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Stanley Cup Playoffs wrap up: Staying alive

Apr 27, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Dallas Stars center Matt Duchene (95) celebrates Dallas Stars center Wyatt Johnston (53) (not pictured) overtime goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in game three of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders

Our first game of the day brought with it the possibility that we might see our first team eliminated in a sweep, which would have been fun in its own way, but things would turn out to not be that simple.

There was hope early, though, as the Hurricanes managed to get an early lead in the first period on a goal by Seth Jarvis, and then defend it into the first intermission. The Islanders had some chances, but they didn’t appear to be overly threatening, and we thought the Hurricanes might just be able to coast to this sweep.

But we were mistaken. The Islanders managed to tie the game about halfway through the second period on a nifty little goal by Mat Barzal, and really were able to hang around after that. In the third period, they pulled ahead on a power play goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and while they did allow to Hurricanes to also hang around (Stefan Noesen also put one away on the power play late in the period), couldn’t pull away with the lead themselves, they kept things close until it really mattered. In this case, it was not regular overtime, but double overtime when someone finally broke through, and it was Barzal again this time. And the Islanders managed to avoid the sweep, pushing it to a Game 5 in Raleigh on Tuesday.

Final: 3-2 Islanders (2OT)
Series: 3-1 Hurricanes
Highlights: NHL

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Speaking of sweeps being avoided, we turn now to our Florida teams series, where the Panthers were trying to close out their series in four and be the first to punch their ticket to the next round. But we know this Lightning team, and we know they were not going to make it that easy one them.

When the game began, it was all Lightning. They managed three goals in just over a six minute span, and across all situations — first a power play goal by Steven Stamkos, and the a shorthanded goal by Brandon Hagel, and then finally an even strength goal by Brayden Point — to pull into a commanding lead of this game. For a moment we thought that this might just be the Lightning coming back alive and they would be able to coast to a win to make this series interesting, but we also know this Panthers team, and they weren’t going to make this easy. The Panthers got themselves on the board early in the second period care of a goal by Carter Verhaeghe, and while the Lightning were quickly able to restore their three-goal lead (Hagel again), the Panthers punched back with two goals in just over three minutes at the end of the period (Sam Bennett, then Oliver Ekman-Larson) to make it a one-goal game going into the third.

At the end of the day, though, it turned out that the Lightning did just have more juice in this game. They tacked on two more goals in the third period to well and truly out this one out of reach (these from Stamkos again, then Nick Paul). The Panthers didn’t have another comeback in them, and this series stayed alive.

Final: 6-3 Lightning
Series: 2-1 Canucks
Highlights: NHL

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Well, well, well. We find ourselves back at the Big Narratives series, and once again the Leafs find themselves on the ropes. Still at home and looking to rebound from a tough loss on Thursday which saw the Bruins take a 2-1 lead in the series, the Leafs responded by… somehow further imploding.

They managed to keep things even through most of the first period, but the Bruins eventually broke through late on a goal by our old pal and noted Former Maple Leaf James van Riemsdyk. On paper things were still close, but the second period just saw things really start to unravel. It saw Max Domi take an ill-advised cross checking penalty, and then Mitch Marner blowing a coverage on the penalty kill to allow Brad Marchand to score. The Bruins then further extended their lead on a backbreaker, with just 42 seconds left in the period, this time from David Pastrnak.

The question remained if the Leafs would be able to manage any kind of pushback in this game, and they got it in the form of a goal by Marner (long awaited) and a couple more flurries of chances, but that was really just about it. The Bruins were able to cruise pretty easily to the win in this one, and the Leafs now find themselves already on the brink of elimination, and looking utterly haunted.

Final: 3-1 Bruins
Series: 3-1 Bruins
Highlights: NHL

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights

And finally, to our only game out West from yesterday. This series shifted back to Vegas, after the Golden Knights managed to take both wins in their road games in Dallas, pulling the series to 2-0 in their favor.

The shift to their home arena and home-ice advantage wasn’t going to be a completely smooth one for them, and it looks like the Stars are finally beginning to wake up. The Stars managed to score the first goal of the game in the first period, care of Wyatt Johnston, and then went on to double up their lead early in the second period on a goal by Miro Heiskanen. The Golden Knights didn’t go away quietly, though, as they found their legs as that middle frame went on, scoring twice (Brayden McNabb and then Jack Eichel shorthanded) to bring things even again heading into the third period.

We saw some back and forth through that third period, a few good chances for one side to pull away, but all ended up being stopped. No one could break through, and this is another game that was going to require overtime to settle. Mercifully though, for the viewers on the East Coast, it was settled quickly — not even four minutes into the period, on the rush, looking like he was running out of real estate to shoot, Johnston put a shot on net from a sharp angle and beat Logan Thompson over the shoulder. And the Stars are right back in this thing.

Final: 3-2 Stars (OT)
Series: 2-1 Golden Knights
Highlights: NHL

Posted in NHL
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