That is more like it...much better effort all-around! Both game 4's were two of the most fun and frenetic battles of the playoffs...great to watch! I did not want to go back and count...but aside from missing on the Senators wrapping up their series in game 4, I was spot on every other call I made!
It took Buffalo all of nine seconds to find the net. Chris Drury was incredible...he did exactly what his team needed him to do...he carried them to a win. Briere was good and contributed...but Drury was THE CAPTAIN! Alfredsson played okay but seemed to take the night off...he certainly earned it. He did throw a few hits and created some scoring chances. In fact, the game-tying goal was on his stick but did not connect. I really thought that after the Sens came back with those two quick goals, the series was over. Kudos to the Sabres for holding on for dear life and extending the series to game 5. Ryan Miller was brilliant and the defense was good enough. In the first three games, Miller stopped 20+ shots more than Emery...that is an entire extra game worth of stops. Last night alone he faced 11 more shots, making the total near 35...that is 35 more shots than Emery has faced...just phenomenal!
Same story for Anaheim...they showed up to the arena on time and scored the opening goal less than two minutes in. Did you see who happened to score that goal? It was one, Corey Perry, who just happened to be reunited with Getzlaf and Penner! That line was powerful and productive...as usual...I do not expect to see them broken up again. Getzlaf will be an all-star next year...no doubt about it. He was a force all night, had an assist, and scored the game-winning goal. What was great about this game was who they went up against for most of the contest...Bertuzzi, Cleary, and Lang. That is a ton of muscle on the ice...not even including any octopi! It was exciting to watch...the match-up was a game within the game. Much like a heavy-weight bout, each line punched and counter-punched until someone finally faltered. Bertuzzi played outstanding again...he has returned to form in this series...a literal freight train. He scored his second goal in as many games, and wreaked havoc in front of the net. That entire line easily could have been the 3 stars of the night if not for the fact that they lost. They immediately responded to the opening goal and then scored consecutive power play goals to start the game anew. Holmstrom might as well have set this one out like Pronger had to...he contributed nada...I did not even see or hear his name one time in the first. And does any goalie play the puck worse than Hasek? My goodness...every single time he leaves his crease there is drama. I know I am spoiled by getting to watch the best puck-handling goalie in the league every night...but PLEASE...stay in your net for crying out loud! There was also some foreshadowing of what is to come with Hasek against Ottawa...he simply does not prosper in the high-scoring affairs. The Ducks began this game like Detroit began game 3...huge hits, relentless pressure, power plays, and a few goals. The defense coped well with Pronger's absence...I guess it helps to have two 30-minute, all-star blue-liners on one team. But the other guys stepped up as well, including young Jackman...he scored his first goal in his first playoff game! Selanne finally broke through and played a spirited game. He made a beautiful pass to Getzlaf, who then made an even sweeter pass to Jackman for the Ducks first power-play goal of the series. JS Giguere was flat-out remarkable tonight! He put on a clinic...making one gigantic save after another...including the save of the night -- a larcenous stop on Filppula's short-handed break-away! He gave up a few but held the Wings at bay when it counted. It was a hard-fought, 60-minute effort by the entire team and the Ducks earned an important win...barely!
Now what? Even after their excellent game 4 performances, I am sticking to my predictions. Obviously the Senators cannot win in four...they may not even win in five...but they will wrap this up by game 6 for sure. Detroit wins the next two and heads to the finals, yet again.