It’s the most, wonderful time, of the yearrrrrrrr! Who doesn’t love playoff hockey right? This is what we wait all season for, this is why most of us became fans of the game, as the postseason captivates us year after year after year. My personal favorite part is the dying minutes of a one-goal game when everything is a scramble, bodies are diving everywhere, pucks are zipping around the zone and the intensity is as high as can be. Until we get to overtime that is, when it become full-on, tighten your butt cheeks, gasp and cringe with every shot end-to-end action (WITH NO COMMERCIALS!!).
Who will hoist the 2016 Stanley Cup?
With the team I cover out of the playoffs (again), I relish the opportunity to write a little out of character and enjoy the playoffs as a fan of the game, and pick my three stars of each night like our friends over at Yahoo!/Puck Daddy blog do throughout the season. You can find player standings at the bottom of each post with three points for being the no. 1 star, two for no. 2 and one for no. 3 and on some nights we’ll have an honorable mention.
May 9, 2016
#3) Jason Spezza, Dallas: GWG
Dallas only had one power play opportunity and it took them all of 35 seconds to cash in on it; Spezza’s tally was the third of their first period goals and proved to be the eventual game-winner as the Stars sat back the rest of the game and bent but didn’t break. His patience on the play was that of a grizzled veteran…which is what he is, eh? The former Senator now has points in the last four games and will likely need to be a contributor again in Game 7 if the Stars would like to increase their chances of winning the winner-take-all game.
Jason Spezza's GWG (PPG) was his first goal of the series. Can you say "HUUUUUUUGE"?
— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) May 10, 2016
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) May 10, 2016
#2) Viktor Arvidsson, Nashville: GWG in overtime
If there ever was a time for a player to score his first ever NHL playoff goal, it would be in a Game 6 overtime with your team facing elimination. And apparently Arvidsson has a flair for the dramatic as his game-winner was a gorgeous goal — a rising backhand on a semi-breakaway that found a spot over Martin Jones’ shoulder and under the crossbar. That goal, capped the Preds rally from down 2-0 in the first period and evened the series to force a decisive Game 7 (dun Dun DUN) back in San Jose on Thursday night.
TO GAME 7 WE GO!
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) May 10, 2016
#1) Kari Lehtonen, Dallas: 35 saves/37 shots, Win
It’s no secret that the goaltending of the Stars has been their achilles’ heel, but in Game 6, on the road in a hostile environment it was Lehtonen who was the brightest star on the ice. The Blues only had two power plays in the game and the Dallas goaltender only had to make three saves on them, but over the final two periods with a 3-0 lead he faced an onslaught of 28 St. Louis shots and stopped 26 of them. Dallas was outshot 14-2 in the third period. That would be all the Stars needed to force a Game 7 back in their barn on Wednesday night.
That was the biggest game of Kari Lehtonen's career and he absolutely stole the show. What a performance
— Derek Neumeier (@Derek_N_NHL) May 10, 2016
Brian Elliott (StL): 9
Joe Pavelski (SJ): 8
Braden Holtby (Wash): 8
Nikita Kucherov (TB): 7
Victor Hedman (TB): 6
Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5
John Tavares (NYI): 5
Pekka Rinne (Nash): 5
Tyler Johnson (TB): 5
Matt Murray (Pitt): 5
Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 5
Ben Bishop (TB): 5
Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 4
Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3
Antti Niemi (Dall): 3
Evgeni Malkin (Pitt): 3
Artemi Panarin (Chi): 3
Troy Brouwer (StL): 3
TJ Oshie (Wash): 3
Radek Faksa (Dall): 3
Kris Letang (Pitt): 3
David Backes (StL): 3
Mike Fisher (Nash): 3
Kari Lehtonen (Dall): 3
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.