Well, well, well, it looks like Anaheim has an answer for Patrick Marleau's second line in San Jose.
What an effort Tuesday by the trio of Joffrey Lupul, Todd Marchant and Dustin Penner. Four goals, a combined eight points and a plus-10 rating – and that doesn't even tell the whole story. These guys were creating chances all night.
The rap on Anaheim entering these playoffs was that they struggle to find secondary scoring beyond the Teemu Selanne-Andy McDonald line. That notion was buried deeper and deeper with each successive goal by Lupul in Game 3.
After his four-goal outburst Tuesday, Lupul now sits second behind Marleau in playoff goals with seven, including six in the last three games. And Penner is looking mighty comfortable for a guy who might not even be in this series if not for injuries to Todd Fedoruk and Corey Perry.
This was Penner's best statistical effort of the playoffs, though he's been a factor ever since joining the lineup, even if his impact hasn't shown up on the scoresheet. Now that he has a three-assist effort in the books, hopefully broadcasters can stop reacting in amazement every time he makes a skilled play.
Yes, Penner is 6-foot-4 and upwards of 250 pounds. But he's not a particularly physical player. In Portland of the American Hockey League this season, he had 84 points (including 45 assists) and a plus-41 rating in 57 games. This kid can play.
Anaheim just needs one more win to reach its second Western Conference final in three seasons. San Jose has a bit more work to do, but given its 2-0 series lead, history says we're looking at an I-5 series to decide the West's Stanley Cup representative.
That battle could well come down to which team can contain the other's second line.
THIRD STAR OF THE DAY
Jose Theodore was burned by a couple of giveaways Tuesday. Patrice Brisebois' overtime giveaway led to Lupul's game-winner and Alex Tanguay coughed one up to create a 2-on-1 that led to another Anaheim goal. Theodore deserved better. He was solid most of the night and spectacular on occasion. His sprawling save on Teemu Selanne – one of his 35 stops on the night – was the play of the night.
SECOND STAR OF THE DAY
Penner has grown up in a hurry since being pulled away from the American Hockey League playoffs. In Game 3 he played a personal playoff-high 13:59 and earned the primary assist on three of Lupul's goals. He's not quite Joe Thornton, but his ability to control the puck in the offensive zone is creating all kinds of problems for the Colorado defense.
FIRST STAR OF THE DAY
Lupul became the first Anaheim player ever to record a playoff hat trick, then took things a step further by becoming the first player in NHL playoff history to finish off a four-goal game with an overtime game-winner.
After losing Games 1 and 2 Colorado sure talked a lot about the need to make life miserable for Anaheim goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Get more pucks on the net and create traffic in front of the Anaheim rookie was the plan. So what did the Avs do with a full minute of 5-on-3 hockey in the first period? They passed the puck around the perimeter for a full 30 seconds, then saw the puck leave the zone when a Rob Blake slapshot was blocked. That power-play came and went without so much as a scoring chance and the Avs would go on to squander all eight of their man-advantage chances.
Not the best night for Pierre Turgeon. A healthy scratch in the first two games of this series, Turgeon dressed Tuesday in a calculated risk by coach Joel Quenneville. He doesn't have the speed to match up with the Ducks, but he is a veteran capable of creating scoring chances with intelligent puck movement. Turgeon didn't put forth a veteran effort in Game 3. He picked up three penalties, including a minor for holding that put the Avs a man down in overtime. And he wasn't strong in the corner when he lost a puck battle to Dustin Penner, who immediately set up Joffrey Lupul for his third goal.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR WEDNESDAY
Game 3: San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers – The second round's most physical series has also been the most one-sided – everywhere but on the scoreboard. The Sharks hold a 68-41 shot advantage and got the better of the physical battles in San Jose, but the play of Dwayne Roloson kept the Oilers in both games.
Game 3: Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres – The turnovers kept on coming for Ottawa in Game 2. After Anton Volchenkov's critical miscue in overtime of Game 1, two more giveaways led to Buffalo goals Monday. The Senators clearly need to clean up their act, but it might not matter at this point. Sabres' goalie Ryan Miller has his confidence back and Buffalo can close this out without returning to Ottawa.
Game 3: Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils – New Jersey needs to get off the deck after Monday's stunning loss in overtime. They say you're never out of a series until you've played a home game, so this is the Devils' chance to turn the tide after a couple of damaging defeats.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT Watch
Theodore's diving glove save on Teemu Selanne was the highlight of the night. Even Selanne had to grin after getting denied on one of the best stops of the playoffs.