Ducks eliminate the Flames, updates on the Canadiens-Lightning series, Leafs meet with Mike Babcock, plus updates on the Senators and Oilers.
LOS ANGELES TIMES/CALGARY SUN: Corey Perry scored at 2:26 of overtime to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames, winning their best-of-seven series four games to one. The Flames held a 2-1 lead on goals by Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau, but Matt Beleskey tied it early in the third, setting the stage for Perry’s overtime heroics. Karri Ramo made 44 saves for the Flames. The Ducks advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2007, where they will face the Chicago Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have nothing to hang their heads about. They weren’t even expected to reach the playoffs this season, let alone advance to the second round. They’re a promising, exciting young team that will learn invaluable lessons from this unlikely run. The Ducks were simply too powerful. Their upcoming series against the Blackhawks should be very entertaining. It’s worth noting that this is the sixth straight year a California-based team has reached the Western Conference Finals, and the 10th time in 12 NHL seasons dating back to 2003.
LA PRESSE/THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: As the Montreal Canadiens confidence soars after two straight wins, the Tampa Bay Lightning are trying to keep things in perspective. The Lightning hold a 3-2 series lead, but the Canadiens have twice staved off elimination. Game Six goes on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the odds remains in the Lightning’s favor, the momentum of the series has shifted after the Canadiens two straight victories. If the Habs win Game Six to force a seventh and deciding game back in Montreal, the stage could be set for the Habs to become only the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after falling back three games to none.
SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs were granted permission to speak with Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, who subsequently met with Leafs president Brendan Shanahan over the weekend.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t get your hopes up too high, Leafs fans, as Babcock also met on Sunday with the ownership and management of the Sabres in Buffalo. As the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur suggests, the only thing the Leafs can truly sell Babcock is the challenge of succeeding where so many coaches have failed since 1968: turning the Leafs into a Stanley Cup champion. Yes, the Leafs can pay him well, Indeed, they will likely outbid every other suitor for Babcock’s services. He’ll get a boatload of money if he stays in Detroit or moves on. But as Arthur notes, among Babcock’s priorities are a voice in the organization, a chance to win and family matters.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators to offer Andrew Hammond a two-year contract, but it remains to be seen how much in term of dollars. Garrioch cites league executives believe a good backup earns $1-$1.3 million per season, but Hammond could seek more than that as an unrestricted free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Hammond saved the Senators season, he has less than a half-season of NHL experience under his belt. The Senators cannot risk overpaying this guy and have him turn into an expensive bust. Hammond said he’d like to return, and if he’s willing to accept a two-year deal worth , say, $1.5 million annually, the Sens will accept that.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers interim coach Todd Nelson is on the hot seat as new GM Peter Chiarelli explores coaching options.