The San Jose Sharks successfully avoided elimination, while the St. Louis Blues pushed the Winnipeg Jets to the brink. Meanwhile, the nasty Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes series got even nastier.
Here’s what happened in the NHL last night (check out replays of every playoff game on ESPN+), and what to watch for tonight, in today’s edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:
About last night …
Game 4: Carolina Hurricanes 2, Washington Capitals 1. (Series tied 2-2). In front of the largest crowd (19,202) to ever watch a hockey game at PNC Arena, the “Bunch of Jerks” got even in their increasingly violent series with the Stanley Cup champions. Warren Foegele and Teuvo Teravainen provided the offense as the Hurricanes played without the injured Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland, then lost forward Jordan Martinook during the game. The Capitals got an Alex Ovechkin power-play goal but not much else, once again losing the possession battle to the Canes (who had 55.58 percent of the shot attempts). Most importantly, they lost forward T.J. Oshie to injury after he was cross-checked into the boards by Foegele late in the third period. “It’s an extremely dangerous play. He won’t be with our team for a while. He won’t be playing anytime soon,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said.
Game 5: St. Louis Blues 3, Winnipeg Jets 2. (Blues lead series 3-2). NHL Rule 63.6 states that if the puck is shot before the net is displaced by a defensive player, and if that puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goalposts, that goal is allowed. That’s how Brayden Schenn’s goal at 13:52 of the third period counted, the second of three goals in the third period for the Blues in their road win over Winnipeg. It’s the first time in 15 years, and fourth time ever, that the road team has won each of the first five games in a seven-game series. The game-winner came with 15 seconds remaining via a Jaden Schwartz deflection. Jordan Binnington stopped 29 shots.
Game 5: San Jose Sharks 5, Vegas Golden Knights 2. (Knights lead series 3-2). Coach Peter DeBoer connected the dots succinctly. Goalie Martin Jones had his best game of the series partially because the Sharks gave him a lead rather than surrendering an early goal to the Golden Knights, as they had in Game 2 (58 seconds into the game), Game 3 (16 seconds) and Game 4 (1:11). Instead, Tomas Hertl put a puck past Marc-Andre Fleury 1:16 into the first period, and changed the tone and tenor of the game.
“I think some of it was situational [for Jones]. We were playing from behind in those games. We have to open it up when we’re behind, so he gets more quality looks against him than he would normally get on a night like tonight. Playing with the lead tonight allowed us to defend better,” said DeBoer. The Sharks didn’t allow a 5-on-5 goal and didn’t give up the lead after getting it, as Jones made 30 saves and was particularly good in the third period. (The return of Marc-Edouard Vlasic after missing two games to injury didn’t hurt either.) The Sharks avoid elimination and send it back to Sin City for Sunday’s Game 6.
1. Petr Mrazek, Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes’ locker room chanted his name after the game, and why not? Mrazek outplayed Braden Holtby for the second straight game, making 30 saves to backstop his shorthanded team to victory. Ovechkin wasn’t impressed: “Nothing special. He’s a good goalie but we have to be better.” True, but are we watching another chapter added to the “Hot goalie leads underdog past Capitals” book?
2. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks. It was absolutely critical for the Sharks to not allow an early goal in Game 5, and Hertl did one better: He scored one to give the Sharks the early lead and an early boost. “If you don’t have to chase the game from the first minute, and you take all 20 guys with a great effort, we showed that we can beat them anytime,” said Hertl, who also scored a critical power-play goal in the third period to provide San Jose a two-goal cushion. He has four goals in the playoffs.
3. Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues. The entire game-winning goal for the Blues was a team effort, from Alexander Steen forechecking to Tyler Bozak’s pass to Schwartz’s deflection. But we’ll give the nod here to the goal scorer, even if he admits there was some good fortune involved. “(Bozak) came on, he was fresh, and probably knew there wasn’t much time left so he just threw (the puck) on net and I kind of got lucky, it just hit my stick,” he said. Schwartz’s goal was the second-latest winning goal in regulation in franchise postseason history.
Play of the Night
One of the oddest goals of the postseason tied the game in the third period.
Dud of the Night
The Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone line. After a combined 12 goals and 16 assists through four games, excuse us for having lofty expectations for this Golden Knights line, arguably the hottest in the postseason. But with Vlasic back, with Jones locked in and with the Sharks playing some quality “bend but don’t break” defense, the trio was held off the scoreboard in Game 5. “We gotta wipe it out and move on to the next one,” said Pacioretty.
On the schedule
Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, Game 5, 7 p.m. ET (series tied 2-2)
This back-and-forth series shifts back to Beantown, where valuable third-liner Sean Kuraly could return for the Bruins and hopefully Drake is nowhere near the Leafs.
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames, Game 5, 10 p.m. ET (Avalanche lead series 3-1)
Could another conference winner be on the way out of the playoffs? The Avs have pushed the Flames to the brink. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 1988-89, the Flames have made it past the opening round of the playoffs only twice: 2003-04 (lost in Cup Final to Tampa Bay) and 2014-15 (lost in the second round to Anaheim).
Social post of the day
Remember when rookie goalie Jordan Binnington was asked if was nervous back in February, and he responded like a boss, “Do I look nervous?” Well, leave it to the merry pranksters in the Winnipeg crowd to seize on this and chant “YOU LOOK NERVOUS!”
Said Binnington, “You get what you ask for because when I was younger, I really enjoyed that stuff and always wanted it, and now it’s here. It doesn’t feel as good as I thought, but it’s cool, it’s really cool.”
“I know we have one more game and come back for Game 7. I believe it. We’re a better team than them.” — Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, vowing there will be a Game 7 to the San Jose fans. Wonder what the Golden Knights have to say about this?
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