Marc Staal Returns After Two-Month Absence As Rangers Climb Back Into Series With Capitals (Videos)

Three nights after Sidney Crosby made his return to the Penguins’ lineup, Marc Staal did the same for the Rangers.

Staal, who hadn’t played in over two months since taking a puck to the face back on March 5, didn’t have quite the personally successful return that Crosby did (he was a minus-one with no points in 17:17 of ice time while the Pittsburgh captain scored twice in his first four shifts) but his Rangers came out on top.

Derek Stepan scored with less than seven minutes remaining to snap a 3-3 tie and prevent New York from falling into a 3-0 hole in their first-round series with Washington.

Check out Stepan’s game-winner in the video below.

The old hidden puck trick

The Bruins netted five goals in a win over Toronto, but their third tally of the night prompted more confusion than celebration. Late in the second period, Nathan Horton ripped a shot past Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer that … just seemed to disappear. A closer look showed that the puck entered the net and came to rest atop the in-goal camera, as the referee quickly identified.

Check out the bizarre goal in the animation below.

Nathan-Horton-goal

Quite the turnout

Fans in hockey-crazed Toronto have been waiting nine long years to see their Leafs in the playoffs, so it isn’t surprising that they came out in droves for Game 3 at the Air Canada Centre. The crowd wasn’t limited to 18,200 inside the arena, as thousands of blue-and-white-clad supporters flocked to Maple Leaf Square to watch the game on a giant outdoor projection screen.

We’ve seen viewing parties like this for championship games before — Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver comes to mind — but such a massive turnout for a first-round matchup is a little intense. Toronto really is in a league of its own when it comes to hockey fandom.

Check out the scene below.

Unfortunately, that crowd also included this idiot, whose sign played off the “Boston Strong” mantra that has united the Bruins’ home city in the wake of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

@nicklachey_10Photo via Twitter/@nicklachey_10

Diving Sharks?

The Canucks are in rough shape right now.

The Western Conference’s No. 3 seed is one loss away from being swept away by San Jose in what would be the first playoff sweep in Sharks history, and Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa claims that some of his opponents — namely Joe Thornton and Logan Couture – are exaggerating penalties to draw favorable calls. There may be some truth to that statement (sorry, Logan. This is kind of tough to defend.), but it’s strange to hear embellishment complaints from the Canucks, who arguably dive more than any team not hailing from Montreal.

Bieksa’s comments came as a surprise to Couture, as well.

“Really?” he told the San Jose Mercury News when asked about his first reaction upon hearing the allegations. “There’s really not much to say. I’m not going to go to the media and do any talking. I’ll do my talking on the ice.”

The Sharks can close out Vancouver on Friday night in San Jose.

Brunner says good night

As the Detroit Red Wings’ entertaining Twitter account put it, “overtime playoff hockey” may be the three greatest words in sports. The Wings and Ducks have given fans free hockey twice in their first-round series, with Detroit coming away victorious on both occasions.

Damien Brunner was the hero Monday night, beating Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller — who posted a herculean, 46-save effort in net — 15:10 into the extra session to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Check out Brunner’s goal in the video below.

And one for the road

Completely understandable.

Canucks receiptPhoto via Twitter/@SportsonEarth

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