There was a trio of Game 6s yesterday and the end result was that the Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, and Florida Panthers were all eliminated from the playoffs.
None of those outcomes are shocking, although the series between Florida and the New York Islanders certainly looked like it would be a close one going into it and it lived up to that expectation. I think of the three teams that lost though, Minnesota has the most cause to be disappointed. Obviously, the Wild weren't favored to beat the Stars, but they had meaningfully higher expectations than a first round exit going into this season.
Additionally, while Florida is a team with a young core and thus room to grow and Philadelphia is something of a blend of players in their prime like Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek as well as some up-and-comers like Shayne Gostisbehere, the Wild feature a core of 33-year-old Mikko Koivu, 31-year-old (32 in July) Zach Parise, and 31-year-old Ryan Suter. Yes the Wild have some noteworthy younger players too like Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund, but Minnesota more than Philadelphia or Florida really needs to be a win now team.
Keep this in mind: Parise and Suter will come with a combined cap hit of roughly $15 million annually through 2024-25. That cap hit might not be a problem now, but it will be a burden on the team when they start being slowed down by age. So every year they exit the playoffs early, not only is their window of opportunity getting shorter, but they're also moving closer to a period where it will be difficult for them to be competitive. With that in mind, the Wild really should be particularly troubled by how this year went from start to finish.
At any rate, let's take a closer look at how those elimination games went:
CAPITALS 1 FLYERS 0 (Washington wins series 4-2)
You really have to hand it to Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth. When he entered this series for Game 4, Philadelphia was trailing 3-0. Through his three starts, Neuvirth posted a 0.67 GAA and .981 save percentage. You have to wonder if this series might have gone differently if Neuvirth was inserted into the first round earlier or was even the Game 1 starter.
Then again, maybe it wouldn't have been enough because Braden Holtby was phenomenal at the other end of the ice. His 26-save performance on Sunday was his second shutout of the series. He now has a 0.84 GAA and .968 save percentage in the 2016 postseason.
Nicklas Backstrom scored the only goal of the game. With that he finished the series with two markers and seven points in six games. It was also his fourth career playoff game-winning goal.
Wayne Simmonds logged a team-high four shots on goal for Philadelphia. He recorded a total of 17 shots in the series, but he failed to score a goal after posting 32 of them in the regular season.
Marcus Johansson registered an assist on Sunday. He had a goal and six points in the six-game series. Prior to this he had just 15 points in 44 career playoff games.
STARS 5 WILD 4 (Dallas wins series 4-2)
To the Wild's credit, they didn't simply lay down and die with the odds stacked against them. They were down 4-0 going into the third period, but they rallied back to 4-3 and then 5-4 before they finally ran out of time. The shots were 16-6 in favor of Minnesota in that final frame.
Jared Spurgeon played a big role in that rally by scoring two power-play goals for Minnesota. Those were the 26-year-old defensemen's only markers of the series, but he also registered three assists.
Fellow blueliner Jonas Brodin was a big contributor too in the Wild's attempt comeback. He had a goal and an assist on Sunday after recording just one point in the previous five games of the series.
As a result Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen turned aside 25 of 29 shots on Sunday. He posted a 2.27 GAA and .911 save percentage in four postseason games.
Stars forward Jason Spezza had a goal and three assists in Game 6. That extended his goal scoring streak to three games and brought him up to four goals and nine points in six playoff contests.
The only player with more postseason points than Spezza so far is teammate Jamie Benn. Benn had a goal and two assists on Sunday, bringing him up to four goals and 10 points in the playoffs.
ISLANDERS 2 PANTHERS 1 (2OT) (New York wins series 4-2)
Florida came so close to forcing a Game 7. They had a 1-0 lead for most of the contest, but John Tavares scores with less than a minute left in regulation time to tie the contest. Tavares also netted the eventual game-winner. He finished the series with five markers and nine points in six contests.
Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo face 51 shots and turned aside 49 of them. Although Florida was eliminated, he did his part by posting a 2.05 GAA and .934 save percentage in the series.
That being said, Thomas Greiss deserves a lot of credit for his role in the Islanders' success. Coming into this season, Greiss seemed typecast as a career backup, but he was great in the regular season and that continued in the first round as he recorded a 1.79 GAA and .944 save percentage in six games.
Alan Quine registered an assist on Tavares' game-winner. Quine, 23, only had two games worth of NHL experience going into this series, but he now has a goal and three points in six playoff games.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored the Panthers' only goal. It was his first - and ultimately last - goal of the series, though he previously registered an assist in each of Games 2 and 3.
If you're wondering which skater got the most playing time in that marathon contest, it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy with 39:12 minutes of ice time. Teammate Travis Hamonic finished a close second with 39:06 minutes.