Getting my first taste of the “work-week” Daily Dose, as James O’Brien will handle Saturday’s games for me. No series ended Thursday night, despite there being two that could reach a conclusion. Unless you’re a fan of those teams, you can’t be complaining about more playoff hockey.
CAPITALS 5, ISLANDERS 1
— If you were told that neither Alex Ovechkin nor Nicklas Backstrom recorded a point and the Capitals went 0-for-3 on the power play, would you expect a result like this? I’m sure if you presented that scenario to the Islanders, they’d be happy. Those two combined for only three shots on goal. No matter what, Washington routed New York and now has a chance to advance to the next round with a win at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.
— Evgeny Kuznetsov is a star in the making, and he did his part to make a name for himself among the more casual hockey fans who tuned in. The 22-year-old was the most dangerous Capitals forward on the ice, scoring twice on seven shots and assisting once. The points were his first in the series. With Ovechkin and Backstrom together on a line with Joel Ward, Kuznetsov effectively centered the second line, along with Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson.
— Chimera scored the game’s final goal nine minutes into the third period, and he also got an assist on Brooks Laich’s goal earlier in the frame. Chimera has 10 goals and 14 assists in 48 career playoff games. Laich hadn’t really been much of a factor until this game as he got a goal on two of his eight shots in the series, while playing 12:53. His goal was his first since the 2012 playoffs.
— Karl Alzner had five goals in 82 regular season games, and after Thursday’s, he has two in five playoff contests. He’ll never be confused as an offensive blueliner, but contributions from unlikely sources help fuel playoff runs. He also was second on the team with a plus-six Corsi (shot attempts).
— The Islanders might’ve gotten Braden Holtby at his worst already. After giving up three goals on 26 shots in Game 1, Holtby has posted superb save percentages. He stopped 22 of 23 in the Game 4 win.
— Josh Bailey leads the Islanders with five points in the playoffs. He scored the lone goal in this loss. Next year could be the one that sees him reach the 50-point mark.
— Mikhail Grabovski had a rough return. He had not played since Feb. 19. Not an easy situation for a player to enter into, especially because the pace is so much quicker during the playoffs. Grabovski was a minus-seven in the shot-attempt department.
— This loss certainly isn’t all on Jaroslav Halak, though it’s not like we can just write it off. He allowed five goals on 35 shots. If he and the Islanders don’t want Saturday’s game to be the last one on Long Island, they’ll have to be much better in their own zone.
LIGHTNING 3, RED WINGS 2 (overtime)
— The Lightning were staring a 3-1 series deficit in the face late in the third period. They had been bottled up for most of the game, often looking disoriented on offense and getting out-coached. Petr Mrazek also had their number. The third period featured better puck possession though it took until late to see the results. In a matter of 1:17, it all changed and the series shifts to Tampa Bay tied at two apiece.
— Tyler Johnson breathed playoff life back into the Lightning, first speeding past Darren Helm to flip a shot past Mrazek to pull within 2-1 at 14:34 and then winning the game at the 2:25 mark of overtime with his fourth goal of the playoffs. He also set up Ondrej Palat on the goal that tied up the game, an easy point-blank goal atop the crease. Johnson registered 29 goals and 72 points during the regular season, and he’s generally gotten chances in this series, firing 14 shots on net.
— Palat’s goal was his first since March 22, a span of 12 games without a goal. He also chipped in with an assist on the game winner.
— It’s worth noting that the goals were scored with Luke Glendening out with a hand injury sustained late in the third. He needed stitches and should be good to go for Game 5, according to coach Mike Babcock. Glendening is an exceptional defensive player and his loss was felt immediately. It opened up the ice for the Lightning and forced Babcock to juggle his line matchups.
— The Red Wings got goals from Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson. Nyquist's goal was his first of the series, and his second point. Andersson tallied three goals all season, including one on the last game of the regular season. The goal was his first in the playoffs.
— Mrazek (26 saves) had not allowed a goal since the third period of Game 2. Not going to fault him on this loss, though he has alternated stellar performances with not-so-great ones. He has a 2.43 goals-against average and .922 save percentage during the playoffs.
— Ben Bishop was lucky his team came alive late, or else many would’ve been honing on him for the blame. He allowed two goals, one of which he knocked in himself, and he also took two penalties, both of which were killed off. Bishop has a 2.01 GAA, but just a .902 SV% in the playoffs. The winner of Game 5 could very well be the one that wins this series.
PREDATORS 5, BLACKHAWKS 2
— The Predators won’t go quietly. With their playoff lives in a do-or-die state, the Predators put together an impressive performance to pull the series to within 3-2. It will now shift back to Chicago on Saturday.
— Hours after being snubbed as a finalist for the Calder trophy, Filip Forsberg netted a hat trick in his fifth career playoff game, the first-ever hat trick in the franchise’s history. Forsberg scored in the first to knot the game at one, then put the Predators ahead 4-1 and 5-2 (via the empty net). The Calder, to me, is about the season’s worth of performance, and Forsberg made his presence felt for the duration. It’s pretty clear that recency bias won out here, as Forsberg didn’t dominate at the end of the season like some of the other candidates (i.e. Mark Stone). If Forsberg is a point-per-game in March, is he a finalist? I think so. A 26-goal, 63-point season is tremendous no matter how you slice it. Forsberg, just 20 years old, is going to a first-line player for a long time.
— James Neal and Colin Wilson picked up the other Nashville goals. Neal has scored in back-to-back playoff games. While the goal-scoring pop is there, it’s clear that Neal is not as dangerous without a top-flight center around him (just as many would be). He did score 23 goals this season, so he has at least 21 in all seven of his season. His 37 points was quite disappointing, though. The playoffs are the time he can change that story line.
— Wilson has five goals in five playoff games, after getting 20 in 77 games during the regular season. He’s at least building confidence for next season, one that could see him easily get to 25 goals and 50 points.
— Pekka Rinne (28 saves) outdueled Scott Darling (24 saves) in this one. It’s pretty clear that the Preds will go as far as Rinne takes them. When he’s given up three or more goals, Nashville has lost all three games. Darling was roughed up for the first time in the postseason. There’s a different type of pressure now, so, yes, it will be interesting to see how he deals with that in the wake of an “off” night.
— Brad Richards (goal, assist) and Kris Versteeg potted the goals for Chicago, which allowed the Predators to convert on 2-of-3 power plays. Richards’ goal was his first since March 29, and first playoff marker since the beginning of the Eastern Conference final round with the Rangers last year, on May 17.
CANUCKS 2, FLAMES 1
— The Flames will have to wait at least one more game to win their first series since before the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks, meanwhile, force a Game 6 as they trail 3-2, heading back to Calgary.
— This was the type of effort you’d expect to see from a desperate team, even more so after going down 2:40 into the game on a goal from David Jones. Vancouver dominated the possession battle — 54 unblocked shot attempts to 42.
— The Canucks moved Ryan Kesler last offseason, and acquired Nick Bonino, whom they thought could fill the second-line center role. He has actually done a decent job, with more goals/assists/points per 60 minutes at even strength. He scored the Canucks’ first goal in this game. This season, Bonino finished with 15 goals and 39 points, while Kesler had 20 goals and 47 points, with 11 of those coming on the power play. Bonino has work to do to become the type of playoff player Kesler is (three goals, five points this year), and maybe this gets his game going.
— Daniel Sedin lit the lamp for the winning goal, 1:47 into the third period. Sedin also fired seven shots on goal — his brother Henrik had five — for two goals, three points and 22 shots on goal during the playoffs. I don’t really see how Vancouver stays alive without the Sedans being a factor.
— Ryan Miller (21 saves) won his first playoff game with the Canucks. While his injury opened up playing time for Eddie Lack, Miller is the big money man between the pipes, so he can do a lot here to help fans forget about a below-average (.911 SV%) regular season. Miller entered with a SV% of .916 in the playoffs.
— Jonas Hiller (41 saves) has pretty much been the difference maker in this series. He has a 1.84 GAA and .942 SV% this postseason, after going 2.36/.918 in the regular season. This isn’t the first time he’s lifted his game in the playoffs; in 2008-09 he posted a 2.23 GAA and .943 SV%.