Another rather eventful night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last night, including two suspensions handed down by the Department of Player Safety. One seems just about right. The other? Pretty much a joke. They started off, after what seemed like a pretty long delay, by announcing that Nazem Kadri would be suspended for the rest of the series against Boston. That could be as little as 3 games and as many as 5, depending on how things go, but I think that’s suitable, knowing that any further line-crossing by Kadri should the Leafs move on would see them throw the book at him. They then announced that Joe Thornton of the Sharks would sit for a measly 1 game for his headshot on Vegas’ Tomas Nosek. It seemed like a slam dunk for DoPS, but that always seems to be the ones they get wrong. Anyway, moving on... Let’s recap last night’s action!
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 3 BOSTON BRUINS 2 (Toronto leads 2-1)
Andreas Johnsson’s PPG late in the 2nd was the difference as the Leafs took Game 3 at the ACC. Trevor Moore and a PPG from Auston Matthews also scored for the Leafs while David Krejci and Charlie Coyle replied for the Bruins. The Leafs did a great job of neutralizing the Bruins top line again, as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron were non-factors in the game, and Boston, much like they did in Game 1, struggled to contain the Leafs speed game. The Leafs can take a stranglehold on the series Wednesday with a win in Game 4.
CAROLINA HURRICANES 5 WASHINGTON CAPITALS 0- (Washington leads 2-1)
The first playoff game in Raleigh in a decade was somewhat of a success, you could say. Warren Foegele and Dougie Hamilton each scored twice and Brock McGinn added one in the 3rd period as the ‘Canes utterly dominated the defending Champs. They did suffer a potential big loss as for some reason Andrei Svechnikov thought challenging Alex Ovechkin to a fight was a good idea.
This is a pretty pointless fight to begin with, but it’s a big loss for the ‘Canes if he’s suffered a concussion here. Not very comfortable with Ovechkin agreeing to fight a smaller rookie, either. After the fight, the ‘Canes, who already had a 1-0 lead just shut the Caps down. After the fight, Washington had just 10 shots in the rest of the game, including being held to just one in the 2nd period. Game 3 goes Wednesday night, and you can expect that one is going to see some kind of response from Washington who got clowned out there last night (that’s code for Tom Wilson is gonna do something stupid, by the way).
NASHVILLE PREDATORS 3 DALLAS STARS 2- (Nashville leads 2-1)
Nashville took over the series lead with a big win in Big D last night, thanks to a stellar 40 save performance from Pekka Rinne. After a scoreless first period, the Preds jumped out to a 2 goal lead thanks to Rocco Grimaldi’s 2nd of the playoffs and one from Filip Forsberg, before a Mats Zuccarello goal made it 2-1. Dallas’ top line tied it in the 3rd, as Tyler Seguin got his first of the post-season from Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov, but a few minutes later Mikael Granlund got the game winner. This is a pretty tight series and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this one heads back to Nashville tied up.
COLORADO AVALANCHE 6 CALGARY FLAMES 2- (Colorado leads 2-0)
After their opening night 4-0 shutout of the Avs, the Flames looked like geniuses for starting Mike Smith over David Rittich. After a Game 3 loss where Smith gave up 6 goals on 56 shots, they might be second guessing that decision. The much vaunted Flames defence didn’t help matters much, as they pretty much hung him out to dry. That’s 9 goals in the last 2 games given up by Smith, including 3 straight (including the OT winner Saturday night) to Nathan MacKinnon, who scored twice on the PP for the Avs. They also got the game winner from Cale Makar, their highly touted prospect and 2019 Hobey Baker winner, playing his first NHL game against the team he loved growing up, which was a pretty cool moment. The Flames were picked by some as a team that could win it all, but they might find themselves bounced in the first round if they don’t get the kind of goaltending they had in Game 1, and find a way to start limiting the shots Colorado is getting, because giving up just under 42 a game doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.