Washington Capitals 3, New York Rangers 2 (Series is tied, 1-1)
Los Angeles Kings 5, St. Louis Blues 2 (LA leads the series, 2-0)
Those Who Shined
1. Anze Kopitar, Center, Los Angeles Kings
After underlining Kopitar as the player to watch for this series with the Blues, I was a bit disappointed by his inability to score in game one — even though his team won. Fortunately for Los Angeles, game two was a much different story. Kopitar scored twice in the Kings four goal first period, which was double the number of goals he scored in the first six games of the postseason (one). This was a shockingly great performance from a Kings team that was ranked 29th in the NHL on the offensive end of the ice in the regular season. They now hold a huge advantage as the series shifts back to the Staples Center.
2. Braden Holtby, Goaltender, Washington Capitals
When coming into a series as the lower seed, your primary objective in the first two contests is to steal a game on the road to give yourself control of the home ice. Thanks in large part to the performance of the rookie netminder, the Capitals now find themselves in this ideal position. Holtby sent away 26 of 28 shots from the Rangers, which was a save percentage near 93 for the game. This was an enormous upgrade from his game one numbers (3 goals allowed, 78.6 SV percentage), which were easily outdone by the all-star Henrik Lundqvist. I liked what I saw from Holtby in this contest, especially in the third period when the pressure was on and his club was clinging to a one-goal advantage. Washington stands a chance when he is at this level.
3. Dustin Brown, Right Wing, Los Angeles Kings
While Anze Kopitar spent the evening putting the puck in the back of the net, Dustin Brown set his sights on helping the Kings score with the use of his passing ability. Brown assisted three of Los Angeles’ five goals, which doubled his point values for the postseason, giving him six points overall. He has picked up four of these points in the two games with St. Louis, meaning he has established himself as a legitimate weapon for the Kings offensive attack. And, when these guys are connecting like this — actually scoring goals — they’re near impossible to beat; especially with Mr. Quick between the pipes.