Yesterday’s action continued the trend of tightly-contested hockey in these Stanley Cup playoffs, and tonight’s games promise more of the same. Here’s your recap of the Saturday that was, and an open thread for today’s contests.
Game 4: Carolina Hurricanes: 4 @ Tampa Bay Lightning: 6 TBL leads series 3-1
The Central Division Final has been another series of tight, low-scoring games, but the dam may have finally broken yesterday. In a wild second period that saw eight goals, and two lead changes, the Lightning emerged with a 5-4 advantage, and capped the game off with an empty-netter in the third.
Brayden Point opened the scoring for Tampa Bay, but Carolina responded with tallies from Teuvo Teravainen, and Jesper Fast in the second. Steven Stamkos tied the game near the midway point of the frame, but goals from Dougie Hamilton and Jacob Slavvin put the Hurricanes up 4-2. With the game slipping away, the Lightning stormed back with four unanswered goals, getting two from Nikita Kucherov, and another from Stamkos, as well as Tyler Johnson’s first of the postseason.
The losses of Nino Neiderreiter and Vincent Trocheck are clearly taking their toll on Carolina, and one has to wonder if they return to Alex Nedeljkovic in goal for Game 5, with their season on the line.
Game 4: Boston Bruins: 1 @ New York Islanders: 4 Series tied 2-2
Though the score may indicate otherwise, this was one of the tightest games of the playoffs. With the score deadlocked at 1-1 until late in the third period, Mathew Barzal broke through for the New York Islanders, and powered his team past the Boston Bruins to tie the series.
Both Tuukka Rask and Semyon Varlamov were exceptional, making timely save after timely save, and only getting beat on goals where they had not a prayer of making a save.
Tempers flared over the course of the game, with Taylor Hall even fighting Scott Mayfield (Hall’s first tilt since he was 19), and Jarred Tinordi dropping the mitts with Matt Martin. Boston’s David Krejci was also fined $5000, today, for a spear to the groin area of Barzal.
Krejci’s powerplay goal was the first of the night for the Bruins, early in the second period, but Kyle Palmieri responded less than three minutes later for the Islanders. With the score tied, and less than seven minutes to play, Barzal batted a pick out of the air and past Rask to give New York the 2-1 lead. Cal Clutterbuck and Jean-Gabriel Pageau would each add empty-netters, and the Islanders’ three-period effort was enough to send the series back to Boston tied.
This matchup is as close at it looks, and despite the Bruins out-playing the Islanders for large stretches, either term could emerge from this series as the victor, and advance to the third round.