Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There were four games on the schedule Sunday and there are five on the schedule Monday:
There are five games on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Monday:
New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVAS2, ATTSN-PT, MSG, MSG+): It’s a crucial Game 5 in Pittsburgh, with the series tied 2-2. The Islanders will try to build on a series-tying 4-1 win in Game 4 on Saturday. It’s not clear if Ilya Sorokin or Semyon Varlamov will be the Islanders starting goalie. Sorokin made 29 saves in Game 4 and has won each of his two starts in the series. Penguins center Sidney Crosby has not scored a point since scoring a goal in Game 1, a 4-3 overtime loss.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Maple Leafs are coming off a 5-1 win against the Canadiens in Game 2 on Saturday, when they scored two power-play goals and forward Auston Matthews scored three points (one goal, two assists). The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1; Montreal won Game 1, 2-1. It’s the first home playoff game for the Canadiens since April 20, 2017. This is the sixth time Toronto and Montreal are tied through two games in a best-of-7 series. The winner of Game 3 won the series four of the previous five times.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, FX-CA, TVAS.ca, BSFL, BSSUN): The Lightning can eliminate the Panthers and advance to the second round with a win in Game 5 at BB&T Center, where they won Games 1 and 2. Tampa Bay also won 6-2 in Game 4 on Saturday after giving away a two-goal lead in the third period of Game 3 and losing 6-5 in overtime. It’s not clear if Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov or defenseman Mikhail Sergachev will be available. They were both injured in the final 10 minutes of the third period of Game 4 and didn’t return. The Panthers may start rookie goalie Spencer Knight, who was a healthy scratch in the first four games. Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger have split the first four starts. Bobrovsky is 1-2 with a 5.33 goals-against average and .841 save percentage in the series; Driedger is 0-1 with a 3.70 GAA and .871 save percentage.
Edmonton Oilers at Winnipeg Jets (9:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS2): The Jets have a chance to finish a four-game sweep of the Oilers in Game 4 at Bell MTS Place. Winnipeg came back from three goals down in the third period by scoring three in a row in a span of 3:03 to force overtime in Game 3 on Sunday. Nikolaj Ehlers scored at 9:13 of overtime to give the Jets a 5-4 win and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Oilers forwards Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid will try to build on their strong play Sunday. Draisaitl (two goals, one assist) and McDavid (three assists) each scored three points after being held off the score sheet in Games 1 and 2.
Minnesota Wild at Vegas Golden Knights (10:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN1, TVAS, ATTSN-RM, BSN+): The Golden Knights will eliminate the Wild and advance into a second-round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche with a win in Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights have won three in a row after losing Game 1 to lead the best-of-7 series 3-1. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves in a 4-0 win in Game 4. He has allowed four goals on 116 shots through four games for a 0.99 goals-against average and .966 save percentage.
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 8 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Predators take advantage of opportunities
The Nashville Predators were outshot by the Carolina Hurricanes 61-43 in their 4-3 double-overtime win in Game 4 on Sunday. Being opportunistic was key for Nashville, which tied the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round. Forward Ryan Johansen scored to make it 2-1 Predators early in the second period when Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic let a rebound get away from him. The Predators only had two power plays but scored on the first one when forward Nick Cousins tipped forward Erik Haula‘s shot to tie the game 3-3 early in the third. Forward Luke Kunin had to quickly retrieve a stick from the bench after his was broken but wasn’t picked up by the Hurricanes when he returned and had plenty of space near the slot to receive forward Mikael Granlund‘s pass and score the winning goal. When opportunity knocked, the Predators answered. — Tracey Myers, staff writer
Avalanche are rolling
The Colorado Avalanche became the first team to advance to the Stanley Cup Second Round with a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 at Enterprise Center on Sunday. The Avalanche averaged 5.00 goals-per game and went 6-for-12 on the power play (50.0 percent) while limiting the Blues to 1.75 goals-per game during their series sweep. Colorado had at least one goal from 11 different players and the top line of forwards Nathan MacKinnon (six goals, three assists), Gabriel Landeskog (two goals, six assists) and Mikko Rantanen (one goal, six assists) combined for nine goals, 24 points and 44 shots on goal. Goalie Philipp Grubauer picked up where he left off in the regular season and finished the series with a 1.75 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. Though rookie forward Alex Newhook sustained a lower-body injury early in the first period in Game 4 and didn’t return, he’ll have extra time to get healthy as the Avalanche await the winner of the first-round series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild, which Vegas leads 3-1. — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
Rask in top form
Tuukka Rask had trouble staying on the ice this season, playing 24 games, including 20 minutes of a stretch from March 7 to April 15. But the Boston Bruins goalie finished strong, going 7-1-0 with a .923 save percentage in nine games from April 15 to the end of the regular season and has continued that into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, especially after the Bruins dropped the first game of the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round to the Washington Capitals. In the four Boston wins that followed, Rask was sensational, allowing seven goals on 137 shots for a .949 save percentage. In Game 5 on Sunday, a 3-1 win that sent the Bruins to the second round, Rask saved 40 of 41 shots. “He’s unbelievable,” forward David Pastrnak said. “He’s just incredible. He’s never out of position. He’s been standing on his head this series, and we’re obviously lucky to have him behind us.” — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
Take no lead for granted
The Edmonton Oilers were given a tough lesson in Game 3 of the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round against the Winnipeg Jets, blowing a 4-1 lead with less than nine minutes to play in the third period and losing 5-4 in overtime Sunday. The Oilers trail 3-0 in the series and their season will be over if they don’t win Game 4 on the road Monday. Edmonton played an aggressive, determined game to establish its three-goal lead in Game 3 and captain Connor McDavid and linemate Leon Draisaitl, the top two scorers in the NHL this season, got on the score sheet with three points each after each player was scoreless in the first two games. But an ill-advised penalty by Oilers forward Josh Archibald at 11:11 of the third period gave the Jets an opening that led to a power-play goal. Some puck mismanagement by Edmonton helped Winnipeg capitalize more, and the Oilers couldn’t recover. Edmonton needs to focus on the good elements of Game 3 and learn that focus is required in the Stanley Cup Playoffs until the final horn, seemingly comfortable lead or not. — Tim Campbell, staff writer
About last night
There were four playoff games Sunday:
Nashville Predators 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3 (2OT): Forward Luke Kunin scored his second goal of the game at 16:10 of the second overtime and the Predators tied the best-of-7 series with the Game 4 win, their second in a row at home. Nashville goalie Juuse Saros made 58 saves, setting a Predators record for most saves in a playoff game. He also made 52 saves in Game 3 and is the second goalie since 1955-56 to make at least 50 saves in consecutive playoff games; Curtis Joseph did it with the St. Louis Blues in 1993. Alex Nedeljkovic made 39 saves for the Hurricanes, who couldn’t hold a 3-2 lead they built on forward Brock McGinn‘s consecutive goals at 18:05 of the second period and 13 seconds into the third. Predators forward Nick Cousins scored the game-tying goal on the power play at 3:15. Saros made 17 saves in overtime.
Colorado Avalanche 5, St. Louis Blues 2: The Avalanche became the first team to advance to the Stanley Cup Second Round by completing a four-game sweep of the Blues at Enterprise Center. They will face the winner of the best-of-7 series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild. Vegas leads 3-1 and hosts Game 5 on Monday. Colorado forwards Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each scored a goal and had an assist. The Avalanche scored two empty-net goals in the final minute to seal the win. Goalie Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves on 20 shots. Forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals for the Blues, who have not won a playoff round since winning the Stanley Cup in 2019. They lost in six games to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round last season.
Boston Bruins 3, Washington Capitals 1: The Bruins became the second team to advance to the second round by eliminating the Capitals in five games in the best-of-7 series. The Bruins will play the winner of the best-of-7 series between New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, which is tied 2-2. Game 5 is in Pittsburgh on Monday. Forward Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and forward David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist for the Bruins. Defenseman Mike Reilly had two assists and Tuukka Rask made 40 saves for the Bruins, who won four straight games after losing Game 1 in overtime. Forward Conor Sheary scored and Ilya Samsonov made 16 saves for the Capitals, who have not won a playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018.
Winnipeg Jets 5, Edmonton Oilers 4 (OT): The Jets came back from down 4-1 by scoring three unanswered goals in a 3:03 span in the third period to force overtime. Nikolaj Ehlers won it at 9:13 to give the Jets a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Oilers forward Josh Archibald was called for tripping Logan Stanley at 11:11 of the third period and Jets forward Mathieu Perreault scored 30 seconds into the power play to make it 4-2. Forward Blake Wheeler scored on a rebound at 14:28 and defenseman Josh Morrissey scored 16 seconds later to tie it 4-4. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 44 saves. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored two goals and had an assist and center Connor McDavid had three assists.