Stanley Cup Playoffs Discussion: May 21-22
This weekend is full of Game 3s.
The weekend of Game 3s starts with the Colorado-St. Louis series flying solo on Saturday night and then a tripleheader with Florida-Tampa Bay, Carolina-New York, and Calgary-Edmonton staggered throughout Sunday.
The Avalanche and Blues are knotted 1-1 in their series, a surprise considering how dominant Colorado was in the regular season and in Game 1. But Blues’ coach Craig Berube is one of the best in the league for a reason: he’s adjustments to a trap system for the second game severely stifled the Avalanche’s mobile roster. David Person had two goals of the four goals while Jordan Kyrou and Brandon Saad had the others and Jordan Binnington made 30 saves to secure the 4-1 Blues victory. Gabriel Landeskog had the lone goal for Colorado while Darcy Kuemper made just 28 stop on 31 shots. Colorado is going to have to make some adjustments of their own to counteract St. Louis’ new game plan.
The Lightning seem to be firmly in control of the Battle of Florida after winning Game 2 and going up 2-0 in the series against the Panthers. The way the Panthers lost was especially demoralizing: Ross Colton scored with 3.8 seconds remaining in the game to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 victory. Florida has some obvious injuries ailing their lineup, but they dominated play for much of the game and peppered Andrei Vasilevskiy with 36 shots but the Russian netminder stood tall. Eetu Luostarinen scored the Panthers’ single goal, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves in the loss. It’s now going to be an uphill battle for Florida to win on the road in Tampa against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
For the Hurricanes-Rangers, that series heads to New York with Carolina up 2-0 after blanking the Ranger in Game 2. The game was very low-event with only 21 and 22 shots respectively for each team. Brendan Smith opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal 15:54 into the second period after a beautiful pass from Sebastian Aho through the legs of Rangers’ defenseman Adam Fox. Aho would add an empty-net goal with just two second remaining the Hurricanes a 2-0 win. Interestingly, Carolina had the No. 1 power play and New York had the seventh best in the regular season, but both teams went a combined 0-for-7.
The last game of the weekend will be the continuation of the Battle of Alberta where the series is not tied 1-1. Game 2 started similarly to Game 1 as the Flames scored the first two goals quickly, albeit it took them six minutes instead of one this time. But then Connor McDavid did thing only he can, setting up Duncan Keith for the Oilers first goal, scoring two back-to-back ridiculous goals of his own — although the first one was called back for goaltender interference — and the rest Edmonton rode that momentum and they ultimately won the game 5-3. Leon Draisaitl and Duncan Keith each had a goal and two assists, and after a shaky start, Mike Smith made 37 of 40 saves in the win. Unlike game one, the Flames had only a handful of guys register a point and only Johnny Gaudreau had two. Jacob Markstrom had his second straight sub .900 save-percentage game in a row for Calgary — a rare occasion for him in recent years — despite his team dominating at 5-on-5.
Saturday, May 14
Game 3: Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues, 7 p.m. (TNT)
Sunday, May 15
Game 3: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning, 12:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 3: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
*All times Central