For as great as the first night of the hockey playoffs were, last night was ten times better. Three of the four games went to overtime with one going to double overtime. Plus you have the Bulls bench beating the big three? "The Stack" is here to talk all about that and more. We're not scared of Friday the 13th. So let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Friday, April 13:
1. Rangers breeze by Senators, Bruins best Capitals in overtime.
Two more game ones in the eastern conference last night and to Madison Square Garden first, where the New York Rangers scored the first four goals in route to their 4-2 over the Ottawa Senators. Ryan Callahan scored the first goal in the first period and Marion Gaborik scored a nifty goal in the second that left four Senators standing still. The reality is is that this series is going to be over sooner rather than later. The Rangers are just too talented and they will make quick work of the Senators in this series.
Meanwhile in the Boston Garden, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins played a classic, going to overtime where Chris Kelly scored on a slapshot that got just under and past the glove of Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to give the Bruins a 1-0 win and a 1-0 series lead. Both goaltenders, Holtby and Tim Thomas, made fantastic saves in the game that kept the game scoreless. It was a physical game and plenty of action. Expect more of this type of action and excitement in this series. Eventually Alex Ovechkin will get one by Thomas and the Capitals will need him to. Otherwise they'll be knocked out of the first round once again, capping off another disappointing year for the Capitals in the playoffs.
2. Sharks beat Blues in double overtime, Coyotes get by Blackhawks in OT.
The puck dropped on two game ones in the western conference as well last night and they were both terrific games. First in St. Louis, the San Jose Sharks, swept by the Blues in the regular season, won 3-2 in double overtime thanks to Martin Havlat's goal a little over three minutes into the second overtime. It was Havlat's second goal of the game and the Sharks are very happy to get some contribution out of him. Havlat, traded to the Sharks from Minnesota in the offseason, struggled with injuries this season. Now back and healthy, he gives the Sharks a boost on offense that the Sharks will rely on in the playoffs. The Blues played ok. Goalie Jaroslav Halak played pretty well, but not as good as Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Nieme stopped forty shots on the night. He was outstanding. If the Sharks continue to get performances like that from Niemi, they'll win this series and then some.
In the desert, another overtime game occured where the home team Phoenix Coyotes, playing in front of a packed crowd for once (though there were a lot of Blackhawks fans there), scored the game-winning goal in overtime to get by the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 to take the first game of the series. Chicago was trailing and applying the pressure in the final seconds of the third period when Brent Seabrook banged in a rebound shot to tie the game 2-2 and force overtime. But in the extra frame, the Coyotes got an extra opportunity after they shot it on net and the Blackhawks failed to clear the zone and made the Blackhawks pay. Martin Hanzal scored the game-winning goal and the Blackhawks, picked by many including myself to win the series, find themselves down one game to nothing. No time to panic and head coach Joel Quenneville will have his team ready for game two, a game I'm already predicting they'll win. Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith played out of his mind stopping 43 of 45 shots. The Blackhawks will try to continue to get pressure on the net and I think they'll be able to get a few more past Smith. No question though that Smith was the number one star for the Coyotes in game one and if they want to win this series, he's going to have to have a few more games lilke that.
Friday night's playoff games
#6 New Jersey @ #3 Florida 7:00 PM ET
#5 Philadelphia @ #4 Pittsburgh 7:30 PM ET
#5 Detroit @ #4 Nashville 7:30 PM ET
#8 Los Angeles @ #1 Vancouver 10:00 PM ET
Check your local listings
3. Bench leads Bulls to win over Heat
Despite a career low from two points on one for thirteen shooting (1-13) from Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls were able to beat the Miami Heat 96-86 in overtime. It was only possible thanks to the Bulls bench playing lights out, scoring 47 points compared seven points for the Heat's bench. Three Bulls bench players scored in double figures including Kyle Korver who made several huge threes. C.J. Watson hit a three with just over two seconds left in regulation to tie the game. LeBron James had a great game scoring 30 points, but came up short when it really mattered when he missed one of two free throws that could have sewn up the game. Yes he did hit a big three in the corner to give the Heat a two point lead. But you expect your stars to come up clutch when it matters and James missing a free throw is telling. Not good, not good. The Heat may be in trouble. Yes they have the ability to flip that switch and turn it on once the playoffs start, but they have played less than stellar basketball since the all-star break. The Heat will not win it all this year, despite the "big three" playing well. Chicago is better, Boston may be better and Oklahoma City is better. At the end of the year, we may be wondering if the Heat will remain together after this year.
4. Quick takes
The New Orleans Saints have named Joe Vitt interim head coach for the season. Vitt will still serve his six game suspension for his role in the bounty program, but this is the smart move for the Saints after Bill Parcells declined...Former Arkansas football head coach Bobby Petrino will not appeal his firing from the university. Good. Now get him out of the news...
Enjoy the weekend everyone.
Coming up Monday: Recap of the NHL playoffs and reaction to the weekend's biggest headlines.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.