Wednesday night’s playoff games provided a slate of thrilling hockey. All four games were decided by a single goal, with three of them requiring overtime. Thursday night? Not so much.
The Penguins were on the winning end of one of the three blowouts on the evening, thrashing Evgeni Nabokov and the Islanders to take a 3-2 lead in their opening-round series. After a scoreless first period, Sidney Crosby provided the exclamation point on a three-goal second, splitting two Isles defenseman before beating Nabokov blocker-side.
Check out Crosby’s beauty in the video below.
Crosby’s score was nifty, but the Penguins didn’t need grade-A shots to beat Nabokov on Thursday.
The Isles netminder allowed four goals before being yanked in the third period, and none was worse than this one off the stick of Pittsburgh’s Douglas Murray. Murray’s shot from the point was on a trajectory to hit Nabokov right in the chest, but it nicked off the top of the goalie’s glove, knucklepucked over his head and somehow ended up in the back of the net. It was just that kind of night for the veteran goalie.
It also helped that Penguins backup Tomas Vokoun played out of his mind, pitching a shutout with 32 saves in his first playoff game in six years and prompting the hashtag #vokounamatata to trend on Twitter in the U.S.
Check out the Nabokov’s gift-wrapped tally in GIF form below. (h/t Eye on Hockey)
Au revoir, Montreal
The Canadiens were also forced to go to their backup goalie after losing Carey Price for the series in Game 4, and Peter Budaj was much more Nabokov than Vokoun on Thursday.
Budaj surrendered six goals to a Senators offense that ranked 27th in the NHL in the regular season, allowing the No. 7 seed Ottawa to clinch the series and putting the so-called “Pesky Sens” in the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2006-07. The Senators celebrated accordingly on Twitter after the game.
What a feeling ! Doh doh doh doh doh! Nuff said! #lalala— Erik Karlsson (@ErikKarlsson65) May 10, 2013
Never stop believing,
#peskysens— Daniel Alfredsson (@DAlfredsson11) May 10, 2013
Heck of a win for the boys to finish the first round! @CraigAnderson41 was in beastmode again tonight, and @ECondra was on fire! #peskysens— Kyle Turris (@kyleturris) May 10, 2013
And yes, the cheesecake last night gave @ECondra a little something extra to aim at on that 3rd goal... #bigbootypoppin— Kyle Turris (@kyleturris) May 10, 2013
Budaj found himself out of position on several occasions in Game 5, clearing the way for several easy goals, like this one off the stick of Cody Conacher.
A few hours after Ottawa’s series-clinching win, the Blackhawks finished off the pesky but short-staffed Wild in five games, as well. After keeping up with Chicago through four games despite missing their starting goaltender — and at times their backup goalie — the Wild imploded in Game 5, with Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper combining to allow five goals in a 5-1 rout.
In other words, there was a whole lot of this going on at the United Center.