So you like eight seeds pushing top teams to the brink? Well let me introduce you to the 2019 playoffs.
Just a day after the Blue Jackets swept the favorite Lightning, Colorado scored three unanswered goals in a 3–2 overtime win to take a surprising 3–1 series lead over Calgary, the regular-season best in the west. With the Flames up 2–0 midway through the third, Colorado kicked into an unmatchable speed that Calgary suddenly couldn’t keep up with.
The comeback began when J.T. Compher picked up a juicy rebound that he sent top shelf. Mikko Rantanen notched the tying goal with less than three minutes in regulation, but he wasn’t done yet. After Colorado killed off a delay of game penalty in overtime, it shifted into turbo drive and peppered shot after shot toward Mike Smith. Rantanen finished it with a one-timer from the right circle, unleashing a snipe that probably never stood a chance of being stopped.
The game's start wasn’t nearly as fast as the end with a scoreless first period, but Elias Lindholm broke the ice six seconds into a power play in the second period. Ian Cole tried to make another goal line save (this time without using his face) for Philipp Grubauer but the puck trickled through for Calgary to take a 1–0 lead. Derek Ryan doubled the Flames’ lead in the third, but Compher’s response came about a minute later.
After going into the playoffs with questions about who should be starting in net, Calgary should have its answer in Smith. Though he was the losing goaltender in Game 4, he was far and away the Flames’ best player Wednesday night. Even after a scary moment in the first period when he took a skate to the leg, Smith held the Flames in it for as long as he could until Colorado unleashed 52 shots and it became too much for him to handle without his defense there to help out. Calgary will need to show the goaltender more support in Game 5 as the Flames look to avoid being ousted in the first round, but so far Colorado seems pretty inspired by what happened in the Eastern Conference.
BRUINS 6, MAPLE LEAFS 4
Few of the first-round matchups have gone as the masses predicted them, but the Toronto-Boston series has been just as brutal and seesawing as it was hyped up to be. The Bruins got off to a fast start with a 2–0 lead, but then Toronto responded with a flurry of scoring chances, with Tuukka Rask doing his best to keep in control. The Maple Leafs were able to get on the board when a Morgan Rielly shot from the point was redirected by Zach Hyman, and the sounds of Hall and Oates filled the arena before the first intermission. Auston Matthews scored a minute into the first to tie it up, but David Pastrnak quickly responded with two of his own and Zdeno Chara scored early in the third, but Matthews and Travis Dermott scored two quick ones to make things interesting but the Leafs couldn’t complete the comeback.
STARS 5, PREDATORS 1
After three one-goal games to start the series, Dallas decided to break the pattern a bit and light the Predators up for four first-period goals, chasing Pekka Rinne before the first intermission. Roope Hintz and Alexander Radulov each scored on the power play on Dallas’s first two shots of the game, with Andrew Cogliano and Mats Zuccarello posting goals of their own before Rinne was pulled for allowing four goals on eight shots. Hintz added his second goal at the game’s midway point. Roman Josi broke the shutout in the third when Nashville was finally able to set up in the offensive zone with some beautiful passing before Josi launched a rising wrist shot from the slot. The Stars finished the night 3-for-7 on the power play and a whopping 31 blocked shots, eight of those blocked by Roman Polak.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Mitch Marner’s pass is just too beautiful not to watch on a loop, so here it is. He threads the needle and lands it riiiiight on Matthews’s stick to keep things interesting in what started to look like a blowout. The Leafs weren’t able to complete the comeback, but did show that their stars aren’t going cold.
1. Mikko Rantanen, COL —Rantanen put seven shots on net and scored two crucial goals that made the difference of the Avlanche being up two games instead of heading back to Calgary with the series evened.
2. Roope Hintz, DAL — Hintz spent three different stints in the AHL this season, but looked like he was exactly where he should be in Game 4. Bookending the Stars’ five-goal onslaught, Hintz first goal on the power play was a snazzy wrist shot that went right over Rinne’s shoulder and set the tone for the Stars.
3. David Pastrnak, BOS — Before Game 4, it seemed like several of Boston’s star players were After playing just four shifts in the first period, Pastrnak decided to show up for the Bruins, scoring a pair of goals 95 seconds apart and pausing Toronto’s first attempt at a comeback.