Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Islanders can even Semifinals vs. Lightning


Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There is one playoff game scheduled for Saturday and there was one Friday.

On Tap

There is one game on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Saturday:

Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders (8 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Lightning lead the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Semifinals 2-1 heading into Game 4 at Nassau Coliseum. The Lightning, who defeated the Islanders 2-1 in Game 3, have won two in a row and four of their past five games. The Islanders, who have lost two straight games, won four in a row prior to that. Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL in scoring 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 14 playoff games. Forward Brayden Point has scored a goal in six straight games, the longest goal streak in the playoffs in Lightning history. Andrei Vasilevskiy has a .935 save percentage in the playoffs, second highest in the postseason for a Lightning goalie to Ben Bishop in 2016 (.939). The Islanders are led by forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 15 playoff games. Forward Josh Bailey is second with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 15 games. Goalie Semyon Varlamov is 5-5 with a 2.58 GAA and .923 save percentage in 10 playoff games.This is the third straight series the Islanders trailed 2-1, and they won Game 4 at home in each of the past two.

What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 34 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Price came through early when needed most

For two periods, the Montreal Canadiens were thoroughly outplayed by the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals. The Canadiens understandably had a lot on their minds after coach Dominique Ducharme tested positive for COVID-19 and was not behind the bench, and they seemed preoccupied through the first 40 minutes when they were outshot 30-8. The reason they were still in this game, tied 1-1 entering the third period? Carey Price. Despite allowing Alex Pietrangelo‘s go-ahead goal at 2:22 of the third period, this was Price’s best game of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Montreal goalie made 43 saves and was the game’s first star. The Canadiens won 3-2 on Josh Anderson‘s goal at 12:53 of overtime but they could have been blown out early on if not for Price’s heroics. On a night Montreal really needed a boost, he came up huge. Now Price and the Canadiens have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series entering Game 4 at home Sunday. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Pietrangelo continues to produce for Vegas

Alex Pietrangelo would have been the big story for the Vegas Golden Knights had they won 2-1 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals on Friday, instead of giving up the tying goal late in regulation and losing 3-2 in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens. The defenseman scored what would have been the winning goal. He has scored three goals in the series, one more than Vegas’ forwards combined, and eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past seven games. His 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs rank second on Vegas to center William Karlsson‘s 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and third among all defensemen, behind Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning (14 points; one goal, 13 assists) and Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins (12 points; one goal, 11 assists). — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

About last night

There was one playoff game Friday:

Montreal Canadiens 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2, OT: Forward Josh Anderson scored two goals, including the winner 12:53 into overtime, and the Canadiens took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Semifinals. Anderson also scored the game-tying goal with 1:55 remaining in the third period when Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury misplayed the puck. Montreal forward Cole Caufield scored his second goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the rookie has a point in each of his past five games (two goals, three assists). Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme was not behind the bench for Game 3 after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday. Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Golden Knights, and the defenseman has scored three goals in his past two games. Vegas forward Nicolas Roy scored his third goal of the playoffs and his first since scoring two against the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of the first round on May 22. 

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