The stars came out to play for the Penguins and Blackhawks in big Game 2 wins.
5 things to know
We had to go back and look at the stats during Game 2 to find out what exactly Marian Hossa was up to before this series, and the answer is not much. The wily veteran only had two points during Chicago's six-game series with St. Louis, even though he was among the playoff leaders in shots on goal. But in two games against the Wild, Hossa has been damn near unstoppable. He scored an essential goal in Game 1, and then added assists on three Blackhawks goals in Game 2. Oh, and he led Chicago forwards with nine attempted shots. He's driving play for the Blackhawks in every situation, and the Wild have been unable to keep him from creating scoring chances. Minnesota has a lot of problems heading into Game 3, but stopping Hossa might be the most difficult of them all.
Where are Minnesota's stars?
If you guessed Dallas, you're only half right. No, the stars that Minnesota needs right now are Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who have played uncharacteristically sloppy hockey in the first two games of the series. Both players were on the ice for three goals, and Parise has yet to score a goal since Game 6 of the first round. Minnesota doesn't exactly boast elite depth at either end of the rink, so they need their multi-million dollar players to step up and dig them out of the hole they're in.
New York wasted a classic King Henrik performance
The Rangers can't ask Henrik Lundqvist for much more than he gave them on Sunday. Most of his 32 shots were brilliant, as Lundqvist kept the hard-charging Penguins at bay for most of the game. When your goalie gives you that kind of support, you have to take advantage. New York didn't, and now they head back home with a missed opportunity and tired legs.
Pittsburgh's stars came out to shine
For all the flak thrown Sidney Crosby's way in the first round, he had one heck of a Game 2. Crosby loaded up scoring chance after scoring chance, finishing with six shots on goal and several Rangers players thrown back on their heels. His teammate Evgeni Malkin was even better, using his bullish aggressiveness to great effect by slowing down the Rangers' best players. If those two can get some consistency, the Penguins will be even tougher to stop.
The NHL did the Rangers no favors
Excuses are for losers, but New York has a legitimate gripe with the NHL for a ridiculous schedule. After going seven games against the Flyers, the Rangers will play again on Monday as part of a stretch that has them playing five games in seven days. Coach Alain Vigneault told NBC on Sunday that his team was completely rested after a day off, but their sluggish play on the ice indicated otherwise.