Here’s a recap of last night’s action (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 3: Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Boston Bruins 2 (Maple Leafs lead series, 2-1). Being without suspended Nazem Kadri for the rest of this series will challenge the Maple Leafs’ depth, but Toronto passed the test in Game 3. Auston Matthews scored after going pointless in the first two games, while Andreas Johnsson netted the game-winner. The Bruins lacked energy early, fumbled some costly turnovers, and now trail in the series for the second time. This one is poised to be a slugfest.
Auston Matthews and Andreas Johnsson notch goals in the second period for the Maple Leafs and give them a 2-1 series lead vs. the Bruins.
Game 3: Carolina Hurricanes 5, Washington Capitals 0 (Capitals lead the series, 2-1). Carolina — down two forwards for most of the night — rallied with a statement game. Dougie Hamilton, who began his career in Boston, called the sellout crowd at PNC Arena one of the loudest buildings he’s ever been in. The Canes felt they played their game, and when they’re on, they’re a tough team to beat. The Caps, meanwhile, have to look inward after their worst playoff game in two years. Washington mustered just eight shots over the last two periods.
Game 3: Nashville Predators 3, Dallas Stars 2 (Predators lead the series, 2-1). The Predators survived a late push by the Stars thanks to a goal by new addition Mikael Granlund. Unfortunately, GM David Poile’s two other big trade deadline acquisitions — Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds — haven’t contributed much, and are out with injuries. Stars goalie Ben Bishop showed he was human, but just barely. It was the first time since Feb. 4 that the Dallas Stars goalie allowed more than two goals.
Game 3: Colorado Avalanche 6, Calgary Flames 2 (Avalanche lead the series 2-1). One player can’t change the complexion of a series, but he certainly can add a boost. That’s what recently signed rookie defenseman Cale Makar did when he was plugged into Colorado’s lineup after skating in the NCAA national championship game Saturday — and he scored. The Avalanche pestered Calgary goalie Mike Smith all night; could his Cinderella playoffs be over already? The Flames needed more from their usually high-powered offense. The defensive deficiencies barely gave them a chance, though.
Here was Makar’s weekend: The 20-year-old wins the Hobey Baker Award on Friday, plays in the national championship game on Saturday, hustles to get to Colorado on Sunday, and plays in a playoff game on Monday. And then he scored. What a moment.
Hey NHL, meet Cale Makar.
– x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 16, 2019
The Stars turned it up and totally dominated in the second and third periods. The Predators held on to the win largely because of Rinne, who made 42 stops and earned his 45th career playoff victory, tying Tony Esposito for 24th on the NHL’s all-time list.
With a shout out to Dougie Hamilton, who scored his first playoff goal since 2014, the star of Carolina’s offensive explosion on Monday night was Foegele, the playoff rookie who had two goals and an assist.
Play of the night
Mitch Marner is going to earn that next contract that Brad Marchand believes he richly deserves. Check out these blocked shots to seal the win for Toronto; and better yet, check out his teammates’ reaction after.
KIDS: I’m not sure what’s more impressive:
One of the top players in the league in Marner laying out to block this shot…or the reaction of his teammates afterwards. Gives me chills and makes me miss playing hockey. pic.twitter.com/w9MGZRMNh6
– Topher Scott (@TopherScott_) April 16, 2019
Dud of the night
Alex Ovechkin knocked out 19-year-old countryman Andrei Svechnikov with three nasty rights in the first period, and nobody liked the way it ended, with Svechnikov hitting his head on the ice and having to be helped off by the trainers. Svechnikov did not return, and the team did not have an update postgame.
Alex Ovechkin gets into it with 19-year-old rookie Andrei Svechnikov and knocks him out in the first period.
Ovechkin’s take on the fight: “First of all, I hope he’s OK. Yeah. I’m not a big fighter and he’s the same. He asked me to fight and said, ‘let’s go.’ I hope he’s OK. You don’t want to see a guy get hurt or something. And you just go a different way. We got maybe a little bit frustrated and too confident. We just have to forget about it and move forward.”
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour‘s take: “Svech means a lot to us, a young kid, he just turned 19. So he has a special bond, I think, with our group and me too. So, when you see that, it makes you sick. I’m still sick to my stomach about it. It’s tough because I just heard Ovi talk about it. He said our guy challenged him. So, if that’s the case it’s a little different. But if you watch the video because I’ve got to watch it, he slashes him twice, Ovi, whack, whack and then Svech gives him back and then I don’t know if there’s words exchanged, but one guy’s gloves come off way first and that’s Ovi’s. That not our guys. So, it’s a little bit frustrating because he got hurt. It’s his first fight. He’s played 90 games. He’s never fought in his life, and I’m pretty sure OVi knew that. So, that stuff bothers me.”
What’s on the schedule
On the precipice of one of the greatest collapses in hockey history, the Lightning are in desperation mode. Good news: leading scorer Nikita Kucherov returns from his one game suspension. Not-so-good news: top defenseman Victor Hedman is “doubtful,” according to coach Jon Cooper. The Blue Jackets can pull off a surreal upset if Sergei Bobrovsky continues to outplay Andrei Vasilevskiy (Bobrovsky has allowed just two goals in his last eight periods), special teams continue to shine, and the rentals keep playing like they all deserve multi-year, multi-million dollar new contracts (which, at this point, they do).
If it wasn’t for the Tampa Bay meltdown, the hockey world would be fixated on the incredible rise of the New York Islanders. Frankly, the Isles are one of the least talented teams in this year’s playoffs on paper, but they are grinding it out and frustrated Pittsburgh’s high-powered (and star-studded) offense. This isn’t all Matt Murray‘s fault. The Penguins’ compete level just hasn’t been there. Sidney Crosby and wingman Jake Guentzel have both been held pointless through the first three games.
When Patrik Laine gets hot, he’s one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the league. The Finn is hot, alright. After scoring only one goal in his final 19 regular season games, the 20-year-old has scored in all three playoff games versus the Blues. Have the Jets finally cracked Jordan Binnington, who allowed more than four goals for the first time in his young playoff career? St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo insists there’s no panic after dropping Game 3. Just play like they did for the second half of the season — and the first two games of this series — and they’ll be fine.
This one is — predictably — getting feisty. Can the Sharks get back into it? Of course, but they’ll need to stop letting goals in during the opening minutes of a period. They’ll also need to amp up the offense, since the Sharks can no longer count on Martin Jones (a troubling season, and now a .849 save percentage through three playoff games). Vegas’ second line — a.k.a., the “new guys” line, featuring Mark Stone, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty — was spectacular in Game 3. Stone and Stastny became just the third set of teammates over the last 30 NHL playoffs to each record five points in the same game.
Social post of the day
Hockey players, they’re just like us!
– NHL (@NHL) April 15, 2019
Oh boy. Ryan Reaves on Thornton’s reply to the Nosek hit: “I’ve got a buddy with a grandpa who’s going through the same thing. He can’t see very well because he’s getting old. Needs glasses. If he gets suspended he’s going to have a hard time seeing from the press box” #VegasBorn
– Justin Emerson (@J15Emerson) April 15, 2019