Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There is one playoff game scheduled for Friday and there was one Thursday.
There is one game on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Friday:
New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Islanders will try to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1984, while the Lightning look to advance again after winning the Cup last season, when they play Game 7 of the semifinals Friday. Forward Anthony Beauvillier scored 1:08 into overtime of Game 6 on Wednesday for the Islanders, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force Game 7. Beauvillier is tied for second among the Islanders in scoring with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) with forwards Josh Bailey (six goals, seven assists) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (three goals, 10 assists). Forward Mathew Barzal leads the Islanders with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) after he had two assists in Game 6. Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov‘s status for Game 7 is unclear after he sustained an unspecified injury in the first period Wednesday. Kucherov leads all players in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 27 points (five goals, 22 assists) in 17 games. Tampa Bay forward Brayden Point has scored a goal in nine consecutive playoff games, one shy of the NHL record 10 set by Reggie Leach with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976. Point has scored 14 goals, tying the Lightning single postseason record he set in 2020.
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 40 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Golden Knights face challenges ahead
After the Vegas Golden Knights were eliminated in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre in Montreal on Thursday, defenseman Alec Martinez and forward Reilly Smith each said it was the best team on which they’d played. That was saying something. Martinez won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014. Reilly went to the Cup Final with the Golden Knights in 2018. But it illustrated how precious this opportunity was. Can Vegas keep two goalies like Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner? What about Martinez, a pending unrestricted free agent? The Golden Knights have done everything to win, pushing the limits of the NHL salary cap, and now they must find a way to push even more to take another step. It will be hard enough to be this good again, let alone better. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
Canadiens special teams peaking for Final
The Montreal Canadiens are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993, and their outstanding special teams are a big reason why. The power play has scored nine goals in 17 games and is 20.9 percent in the playoffs. Defenseman Shea Weber scored a power-play goal to open the scoring in Montreal’s series-clinching 3-2 overtime victory in Game 6 of the semifinals against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Canadiens have also killed off 29 consecutive power plays by their opponents and scored more goals (4) than they’ve allowed (3) while shorthanded in the 2021 playoffs. They are first in the NHL in penalty killing (93.5 percent) in the postseason. Puck pressure has been the key so expect them to keep utilizing it as they find themselves vying for their first Stanley Cup in 28 years. —Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
About last night
There was one playoff game Thursday:
Montreal Canadiens 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2 (OT): Artturi Lehkonen scored his third goal of the playoffs 1:39 into overtime and the Canadiens defeated the Golden Knights in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals to advance to the Final for the first time since 1993. They will face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Islanders, who play Game 7 of the semifinals on Friday. Montreal is the first Canadian-based team to advance to the Final since the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games in 2011. Rookie Cole Caufield scored a goal, his fourth in his past six games, and Shea Weber scored his first goal of the playoffs for the Canadiens. Goalie Carey Price made 37 saves. Alec Martinez scored 1:08 into the third period for Vegas to tie the game 2-2. Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith scored in the first period and goalie Robin Lehner made 29 saves.
Stanley Cup Playoff news
Nikita Kucherov sustained an unspecified injury in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals and his status for Game 7 is uncertain against the Islanders, reports senior writer Dan Rosen.
Islanders legends Denis Potvin and John Tonelli are hoping Nassau Coliseum gets one more chance to host the Stanley Cup Final before it shuts down after this season. Deputy managing editor Brian Compton with the story.
Despite their season-saving win in Game 6, staff writer Tom Gulitti reports that the Islanders immediately shifted their focus to Game 7 on the road at Tampa Bay.
The Canadiens will play either the Lightning or Islanders in the Stanley Cup Final. Staff writer David Satriano breaks down the potential matchups.
Staff writer Mike Zeisberger reports how Canadiens goalie Carey Price was able to bask in the Game 6 overtime win Thursday and his first trip to the Cup Final.
The superstitious Canadiens did not touch the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after eliminating the Golden Knights on Thursday, reports Satriano.
Columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika reports on the “terrible feeling” falling short of the Stanley Cup is again for the Golden Knights
NHL.com Fantasy Hockey writers provide a snake draft for Game 7 between the Islanders and Lightning.