Each day during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Canes Country recaps the night before, previews the games for that night, and gives you game times and broadcast information.
San Jose Sharks 2, Anaheim Ducks 1 (SJS wins series 4-0)
The Sharks completed their second playoff sweep in franchise history with a gritty, tightly contested 2-1 win over a game Anaheim Ducks squad. With another sterling effort from Martin Jones (30 saves), and goals scored in front of the net by Marcus Sorensen and Tomas Hertl, the Sharks advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights for Pacific Division supremacy and a spot in the Western Conference Final.
The Sharks started the scoring with Sorensen’s tally just over five minutes into the contest, and it looked as though we could see a repeat of Game 3. The Ducks responded with their most physical performance of the series, but they were turned away time and again by Jones in net.
The Ducks were also dealt a pair of bad breaks. With the Ducks buzzing in the Sharks’ zone on a power play, Corey Perry found Ryan Getzlaf for the tap-in. The only problem? The clock struck 0.0 just as Getzlaf received the pass. As the power play continued in the third period, Getzlaf entered the zone and after a deflection, Rickard Rakell fired home a one-timer through Jones for the equalizer. But review showed that Getzlaf had dragged the puck on the blueline, making his teammates offside while entering the zone.
The Ducks finally did even the score with a hard-fought goal in front of the net by Andrew Cogliano. But just over a minute later, at 9:09 of the third period, a Marc-Edouard Vlasic point shot was deflected by Hertl in front of John Gibson and snuck through to provide the winning margin.
For San Jose, you could not have scripted a better beginning to the postseason journey. They get a chance to rest up before heading to Vegas to start the series with the Golden Knights late next week.
Meanwhile in Anaheim, the aging core will certainly be the topic of conversation. Can this group compete for another shot at the Stanley Cup? Or is it time to begin extracting value for some older players, namely Getzlaf, Perry, Cogliano, and Ryan Kesler, that still have some good hockey potentially left, but might serve their current organization best as trade chips instead of team members? - Andy House
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Philadelphia Flyers 0 (PIT leads 3-1)
After a series of back-and-forth momentum shifts in the first three games of the series, the momentum finally shifted completely as the Penguins took a 3-1 series lead with a 5-0 win over Philadelphia in Game 4. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel each had a goal and an assist and completely sucked the life out of the Wells Fargo Center. Matt Murray was stellar in the game, stopping all 26 shots faced including 21 at even strength to post his second shutout in four games of this series.
Philadelphia’s goaltending woes continued to be a problem as they split time between Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. They failed to convert any of their four power play chances and just couldn’t solve the riddle of Murray at even strength, no doubt hampered by the absence of Sean Couturier who did not play after suffering a lower-body injury in practice on Tuesday.
The series will shift back towards Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Friday at 7 p.m. with the opportunity for Pittsburgh to become the first Eastern Conference team to join the Golden Knights and Sharks in the second round. - Justin Lape
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, New Jersey Devils 1 (TBL leads 3-1)
The Devils were pushed to the brink of elimination last night with a 3-1 loss on home ice. They will travel down to Tampa Bay down 3-1 in the series, giving the Lightning a chance to clinch on home ice.
Despite scoring the first goal for the first time in this playoff series, with Kyle Palmieri the Devils still went into the first intermission down a goal thanks to J.T. Miller and Nikita Kucherov scoring twice in a four-minute stretch. That score held until Kucherov added a second, his fourth of the postseason, into the empty net to seal the win.
The biggest downfall of the Devils last night, and in some ways throughout the entire series, has been the lack of production from the top line. Despite Cory Schneider playing a great game, saving 34 out of 36 shots, the Devils were thoroughly dominated throughout the game, outshot 37-24 including 12-5 in a second period that the Lightning owned. This game was really a reminder of how much better and more experienced the Lightning are than the young Devils.
Despite a good amount of fight from the underdogs, the Lightning thoroughly handled them in their own building. They will clash in perhaps the Devils’ last game of the season on Saturday night in Tampa. - Andrew Ahr
Nashville Predators 3, Colorado Avalanche 1 (NSH leads 3-1)
Washington Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ leads 2-1)
7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network
- Lack of Discipline: The Columbus Blue Jackets have taken 17 penalties through three games, which equates to about six penalties per game. Even against a league average power play team, this would equate to four goals against — but the Caps don’t have an average power play. They have scored more than half of their goals - six out of 10 - with the man advantage in a series that has gone to overtime in every game.
- Home Ice Disadvantage? Going into Game 4 in Columbus, the Capitals have the ability to even the series at two games apiece. The road team has won every game this series. With both teams coming off of a long double overtime game on Tuesday, could this be the first game where the home team wins?
- Goaltender Duel: For the first time in the series, Game 3 featured a lower scoring game, with both Braden Holtby and Sergei Bobrovsky making over 30 saves and with save percentages over .900. Though goals sell tickets and attract viewers, it was fun to finally see two goaltenders standing on their heads fighting for save after save. With players likely having tired legs in game four, we will see both goaltenders likely put their teams on their back again tonight. - Zeke Lukow
Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs (BOS leads 2-1)
7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Toronto’s Not Giving Up Yet: It looked like this series was teetering on the edge of a sweep for the Boston Bruins, but the Leafs went home and stayed in it with a 4-2 win in Game 3. They’ll need a similarly spirited outing tonight before they head back to Boston, where they have been routed twice in this series. A 2-2 series will look entirely different than a 3-1 series, and Toronto needs to make sure that the latter doesn’t become a reality.
- Matthews vs. Bergeron: The Bruins go as their first line goes, and the same goes for Toronto and their franchise center Auston Matthews. They’ll rarely be out against eachother, but this game will be decided by the top centers. With Nazem Kadri serving the final game of his suspension tonight, the Bruins will, again, have a chance to take advantage of matchups - though they weren’t able to crack the scoresheet despite that fact in Game 3. Matthews was quiet in the first two games of the series, but he came to life in game three, as did William Nylander and veteran Patrick Marleau. Toronto will need that to happen again tonight.
- Frederik Andersen: Andersen has been a part of each game preview so far, and that’s because he is the life of the Maple Leafs. He was a shell of himself in Boston as he was hammered with quality chance after quality chance. In Game 3, he faced a plethora of chances again, but he was stellar and the Leafs defense was able to cover for him in spurts. The Danish goalie had the busiest season of any NHL goalie, and the same has held true here in round one. He needs to answer the bell tonight if this series has a chance of getting tied. - Brett Finger