Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Islanders host Bruins in Game 4, can pull even

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There were two games on the schedule Friday and there are two Saturday.

On Tap

There are two games on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Saturday:

Carolina Hurricanes at Tampa Bay Lightning, 4 p.m. ET (USA, SN, TVAS): The Hurricanes will try to even the Stanley Cup Second Round in Game 4 at the Lightning after winning Game 3 in overtime 3-2, when forward Jordan Staal scored on a deflection. The road team has won each game in the series; the Lightning won Games 1 and 2, each 2-1. Carolina has played in seven consecutive one-goal games. Goalie Petr Mrazek will make his second straight start for the Hurricanes after he made 35 saves in Game 3, his 2021 postseason debut. The Lightning have not lost two games in a row in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2019, when they were swept in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. They were 2-0 following a loss against the Florida Panthers in the first round and 7-0 following a loss in 2020 playoffs, when they won the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay was 2-for-3 on the power play in Game 3 to improve to 3-for-8 (37.5 percent) in the series and 11-for-28 (39.3 percent) in the playoffs.

Boston Bruins at New York Islanders, 7:15 p.m. ET (NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Bruins will look to build off an overtime win and the Islanders will try to rebound and even the series when they play Game 4 of the second round at Nassau Coliseum. Forward Brad Marchand scored at 3:36 of overtime to give Boston a 2-1 win in Game 3 and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. It was Marchand’s second overtime goal this postseason. The Bruins might have to play without defenseman Brandon Carlo, who is day to day with an unspecified injury sustained on a hit from Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck at 6:06 of the third period in Game 3. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov made 39 saves in Game 3. It’s not clear if he or Ilya Sorokin will start Game 4.

 
What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 20 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Canadiens penalty killers shining at both ends

Forward Tyler Toffoli scored the only goal as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 in Game 2 on Friday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Second Round. The goal, scored at 1:41 of the second period, came shorthanded and served as yet another example of how effective Montreal’s penalty killers have been during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canadiens have scored almost as many goals (two) as they’ve allowed (three) while shorthanded. They lead all teams in the playoffs in penalty kill percentage (89.3 percent), limiting the opposition to three goals in 28 times shorthanded. At the other end of the ice, their two shorthanded goals have been game-winners. In Game 1 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Paul Byron‘s third period goal snapped a 1-1 tie in a 2-1 Canadiens win. One round later it’s Toffoli who cashes in shorthanded. The penalty kill continues to make a difference for the surprising Canadiens this postseason. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Jets can be optimistic

They won’t have their full lineup, but the Winnipeg Jets are in must-win territory in the Stanley Cup Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens, down 2-0 in the best-of-7 series as it shifts to Montreal for Game 3 on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Winnipeg won’t be without optimism, buckling down to a much tidier game in a 1-0 loss in Game 2. It was by no means perfect, but the bad decisions and odd-man rushes they allowed in Game 1 were reduced and there was a considerable push in the offensive zone, especially in the third period. Still, without suspended center Mark Scheifele, injured defenseman Dylan DeMelo and a big question mark on center Paul Stastny‘s availability, Winnipeg’s stage in Game 3 will have plenty of room for anyone to step up and make big plays or offensive contributions. In fact, it will be required, because a 3-0 hole is no place to be. — Tim Campbell, staff writer

Fans make a difference

T-Mobile Arena is one of the most energetic venues in the NHL, and it was jumping for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Second Round between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights with the first full capacity crowd of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: 17,504. The effect came through on television, and it was felt on the ice by players on each side. Listen to this quote from forward Mikko Rantanen, whose visiting Avalanche lost 3-2. “It’s fun to have the fans back,” he said. “I don’t know how many seats are in this house, but it felt like a lot. The crowd was wild. Obviously we enjoy it, and we have to feed off that too.” — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

Rantanen deserves his due

Rantanen often skates in the shadow of linemate Nathan MacKinnon, but he’s an incredible player in his own right. In Game 3 he extended his goal-scoring streak to four games and his playoff point streak to 17 games, dating to last season. Add one more game to the point streak, and he’ll catch Wayne Gretzky (who reached 18 games twice) and Phil Esposito, who are tied for the fourth-longest in NHL history. Al MacInnis is third with 19 games, Gordie Howe second with 22 and Bryan Trottier first with 27. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

 
About last night

There were two playoff games Friday:

Montreal Canadiens 1, Winnipeg Jets 0: Carey Price made 30 saves for his first shutout of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and forward Tyler Toffoli scored the only goal, shorthanded early in the second period. The Canadiens won both games in Winnipeg and have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, which shifts to Bell Centre in Montreal for Game 3 on Sunday. Montreal has won five straight games since facing elimination down 3-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 23 saves. Winnipeg was shut out for the first time in the 2021 playoffs.

Vegas Golden Knights 3, Colorado Avalanche 2: Forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty scored 45 seconds apart in the third period and the Golden Knights rallied for their first win in the best-of-7 series. Colorado leads 2-1 after three games and the home team has won each game. Marchessault scored the tying goal at 14:42 and Pacioretty gave the Golden Knights the 3-2 lead at 15:27. Marc-Andre Fleury made 18 saves and William Karlsson also scored for Vegas. Phillip Grubauer made 40 saves and forward Mikko Rantanen extended his goal-scoring streak to four games. Forward Carl Soderberg also scored for the Avalanche, who lost for the first time in the postseason (6-1).

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