a total of 1:10.

Detroit comes out of the first two games in San Jose, down two games to none, having scored a total of two goals.  The team's top two goal scorers in the regular season, Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary, haven't been factors yet in the series, to say nothing of the supporting cast.

San Jose is in a good spot and if they can manage a split in Detroit, it would put the Red Wings in a sizeable hole, so the Wings had better hope they can defend home ice in the next two games.

WASHINGTON-TAMPA BAY
A horrible line change by the Washington Capitals led to a quick-strike Tampa Bay Lighning overtime goal, giving the Lightning a somewhat surprising two games to none series lead.

Washington had outshot Tampa Bay 27-9 through the first two periods, yet the score was still tied 1-1 and ultimately losing the game should be a lesson of what happens when a team dominates play but doesn't take full advantage on the scoreboard.

Tampa Bay's offence was led by Vincent Lecavalier, who scored a pair of goals, including the OT winner, while Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell each had a couple of points as well.

Lecavalier's winning goal was put into motion by Lightning defenceman Randy Jones, who fired a long-distance breakout pass from deep in Tampa Bay territory to St. Louis at the Washington blueline.  Randy Jones played just 6:25 for the game, with Lightning centre Blair Jones the only one on either team to play less.

Lightning defenceman Eric Brewer, who has been a workhorse in the playoffs, played 28:33 in Game Two, more than he played in any regular season game this year (though less than the 34:51 he played in the Game Four Double-OT loss to Pittsburgh).

Washington's Brooks Laich had a goal and an assist and played 23:34.  Alexander Ovechkin scored the tying goal with 1:08 left on the clock, giving him seven points in seven playoff games.

Tampa Bay now heads home with a two-nothing lead, thanks in large part to 41-year-old goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who has stopped 61 of 65 shots through the first two games (after leading NHL goaltenders in save percentage in the first round of the playoffs).

Washington's loss in last year's playoffs was blamed on a hot goalie, Montreal's Jaroslav Halak.  If Roloson sends the Capitals packing in short order this year, there will be questions about a talented team that allows itself to get shut down at the most inopportune times.

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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