Each day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Canes Country recaps the night before, previews the games for that night, and gives you game times and broadcast information.
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Boston Bruins 1 (TBL wins series 4-1)
The Lightning iced the series last night with a 3-1 win on home ice. Tampa came out hard, nearly converting on their first shift. They continued to pressure throughout the first, earning a powerplay and creating chances, but Tuukka Rask continued to say no. Most of the second half of the period was defined by minor penalties, but one that stuck out was a minor assessed to Dan Girardi for holding on Brad Marchand. Marchand would get a penalty of his own on that play as he did a full number to earn himself two for embellishment.
Cedric Paquette then took a penalty almost immediately after, giving the Bruins a power play opportunity. David Krejci was set up on the weak side with a slap shot that he put past Vasilevskiy and the Bruins went into the first intermission up one.
The second period scoring was opened up by none other than Brayden Point, who continued on his torrid pace by converting on a rebound and beating Rask one-on-one to tie the game up for Tampa. After Marchand was sent to the box again for a tripping penalty, the Bolts were able to work a special teams goal, with J.T. Miller converting on a nice play from Nikita Kucherov. The Bruins went into the third period facing elimination down 2-1.
Despite the dire circumstances, they actually came out of the room pretty slow. Boston would eventually pressure in the third but were hampered by their lack of scoring ability at even strength which had plagued them all series long. They pulled Rask just under the two minute mark, to which the Lightning’s Anton Stralman responded with a Hail Mary empty net goal from 175 feet away. The Lightning dominated this second round series to take down the Bruins in just five games and move on to face the Capitals/Penguins winner in the conference final. - Andrew Ahr
Vegas Golden Knights 3, San Jose Sharks 0 (VGK wins series 4-2)
Jonathan Marchessault, Nate Schmidt and Cody Eakin each scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 28 shots he faced to help the Vegas Golden Knights reach the Western Conference Finals with a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center Sunday night. With the win, Vegas becomes the third team in NHL history to win multiple playoff series in its first season.
With the contest deadlocked at 0-0, despite more than a few shots off the post by the Sharks, William Karlsson forced a turnover which was picked up by Reilly Smith and fed to Marchessault, who wired a shot five-hole past Martin Jones to open the scoring at 6:33 of the second period.
Nearly ten minutes later, Schimdt doubled Vegas’ advantage with a long shot that deceived both teams and the referees, as play continued for almost 30 seconds before the situation room called to stop play. The puck found its way off the post, then off the camera inside the net before bouncing back out. Eakin then sealed the Golden Knights’ victory into the empty net at 18:09 of the final frame.
Fleury starred for Vegas, his 28 save quantity not necessarily reflective of the quality he faced. Jones stood tall in the San Jose net as well, stopping 30 of 32 pucks, only to be beaten by a pair of well-placed and surprising shots.
Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins (WAS leads series 3-2)
7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Matt Murray Struggles: Penguins starting goalie Matt Murray has had a very average performance with a .905 sv% and a 2.49 GAA. In the second round, Murray has been worse. He has the second worst stat line of any second-round starter. Only Pekka Rinne is below Murray’s .895 sv% and above his 2.84 GAA. One of his biggest issues has been his glove hand, which he has been beaten on both low and high multiple times in the series. The Caps have been aiming to exploit this weakness. It’s not all Murray’s fault though, which brings me to the next point...
- Penguins Defensive Woes: The Caps haven’t necessarily shelled Murray with a high quantity of shots, but they have generated a ton of high danger chances. In the first three games the Caps scored at least one goal per game in the first two minutes of a period, many of which via breakaway including the first goal of both games 1 and 2. The game winner in Game 4 came on a two on one, and the Game 5 winner came on a two on two where the Pens misplayed the man without the puck, Jakub Vrana, who was able to get between the two defenders and bury the rebound. All season the Pens have been able to win games by outscoring opponents and not worrying too much about their defense, but now that strategy isn’t working out. The Penguins defense has to be able to give Murray some support if they want to extend this series.
- Caps Top Line: One of the reasons the Caps looked so bad in game four was their top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Devante Smith-Pelly was dominated from start to finish. When Barry Trotz refused to re-shuffle the lines mid-game, the Penguins pounced every time that line was on the ice, holding Ovechkin to two shot attempts. In Game 5, though, they put Jakub Vrana in for Smith-Pelly to play alongside Ovi and Kuznetsov. It paid off big time as both Vrana and Kuznetsov recorded three points with one goal and two assists each. Ovechkin also had an assist in the game. Kuznetsov’s goal just a minute into the game was the game-tying goal, and Vrana’s goal with just five minutes left was the game winner. This line, if still together, has the potential to produce huge numbers moving forward, and could be the difference in a series-clinching win. - Zeke Lukow
Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators (WPG leads series 3-2)
9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Win and/or Go Home: Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday night’s Game 6 matchup against the Winnipeg Jets, the Nashville Predators will be heading back home. They will, however, have to earn the right to keep playing hockey as they enter a deafeningly-loud building at Bell MTS Place. A 6-2 loss on home ice on Saturday doesn’t spark much optimism, but the President’s Trophy winners know they can win. From the goal line out, they have the talent to do it, but they’ll have to bring much more than just talent as they approach their first elimination game since June of last year.
- Talent vs. Talent: I said talent wouldn’t be enough for Nashville to get their way back home for a Game 7. The reason is because they’re facing one of the very few teams that are, debatably, more talented they are. Their skill was enough to get by the Avalanche in round one, but Winnipeg is a different animal. “I’ve been fortunate to coach some teams that I thought had pretty good men,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said Sunday. “We got pretty good men here too, but the talent level on this team wouldn’t be close to anything I’ve coached.” Obviously, he is showing a painful amount of disrespect to the 2009-10 Canes team whose talent put them on a collision course to the bottom of the league, but he is right. This Winnipeg team is unlike almost any other in the league, and the Preds will have to find a balance between being disciplined and being aggressive.
- Back to the Basics: When Nashville has gotten off of their game, the reasons have been obvious - they’re straying away from their basic fundamentals, both mentally and physically. With Peter Laviolette behind the bench, we know for a fact that a trend of lazy play won’t be received with a smile. The Preds will have to do what they have rarely done in this series - play their game and do so for sixty (or more) minutes. They were able to do that while down 3-2 in a pair of series last season (against the Ducks and Sharks). Their season is on the line, but they are familiar with being in that situation, which should be a valuable asset for them entering Tuesday night’s game. - Brett Finger