Florida Panthers 4, New Jersey Devils 3 (FLA leads 2-1)
Nashville Predators 3, Detroit Red Wings 1 (NSH leads 3-1)
Phoenix Coyotes 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (PHO leads 2-1)
Those Who Shined
1. Pekka Rinne, Goaltender, Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne was the definition of a solid performance Tuesday night. He saved 40 of 41 shots from one of the NHL’s most potent offensive attacks, which is a stellar 97.6 save percentage. This was especially impressive for a couple of reasons. First, his teammates threw only 17 shots on goal (which turned out to be enough), so he was given the much more difficult task between the pipes, but he rose to the occasion. More importantly, this contest marked the second consecutive win for the Predators at Joe Louis Arena — arguably the toughest building in hockey. The folks in Nashville will give Renne a warm welcome when they return home for game five with a chance to close the series.
2. Mikkel Boedker, Right Wing, Phoenix Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker hadn’t recorded a point in the first two games of this series, but that changed in a big way Tuesday night. In front of a ruckus crowd at the United Center, Boedker beat netminder Corey Crawford to propel the Coyotes to a crucial game three victory in overtime. He also added an assist to finish a game with two points and a plus one rating — a more then adequate performance from a Phoenix perspective. After dropping a game in Arizona, the Coyotes were in desperate need of stealing a game in Chicago, which makes the game winning tally of that much more importance.
3. Mike Smith, Goaltender, Phoenix Coyotes
Admittedly, it was the stick of Boedker that literally won the game for the Coyotes, but another instrumental piece of the triumph was Mike Smith. Smith battled to make 35 of 37 saves in well over 70 minutes of hockey, which was just enough for the Phoenix offense to pick up the victory. He was at his best in the overtime period, when the Coyotes were outshot six to two, but the deadly Blackhawks attack was unable to put one in the back of the net. I personally cannot wait to watch this guy through the rest of this series — I mean, what’s better then a matchup that has included three consecutive finishes?