March 22, 2014
No. 1 star: Ivan Barbashev, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Barbashev (1G-3A, +2) and Vladimir Tkachev (2G-1A, +3) got it started for Moncton in a must-win Game 2 vs. Blainville-Boisbriand, and they decided it by hooking up on the strike 16:58 into overtime for a 6-5 series-tying win. The effort was exactly what Moncton had in mind while it spent weeks working to bring Tkachev over from Russia at midseason to give Barbashev a winger who could get on his wavelength.
Moncton broke out to a 3-1 lead thanks the to the 18-year-old Barbashev sandwiching two primary assists around a power-play goal. However, the Armada thrive on driving opponents' top players to distraction by being chippy. That tack worked on Barbashev, who got a penalty during a skirmish following the Wildcats' fourth goal and was also in the box when the Armada pulled to within 4-3 in the third.
Two late Armada goals, including Nikita Jevpalovs' hat-trick goal with 35 seconds left in regulation, forced overtime. Moncton goalie Alex Dubeau (41 saves) hung in while the 'Cats had to kill off two Tkachev penalties in the extra session. Once the 'Cats reunited their Russians, they pulled off an eye-popping four-way passing play for the winner, with Christopher Caissy feeding Barbashev, who set up Tkachev for the winner.
No. 2 star: Simon Tardif-Richard, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
An 8 vs. 9 matchup is supposed to be tight. It was for 20 minutes in Gatineau before Tardif-Richard (3G-2A, +6) and the 'Piques treated Cape Breton to a 7-2 beatdown at The Bob. The overage centre who's hoping for one last playoff run with his hometown team scored a short-handed goal in the eighth minute after being sprung for a chance by Montreal Canadiens pick Martin Reway (2G-2A, +6). Tardif-Richard set up Reway's goal in the following frame and then he scored late in the frame. Tardif-Richard completed his hat trick 6:06 into the third as Gatineau poured it on to take a 1-0 series lead. The line of Tardif-Richard, Reway and draft-eligible Vaclav Karabacek (1G-2A, +5) combined for 12 points.
The Attack captain scored two third-period goals to help Owen Sound steal Game 1 on the road with a 5-4 overtime win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The burly centre and his team, which finished 25 points behind the 'Hounds, forced the favourites into "careless mistakes" throughout the night. Yet the 'Hounds were almost in the clear with a 4-2 lead with 11:37 left. Off a centre-ice faceoff, Nastasiuk (2G, +2) scored. Minutes later, the Detroit Red Wings second-rounder dangled around a defender and put the puck on net, were it deflected in off a skate to make it 4-4. Edmonton Oilers pick Kyle Platzer got the OT winner.
Honourable mention: Michael Dal Colle, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
The Generals are heavily favoured over the Mississauga Steelheads, so Dal Colle (2G-3A, +2) and wing Hunter Smith (1G-4A, +3) get a degree-of-difficulty deduction after each notched five points in a 6-0 Game 1 win. Dal Colle assisted on a goal in the last minute of the first, then wired in a power-play marker off a setup from Scott Laughton midway through the second to open the floodgates.
Honourable mention: Yan Pavel Laplante, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
The Phoenix Coyotes third-rounder was named first star after helping Victoriaville abscond with Game 1 in the Drummondville Voltigeurs' backyard by a 4-3 count. Laplante (1G-1A, +1) gave the 11th-seeded Tigres their first lead by scoring a short-handed goal early in the second, and assisted on a goal with 32 seconds left in that frame that put his team ahead to stay.
Potent notables — Columbus Blue Jackets signing Oliver Bjorkstrand scored with 1:37 left to help Portland edge Vancouver 4-3 ... Phoenix Coyotes-drafted netminder Marek Langhamer made 25 saves in Medicine Hat's 2-1 win over Swift Current, whose only goal came from NHL draft prospect Julius Honka ... North Bay's Jake Smith made 28 saves for his first OHL playoff shutout ... Montreal Canadiens first-rounder Michael McCarron scored in his first OHL playoff game ... Washington Capitals first-rounder André Burakovsky (2G, +2) scored two game-tying goals during Erie's win over Saginaw, which got a 44-of-48 night in goal from Detroit Red Wings-drafted goalie Jake Paterson ... In the QMJHL, Halifax's 18-year-old Danny Moynihan (2G, +2) and Charlottetown's Daniel Sprong (1G-1A), who turned 17 on Monday, each had two-point playoff debuts ... Ryan Penny, who had only two goals in 30 games after his trade to Rouyn-Noranda, got the Huskies' OT winner in a 5-4 Game 1 road win over Quebec ... Overage D Jimmy Oligny snapped a tie with 3:31 left in Rimouski's 5-3 Game 1 over Chicoutimi.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.