The Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild both took advantage of home-ice. Notes on P.K. Subban, Dale Weise, Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, Ilya Bryzgalov and more.
HABS HOME COOKING
Returning home for Game Three of their series against the Boston Bruins, the Montreal Canadiens delivered their best game of the series and took a 4-2 decision, gaining a 2-1 lead in the series.
As he has been throughout the postseason, Canadiens D P.K. Subban was front-and-centre for the Habs. He had a goal and an assist, giving him 11 points (3 G, 8 A) in seven games this playoff. He has 27 points in 33 career playoff games and his 0.82 points per game in the playoffs is the best among defencemen to have played at least 30 playoff games since 2000. Subban also played a game-high 27:50, bumping his postseason average to 27:34 per game, most among Eastern Conference skaters still alive in the second round.
Montreal got a goal and an assist from Dale Weise, giving him four points in seven playoff games and five goals in 24 (regular season plus playoff games) since he was acquired by Montreal.
Lars Eller also contributed a goal and an assist, notching the empty-netter, giving him eight points in seven playoff games to lead Montreal's forwards; quite a change in fortune for a player that had six points in his last 35 games of the regular season.
Habs veteran defence pairing of Mike Weaver and Douglas Murray was dominated possession-wise, both on for less than 32% of 5-on-5 shot attempts but, to be at least a little bit fair, they also started nearly all of their shifts in the defensive zone. Rookie LW Michael Bournival, skating mostly with Tomas Plekanec and Thomas Vanek as the Canadiens shuffled lines, was the only Hab on for better than 60% of shot attempts for.
Patrice Bergeron scored Boston's first goal and had another strong all-around game, generating a game-high 10 shot attempts. Montreal's leaders in shot attempts were left wingers Rene Bourque and Max Pacioretty, with seven apiece.
For a big rivalry game, the Canadiens took a very disciplined approach -- each team had just one power play -- and it removed some of the emotion from the proceedings, which worked for the Habs. They raced out to a 3-0 lead and, this time, held on to win. With another game in Montreal, suddenly there is some pressure on the favoured Bruins.
WILD BACK IN THE SERIES
The first couple period of Game Three between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild were snooze-worthy, with the two teams combining for 25 shots on goal in a scoreless affair. The Wild, though jumped on the Blackhawks with a couple of goals early in the third period, tacked on a couple more late and skated away with a 4-0 win, cutting the Blackhawks' lead in the series to 2-1.
Rookie Erik Haula scored the first goal for Minnesota, giving him five points (2 G, 3 A) in 10 playoff games. Haula scored 15 points in 46 games this season, but finished the year with seven points in the last seven games as he filled the second-line centre role for an injured Mikael Granlund.
Speaking of Granlund, the second-year centre scored a pair goals, including the empty-netter. He missed time late in the year due to injury, but Granlund had 22 points in his last 24 regular season games and now has seven points (4 G, 3 A) in 10 playoff games.
Wild G Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all 19 shots he faced for the shutout. It was Bryzgalov's first playoff shutout since 2006, but he still has an abysmal .860 save percentage in six playoff games this year.
Unable to generate offence, the Blackhawks tried shuffling lines part way through the game, putting Patrick Kane with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, while Marian Hossa skated with Bryan Bickell and Ben Smith, but to no avail; they couldn't beat Bryz.
Blackhawks D Nick Leddy, a Minnesota native, was scratched, for Sheldon Brookbank. An interesting choice for coach Joel Quenneville, considering that Leddy has the team's best possession numbers in the playoffs.
When a team like the Wild comes into a series as prohibitive underdogs, one way to reduce the advantage of a more skilled club is to reduce the number of shots and hope that increases the role that randomness can play in the proceedings. So far, the Blackhawks are averaging 21.0 shots per game (the Wild at 23.0) through three games, which is decidedly lower than the 33.1 shots per game that the Blackhawks averaged during the regular season and it's probably the way it has to be if the Wild are going to build on their Game Three win.
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.