Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Hurricanes try to rebound against Predators

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There are two playoff games scheduled for Tuesday and there were five Monday.

On tap

There are two games on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule Tuesday:

Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Maple Leafs and Canadiens play the second of back-to-back games. Toronto leads the best-of-7 series 2-1 after a 2-1 win in Game 3 on Monday. Montreal has scored four goals in the first three games, including two in its 2-1 win in Game 1. Maple Leafs forward William Nylander has scored a goal in each game of the series and leads all skaters with three. Nick Foligno was a late scratch for Toronto in Game 3 and is expected to be a game-time decision, and Maple Leafs captain John Tavares remains out for at least two weeks after sustaining a concussion and knee injury in Game 1. 

Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVAS, BSSO): The Predators and Hurricanes play Game 5, tied in the best-of-7 series. The home team has won each of the first four games. Nashville won the past two, each in double overtime, after their 4-3 win in Game 4 on Luke Kunin‘s goal in the second overtime. Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal lead all skaters in the series with three goals each. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm has three assists in the past two games.

What We Learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 9 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Second period plagues Montreal again

The Montreal Canadiens have lost two straight games and trail the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round 2-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s easy to see why. The common thread in each loss has been a poor second period, when Montreal was outshot, outplayed and outscored. In Game 2 Toronto scored twice in the second to take a 2-1 lead in a 5-1 win. In Game 3 Toronto outscored Montreal 2-1 in the second and went on to win by that score. The shot differential reveals how one sided the play has been in the second period. In Game 2 Toronto outshot Montreal 20-6 in the second; in Game 3 it was 20-8. That means the Canadiens have been outscored 4-1 and outshot 40-14 in the second periods of their past two games, a trend which needs to be stopped in Game 4 on Tuesday — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer 

It’s Sorokin’s net for now

The New York Islanders left town one win away from advancing to the second round thanks to rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin, who fleeced the Pittsburgh Penguins by making 48 saves in a 3-2 win in double overtime to send the Islanders home with a 3-2 series lead. Sorokin is 3-0 in the series; he made 39 saves in New York’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1, but Semyon Varlamov returned from injury to start the next two games. Varlamov allowed an early goal in each and gave up five goals in the Game 3 loss, leading to Sorokin’s return. He’s allowed three goals in the past two games, and it’s hard to imagine Sorokin won’t start Game 6 at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday. “He was outstanding. He gave us a chance,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. “Our first two periods were not pretty, [but] he allowed us to hang around. … It all goes up front on Ilya. We don’t have a chance if he doesn’t have an outstanding game in the first two periods for sure.” — Brian Compton, deputy managing editor

Talbot deserves love too

Marc-Andre Fleury has drawn praise in the Stanley Cup First Round between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild. Deservedly so. The goalie was one of the big reasons Vegas took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. But how about Cam Talbot? He made 38 saves in Minnesota’s 4-2 win in Game 5 on Monday that forced a Game 6 on Wednesday, including 21 in the second period and 11 in the third. Perhaps his best work came with about six minutes to go, when he stoned Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith in close. He brought to mind goalies Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks and Anton Khudobin of the Dallas Stars, who stymied the Golden Knights when they scored 12 goals and went 2-6 in their last eight playoff games last season despite outshooting the opposition 293-172. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

Panthers’ PK makes a big difference

Florida Panthers rookie goalie Spencer Knight was the story of Game 5 in the Stanley Cup First Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning with 36 saves. He became the youngest goalie to make his NHL postseason debut in a potential elimination game, gave up a goal on the first shot he faced but nothing more in a 4-1 win that got Florida to within 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. But the Panthers also have their discipline and penalty kill to thank. The Lightning’s power play was 7-for-15 in the first four games of the series. The Panthers flipped the script in Game 5. They limited the Lightning to one two-minute power play opportunity at 15:09 of the first period and another that lasted for eight seconds. Tampa Bay kept the puck in the offensive zone for nearly the entire two-minute power play, but Florida’s penalty killers were effective in shutting off the middle of the ice. Knight made five saves, including one on Alex Killorn from the slot off a rebound and one each on one-timers from Steven Stamkos in the left circle and Nikita Kucherov in the right circle. But the timeliness of the PK was big. It prevented the Lightning from taking a two-goal lead before the first intermission. The Panthers responded with two goals in the second period before scoring on their own power play early in the third. — Dan Rosen, senior writer

Jets were tough to crack

In sweeping the Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round with a 4-3 win in triple overtime on Monday, the Winnipeg Jets answered a lot of questions about whether they had enough substance to their game to succeed in the postseason. For starters, the experience gained by four consecutive appearances in the postseason was underestimated. Then, Winnipeg’s skilled forwards, who can run and gun with most groups in the NHL, opted for a more conscientious defensive style to try to slow down Edmonton forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the series. McDavid and Draisaitl were each held off the score sheet in Games 1 and 2 and the Jets matched their offense and then some in Games 3 and 4 at home, showing resilience in finding a way to win each game in overtime, and three straight in overtime in the series. The indicator of the Jets’ focus for the series was their 101 blocked shots in four games, leading the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 20.19 blocked shots per 60 minutes. — Tim Campbell, staff writer

About Last Night

There were five playoff games Monday:

New York Islanders 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2 (2OT): The Islanders are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Second Round after forward Josh Bailey scored 51 seconds into the second overtime in Game 5. Ilya Sorokin made 48 saves, an Islanders rookie record in the playoffs, and has won each of his three starts in the series. New York forward Jordan Eberle scored the game-tying goal at 8:50 of the third period. Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin scored his first goal since March 15 and Tristan Jarry, whose pass was intercepted on the game-winning goal, made 25 saves. 

Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Montreal Canadiens 1: Morgan Rielly scored the game-winning goal at 16:35 of the second period to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 series lead against the Canadiens. Each of the three goals in the game was scored in the second period, starting with one by Maple Leafs forward William Nylander at 7:18. Canadiens forward Nick Suzuki tied the score at 13:56. Nylander has goals in each of the first three games of the series. Jack Campbell made 27 saves for the Maple Leafs, and Carey Price also had 27 for the Canadiens. Rookie forward Cole Caufield made his playoff debut for the Canadiens and had three shots in 15:50 of ice time. 

Florida Panthers 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 1: Spencer Knight became youngest NHL goalie at 20 years, 35 days to make his playoff debut in an elimination game, and made 36 saves to help the Panthers stave off elimination. Knight allowed a goal on the first Lightning shot, 53 seconds into the game, but did not allow another. The Panthers trail 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. MacKenzie Weegar and Patric Hornqvist each had a goal and an assist in the win. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 34 saves in the loss. The Panthers became the first team in more than 18 years to allow a goal in the opening minute of an elimination game and still win, the most recent being the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals. 

Winnipeg Jets 4, Edmonton Oilers 3 (3OT): The Jets won the first triple-overtime game in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help finish a four-game sweep against the Oilers, when Kyle Connor scored on a breakaway at 6:52. It was the third straight overtime win for the Jets in the series. The winning goal came after Winnipeg defenseman Neal Pionk forced a turnover from Edmonton center Connor McDavid. Mark Scheifele scored two goals and Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves for the Jets. The loss for the Oilers included McDavid’s first goal of the series; he finished with four points (one goal, three assists). The Jets advanced to the Stanley Cup Second Round and will face the winner of the best-of-7 series between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, which Toronto leads 2-1. 

Minnesota Wild 4, Vegas Golden Knights 2: Kirill Kaprizov scored his first playoff goal in the NHL and the Wild avoided elimination, cutting the Golden Knights’ lead to 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. Cam Talbot made 38 saves for the Wild and the game-winner was scored by forward Jordan Greenway at 16:34 of the first, when Minnesota scored three goals. The Wild had 14 shots in the game; Marc-Andre Fleury made 10 saves in the loss. Forward Mark Stone scored his fourth goal of the series and defenseman Alec Martinez scored his first for Vegas.

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