Nikolaj Ehlers patted goalie Carey Price on the front of his sweater.
“Go win a Cup,” the Winnipeg Jets forward said when the two met in the handshake line after Price’s Montreal Canadiens defeated the Jets in a four-game sweep in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Second Round.
It was a sign of respect for the goalie as well as the hope of wanting to be knocked out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the team that eventually wins the Cup.
That’s how the third episode of the sixth season of “Quest for the Stanley Cup,” a seven-part all-access series, opens, with the stakes getting higher for the four teams remaining in the playoffs.
The episode premieres Friday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the United States and YouTube.com/NHL in Canada.
The Canadiens aren’t the only ones advancing past the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning have defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in five games, the New York Islanders have defeated the Boston Bruins in six and the Vegas Golden Knights have done the same to the Colorado Avalanche. That sets up two best-of-7 Stanley Cup Semifinals, with Tampa Bay facing New York and Montreal facing Vegas.
From the ice, the episode moves to Davis Islands, a section of Tampa, Florida, and popular place for Lightning players to live, and the home of forward Pat Maroon, who shows off his French bulldogs and narrates a tour of the neighborhood by golf cart.
“Tampa’s a great city,” he said. “It’s been a fun place for me and the family. A lot of the guys, a lot of the players live on Davis Islands. It’s a cool little community. Here you can just golf cart to a teammate’s house, just show up on their doorstep, even though they probably don’t want you there.”
Maroon is on his own quest, to win the Cup three consecutive times. He won with his hometown St. Louis Blues in 2019, then with the Lightning in 2020.
“There’s a lot of guys in there got a taste of it last year, and now they want more,” Maroon said.
That’s evident as the episode moves back to the ice, when the Semifinals begin and the atmosphere and intensity rachets up even more, which is the case both between the Lightning and Islanders and in Las Vegas, where the Golden Knights begin their series against the Canadiens.
There, the cameras move to Alex Tuch‘s house, where his 6-month-old puppy displays a decidedly laissez-faire attitude toward the Golden Knights forward’s attempts to play a game of fetch. (Teddy, though, isn’t the newest addition to be featured in the episode, with Lightning center Blake Coleman‘s 2-day-old daughter Carson making an appearance later.)
Still, Tuch calls the choice to get Teddy “one of the best decisions of my life,” especially for how the dog — along with Tuch’s family and girlfriend — have helped him get through the mental difficulties of the past year.
Now, though, he and the Golden Knights are in the exact position they want to be in. They got past the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Avalanche and are one step closer to playing for the Cup. And with a 4-1 win against the Canadiens in Game 1, the Golden Knights are one step closer. The teams are tied in the series after the Canadiens’ 3-2 win on Wednesday.
And that’s all Tuch wants.
“I don’t care how it happens,” Tuch said. “I just want to beat Montreal and then, whether it’s the Islanders or Tampa Bay Lightning, I want to beat them and I want to win the Stanley Cup. I do not care who scores. If (goalie) Marc-Andre Fleury wants to score every goal for us, I don’t care how it happens, but I just want to win the Stanley Cup.”