The Boston Bruins scored late to put the New York Rangers on the brink of elimination, while the San Jose Sharks held serve at home to even up their series with the Los Angeles Kings.
BRUING BURYING RANGERS
Boston LW Dan Paille scored with 3:31 left in the third period to defeat the New York Rangers 2-1, taking a three-games-to-none lead in the series. The Rangers are left to pray for a miracle to climb out of that hole.
Boston's fourth line was instrumental in the victory. Paille, who banged home the winning goal, assisted on Boston's first goal and Shawn Thornton, the Bruins' tough guy, assisted on both goals and both wingers were plus-2 for the game.
It's not exactly par for the course when the fourth line scores both a team's goals, and it's not the kind of production that can be counted on consistently, but it's precisely the kind of contribution that can make a difference over the course of a playoff run.
Another Bruin doing a lot more than expected is D Torey Krug. He was held without a goal for the first time (leaving him with two goals and three points in three games), but the AHL call-up isn't shying away from the action. He tied for the team lead with four shots on goal and played 18:02. In a one-goal game, that's a positive sign that he's earning the trust of the Boston coaching staff.
Of course, while the Bruins get unexpected contributions, they also wait for the first goals from Tyler Seguin and Jaromir Jagr. The right wingers have combined for 69 shots on goal in the postseason and have yet to find the net. That the Bruins are winning despite their lack of production should be favourable in the long run because they can't stay goalless forever, right?
Bruins C Patrice Bergeron continued to dominate in the faceoff circle, where he was 14-of-20 (70.0%). Bergeron is at 64.2% for the playoffs, best among all that have taken at least 100 draws, just fractions ahead of teammate Chris Kelly, who is also at 64.2%. Teammate Rich Peverley has only taken 81 faceoffs, but has won an astonishing 69.1%.
The counter to Boston's faceoff dominance is that Rangers C Brian Boyle was just 4-for-21 (19.0%) in Game Three.
In a losing effort, Rangers C Derek Stepan had a strong possession game and recorded a game-high five shots on goal. Rangers RW Derek Dorsett, on the other hand, was seemingly on the wrong side of the puck all night, posting the game's worst possession numbers.
Rangers C Brad Richards remained in the doghouse, playing 8:10, a playoff career low. It speaks volumes that the Rangers, desperate for offence having scored five goals in three games against Boston, are comfortable leaving Richards, their most accomplished playoff scorer, in a fourth-line role.
Down three games to none, the Rangers are going to need spectacular goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist if they are going to mount a comeback in this series and, right now, even a great Lundqvist performance may not be enough if the Blueshirts can't find the net.
SHARKS KNOT SERIES WITH KINGS
The San Jose Sharks held on for a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings, evening their series at two games apiece.
The Sharks' winning goal was another power play marker for C Logan Couture, a deflection off a Dan Boyle blast from the point. Couture has five goals in the playoffs, all on the power play and eight of his team-leading 11 points have come with the man advantage.
San Jose has been lethal on the power play, earning 40 power plays in eight games, an average of 5.0 per game. The Rangers, who have been alleged to be getting such favourable treatment, have 38 power plays in 10 games (3.80 per game) and the second-best per-game rate belongs to the Ottawa Senators (4.38 per game). At the other end of the spectrum, Washington (2.29), Boston (2.50) and Vancouver (2.50) have the fewest power plays per game in the playoffs.
It was a strong game at even-strength for the line of Couture, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, the only real possession standouts for San Jose by game's end. For the Kings, D Jake Muzzin had an impressive showing.
Kings LW Kyle Clifford made his first appearance of the series, recording five hits in 11:25 of ice time, putting up decent possession numbers in that limited role.
Now that the series is down to a best-of-three, the Kings need more from their top line if they are going to get past the Sharks. Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams have combined for two points through the first four games.
As for San Jose, if they score on the power play, they win; at least that is how it has happened in the playoffs. The Sharks are 5-0 when they score a power play goal and they are tied with Pittsburgh for tops in the playoffs with 10 power play goals.