NHL

Cullen: Caps advance; Kings, Lightning stave off elimination

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Scott Cullen
4/24/2011 1:31:06 AM
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Jonathan Quick keeps the Kings alive, the Lightning live to play another day, the Rangers don't and the Habs and Bruins played a Double-OT classic.

PITTSBURGH-TAMPA BAY
Steven Stamkos finally came alive, scoring two goals and an assist, to pace the Lightning in a surprising 8-2 pasting of the Penguins in Pittsburgh. 

Lightning winger Teddy Purcell notched three assists in the blowout; he had a pair of three-point games during the regular season, including a three-assist effort in January against Atlanta.

Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina each scored a pair of goals as well.  They were Gagne's first two goals of the series, but his third multi-goal game in the last month.  It was Kubina's first two-goal game since February, 2009.

In a losing effort, Tyler Kennedy did register eight shots on goal for the Penguins in just 13:23 of ice time.

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on 14 shots, but matters didn't get better for the Penguins once they pulled him, as Brent Johnson surrendered four goals on 11 shots in relief.

Pittsburgh still holds a 3-2 series lead, despite being outscored in the series 17-12, but now they're in a tough spot, going to Tampa Bay for Game Six.

WASHINGTON-NY RANGERS
Capitals defenceman Mike Green scored the first goal of the game, giving him five points in five games, but played only 5:39 after getting hit in the head with a shot by Rangers defenceman Matt Gilroy

If Green, who has been dealing with concussion issues in the second half of this season, is out for a lengthy period, it's particularly unfortunate since his production is starting to erase the memories of disappointing playoffs over the last two seasons.

With Mike Knuble on the shelf, Brooks Laich was moved onto the top line for the Capitals and both Laich and Alexander Ovechkin had two points in the Capitals' series-clinching win.

Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi may have been worn down by his shotblocking ways, limited to 16:50 of ice time (he played less than 16:50 just once all season) as he went to the room to be checked out due to injury, and he ended the game minus-2. 

If the Rangers were going to pull off the upset, they certainly could have used more from Marian Gaborik, who managed two points in five games, scoring one goal on 20 shots.

Rangers rookie centre Derek Stepan also took his lumps, failing to register a point and finishing with a team-worst minus-5 in the first round; not nearly enough for a player that received the fifth-most ice time per game (20:29) among Rangers forwards in the series.

BOSTON-MONTREAL
An epic goaltending duel between Carey Price and Tim Thomas ended in favour of Thomas, who stopped 38 of 39 for the win, while Price turned away 42 of 44 in the heartbreaking double-overtime loss.

The two goals in regulation, Brad Marchand for Boston and Jeff Halpern for Montreal, were the result of fortunate bounces that left the goaltenders little chance. 

On the winning goal, Montreal's Andrei Kostitsyn was awfully soft, allowing himself to be picked so that Andrew Ference could walk on off the blueline and send a shot on net that ended up rebounding to Nathan Horton who, with some nifty footwork, ended up with a gaping cage in which to deposit the winner.

Dennis Seidenberg was the workhorse on the Bruins' blueline, playing 38:15 and led the Bruins with five shots on goal and six blocked shots.

P.K. Subban logged a game-high 40:38 for Montreal, pushing his series average to 29:32.

Montreal returns home looking to avoid elimination and now trailing a series that they once led two games to none.

SAN JOSE-LOS ANGELES
Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi was chased from the net after allowing three goals on four shots and there could hardly be a bigger difference in the quality of goaltending provided in this game. 

While Niemi was struggling, the Kings' Jonathan Quick was spectacular, stopping 51 of 52 shots for the victory. 

Kings rookie Kyle Clifford turned in another strong effort, picking up a goal and an assist, giving him five points in five games in the series to lead the Kings, yet he only played 11:16 in Saturday night's victory.

The best line of the night for Los Angeles was the line of Clifford, Wayne Simmonds and Brad Richardson, though not one of them played more than 15 minutes in the contest.

Patrick Marleau was the only Shark to beat Quick and he led all players with nine shots on goal in the game, a total he's surpassed just once in his career (he had 12 against Dallas on March 31, 2011).

Like the Canucks and Penguins before them already this playoff season, the Sharks suffered the fate of a higher seed at home for Game Five, looking to clinch the series, only to be turned away and left with a Game Six on the road to try and finish off the series. 

The question for the Sharks now, is whether Antti Niemi or Antero Niittymaki will get the call in net.

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.

Jonathan Quick (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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