Sunday, April 15, 2007

Visiting Hours

It was a road kill free Saturday night for the visiting teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Saturday's results proved that sometimes there is some place other than home. All four playoff matches saw the home team come up short as the visiting Islanders, Penguins, Lightning and Rangers all proved to be less than accommodating guests.

The biggest shock no doubt came in Buffalo, where Ted Nolan found victory in the city that last dismissed him, his Islanders led by the returning Rick DiPietro topped the Sabres 3-2. It was an amazing display from DiPietro, who just back from a mandatory rest due to concussion, proved to be in stellar form as he shut down the Sabres. The victory is a small step for the Islanders, who are still probably not expected to advance, but proved on Saturday that with a hot goaltender and some pressure in the offensive zone good things can come your way.

The Penguins looked set to be banished from the playoffs in quick order, a second period from hell that saw the Senators take control of the game, much like they did in period one of game one. However, to their credit and thanks in large part to Marc Andre Fleury who bounced back from Wednesday's trauma in the nets and an old adversary in the name of Gary Roberts they battled back. The Pens providing a high tempo third period, which saw youngsters Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby tallying the equalizer and then winning goal and turning the series into an intense roller coaster of emotions again for Sens fans.

In Atlanta, Sean Avery the pest acquired from the west earlier this year, became more than just an annoyance to the Atlanta Thrashers, besides his pesky ways, he tallied up on the score board. Fellow acquisition Brendan Shanahan, picked up in the off season, put the Rangers ahead of a listless looking Thrasher squad and taking a 2-0 lead in their best of seven series. The Rangers took control of game two and the series with the victory as Atlanta stands to watch a remarkable regular season go for naught in the playoff round.

And New Jersey hosted the final edition of our road stories on Saturday, as the Tampa Bay Lightning decided that they might wish to hang around the playoff scene for a few more days than Jerseyites might like. The Bolts looking a bit like that Stanley Cup champion squad of a few years ago, took one from the Devils on Saturday as the Lightning goaltender Johan Holmqvist rose to the occasion in his duel with Martin Brodeur.

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