Commentary

Veteran Joseph shows he's got life in those pads

A dazzling young superstar was finally kept in check versus the Flyers while a 41-year-old, over-the-hill goalie was the saving grace in Calgary. Scott Burnside unleashes the five most significant revelations from Sunday's action.

Updated: April 14, 2008, 1:38 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Five things we learned from Sunday's action:

1. It is clear that one of the best ways of keeping Alexander Ovechkin from wreaking havoc on your team is to keep the puck away from the superstar Washington forward. The Philadelphia Flyers performed that difficult task beautifully in Game 2 Sunday, and they did it by dominating the faceoff circle. The Flyers took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, and unlike Game 1, in which they also held a two-goal lead but couldn't stop Ovechkin, the Flyers stayed on task in tying the series 1-1 by making that early lead stand up. The Flyers won 56 percent of the game's faceoffs but, most importantly, on special teams they won 14 of 17. That meant as the Caps were pressing to get on the scoreboard at crucial times of the game, the Flyers were controlling the puck. Mike Richards, one of the game's top two-way players, won 10 of 15 draws as the Caps barely seemed to touch the puck in the third period.

2. Eyebrows were raised when Calgary GM Darryl Sutter signed veteran netminder Curtis Joseph, who will turn 41 later this month, during the season. What was the point? Well, Sunday that point was made when the San Jose Sharks pumped three goals past Miikka Kiprusoff in the first 3:33 of play in Game 3 in Calgary. Game over, right? Not quite. In came Joseph, who calmly stopped all 22 shots he faced, including 10 in the third period. The Flames battled back for an improbable 4-3 victory and even more improbable 2-1 lead in the series over the second-seeded Sharks. So, if you're head coach Mike Keenan, who's your starter in Game 4?

3. Speaking of the Sharks, what kind of Cup-champion-in-waiting -- which is what many believed this team was when the playoffs started a week ago -- lets a team like Calgary off the mat when it's down 3-0 in front of its home crowd? Yes, it's only one game, and the Sharks showed in battling back from a disappointing loss to Calgary in Game 1 in San Jose that they can bounce back. But it is this kind of stutter-step that has marked the team's play the past two years when it failed to get past the second round in spite of having a deep, talented squad. Watching the Flames slowly climb out from under that early deficit made you wonder if there is a leader anywhere in that Sharks dressing room. On Sunday there wasn't, and if they go on to lose this series, that will have been the turning point.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Joseph
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntoshCurtis Joseph earned his first playoff win since the 2003-2004 season as a member of the Red Wings.
4. The Boston Bruins might not have liked the penalty call that led to Alexei Kovalev's overtime winner in Game 2 on Saturday night in Montreal, but Jeremy Reich did trip Andrei Markov, whether the whistle announcing the penalty was late or not. And the Bruins were in penalty trouble late in the game and were lucky they even got to overtime, given their lack of discipline. But in Game 3 on Sunday, the Bruins learned their discipline lesson and finally ended the Montreal Canadiens' uncanny domination of their team by winning 2-1 on Marc Savard's first-ever playoff goal. The Habs had beaten the Bruins 13 straight times before Savard's goal, which came on a delayed penalty call. On the night, the Bruins took only five minor penalties, three of which were in the first period. They still trail the top-seeded Canadiens 2-1 in the series but they have life today because of the lesson they learned.

5. So there is life in the New Jersey Devils after all. As usual, one of the wackiest series continued its perplexing course Sunday as the Devils made it three straight for the road teams, downing the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime at Madison Square Garden. The Devils had looked overmatched in losing Games 1 and 2 at home but got some fortunate bounces, including a ricochet of a John Madden shot off Ranger defenseman Marc Staal's skate 6:01 into the first overtime period to get back in this series. Like the Bruins, the Devils are struggling against the weight of a season of misery against their opponents. The Rangers had won nine of 10 heading into Game 3, but it was New Jersey that dictated more of the flow and forced the Rangers into penalties they hadn't taken in the opening two games of the series.

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.