Throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs we’ll be keeping track of all the action around the league, and bringing you all of the results in one place.
No. 4 Boston Bruins vs. No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes
The biggest news of the day was undoubtedly the fact that Tuukka Rask decided to leave the bubble and opt out of the remainder of the playoffs. His replacement, Jaroslav Halak, had a terrific season in his own right, and was great in this game as well. The only time the Hurricanes managed to beat him last night was when his attempted clear was knocked down, and he was behind the net. Other than that gaffe, it was a great showing from the new starter for Boston.
The Canes actually had the better start of the two teams, but it was all Bruins from the second period on. They received goals from Charlie Coyle and Sean Kuraly, before Brad Marchand put home an empty-netter to seal the game. Towards the end of the game, Andrei Svechnikov fell awkwardly in front of Halak and had to be helped off the ice. Losing Svechnikov would be a huge blow to the Hurricanes, who just recently got star defenseman Dougie Hamilton back from injury.
No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 7 Arizona Coyotes
Darcy Kuemper, what a show. The Avalanche threw 92 shots at the net, 51 on target, and 49 of them were stopped by Kuemper. Since the start of game one the Coyotes have looked outclassed by the Avalanche, but a game stolen by their goaltender could be just what they needed to spark an upset. And to be fair, while the Coyotes did give up a ton of shots, a lot of them were not that dangerous. The teams tied with 12 high-danger shot attempts a piece at five-on-five, and at all situations Colorado actually generated fewer expected goals than Arizona — barely. But still, with such a difference in total shots, you can see how well the Coyotes did at suppressing the most dangerous chances.
Derek Stepan opened the scoring in the first period, before Andre Burakovsky tied it in the second. In the final minute of the second period, Brad Richardson, the overtime hero during the qualifiers, gave the Coyotes the lead once more with a wrister from the the faceoff circle. The third period saw the Avalanche in constant attack mode, and the Coyotes doing their best to keep them to the outside. With a little over a minute remaining, Taylor Hall hit the empty net, which would eventually be the game-winner. Mikko Rantanen made it a one-goal game again just over 20 seconds later, but they could not complete the comeback. Lawson Crouse scored the Coyotes’ second empty-net goal with five seconds left in the game.
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 7 Columbus Blue Jackets
The Lightning held the Blue Jackets to just 17 shots on goal, and in doing so, won game three. A truly dominating performance by Tampa Bay saw them own just about 75% of the shots, and of the expected goal share at five-on-five. Alex Killorn struck first, with what looked like an attempted pass that wound up sliding under Joonas Korpisalo. It may have been on purpose, but it did not appear that way to me. Riley Nash scored early in the second to tie the game at one, with a shot off the rush.
Over ten minutes later, Brayden Point jumped on the rebound of a Ryan McDonagh shot to give the Lightning their second lead of the night. Then Victor Hedman, who had an injury scare against Philly in the round robin, scored the eventual game-winner with just over a minute remaining in the middle frame. It was a shot Korpisalo should’ve had. Eric Robinson scored just over a minute into the third period on a broken play, but that’d be the only goal either team could muster in the final frame.
No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks
The final game of the day set up a potential sweep tonight. The Golden Knights were the better team, but the Hawks had a number of quality chances that they just could not capitalize on. Most notably, a shot by Patrick Kane late in the first period that had all the room in the world to go in, but hit the side of the net. But backing up to the first actual goal, William Karlsson opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal with a beautiful backhander over Corey Crawford’s shoulder.
Patrick Brown added to the Vegas lead after Crawford made a great save on an Alex Tuch one-timer off the rush. The rebound fell right in front of the blue paint and Brown made no mistake. It was his series debut, and the first playoff goal of his NHL career. The Blackhawks made the quite the push in the first half of the third period, and finally beat Marc-Andre Fleury when Olli Maatta beat him with a shot off the rush. They broke his shutout bid, and added on a few more chances after, but could not get another as Vegas outplayed them over the final ten minutes. Both Fleury and Crawford were great in this game.
Data referenced courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.