Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There were two playoff games on the schedule Tuesday and there is one Wednesday.
There is one game on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule Wednesday:
Boston Bruins at New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Islanders can advance to the Stanley Cup Semifinals and play the Tampa Bay Lightning with a win at home in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Second Round. New York leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 after winning the past two games, including a 5-4 victory in Game 5 on Monday. Goalie Tuukka Rask will start for the Bruins in their attempt to force Game 7 at home on Friday. Rask has been playing through an injury and was replaced by rookie Jeremy Swayman after two periods Monday. Bruins forward Brad Marchand has scored points in all five games in the series (three goals, four assists). Islanders forwards Mathew Barzal (three goals, three assists) and Kyle Palmieri (three goals, two assists) each have scored points in the past four games.
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 24 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Colton helps Lightning, too
Lightning rookie forward Ross Colton showed in Game 5 of the second round that the moment isn’t too big for him. After Colton’s shot hit the crossbar in the second period and he got robbed on a point-blank shot from the slot early in the third, he scored an unassisted goal off a Carolina Hurricanes turnover with a wrist shot from the right circle at 9:04 of the third to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead. That was the final score and Tampa Bay won its six consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff series to advance to the semifinals. Colton is the only rookie in the Lightning lineup and one of two regulars (defenseman David Savard) who was not part of the 2020 Stanley Cup championship team. He credits the Lightning’s leadership group for helping to show him the way and coach Jon Cooper for showing the confidence to play him for why he’s capable of stepping up big when it counts. Colton’s goal was his third of the playoffs. He also has an assist and is plus-5 in 11 games. He scored 12 points (nine goals, three assists) in 30 regular-season games. He’s ready for the chance to keep delivering more in the playoffs. He’ll get it. — Dan Rosen, senior writer
Carolina couldn’t generate anything
The Hurricanes had two of their injured forwards back for Game 5, Nino Niederreiter (upper body) and Vincent Trocheck (lower body). They had 29 shots against Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. It didn’t matter. The Hurricanes, who scored four goals in their Game 4 loss, came up empty in a 2-0 loss in Game 5. It was a frustrating end for the Hurricanes, who had good scoring chances against Vasilevskiy, the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner voted as the top goalie in the NHL, and a finalist this season. They had a good season by winning the Discover Central Division. They just didn’t have enough at the end. — Tracey Myers, staff writer
Blocking shots key to Vegas’ success
The Vegas Golden Knights led the NHL with 843 blocked shots in the regular season and their 215 are the most in the playoffs. Blocked shots led directly to their 3-2 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 of the second round Tuesday. They blocked 26 shots while allowing 30 shots on goal. The last two blocks generated a loose puck, essentially a turnover. Max Pacioretty passed it to Mark Stone, who chugged ahead of two defenders and scored the overtime winner, giving Vegas a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
Colorado needs more from MacKinnon
We sang the praises of Nathan MacKinnon after Game 1. At that point, the Avalanche center had scored 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 45 NHL playoff games, averaging 0.62 goals, 0.84 assists and 1.47 points per game, putting him behind only the greatest of the greatest players in NHL history, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux (minimum 40 games). Since then? He had one assist in Game 2, and now he has gone three games without a point. He looked better in Game 5 but still came up empty. Whatever the reason for that — tough matchups, tough defense, the NHL.com jinx — the Avalanche need more from their best player. — Cotsonika
About last night
There were two playoff games Tuesday:
Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Carolina Hurricanes 0: Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs and the Lightning eliminated the Hurricanes to advance to the semifinals. Vasilevskiy also had a shutout in a 4-0 series-clinching win in Game 6 of the first round against the Florida Panthers. Brayden Point and Colton scored for Tampa Bay, which advanced past the second round for the fifth time in seven seasons. The defending Stanley Cup champions, the No. 3 seed in the Central Division, have lost three games through the first two rounds of the playoffs and will face the winner of the second-round series between the Islanders and Bruins.
Vegas Golden Knights 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT): Stone scored 50 seconds into overtime to complete a comeback from down 2-0 in the third period and give the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves to tie Billy Smith and Ed Belfour for fourth in NHL history with his 88th playoff win, behind Patrick Roy (151), Martin Brodeur (113) and Grant Fuhr (93). The Avalanche led 2-0 on goals from Brandon Saad and Joonas Donskoi until Alex Tuch (1:03) and Jonathan Marchessault (4:07) scored 3:04 apart early in the third period to tie the game 2-2. The Golden Knights have won three straight since the Avalanche won the first two games of the series and can advance to the semifinals to play the Montreal Canadiens with another victory at home in Game 6 on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).