Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) May 11, 2014
Not for the faint of heart, this year's NHL Playoffs kicked off with a fierce and physical first round. But the contentious contests have only intensified in the quarterfinals, treating equally ferocious fans to a furious set of match-ups in both the Eastern and the Western Conferences.
The Montreal Canadiens have been the surprise of the playoffs thus far. They are currently locked two games to two with the defending Eastern Conference Champion and Number One seeded Boston Bruins.
Prospect Matt Fraser made his NHL playoff debut Thursday night for the Bruins after being called up Wednesday from Providence of the American Hockey League. The move quickly paid off as the 23-year-old scored the only goal of the game at 1:19 of overtime to even the series 2-2.
Tuukka Rask made all 33 saves for Boston, and Carey Price stopped 34 shots for Montreal. The Canadiens were the only Canadian team to earn a playoff spot in 2014, and they own more Stanley Cup banners than any other franchise. The Bruins meanwhile are skating like they believe they will reach the Stanley Cup finals once again this year, and even win this time.
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Also in the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins entered the second round seeking to make it five for five in playoff match-ups against the New York Rangers. Pittsburgh has a chance to restore their championship sheen after a number of disappointing tries following their championship in 2009.
The Rangers continue to wrestle for the right recipe to return to the Stanley Cup finals where they have not been since winning it all in 1994. Pittsburgh, which had won three straight following a series-opening loss, had the opportunity to earn a spot in the semifinals with a win Friday night. Results were not available as of press time.
Meanwhile in the Western Conference, the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks easily handled the Minnesota Wild through the first two games of the series. However, Minnesota quickly bounced back with an impressive 4-0 performance in Game 3 to turn the series around.
The storied Blackhawks have 41 playoff wins in the last four years and won the Stanley Cup for the fifth time in 2013. The Wild have just eight playoff wins over the past decade.
On the west coast, the Anaheim Ducks finally figured out a way to beat the Los Angeles Kings as they stared down the prospect of a 0-3 series deficit Thursday night. Teemu Selanne scored the tie-breaking power-play goal late in the second period, Corey Perry got his first goal of the series, and the Ducks beat the Kings 3-2 to trim Los Angeles' series lead to 2-1.
To stay competitive the Ducks will have to slow the Kings’ swift star centre, 6'3", 225-pound Anze Kopitar. Slovenia's best hockey player has been incredibly consistent, recording at least one point in every game the Kings have played in these playoffs.
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