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Playoff Open Thread: May 19th

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Pittsburgh and Vegas gave their fans some hope, while Curtis McElhinney continues to reap his opponents’ souls from the Tampa bench.

Minnesota Wild v Vegas Golden Knights - Game Two Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Today, a very important game will take place between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks; should the latter lose in any fashion, the Ottawa Senators will finish the 2021 NHL season ahead of them, and head into the draft lottery with the tenth-overall pick as opposed to ninth-overall. Oh, and playoff hockey happened last night as well.

Yesterday’s Games:

Pittsburgh Penguins 2, New York Islanders 1 (Series tied 1-1)

Despite a strong overall performance in net by both goalies tonight, it was a flub by Semyon Varlamov that ended up being the difference in Game 2, as Pittsburgh evened things at one game apiece.

Ten minutes after Bryan Rust’s sneaky goal, Jeff Carter doubled the Pens’ lead. Josh Bailey would get New York on the board in the second frame but they couldn't solve Tristan Jarry, who made 37 saves on 38 shots. The Penguins have been down on their luck in the playoffs recently, and are in particular looking to avenge their 4-0 first-round series loss to the Islanders in 2019.

Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Florida Panthers 1 (TBL leads 2-0)

Only one of these two teams will advance in the playoffs, and it’s a damn shame. Florida and Tampa have made for quite the series thus far, and while the Panthers have kept things competitive, they find themselves down 2-0, thanks to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 32-save performance and Ondrej Palat’s game-winning goal, set-up by Brayden Point, who left poor Mackenzie Weegar in the dust:

Steven Stamkos and Yanni Gourde (empty net) also scored for the Lightning, while Mason Marchment provided the lone marker for the Panthers. Chris Driedger made 26 saves in the losing effort and is likely the go-to guy for the rest of the series. It would be rather poetic for the Panthers to fall due to not playing him sooner, and lose him to free agency on account of Sergei Bobrovsky’s ridiculous contract.

Vegas Golden Knights 3, Minnesota Wild 1 (Series tied 1-1)

They’ll have to do it three more times, but the Vegas Golden Knights successfully fought off their demons, the Minnesota Wild, who’ve had a great deal of success against Vegas in the regular season. Both teams had loads of chances, and like with the other games it came down to a battle in the crease. Marc-Andre Fleury made several highlight-reel stops, while Cam Talbot was solid, albeit outperformed. Alex Tuch led the way with a two-goal performance, and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas while Matt Dumba found the scoresheet for Minnesota. Kirill Kaprizov’s lone contribution was a timely penalty right when it looked like the Wild were going to tie the game late in the third. Here’s hoping Tim Stützle’s above that sort of nonsense five years from now.

Today’s Games:

Game 3: Washington Capitals @ Boston Bruins - 6:30 PM EST (Series tied 1-1)

Game 2: Nashville Predators @ Carolina Hurricanes - 8:00 PM EST (CAR leads 1-0)

Game 1: Winnipeg Jets @ Edmonton Oilers - 9:00 PM EST (Series tied 0-0)

Game 2: St. Louis Blues @ Colorado Avalanche - 10:30 PM EST (COL leads 1-0)