Staying in it

Kyle Okposo was somehow not the first star tonight in Pittsburgh as the Big Club got a win in Game 2. The Islanders had a good first period but trailed 3-1. Okposo fought Matt Niskanen after a bump on Matt Moulson left Moulson momentarily shaken. Wasn’t long after that when Colin McDonald banked one in, and then Matt Martin tied it on a carom off the end boards, and then in the third Okposo’s shot wide caromed, hit Fleury’s left pad on the ricochet and went in. The Big Club comes home with more than life.

David Ullstrom got some praise on NBC SportsNet for his solid playoff debut (second assist up the left wing on McDonald’s goal, five hits, blocked shot). Not to go all Pierre McGuire on you, but maybe worth noting that he had two long playoff runs with HV71 before coming over, and they won Sweden’s Elitserien in 2010, his last year there.

Per, Okposo’s only other fight on record was in 2006 in the USHL. Heck of a spot for No. 2.

Over at the Worlds, Nino Niederreiter had a big one in Switzerland’s 3-2 win over Sweden in their opener. His goal made it 2-0. Finland needed overtime to beat Germany (quite a few familiar AHL names in that one). The Czechs and Slovaks separately won as well. The U.S. plays Austria in Helsinki very early Saturday morning our time. The top four in each eight-team pool move on. (As usual, most of those are .pdf links. One that is not is the funny power ranking.)

There were only two Game 5s last year in the return of the shorter first round; there will be at least that many this year, though not in Austin, where the Stars put away Milwaukee in four with a 2-1 win. Two AHL Western Conference teams staved off elimination and forced a decisive Game 5 on Saturday. Oklahoma City did it in style, blowing out Charlotte with a goal on the opening shift and seven more before it was done. That’s a funky series. Started with a one-goal game. Then a three-goal game. Then a 6-1 game. Then tonight. Pattern suggests Charlotte wins Game 5 by nine. If I didn’t miss one, looks like the first time an AHL team has scored eight in the playoffs since Hamilton, May 18, 2011, against Houston. The Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Final. It’s the last playoff game the Bulldogs have won.

Houston, with Mike Condon in goal for the recalled Darcy Kuemper, fell behind early scored the next four to beat Grand Rapids. So the Stars will get Houston if the Aeros win or the OKC-Charlotte winner if Grand Rapids wins. Toronto gets Grand Rapids or the OKC-Charlotte winner accordingly.

Michael Fornabaio