- Tampa Bay and Vegas have put their opponents on the brink of elimination.
Marc-Andre Fleury has made a habit of shutting out his opponents this postseason, and he was flawless through two periods in Game 5 on Friday. Yet in the third, the Sharks nearly erased a four-goal deficit, but the Golden Knights hung on for a 5-3 win in Game 5.
Vegas opened up the scoring with just three seconds left in the first period. A shot from the point bounced right onto James Neal’s stick and past Martin Jones. Alex Tuch beefed up the lead on a second-period power play when he parked himself in front of the net, corralled the rebound and scored.
Erik Haula followed up a few minutes later when he missed a pass being dumped into the zone, but he took the resulting bounce from the boards and lifted it past Jones on a sharp angle. Jones, like the rest of us, is probably still unsure how it snuck by him. Another goal from Tuch in the third period ended Jones’s night and brought backup Aaron Dell in for the remainder of the game.
Fleury spent much of the beginning of the third making his signature acrobatic saves that left Vegas fans impressed and thankful, and Penguins fans nostalgic. It started to look like Flower had secured his fourth shutout of the playoffs, but that was stifled by Kevin Labanc midway through the third period. It was followed up by two more quick goals from Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Boedker.
San Jose pulled Dell with just over two minutes left in hopes of finding the equalizer, but Jonathan Marchessault scored an empty-netter to secure a Knights’ win. Vegas will look to finish it off in Game 6 on Sunday.
LIGHTNING 4, BRUINS 3 (OT)
The Lightning are heading back to Tampa Bay just a win away from moving on to the Round 3.
Despite giving up a two-goal lead, the Bolts stole the game back in overtime to post a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 4. The Bolts have a 3-1 series lead.
Tampa started strong when Brayden Point picked up the puck in the neutral zone and easily skated through Zdeno Chara, then gathered his own rebound off Tuukka Rask to put the Lightning on the board first. Nikita Kucherov doubled the lead about five minutes later when Victor Hedman set Kucherov up on the power play for a one-timer that blasted past Rask.
David Pastrnak cut the lead in half when he saw a rebound from Torey Krug falling through the air and his eyes followed the puck all the way down. With his stick wound up, he batted it out of the air and past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Bruins dominated the second period, outshooting the Lightning 14-4 in the frame. Patrice Bergeron tied up the game on the power play and scored again in the third while on the penalty kill. Brad Marchand, who had his own side story from the game, fed the puck toward the net on a shorthanded rush that ended with Bergeron getting his stick on it and past Vasilevskiy to give Boston its first lead of the game.
Steven Stamkos tied it up with 7:04 left in regulation with a one-timer. Overtime took just 3:18 as Dan Girardi crashed the net on the left side and redirected a shot from Alex Killorn to give Tampa the win.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
After going down 2-0 to start the game, the Bruins had the momentum shift in their favor when Pastrnak scored his first goal of the series. With an unmatched focus, Pastrnak stared down the puck, batted it from the air and past Vasilevskiy.
1. Dan Girardi, TBL — Not only did he have the overtime winner, but Girardi also had four blocked shots and four hits. He hung out in all the not-so-pretty places and it worked out for Tampa.
2. Alex Tuch, VGK — Tuch scored a pair of goals, the second being the Knights' eventual game-winner and certainly the more beautiful of the two.
3. Patrice Bergeron, BOS — Bergeron was the powerhouse for the Bruins, scoring two of Boston’s three goals, including a shorthanded goal off a (s)lick pass from Brad Marchand.
It’s a best-of-three series for the Penguins and Capitals now, and we’re already starting to see the intensity ratchet up. Even without Washington forward Tom Wilson in the lineup—he’ll be serving the second game of a three-game suspension on Saturday—there was plenty of high-emotion hockey: witness T.J. Oshie and Pens defenseman Kris Letang throwing some furious fists in the waning moments of the third period of Game 4 or Caps center Nicklas Backstrom throwing his stick and cursing after Thursday’s Game 4 loss. “If you play Pittsburgh, you’re not going to win if you score one goal,” Backstrom said. “You need more.” Things head back to D.C. for Game 5, and there’s plenty more fireworks to come.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in Game 3, the Predators stopped playing and ended up on the wrong side of a 7-4 loss to the Jets. Nashville, specifically goalie Pekka Rinne, used Game 4 to get things back on track with a 2-1 win that evened their series. “Now it's (a) totally different series going home" he said. “Now it's best-of-three, and we have two games at home. We'll take that.” In a series between two of the league’s top teams, fans are happy to see how it plays out, as well.