New Jersey Devils 3, Philadelphia Flyers 4 (OT) (PHI leads the series, 1-0)
Nashville Predators 3, Phoenix Coyotes 5 (PHO leads the series, 2-0)
Those Who Shined
1. Philadelphia Flyers Dynamic Duo
Through seven postseason games, the combination of Claude Giroux and Danny Briere has been unstoppable for Philadelphia. They have put up 25 points as a unit, and currently rank first and second in the entire NHL in both points and goals scored. Their performance pretty clearly explains why the Flyers have averaged nearly five goals per contest. As for Sunday, they tallied three of the four goals for their club, with the most important coming off the stick of Briere in overtime. New Jersey may have some strong scorers on its roster, but make no mistake, they will not win this series if they cannot find a way to contain this Philadelphia offensive attack.
2. Phoenix’s Balanced Attack
As you can probably tell by now, I decided to take a slightly different route in my choices for Sunday’s top performers. For this choice and the last, I’m taking collective units that have shined, and there’s no denying that the Coyotes did just that on the offensive end of the ice on Sunday. Facing all-star netminder Pekka Rinne, Phoenix threw 39 shots on goal, scored five times and had nine players record a point. Of those nine players, four of them recorded both an goal and an assist on the evening, which shows a commitment to both shooting and facilitating — whatever it takes to put the puck in the net. This balanced effort was essential to the Coyotes jumping out to a 2-0 series lead and protecting their home ice.
3. Mike Smith, Goaltender, Phoenix Coyotes
Okay, so upon first glance it would seem odd to place a goalie in the discussion for Sunday’s top players. And, you may be right. None of the four netminders were all that impressive in their contest. However, I do want to take a moment to salute Mike Smith of the Coyotes on yet another effort that was just enough to propel his club to victory. Smith sent away 30 of 33 shots to complete his second consecutive start that was quite honestly better then that of Pekka Rinne. I believe that many people (including myself) assumed that there was no chance that he could outplay the Vezina Trophy finalist, but through two games I have been proven wrong. It will be interesting to see if he plays at the same level now that the series flips to Nashville.