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Thursday Stanley Cup Daily: The Flames Burn Out

Anaheim is on to the second round, Minnesota lives to fight another day, and Caps fans exhale.

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames - Game Four Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Canes Country’s morning snap shots recapping last night’s action in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Four Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Washington Capitals 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 4 (Series tied 2-2)

The Maple Leafs came into game four with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, however a slow start doomed Toronto from the start. In just under five minutes the Caps jumped out to a two-goal lead with goals from Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. The Leafs tried to claw back in the first period, but back-to-back goals by Tom Wilson (!) gave the Caps a 4-1 lead going into the first break.

The Maple Leafs owned both the second and third periods outscoring the Caps 3-1 in the final two periods. The Leafs pulled within one goal with goals from James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews. However, Frederik Andersen let up a weak five-hole goal to Oshie to put the Caps back up by two. The Leafs pulled within one goal with under a minute left in the game, but couldn't put a second empty-netter past Braden Holtby.

Though it's tough to put a win or a loss onto one person, the Leafs have no chance in this series if Andersen has a .815 sv%, which he had last night. The Leafs have to get better goaltending to have a chance to win the series. The Caps were also able to win the first regulation game of the series in large part thanks to Oshie finally getting into the scoring column with two goals. Oshie was a top scorer during the regular season, and the Caps need him to produce to move forward in the playoffs.

The series continues Friday at 7:00 PM at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (The Chris Brown concert originally scheduled for the night has been cancelled, in case you were wondering.) -Zeke Lukow

Ottawa Senators v Boston Bruins - Game Four Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Ottawa Senators 1, Boston Bruins 0 (OTT leads 3-1)

What is usually dubbed a "quiet game" in the regular season -- low scoring, fewer shots overall, non-OT -- is often the most heart-stopping of games in the playoffs. Who will break through first? Who will crack at the worst moment?

Wednesday night, it was the Senators again stepping up in the third period to take a 1-0 Game 4 victory and a 3-1 series lead. The goal, finished off deftly at the net by Bobby Ryan (see: "Game 3 hero" for Ottawa, "Game 3 (insert expletive)" for Boston), was in large part due to the incredible set up by Erik Karlsson, who one announcer slipped into comparing to Bobby Orr after the play. (Pro tip: don’t compare Erik Karlsson to Bobby Orr, especially during a game in Boston.) Karlsson faked a blue-line shot, turned his stick at the last second and rifled one right to Ryan breaking at the left of the crease.

But as much as the one goal wins the game, so does the zero for the Bruins. Craig Anderson made some huge saves on Brad Marchand: a flailing dive at the puck two minutes in, and a last-minute, flat-on-back glove save to seal the game. In total, he made 22 saves: good, but not a ridiculous amount. It's the quality of those saves that set his performance apart.

The Bruins did find the back of the net in the second period, but it was overturned on an Ottawa challenge. The puck clearly hadn't crossed the blue line before Noel Acciari was across, 20 seconds before the goal was scored.

It's "survival mode" time now for the Bruins, who must try to channel whatever helped them win every matchup with the Senators during the regular season, starting on the road Friday at 7:30 for Game 5. -Jake Crouse

Minnesota Wild v St Louis Blues - Game Four Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Minnesota Wild 2, St. Louis Blues 0 (STL leads 3-1)

The Minnesota Wild still have a long way to go, but they took the first step last night in trying to come back from a 3-0 series deficit with a shutout of the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

The Wild set the tone early, outshooting the Blues 11-4 and taking a 1-0 lead on Charlie Coyle’s second goal of the series with three minutes remaining in the first period. Martin Hanzal doubled the Wild’s lead at about the same point of the second period, scoring his first career playoff goal to give the Wild the two-goal lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

The rest fell to Devan Dubnyk, who looked like the Dubnyk of the first half of the season in recording his second playoff shutout, two years minus a day after his first - which also came against the Blues. He didn’t have to be spectacular as the Blues mounted few chances of any significance the rest of the way:

Jake Allen continued to be solid in the St. Louis net, but he wasn’t helped at all by a leaky Blues defense that gave up more than a few breakaways, including this what-were-they-thinking moment that required Allen to rob Eric Staal midway through the third period.

The Wild head back home to try to keep the series going with Game 5 set for Saturday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center. -Brian LeBlanc

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames - Game Four Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Anaheim Ducks 3, Calgary Flames 1 (ANA wins series 4-0)

A series of missed opportunities has come to an end for the Calgary Flames as they fell to the Anaheim Ducks on home ice last night. With the win, the Ducks completed a four-game sweep of the Flames.

Anaheim got off to a fast start on Wednesday, with Patrick Eaves finding the back of the net five minutes into the game that prompted Flames coach Glen Gulutzan to pull Brian Elliott in favor of Chad Johnson. It didn’t much matter; Nate Thompson scored on Johnson less than a minute later, and that ended up being enough for the Ducks. Calgary's second-period goal, a power play tally from Sean Monahan, was the only one that they could put past a stellar John Gibson, recovering from a shaky Game 3 by making 36 saves in the win.

Ryan Getzlaf iced the series with a late empty-net goal in the third period.

This series could have been very different. Countless missed opportunities and a pair of blown leads turned what could've been an upset in favor of the Flames into a very early exit.

The Ducks will now wait for the winner of the San Jose Sharks-Edmonton Oilers series. Those two clubs are tied at two games apiece ahead of their Game 5 matchup tonight in Edmonton. -Brett Finger