Commentary

Thornton sighting helps Sharks get back into series

From Carey Price reminding Les Canadiens of Patrick Roy, to an action-packed game between the Sharks and Flames, Scott Burnside reveals his five things to know from Tuesday's games.

Updated: April 16, 2008, 12:36 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

1. Montreal netminder Carey Price became the first rookie goalie to earn a shutout for the Habs since a guy named Patrick Roy got one back in 1986. That the 20-year-old Price is looking more and more like Roy and/or Ken Dryden, another rookie who led the Canadiens to the promised land back in 1971, is bad news for the Boston Bruins, not to mention the other teams that might be standing in the Canadiens' way. Price turned aside 27 shots and the Canadiens rode a late second-period goal by veteran Patrice Brisebois to a 1-0 victory in Game 4 on Tuesday night. The victory in an exciting, hard-hitting game -- reminiscent of classic Montreal-Boston playoff clashes of days gone by -- gives the Habs a 3-1 series lead. Price, given the starting goaltending duties at the trade deadline in late February, has stopped 110 of the 115 shots he's faced in his first-ever playoff series.

[+] EnlargeCarey Price
AP Photo/Charles KrupaCarey Price has allowed just five goals in four games thus far for the Canadiens.
2. A year ago, it was all about the talented, youthful Pittsburgh Penguins learning on the fly about the rigors of playoff hockey against a veteran team from Ottawa. This year, it looks like soon-to-be Hart Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin and the rest of the exuberant Washington Capitals are learning the hard way about life in the postseason. The Philadelphia Flyers, for the second game in a row, dictated ebb and flow for the most part and dispatched Washington 6-3 to take a 2-1 series lead. Ovechkin had his second off-game in a row. He had an assist on a power-play goal by Mike Green to give him three points in the series. But given how heavily the Caps lean on the regular-season scoring champ, he'll have to do better than that to keep the Caps' magic run alive. On the other side of the coin, Daniel Briere, one of the most sought-after free agents on the market last summer, has put a disappointing regular season behind him to become the star of the series with four goals and two assists thus far, including two goals and an assist Tuesday in Philadelphia.

3. After dominating the first two games of their series against the defending Stanley Cup champs from Anaheim, the Dallas Stars had their first wobble of the postseason when they gave up three goals in the first 14:31 of the game on just four shots and dropped a 4-2 decision to the Ducks in their first home game of the playoffs. The Stars still lead 2-1 in the series but now will face pressure not to fade, which has been the team's calling card in recent playoff years. The Ducks got better goaltending from J.S. Giguere, who was wobbly in Games 1 and 2, but made 31 saves in Game 3. Marty Turco faced only 15 shots in total and will have to be better if the Stars' upset hopes are going to be realized.

4. If it seemed as if all of the action in the wildly exciting San Jose-Calgary game Tuesday night was in the Flames' zone, that's because it was. Although Sharks big man Joe Thornton waited until there were just 9.4 seconds left in the game to give San Jose a 3-2 victory and tie the series at two wins apiece, it just seemed like a matter of time. The Flames managed to record just 10 shots on goal in the entire game, three in the third period. The winner, a deflection of a Doug Murray shot, was Thornton's first goal of the postseason and a welcome relief to a top-level player who has at times struggled to produce in the postseason. Given that the Sharks blew a 3-0 lead in Game 3, winning Game 4 was pivotal to their Stanley Cup dreams. The Flames, meanwhile, will have to mount more of an attack (gee, do ya think?) if they want to keep this up-and-down series rolling, even though they held a 2-1 lead late in the third period in Game 3.

[+] EnlargeCody McLeod
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiThe Wild and Avalanche racked up 154 cumulative penalty minutes in Game 4.
5. While San Jose and Calgary have offered terrific mood swings through the first four games, the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild are also in the midst of great game volleying. One night after a Jeff Finger miscue in overtime led to a Pierre-Marc Bouchard goal and a 2-1 lead for the Wild in the series, the Avs took all the drama out of this one with three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory that tied the series at 2-2. This was the first of the four games that did not require overtime, and marked the first time one team controlled the other for long periods of time. What will be interesting is how a nasty finish to the game, in which there were a number of fights at the final buzzer (the Wild wracked up a total of 111 penalty minutes to the Avs' 43), will carry over into Game 5 on Thursday. The knock on the Wild a year ago was that they weren't tough enough. They were clearly trying to dispel that notion Tuesday. Wild starting netminder Niklas Backstrom was yanked after the second period and Josh Harding mopped up in his first NHL playoff appearance.

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.