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Hat Trick of Shutouts

The playoffs are full of intense desperate hockey, not at all like what you see in the regular season. With the amount of high talent among the teams left standing come season’s end, it is a rare sight to see a team not score a single goal in a game. But five different goaltenders have proven this post season that it can be done. Three happened last night, one of them for the second time this season.

After a disappointing performance in Game Four, the Chicago Blackhawks evened up their series against the Nashville Predators with a 3-0 win at Bridgestone Arena. Antti Niemi faced 33 shots, stopping them all to earn himself his second career playoff shutout, and second this season. The Preds could not capitalize on their chances. At one point Niemi faced a 5-on-3 and then a 6-on-4, but over and over again, Niemi said no. The Hawks will head back home to the United Center for Game Five.

The New Jersey Devils were on the brink of elimination as they took on the Philadelphia Flyers who had a hand on the series at 3-1. In front of a sell out crowd in New Jersey, the Flyers proved once again why they belonged in the playoffs and the Devils had some wondering if they had shown up to play. Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher turned away 28 shots for his second career shutout, first of this post season. And just like that Philly with the upset, and the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference was sent to the golf course. The Flyers are the first team to advance into the second round.

Just when everyone thought the San Jose Sharks would choke yet again, they turned it around on the Colorado Avalanche and recorded a 5-0 win on home ice. Evgeni Nabokov faced 28 shots to Craig Anderson‘s 37 notching his seventh career playoff shutout, and his first of this year’s playoffs. Perhaps the bigger story was 21-year old rookie Logan Couture who had his first two goal game. Couture spent a good deal of the season in the AHL. The Sharks now lead the series 3-2 and will head back to Denver to try to end it on Saturday.

Honorable Mention: The Ottawa Senators kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game that needed three extra periods to determine a winner. Pascal Leclaire got the start over Brian Elliot and faced 59 shots while Marc-Andre Fleury faced 44. Both goaltenders had spectacular games. The Pens lead the series 3-2 and will take it back to Scotiabank Place on Saturday.

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