Last Night In The NHL Playoffs
Written by: Graham Conklin
It was another day of drama in the NHL for day three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Around the league Michael Bunting’s suspension was the topic of debate for his high hit on Cernak in a 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay, as the path out of the first round for Toronto continues to elude the team. What was looking like the Leaf’s year to break the spell has turned into the possibility for disaster and a potential clearing house at years end.
Islanders 3 – Canes 4 (OT)
Barzal is back. In game two of the battle of the Ahos, the Islanders appeared the stronger team despite two quick goals from Carolina. While the Islanders were able to limit the Cane’s high danger chances early on – goals off of a ridiculous snipe from Jacob Slavin and an unfortunate bounce courtesy of Stephan Noesen put NY down two goals in the second period.
A majority of the Islander’s opportunities that would follow came off of the rush, starting with Kyle Palmeri with a backhanded wrap around late in the second period. Followed up by Barzal in the dying moments of the 2nd with a slick wrister off an entry by the glove of Raanta.
Brock Nelson would start the scoring ten minutes into the third to put the Islanders up by 1, quickly followed by a no-angle finish from Jacob Slavin off the bucket of Sorokin.
Overtime would only get just past the five-minute mark as Jesper Fast beat Sorokin on the far post for the OT winner.
The story of this game was the twelve minutes of PIM served by the islanders, perhaps more opportunity to play at 5v5 would’ve been the difference tonight for the loser, who despite trailing in shots, had the majority of high danger chances.
Barzal appearing to be coming into full form post injury is promising for the team however, as the first line of Barzal-Palmeri-Engvall posted an expected goals for of 1.2. NY should be optimistic with two opportunities to defend home ice and get this series tied up.
Cane’s coach Rod Brind’amour announced Teuvo Teravainen would miss the remainder of the series due to a slash to the hand requiring surgery.
Panthers 6 – Bruins 3
Florida was able to force Boston to play their way in the absence of captain Patrice Bergeron, and despite a high flying 60 minutes, Boston ended the night down 3 in a 6-3 defeat to Florida. In a game that sent the audience packing early in the 3rd, Lyon outdueled Ullmark with the looming presence of Bobrovsky ready to take over the starter’s net after a less than spectacular game one. Now its Ullmark who is on the hot seat in favor of Swayman.
Sam Bennet partially fanned on a shot off a poor turnover by the Bruins in the first to get the scoring started. These turnovers plagued the Bruins early like the flu allegedly making its way through the locker room.
Halfway through the second, Duclair would make an equally terrible turnover to a wide open Marchand who would beat Lyon on the glove side, short-handed, as Brad Marchand does. Shortly after, B’s defenders would watch Eric Staal walk down the middle of the ice and take the lead, beating Ullmark’s blocker to go up 2-1. Tyler Bertuzzi would tie the game on a power play goal with 3 minutes remaining in the 2nd.
Early in the 3rd, playing 4×4, Montour would beat Ullmark on a slow wrister from the blue line, with bodies in front. The Bruins would surge, but couldn’t solve Lyon. Then, the Bruins got sloppy again. Carter Verhaeghe capitalized on a poor D-zone exit, and Montour would beat Ullmark again from the blue line. Empty net and a last minute goal from Taylor Hall would seal the 6-3 final score.
The Panthers and the Bruins played a high octane, high flying game tonight and Ullmark was unable to be the difference maker he has been so many times in his likely Vezina winning season. The Panthers succeeded in getting the early goal, and dragged Boston into a play style where they had a better chance of beating the President’s trophy winners. If Boston can limit the uncharacteristic turnovers, control the play, and take advantage of world glass goaltending like they have all year, there should be no reason to panic for Boston.
Wild 3 – Stars 7
Why oh why was Marc-Andre Fleury in net tonight? After an unbelievable performance in Game 1, Gustavsson was on the bench to witness 7 of 31 total shots beat Fleury for a goals saved above expected of -3.9.
Hintz would score his first of three on the night shorthanded on a breakaway. Seguin would make it 2-0 on a PPG, tipped in off a Robertson shot from the blue line. The Wild end the first up 2-1 off a Sundqvist deflection with 4 minutes to go.
Benn beat Fleury clean to kick off the scoring spree in the second. Off an odd man rush, Dadinov would bury a rebound to take control of a game Dallas wouldn’t look back on. Two goals from Gaudreau and Dadonov would put the Wild within one, but the third period was the Hintz show, finishing his hattrick on a wrist shot and PP tip in late in the third.
The Stars certainly came out determined to not give up both home games to Minnesota, but the goaltending was the clear difference tonight.
Oilers 4 – Kings 2
It’s the Draisatl and Kane show in Edmonton. Who would’ve thought McJesus would be held to one assist in two games of this series? While his presence has clearly been felt, it is the other half of Edmonton’s two headed beast alongside linemate Evander Kane carrying the load to this point.
After a first period that looked similarly dominant to Game 1 for the Oil, with goals from Ryan and the German, Danult and Vilardi made it look like we were headed towards more bottles being tossed on the ice when all was said and done.
Edmonton took their chances early in the third to put all concerns to rest, as Kostin scored his first career playoff goal off of a vicious snapper behind the dots. Kane would put matters to rest with the empty netter to seal things up.
After Skinner allowed the two goals to LA to tie things up, things looked bleak in Edmonton, despite the positive flow of the game. The Oilers were able to do what cup contenders do, face adversity and shift the tide back in their favor. Additionally, Skinner has looked solid and has to this point put the once glaring concern of goaltending in the rearview for now.