- Jaden Schwartz scored a natural hat trick and the Blues hung on for a 3–2 Game 6 win to eliminate Winnipeg, while the Capitals and Stars take 3–2 series leads.
In a series that saw the road team win the first five games, the Blues decided to break the pattern and give the St. Louis crowd a chance to celebrate, offering it a 3–2 Game 6 win, a spot in the second round and a Jaden Schwartz natural hat trick.
Schwartz picked up right where he left off in Game 5, pushing in a shot from Brayden Schenn 23 seconds into the game. There was just 38 seconds of game time between Schwartz’s game-winner in Game 5 and his opening goal for Game 6. Schwartz’s next goal came on the power play in the second when Connor Hellebuyck seemed to think he was interfered with, but Winnipeg made that challenge (and lost) on the first goal. Schwartz walked in and beat Hellebuyck with a wrister to make it rain hats just a few minutes into the third.
Blues rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington looked like he was on his way to an easy shutout after Winnipeg registered six shots between the first two periods, with just one coming in the second. But the shutout wouldn’t be so. The Jets came out in the third looking more desperate, peppering Binnington with 14 shots, and Dustin Byfuglien finally got Winnipeg on the board when scored with 7:43 left. St. Louis was granted a four-minute power play to close it out, but Winnipeg pulled Hellebuyck and Bryan Little scored with 36.2 seconds left to make it a one-goal game. Winnipeg got a face-off in front of Binnington with three seconds left for one final chance, but it wouldn’t be so.
The Jets are the second Canadian hockey to be eliminated following the Flames’ exit on Friday night. That leaves the Maple Leafs as the only hope for the Great White North to see its 26-year Stanley Cup drought end. The Blues will play the winner of the Nashville-Dallas series in Round 2.
STARS 5, PREDATORS 3
Dallas’s top line took over in the second period and the Stars have the upper hand as they head home with a chance to end this series. The first period ended tied 1–1, but it was the second frame that saw a full momentum shift for Dallas. Alexander Radulov scored twice and Tyler Seguin added a third, with Jamie Benn notching assists on all three goals and squashing any midseason rumors that Benn and Seguin weren’t worth their salaries. Ryan Johansen scored for Nashville in the frame, but it wasn’t enough to offset the damage Dallas’s stars had already done. Dickinson scored 1:57 into the third, and Kyle Turris quickly responded for the Predators with his first goal since Feb. 21, but the Predators couldn’t mount a comeback and will now face elimination in Game 6.
CAPITALS 6, HURRICANES 0
The Capitals started strong and did not hold back during Game 6. Play in the neutral zone was crucial from the beginning when Alex Ovechkin forced a turnover and turned it into a rush that resulted in Nicklas Backstrom collecting his own rebound to sweep past Petr Mrazek. Backstrom continued the party in the second off a feed from Ovechkin, who also got the assist on the next goal a couple minutes later. Dougie Hamilton suddenly decided to hold back while chasing a loose puck, but Ovechkin didn’t slow down, setting up Brett Connolly for a 3–0 lead. Tom Wilson, Nic Dowd and Ovechkin all added goals in the third, with Dowd’s coming on a penalty shot. Washington capitalized on a lot of mistakes from the Hurricanes, who can only hope the pattern of the home team winning each game continues in Game 6.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Get out of his way, Jamie Benn has things to do, like dominating the forecheck and dishing out perfect passes. The second period was the Benn-Seguin-Radulov show and it was certainly an entertaining one.
1. Jaden Schwartz, STL — After being St. Louis’s hero at the end of Game 5, Schwartz decided he liked the role and scored all three of the Blues’ goals on Saturday. Interim coach Craig Berube decided to move Brayden Schenn to the second line with Schwartz on Thursday and it’s been paying off in spades for the Blues.
2. Alexander Radulov, DAL — Dallas’s top line was unstoppable, with Radulov scoring twice thanks to crazy feeds from Benn and Seguin. Nashville’s defense will need to dig much deeper to stop this trio in Game 6.
3. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH — Backstrom’s quick start set the pace for his four-point night that was absolutely relentless against the Canes. The center has played well in D.C. for the Capitals this series, totaling eight points there this series.