We’ve got one series headed for a sweep, the last two champions in trouble early, and five series that could go the distance at this rate. Yesterday, for the first time in this round, no games went to overtime but we had some close calls. Today the Capitals and Blues will try to get back in their respective series as Chicago faces elimination at the hands of Vegas. What can we expect from the Flyers and Stars who were both shut out in their last games?
Bruins 3, Hurricanes 1, BOS leads 2-1
This back-and-forth match-up between the elder statesmen Bruins and the up-and-coming Hurricanes continues to deliver after some sluggish play by the Bruins in the round robin had fans wondering if the Hurricanes could make this a short series. Boston took control of this one with an early goal opening up the second period and they held that lead effectively for the latter two frames. Carolina showed some signs of life as Nino Niederreiter beat Jaroslav Halak early in the third to close the gap but Carolina just couldn’t get anything going without their top line on the ice. Give full credit to Boston for holding their own without the services of David Pastnak.
AWOOOO! Darcy Kuemper had the performance of his career in this one making 49 saves and conceding just two fluky deflection goals to the potent offence of the Avalanche. Derek Stepan scored the lone goal in the first and Colorado pummeled Arizona with shots before Andre Burakovsky tied things up in the second only to see Brad Richardson earn the lead anew for the Coyotes before the period expired. Colorado kept things interesting with the extra attacker and the net empty but to no avail as Arizona held on. This was one of those games when the shot count somewhat belies the closeness of the contest as the Coyotes generated a lot of quality chances despite getting doubled in a lot of categories by the Avalanche.
Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2, TBL leads 2-1
The Lightning roared back with a vengeance after dropping game two to the Jackets on Thursday. The big names in Tampa showed up with Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman playing dominantly while Columbus struggled to get anything going for sustained periods of time. The final score doesn’t really do justice to how well Tampa played top to bottom. To that effect however, Joonas Korpisalo deserves a lot of praise for how tremendously he outperformed Andrei Vasilevskiy. While Columbus doesn’t have the firepower to out-chance Tampa on a nightly basis, the Jackets definitely have the goaltending to steal another game or two and give Lightning fans that 2019 feeling.
Knights 2, Chicago 1, VGK leads 3-0
Chicago kept this one close enough as the score would suggest. However, to look at the first three games of this series cumulatively, the Knights have overpowered Chicago consistently with Vegas averaging about 60% of the shot volume and scoring chances. The Knights have largely weathered the storm of Chicago’s strong special teams and gotten top-notch goaltending from their tandem while Corey Crawford has struggled at times. Chicago can take some solace knowing they’ve gotten solid performances from youngsters Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, and Dominik Kubalik because it’s time to start looking ahead and stop living in the past.