Big Buff was a topic of conversation before the semifinal series between Chicago and the Vancouver Canucks because of nights like this: Byfuglien played a bruising, physical game, dominating the Vancouver defense and netting a hat trick in Chicago's 5-2 victory over the Canucks. He cashed in a rebound in the first period, scored on the power play in the second and then was awarded a controversial goal in the third (video) for the trick. Bottom line: Byfuglien earned the following goal celebration, one of the most glorious moments of taunting of the postseason.
The Boston Bruins netminder helped push the Philadelphia Flyers to the brink of elimination with a 34-save performance in the B's 4-1 win in Philly. Rask made 15 saves in the second period with the Bruins nursing a 2-1 lead, including two Flyers power plays in that period. Boston leads the series, 3-0.
Winning the first period is always a key for a success road team, and Niemi made 16 saves for Chicago as the Blackhawks built a 2-0 first-period lead. He made 31 saves on the night for the win.
Honorable Mention: Kris Versteeg(notes) followed up his game-winner in Game 2 with a goal to open the scoring for Chicago. ... Jannik Hansen(notes) and Alexandre Burrows(notes) had the goals for Vancouver. ... Boston received goals from Blake Wheeler(notes), on a nasty redirect of a Matt Hunwick(notes) shot; Miro Satan, his fifth of the postseason; Mark Recchi(notes), his fourth of the playoffs; and Patrice Bergeron(notes) into the empty net. ... Arron Asham's(notes) goal just 2:32 into the game accounted for the Flyers tally. ... Jonathan Toews(notes) had three assists and Patrick Kane(notes) had two helpers.
Dishonorable Mention: Rebound control was no friend of Roberto Luongo's(notes) in Game 3, and it cost the Canucks dearly. He made 30 saves on 35 shots. ... Brian Boucher(notes) made 16 stops on 19 Boston shots. ... We'll have more on it in the morning, but that Byfuglien goal in the third that was reviewed was a dicey one. ... Finally, sucks for the Bruins to be on the verge of their first conference finals appearance since 1992 and lose David Krejci on a big hit from Mike Richards.
Conn Smythe Watch: 1. Joe Pavelski(notes), San Jose Sharks; 2. Sidney Crosby(notes), Pittsburgh Penguins; 3. Mikael Samuelsson(notes), Vancouver Canucks; 4. Henrik Zetterberg(notes), Detroit Red Wings; 5. Jaroslav Halak(notes), Montreal Canadiens; 6. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins 7. Miroslav Satan(notes), Boston Bruins; 8. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks; 9. Mike Cammalleri, Montreal Canadiens; 10. Daniel Sedin(notes), Vancouver Canucks.