Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Malkin could play Game 3 for Penguins


Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin could play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the New York Islanders on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, MSG, MSG+, ATTSN-PT).

The center will travel with the Penguins and will likely be a game-time decision for a third straight game. Malkin has missed the first two with an undisclosed injury. 

Pittsburgh evened the best-of-7 series with a 2-1 win in Game 2 on Tuesday after losing Game 1 4-3 in overtime Sunday. 

Before missing Game 1, Malkin practiced Saturday but did not take line rushes or participate in power-play drills. On Monday, Malkin stayed on the ice for 46 minutes after practice, mostly working with skills coach Ty Hennes.

The Penguins did not practice Wednesday, when they traveled to New York. Malkin and goalie Casey DeSmith (lower body), who did not travel, did not skate Wednesday, coach Mike Sullivan said. 

Malkin missed 23 games with a lower-body injury before returning May 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He remained on the bench for the final 8:48 of the season finale after feeling he tweaked something against the Buffalo Sabres on May 8. 

Jeff Carter has played second-line center in place of Malkin the first two games of the series. 

Malkin scored 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 33 regular-season games. — Wes Crosby, independent correspondent

On Tap

There are four games on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule Wednesday:

Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NESN, NBCSWA): Brad Marchand scored 39 seconds into overtime to help Boston to a 4-3 win in Game 2 on Monday and tie the best-of-7 series 1-1. The Bruins haven’t fallen behind 2-0 in a postseason series since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, when they came back to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. Each of the past 11 playoff games between the Bruins and Capitals have been decided by one goal, and four of the past five have required overtime. T.J. Oshie leads the Capitals with three points (one goal, two assists) in the first two games. Jake DeBrusk leads the Bruins with two goals in two games.

Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, FX-CA, TVAS2, BSSO): Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal scored two goals in a 5-2 victory against the Predators in Game 1 on Monday. Staal, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, has scored 48 points (29 goals, 19 assists) in 97 NHL postseason games. Rookie goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 22 saves in his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. Filip Forsberg, who scored the first goal for the Predators in Game 1, has scored 50 points (27 goals, 23 assists) in 66 NHL postseason games. Nashville goalie Juuse Saros made 33 saves during his fifth NHL postseason start. 

Winnipeg Jets at Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): This is the first playoff series between the two since the Atlanta Thrashers relocated and became the Jets for the 2011-12 season. The Oilers won seven of nine games (7-2-0) against the Jets in the regular season. Connor McDavid, who leads the NHL with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games, was outstanding against Winnipeg, scoring 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in nine games. The Jets lost nine of their final 12 games in the regular season (3-9-0). Mark Scheifele led Winnipeg in scoring with 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 56 games.

St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche (10:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVAS2, ALT, BSMW): Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals in the third period and the Avalanche defeated the Blues 4-1 in Game 1 on Monday. It was the center’s 17th multipoint playoff game of his NHL career, fourth most in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history behind Joe Sakic (54), Peter Forsberg (45) and Peter Stastny (25). MacKinnon has averaged 1.39 points per game in the playoffs, fourth highest in NHL history (minimum 10 games), behind Wayne Gretzky (1.84), Mario Lemieux (1.61) and Barry Pederson (1.53). The Blues were without David Perron, who is in NHL COVID-19 protocol. The forward led the Blues with 58 points (19 goals, 39 assists) in 56 games. The Avalanche are 17-10 when they have a 1-0 lead in a best-of-7 series. The Blues are 7-25 when they trail 1-0.


What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Jarry has the right response

Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry showed he could rebound from a poor performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when he made 37 saves in a 2-1 win against the New York Islanders in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup First Round on Tuesday. Jarry got his first NHL playoff win after allowing four goals, each on his glove side, on 41 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 1 on Sunday. A better effort was needed Tuesday, when New York goalie Semyon Varlamov returned from missing Game 1 for an undisclosed reason and looked like his usual self with 43 saves. The Penguins had a hard time solving Varlamov after he allowed a simple shot from forward Bryan Rust to get past him at 3:22 of the first period. Jarry likely will face Varlamov again in Game 3 at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday and might need a repeat performance if Varlamov continues to be tough to crack. — Crosby

Driedger should start Game 3 for Panthers

On his 27th birthday, Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger made 26 saves in his first professional postseason game. It came in a 3-1 loss in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning that put the Panthers down 2-0 in the best-of-7 series, but Driedger delivered a strong performance that should answer any questions about who will be Florida’s starting goalie for Game 3 in Tampa on Thursday (6:30 p.m. ET; USA, FX-CA, TVAS2, BSSUN, BSFL). Driedger admitted to nerves that may have affected him in the first period, but he hardly was to blame for the two goals he allowed; one went in off Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman and the other was off a rebound from a shot that hit the crossbar. Driedger was given the opportunity by Panthers coach Joel Quenneville after Sergei Bobrovsky allowed five goals on 40 shots in a 5-4 loss in Game 1. It was his first postseason appearance since March 29, 2014, when he played Game 6 of the Western Hockey League playoffs for Calgary against Kootenay. He looked comfortable as the game went along, poised, in control, and good enough to keep the Panthers in it. It was a performance to build off. — Dan Rosen, senior writer

Golden Knights, Wild take ’em for the team

As if it weren’t hard enough to get shots past Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Minnesota Wild goalie Cam Talbot, you have to get shots to them first. Vegas and Minnesota are the top two teams in blocked shots in the regular season, Vegas with 843 and Minnesota with 825. So far in the playoffs, Minnesota is No. 1 with 49 and Vegas No. 4 with 33. In the Wild’s 1-0 overtime win in Game 1, they blocked 23 shots, the Golden Knights 13. The winning shot deflected off Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez, who leads the NHL with 168 blocked shots in the regular season. In the Golden Knights’ 3-1 win in Game 2, they blocked 20 shots and the Wild 26. Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba blocked eight himself. Dumba and Martinez each have nine in the playoffs, tied for the NHL lead. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist


About last night

There were three playoff games Tuesday:

Pittsburgh Penguins 2, New York Islanders 1: Jeff Carter’s goal 13:07 into the first period would be the game-winner for the Penguins, who tied the best-of-7 series 1-1. Bryan Rust also scored for Pittsburgh and Tristan Jarry made 37 saves for his first NHL playoff win. Josh Bailey scored a goal and Semyon Varlamov made 43 saves for the Islanders. 

Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Florida Panthers 1: Ondrej Palat scored a goal and had an assist and the Lightning took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves and Nikita Kucherov had an assist, giving him 99 points (38 goals, 61 assists) in 92 NHL playoff games. Mason Marchment scored, and Chris Driedger made 26 saves for the Panthers. 

Vegas Golden Knights 3, Minnesota Wild 1: Alex Tuch scored his first two goals of the playoffs, including one on the power play with 53 seconds remaining in the third period, and the Golden Knights tied the best-of-7 series 1-1. Marc-Andre Fleury made 34 saves for Vegas. Matt Dumba scored for the Wild. Cam Talbot, who had a shutout in Game 1, made 25 saves. His shutout streak ended at 95:45, the second-longest in the playoffs in Wild history (Darcy Kuemper, 124:35 against the Avalanche in the 2014 Western Conference First Round).

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