The NHL Closer is written by Melt Your Face Off.

Late yesterday afternoon, Colin Campbell, the Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL, issued a ruling banning what Sean Avery did in an effort to screen out Martin Brodeur in Sunday night's Game 3. I understand where everyone is coming from on this. Avery's a jerk, pest and instigator. He was trying to draw a penalty. But it's important to note that nothing he did was against the rules. He never stepped into the crease. He never touched Brodeur. In fact, Brodeur punched Avery! That said, I agree with all of the accusations against Avery.


However, to completely change a rule in the middle of the playoffs is insane. Campbell called it an "interpretation" of the rule, but that's straight bullshit. He added an entire subsection to Rule 75.2 of the NHL Handbook, which describes Unsportsmanlike Conduct minor penalties. Until yesterday, you'd get a minor penalty for: A.) Using obscene or abusive language or gestures on the ice, B.) Unsportsmanlike conduct involving physical interaction, ala hair-pulling and biting, C.) Throwing objects on the ice from the bench, D.) Instigating a fight, or E.) Deliberately removing your jersey. Avery did none of that. Adding a sixth subsection to the rule in the middle of a series just because you don't like the guy is unheard of. You want to change the rule after the season? More power to you. You want to send a goon in to take his head off? Go for it. Take your chances. Changing a rule after the series has started reeks of bad sportsmanship far worse than anything Avery did Sunday night.

They Fail Stephen Harper's Test. The Senators brought out a Spartan from 300 to pump up the crowd. It came off a bit homoerotic, and if there's one thing Hockey Jesus doesn't tolerate, it's homoeroticism. He started a scoring frenzy in the third period that lead the Pens to a 4-1 win and a 3-0 lead in the series. After some solid back and forth action that saw Martin Gerber make some badass saves, Nick Foligno took a Spezza chip shot that flew about 15 feet in the air before landing at his stick. He flipped it past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Senators a crucial first goal that woke up the crowd that had been quieted after a scoreless first period. Maxime Talbot acted fast to tie things up though with a five hole slider that made Gerber look like a baby (Sorry).

Hockey Jesus, furious at the heathen way the game began, smote Gerber twelve seconds into the third period, slipping the puck in short-side to put the Pens up. His disciple Jordan Staal added a re-direct a minute later. Things continued to go against the Sens as Ryan Malone got a stick to the balls, which created a five-on-three advantage. Marian Hossa slotted home a rebound as Gerber was sprawled across the crease just as the two man advantage ended. That proved to be the final blow as the Pens have just about shut the door on Ottawa's playoff hopes. The Penguins will try to tie up the loose ends on Wednesday night. โ€” Reasonable Doubt


Some of Y'all Might Know This, and Some of Y'All Don't: When I drew the Wings and Preds, I figured I could phone this one in with a carbon copy Closer from Games 1 and 2. Kick things off with a joke about an ancient Red Wing scoring a goal (Old Man Kris Draper roofed a wrister in the first). Follow with stock phrasing of complete domination and puck control by Detroit. Neglect mentioning two meaningless equalizer goals off the sticks of Alex Radulov and a newly-returned David Legwand. Probably throw in an homage to the days of the Detroit Russian Red Army (perhaps when Pavel Datsyuk took a 3-2 lead forty seconds into the third). And profit.

But then Jan Hlavac channeled some DJ Kool, and stopped on a dime.

With less than four minutes in the third, the journeyman Czech held up the three-on-two rush, just long enough for a trailing Ryan Suter to get into position for a momentum-swiping slapshot under the glove of Hasek. A mere nine seconds later, Jason Arnott (who looks as much like Randy Travis as Will does) fulfilled the broadcast team's game-long prophecy by blasting the game-winner nine seconds later. Thank God. The Nashville captain had to be getting tired of Versus' Christine Simpson starting their daily pre-game interview with "So Jason, obviously you haven't much luck scoring this series." Next game, maybe Simpson can share hair care tips with Zetterberg. โ€” Hextall454
The Wild and the Avalanche Enjoy Extra Sessions as Much as Paul Jewell Does with a Nazi Dominatrix. For the third consecutive game, Minnesota and Colorado agreed that three periods of hockey isn't enough. Tied 2-2 at the end of regulation, the Wild went up in the series 2-1 when Jeff Finger misplayed the puck on a potential icing, Brian Rolston scooped it up off the back wall and fed Pierre-Marc Bouchard for the game winner and a 3-2 victory.
Andrew Brunette started the scoring off with a back-door goal off a Joe Sakic shot in the first period. Brunette had so much time and space, he could have dragged out Sakic's rocking chair and took a seat. Colorado had the chance to blow the game wide open at the end of the 1st when the Wild took two consecutive penalties but the Avs failed to convert on either opportunity.
It appeared the Wild evened the game up in the 2nd 1-1, but the goal was waved-off due to Aaron Voros pulling a Kobe on Jose Theodore, climbing on top and practically forcing himself on the innocent goaltender. The Wild drew another penalty as Voros' minor expired and Colorado failed to convert once again.
The Wild evened the score 1-1 in the 3rd, after Theodore shut out the Wild in the first two periods for the third game in a row, when Mikko Koivu scored on a nifty pass from Todd Fedoruk. Colorado then found themselves down 2-1 after a Brian Rolston shorthanded goal. Inevitably, Father Time evened-up the score at 2 with about 5 minutes remaining in regulation.
The story of the game was without a doubt the goaltending. If Jose Theodore played insanely in making 36 saves, many coming from point blank in overtime, then Niklas Backstrom played hook-up-a-car-battery-to-your-scrotum batshit crazy, notching 44 saves in the victory. โ€” Weed Against Speed