No one is going to mistake Joe Pavelski for Mario Lemieux. But the player known as "Little Joe" in San Jose is the first player since Lemieux in 1992 to have three consecutive multi-goal games.
Pavelski was San Jose's best player in the Sharks' opening-round victory against Colorado, scoring 5 goals -- including the series-winner, another game-winner and a sixth-attacker goal in Game 2, giving the Sharks a chance to win in overtime. He's been even better in the second round against Detroit, scoring twice and adding an assist in each of the first two games as San Jose earned a pair of 4-3 victories.
No player since Lemieux had scored multiple goals in three consecutive playoff games, and no one since Joe Sakic in 1996 has had three 3-point games in a row.
Pavelski now leads all playoff scorers with 9 goals -- eight of them during his five-game goal-scoring streak -- and is second to Sidney Crosby with 14 points, He's also been a wizard in the faceoff circle, winning more than 55 percent of his draws -- including 13 of 16 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
Five up -- Five other players who've been hot:
Roberto Luongo -- Vancouver got five goals in its Game 1 win against Chicago, but the star of the game was Luongo, who stopped all 17 shots he faced in the first period and 36 overall. He's now won three games in a row and been superb in all three.
Jaroslav Halak -- Halak is the reason the Montreal Canadiens upset Washington in the opening round, and the biggest reason they're heading home for Game 3 against Pittsburgh tied at 1-1. Halak stopped 131 of 134 shots as Montreal rallied from a 3-1 series deficit against Washington, and after looking fatigued in the opener against Pittsburgh, he stopped 38 shots in a 3-1 win in Game 2.
Michael Cammalleri -- While Halak has been stopping shots, Cammalleri has been firing pucks past opposing goaltenders. He had a goal in Game 1 against Pittsburgh and two more -- including the winner -- in Game 2, giving him eight in the postseason and six in Montreal’s last five games.
Pavel Datsyuk -- Datsyuk has been Detroit's best forward in the playoffs, and he's stepped up his game in the last week. Datsyuk had the first 2 goals in the Wings' Game 7 win against Phoenix, assisted on 2 goals in Game 1 against San Jose and had a goal and an assist in Game 2.
Miroslav Satan -- The Bruins signed the 35-year-old at midseason, but their payoff has come during the playoffs. Satan had an overtime winner and the series-winner against Buffalo, and then started the Bruins' second-round series against Philadelphia with a goal and an assist.
Five down -- Five players who haven't:
Jimmy Howard -- Detroit's first-year goaltender was solid in the first series against Phoenix, but he's allowed four goals in each of the Wings' two second-round games against San Jose.
Dustin Byfuglien -- Byfuglien is among the Blackhawks who've had trouble scoring so far in this year's playoffs. He has yet to produce a point in seven games and is minus-3. Troy Brouwer also is pointless in Chicago's seven games.
Blake Wheeler -- On an underpowered Boston team, Wheeler has to do more than a pair of assists in seven games and a five-game pointless streak in which he's minus-6 with five shots on goal.
Marc-Andre Fleury -- Fleury hasn't played to the form that helped Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup last spring. Though he's not being barraged with shots, he's allowed 3 or more goals in each of the Penguins' last five games.
James van Riemsdyk -- The first playoff games for the second pick of the 2007 Entry Draft have been a struggle so far. Van Riemsdyk has just 1 assist in six games for Philadelphia and no points in the last four.
Injuries, news and notes
Out -- Montreal and Pittsburgh both took big hits in Game 1 of their series. Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov (lower body) was sent back to Montreal and didn't play in Game 2. Neither did Penguins center Jordan Staal, who had surgery Saturday to repair a cut tendon in his foot. ... Boston forward Marco Sturm will miss the rest of the playoffs after tearing two ligaments in his right knee in the first period of Saturday's series-opening win against Philadelphia.
Returning -- Boston got a lift when first-line center Marc Savard returned Saturday after missing nearly two months with a concussion. He promptly scored the overtime winner in the series-opener against Philadelphia. ... Pittsburgh forward Tyler Kennedy (lower body) and defenseman Jordan Leopold (concussion) both returned Sunday.
Still out -- Montreal defenseman Jaroslav Spacek has missed six games with an illness, though he's been able to skate. ... Philadelphia is without three forwards -- Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter needed surgery after breaking bones in their right feet. Ian Laperriere is gone for the playoffs with a brain contusion after blocking a shot in the fifth and clinching game of the opening round against New Jersey. ... Chicago and Vancouver still are missing key defenseman due to concussions. The Hawks' Kim Johnsson still is not skating, and Vancouver's Willie Mitchell hasn't played since January. Another Canucks defenseman, Aaron Rome, could return from a knee injury during this series.
Non-playoff teams -- The Phoenix Coyotes acknowledged after their were eliminated this past week that captain Shane Doan's upper-body injury was a shoulder separation that normally would have sidelined him for at least three weeks. ... Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist played Game 6 against Chicago with a broken hand after missing the previous four games. ... Washington was without defenseman Tom Poti for Game 7 against Montreal due to an eye injury that likely would have kept him out of the second round. ... Buffalo captain Craig Rivet will undergo serious shoulder surgery that's expected to keep him out for the start of next season. ... Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown will have facial bone-graft surgery shortly and won't play for Team USA at the World Hockey Championships. Teammate Drew Doughty won't play for Team Canada due to a hand injury.
The week ahead -- All four second-round series shift venues this week, with each of them settled into an every-other-day rotation for as long as they last.
Games to watch
Pittsburgh at Montreal (May 4, 7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) -- The Canadiens can expect a raucous welcome when they step onto the Bell Centre ice for the first time since upsetting Washington in the first round six days earlier.
San Jose at Detroit (May 4, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN) -- The Wings can use all the support they'll get from the sell-out crowd at Joe Louis Arena after a pair of tough 4-3 losses at San Jose in the first two games of their second-round series.
Boston at Philadelphia (May 5, 7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) -- The Flyers, the first team to clinch a second-round playoff berth, will take the ice at the Wachovia Center for the first time in more than two weeks as the Bruins come to Philadelphia for a playoff game for the first time in 32 years.
Chicago at Vancouver (May 5, 9:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) -- The full house at GM Place will be roaring when the Canucks come home for Game 3 against Chicago, the team that knocked out the Canucks in the conference semifinals a year ago.
Montreal at Pittsburgh (May 8, 7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) -- The Penguins know they'll be back at Mellon Arena for Game 5. They're hoping it's for a chance to end the Canadiens' season.