A Night of Game Sixes
Well, at least we know some teams can win at home in Game 6 situations.
Ottawa and L.A. couldn't, and they're gone. Detroit couldn't, and the Red Wings now face a tricky Game 7 match in Phoenix tonight.
On Monday night, however, while Nashville became the fourth team in the first round of the post-season to lose Game 6 at home, and the third to exit the playoffs in that way, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens showed they could handle the stress of wildly cheering home fans.
So six of the eight first round series are now over, with only the Wings-Coyotes match tonight and Washington-Montreal contest in D.C. tomorrow night left.
What have we learned? Well, goalies - hello, Jaroslav Halak - can win a game and sometimes a series on their own, although Ryan Miller and Martin Brodeur, Vezina Trophy finalists both, were unable to do so.
But the most critical piece of evidence out of the three Game 6 situations on Monday was that this is not the time of year to go stone cold on the power play.
Washington has, and with their abysmal total now 1-30 against Montreal penalty killing, they are 60 minutes away from what would be a humiliating first round loss.
The Caps came into these playoffs no longer the hotshot young kids, but the best team in the NHL during the regular season. That mantle hasn't sat comfortably since these playoffs began, with the Caps unable to score at some junctures and unable to defend effectively at others.
The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, went 0-22 against the Bruins in their six game series, a key reason why the third-seeded Sabres are now done. Sure, the absence of sniper Tomas Vanek for parts of the series didn't help, but even when Vanek played, the Buffalo power play couldn't connect.
Nashville, finally, managed only one power play goal in their entire series against Chicago, and so remain a franchise yet to record a single playoff series triumph. The Hawks, meanwhile, go on to face Vancouver in the second round.
Between them, then, the Caps, Sabres and Predators have collectively scored twice at extra strength, a big reason why two are finished while Washington is hanging by a thread. At least Buffalo and Nashville could have guessed they'd have problems at extra strength in the playoffs after being the 17th and 24th rated NHL clubs, respectively, on the power play during the regular season.
But the Caps? They were No. 1, but have two goals in their past two games.
Not the time of year to go cold on the power play. But with Mike Green not making plays and Alex Semin finding the crest on the goalie's chest everytime he shoots, there doesn't seem to be much head coach Bruce Boudreau can do to fix the problem.
If he can't, there's a good chance the Caps will join the Senators, Devils, Sabres, Avalanche, Kings and Predators on the sidelines Wednesday night.