Playoff Open Thread: June 17

The Habs tie things up and the Lightning and Islanders battle it out on Long Island

Last Night’s Game

Let’s face it: despite upsetting the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets in the first two rounds, almost nobody is picking the Montreal Canadiens to beat the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas won 4-1 in convincing fashion on Monday, although Montreal was able to salvage a split on the road last night, barely hanging on by a score of 3-2. Although they are heading home to Montreal now, it would’ve looked quite bleak for the Canadiens if they had lost.

Instead, they have made it a series and it could go any direction at this point. Joel Armia and Tyler Toffoli opened the scoring for the Habs in the first period, and then Paul Byron would put them up 3-0 late in the second, which seemed like a comfortable lead. Alex Pietrangelo made it 3-1 just before the period ended, which gave Vegas some life. The Golden Knights would continue to push in the third period and Pietrangelo even scored another goal with 5:14 left to play.

Despite 17 shots in the final frame, it wasn’t enough for Vegas to make the comeback. Carey Price stopped 29 of 31 shots, who has an opportunity to singlehandedly shift the series.

Tonight’s Game

Tampa Bay Lightning @ New York Islanders, 8:00pm EST (Series tied 1-1)

The Lightning were able to salvage a win at home on Tuesday night, as going into New York down 0-2 would have put them in quite the uncomfortable position. Jan Rutta was the unlikely hero as his goal in the 3rd period ended up being the game-winner in a 4-2 victory. The Islanders continue to defy the odds and have looked like a threat against the Lightning, so I could see this series going either way.

The interesting thing is that on paper, Tampa Bay is clearly the better team with more star-power and depth. However, Barry Trotz has proven to have some sort of magic powers where he is able to get the absolute best out of every player on the team. New York certainly has some strong players, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted they would be in the conference finals in back-to-back seasons. At some point though, they deserve some credit for how well they have been playing.

No matter who wins this one tonight, it will still be a very tight series. A New York win puts them in a great spot, but Tampa Bay can easily rattle off a few wins in a row. A Tampa Bay win also puts them closer to the Finals, but Game 4 is on Long Island, so there is a real chance that the Islanders tie things up before heading down south. Here’s hoping for a long and hard-fought battle between these two teams.

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