Another bang up job by the NHL scheduling department. 3 games, two of them played at the same time. Why is this so difficult for them to get that fans would LOVE to have all three games staggered to enable them to watch them all? Anyway, let’s wrap up a pretty exciting night of hockey before we look at today’s games. There were 3 elimination games last night, so we’ll start in Winnipeg...
WINNIPEG 5 MINNESOTA 0 (Jets win series 4-1)
Forget that 7-0 win by Pittsburgh in Game 1 against the Flyers. This was the most dominant performance by a team in the post-season so far. After a pretty poor performance top to bottom in Game 3, the Jets, and most specifically Connor Hellebuyck came back with a vengeance in this series, posting back to back shutouts as Winnipeg gives their fans a playoff series victory for the first time in 31 years. You want to show a team that their playoffs are over? You give them a first period like the Jets gave Minnesota. 31 seconds in and Jacob Trouba scores. 5 minutes later it’s Bryan Little. 12 minutes into the 1st, Brandon Tanev and Joel Armia have scored and Minnesota is truly in the wilderness. All 4 getting their 1st of the playoffs too. This is a team with frightening depth that can roll with whatever you throw at them, and doing it without some pretty significant players right now, too. They’ll now await the winner of the Nashville/Colorado series.
COLORADO 2 NASHVILLE 1 (Predators lead series 3-2)
The Avalanche have made a series out of this one, and last night stared elimination and the Nashville Predators down with a thrilling comeback down a goal in the 3rd to win and force a potential series tying Game 6 in Denver with a 2-1 win last night. The game was scoreless until Nick Bonino gave the Preds a 1-0 midway through the 3rd. That held up until about 4 minutes to go when Gabriel Landeskog struck again, getting his 4th of the series to tie it, and setting the stage for Sven Andrighetto’s GWG with a minute and a half to go. Nashville was considered a potential Cup favorite, now they could be pushed into a Game 7 against a Wild Card team.
PHILADELPHIA 4 PITTSBURGH 2 (Penguins lead series 3-2)
Just like they did in Game 2 coming off that horrendous performance to open the series, the Philadelphia Flyers showed the defending Stanley Cup Champs they’re not going down without a fight, sending this one back to Philly for a Game 6. After missing Game 4 with an injury suffered in practice, Sean Couturier returned to the Flyers lineup and no big deal, just the GWG for the Selke nominee. They also got a much needed goal from Claude Giroux, and after going down 2-1 in the 2nd on Penguins goals from Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel, got a SHG from Valtteri Filppula to tie it after two periods. This one looked like it might be headed to OT as well, but with 1:15, Couturier got the winner. Watch Brian Dumolin’s reaction as the puck deflects off his skate past Matt Murray. He looks down as if to say “OH MY GOD! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE???” Awesome.
WASHINGTON @ COLUMBUS - 3:00 EDT/12:00 PDT (SN360) (Series tied 2-2)
After taking both games in Washington, the Blue Jackets stumbled at home and allowed the Capitals back into this series. Now we wait and see if John Tortorella can get his troops back to playing the kind of hockey that allowed them to take home ice advantage away from the Caps in the first 2.
NEW JERSEY @ TAMPA BAY- 3:00 EDT/12:00 PDT (SN) (Lightning lead series 3-1)
It’s do or die time for Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils. Both teams have key players that will be game time decisions, as Ryan Callahan for Tampa and Sami Vatanen of the Devils could potentially be out today. Tampa’s top line was the story in Game 4, but the Lightning can score with all 4 lines, so the Devils D will have to give Schneider lots of help if they want to force a Game 6.
TORONTO @ BOSTON- 8:00 EDT/ 5:00 PDT (CBC) (Bruins lead series 3-1)
The Leafs playoff aspirations could be done if they don’t stop giving Boston odd man rushes. The defence has been downright porous, and you feel bad for Frederik Andersson, who is getting hung out to dry. Getting their top players going is a must, and if they don’t get big games from Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and James Van Reimsdyk, the Leafs season is over.