The NHL Closer is written by the five sophisticated gentlemen at Melt Your Face Off. When not sampling caviar and fine bordeaux, they enjoy attending monster truck rallies and frog-gigging.

There would be a lot less bitching about NHL refs if Kerry Fraser bore a stronger resemblance to this lass. He does have nice hair, but he needs a LOT of work on his ass. Last night featured the longest game of the playoffs so far, and alas, America's favorite Unfrozen Millionaire Caveman Hockey Player could not finish the job for the Caps. Let's get into it.


Must-See OT. We join the recap of Game 4 between Philadelphia and Washington already in progress, as Hex flips back and forth between the game and The Office.

Man, has it been a seesaw affair this evening. First, Jeff Carter scores a mere 42 seconds in, only to have the Caps retaliate with two power play scores by Backstrom and Semin. Pam couldn't bear to see the Flyers lose the lead, and responded by suggesting her landlady, also Jeff Carter, date Michael and score the Flyers' fourth consecutive backbreaker in the last two minutes of a period. Steve Eminger fluked his best tiebreaker past Marty Biron in the 2nd, allowing the Caps' announcing team to continually remind us that Washington is something like 16-5-2 when Eminger suits up. (Who likes unrelated statistics? Healthy scratches, that's who.) The period ended as Andy Bernard walked to the locker room from the satellite parking lot.

Danny Briere, who's been a Cap killer (sorry there, Body Count) the whole series, stuffed in a tying goal halfway through the third. As a means of damage control, Coach Bruce Boudreau called a meeting of the Five Families to clamp down on D until overtime. And other than a terrible goalie interference call against Viktor Kozlov, the last ten minutes were uneventful.


As was a painful 30 minutes of drowsy overtime play. (I swear, if someone threw Randy Jones a blankie, he just might have lied down on the ice and napped.) In true anti-climactic fashion, Mike Knuble's second chance, stemming from a great shift Upshall, netted the game-winner over the pad of an otherwise stellar Cristobal Huet. The Flyers are sitting pretty with a 3-1 lead, most likely on that office chair that can be found on Page 85.— Hextall454

Moooooom, I need more meatloaf, and my self-confidence back!. Alexi Kovalev opened the scoring in the game that could have sent the Boston Bruins packing in their opening round series, but little did he know that would be the only goal the Habs scored tonight, as Carey Price, the rookie phenom goaltender, completely crumbled in the third period. Kovalev got checked almost into his own bench by Zdeno Chara, lost his helmet, and still barreled straight into the goal to score the first goal of the game. Carey Price, who had been stud-like all series, pulled off a fantastic move at the end of the first, reaching behind himself with his stick to sweep an open puck from going into the crease. Phllip Kessel did his best to salvage the game with a powerplay goal off a penalty by — wait, Roman Hamrlik? Seriously? He's still playing? How can he commit a penalty other than turning into dust? Has he been hermetically sealed in a glass case like the dude in Halo?

Carey Price, however, got a bit too cocky in the third. He caught the puck and dropped it in front of himself to slap it away and forgot to check if any Bruins were around. Metropolit took advantage of the free shot and the Broons took the lead. That's when Price realized he's still a rookie. He let in a quick succession of goals, culminating in a goal credited to Sobotka, but it just as easily could have been an own goal as Price just completely mishandled the puck. Whether Price gets back to his old self for Game 6 is something you fuckers have to wait until Saturday to figure out. —ReasonableDoubt

Pâté, Anyone? The Anaheim Ducks had a lean and hungry look to end the regular season, winning eight out of their last ten without the superstar douche Chris Pronger. Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer were still fresh from their sabbaticals, and Sports Illustrated never said that George Parros' mustache lead the team. After four playoff games, Selanne only has one goal, Niedermayer is a non-factor, and Sports Illustrated still blows worse than Dan Cloutier. Dallas shut down the sleepy Quackers 3-1 last night, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Stars are ready to harvest the lackadaisical Ducks' liver, grind it up, add a dash of black pepper, cook it, and serve it with a nice port.

Joel Lundqvist, the twin that Sean Avery doesn't pester, opened the scoring in the first period after Sean O'Donnell turned the puck over to Loui Eriksson. Eriksson found Lundqvist, who put it past Giguère. Stu Barnes took an outlet pass from Trevor Daley to score on a breakaway in the third, then assisted Steve Ott on a two-on-none situation later in the period. Mathieu Schneider scored with seven seconds remaining to prevent a shutout.

Marty Turco decided to come correct this game by playing as a goalie, not as a defenseman with an oversized, awkward stick. He stopped 27 of 28 shots and turned the puck over once. —Raskolnikov


Given Jose Theodore's Past And His Play In This Series, If He Wanted to Be, Tiger Woods Could Be One Helluva Goalie. Propecia pill-popper Jose Theodore was once again stellar in the net for the Avalanche, turning away scoring chance after scoring chance by the Wild in Colorado's 3-2 victory over Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Theodore seems to have regained the form that led him to the Vezina and Hart Trophies in 2002, making 38 saves, many of them of the phenomenal variety. The victory gives the Avalanche a 3-2 series lead as well as the opportunity to close out the series on Saturday back in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center.

Once again, Andrew Burnette got the scoring started in the first period. After a pass across the slot that ricocheted of Kim Johnnson's skate, Brunette buried it behind Backstrom for the 1-0 lead. After a hooking penalty by Peter Forsberg late in the first, the Wild finally scored for the first time in the series in the first or second period when Pierre-Marc Bouchard put one past Theodore.

Minnesota dominated the play in the second period but failed to convert on any chances, despite out-shooting Colorado 32-14 through two. Wojtek Wolski scored on the power play on a one-timer that went of Backstrom's leg five minutes into the third and Paul Stastny got his first point in the series less than two minutes later after a boneheaded turnover by the Wild at the blue line, which has become a recurring theme in this series.


The Avalanche held on to the 3-1 lead until Brian Rolston, in some sort of Karmic kick in the nuts to Wild fans everywhere, scored on a porn snot with 2.5 ticks left on the clock, definitely a case of too little, too late for the Wild. Furthermore, according to Elias Sports Bureau, when a series is tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has gone on to win 80.6 percent of the time. Overall, 158 of 196 series have been claimed by the 2-2 team that won Game 5. So it could very well be too little too late for the Wild in the series as well. —Weed Against Speed

Nothing to see here. Move along, meow. I'll be honest with you, gang ... if I could have watched the first period of the Sharks and Flames, I would have. But The Game That Would Not End kind of prevented that. All I can tell you is no one scored. The Sharks ended up with a 4-3 victory, poised to conquer the Red Mile and advance to the next round. Jerome Iginla scored in the second on a 5 on 3 powerplay to draw first blood. Joe Pavelski came back on a powerplay of his own to tie up the game a few moments later. Patrick Marleau broke the tie just before the end of the second as a flutter-pass landed on his stick and he whipped it past Kiprusoff from beyond the face-off circle. That was the turning point. The Shark Tank came alive, and Marleau looked like he treated that goal as personal vindication for getting knocked into next week last Sunday. The Sharks put the game, and maybe the series, out of reach when Cheechoo tossed the puck over a sprawling Kiprusoff twice in a matter of moments to make it 4-1. Daymond Langkow chipped in a goal to close the gap and David Moss did his best to make it closer with a minute and a half left, but it wasn't enough to win the game as the Flames are on the brink of elimination with a 3-2 deficit going into the weekend.—ReasonableDoubt

And lastly, a front-row fan shows how to properly express disapproval of opposing players without banging on the glass: