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Hockey Daily Dose

Stars, Islanders and Vegas all take 3-1 leads

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: August 31, 2020, 3:57 pm ET

The Colorado Avalanche are in serious trouble. It took them 18:26 to put their first shot on net in the first period as Dallas came out fast and furious. I thought the Avs were going to win the Stanley Cup but unless they turn things around quickly, Colorado is going to leave the Edmonton bubble this week.

The big problem is the goaltending.

Both teams have lost their number one netminders as Ben Bishop has yet to play in the series while Philipp Grubauer was injured in the first game.

But Khudobin has come up aces for Dallas while Francouz has struggled in the Colorado cage. As a result, the Stars are on the verge of moving onto the Western Conference Final, while Colorado is on the cusp of elimination.

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DALLAS 5 COLORADO 4 (Dallas lead the best-of-seven series 3-1)

The Dallas Stars came out quickly and then held on as Colorado threw everything at the Stars but it was too little, too late for the Avalanche and they now trail the Stars 3-1 in the best-of-seven series after a 5-4 loss.

The Stars were all out in the first as they had the first 10 shots on goal, scoring three times, as John Klingberg gave them a 1-0 lead and then it was increased to three as Radek Faksa and Jamie Benn scored 132 seconds apart, both on the power play. As mentioned above, there was only 1:34 left in the first before the Avs got their first shot on Anton Khudobin.

The Avalanche finally got on the scoreboard when Valeri Nichushkin scored his first of the post-season. Cale Makar’s point shot was stopped by Khudobin but Nichushkin grabbed the rebound and put it into the net.

Makar made it a game with 26 seconds left as the Avalanche were on a five-on-three power play. Makar took a Nathan MacKinnon pass and one-timed it into the net to make it 3-2 Dallas.

The Stars clinched it in the third period when Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov scored 32 seconds apart to give Dallas a 5-2 lead. Hintz scored a power play goal (the Stars were 3-6 with the man-advantage) as he waited for Pavel Francouz to make his move and then calmly wristed a shot from the slot into the net. Gurianov scored his eighth of the post-season as Makar lost control of the puck behind the net and it went right in front to Gurianov who put it past a confused Francouz.

That was it for Francouz who gave up all five goals on only 26 shots as he was pulled for Michael Hutchinson who made his NHL playoff debut. He stopped all three shots he faced.

The Avs tried to close the gap and made it 5-3 at the 11:24 mark of the third when Nichushkin scored his second of the game. His shot from the blueline went off the stick of Dallas’ Jamie Benn and fooled Khudobin as the puck floated through the air, hitting the post and going in.

The Avs pulled Hutchinson but there was only four seconds to go in the game when Samuel Girard passed to Vladislav Namestnikov, who wristed it past Khudobin.

But that was all she wrote as the Stars took a commanding lead in the series.

Andre Burakovsky and Girard each had two assists but the big scorer of the night was Faksa who also had a pair of assists in addition to his goal in the opening stanza.

Khudobin made 33 saves for his seventh win as he has won six of his last seven games. Khudobin is 7-4 with a 2.86 GAA and a .911 save percentage.

Ryan Graves had seven shots on goal.

Jamie Oleksiak had seven hits.

Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn were each a minus-three.

MacKinnon’s assist on Makar’s goal gives him a 12-game points streak as he leads the NHL in scoring with 21 points.

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NEW YORK ISLANDERS 3 PHILADELPHIA 2 (Islanders lead the series 3-1)

The Flyers have also been pushed to the brink of elimination, as the Islanders defeated Philadelphia 3-2 to take a 3-1 series lead.

After a scoreless first period, Brock Nelson opened the scoring at 6:52 of the second as Josh Bailey managed to keep the puck in on a Flyers attempted clearing pass and found Nelson in the slot. Nelson blasted the puck into the top corner, past Brian Elliott who got the start in place of the tired Carter Hart.

The Flyers evened the score at 1 when Sean Couturier tipped a Justin Braun shot from the point that eluded Thomas Greiss in the Islanders net.

The Islanders took a 2-1 lead in the third as Jean-Gabriel Pageau broke in alone after receiving a pass from Scott Mayfield. Pageau’s initial shot was stopped by Elliot but the puck trickled over the goal line.

Nelson made it 3-1 with his second of the night as he had a nice give-and-go with Bailey and put the puck in the net.

The Flyers got back to within one with 1:05 left and the net empty as Ivan Provorov’s shot from the point found the back of the net through a maze of players.

Greiss replaced Semyon Varlamov in the Islanders net and was stellar as he stopped 36 shots for the win. It was only his second appearance in the post-season in 2020 and first start after he was between the pipes on Wednesday to replace Varlamov who gave up three goals on 10 shots.

Elliot made 30 saves in taking the loss. It was his third appearance this post-season but first start.

Each team had only one power play and neither team scored with the man-advantage.

Bailey had two assists for the Islanders.

Leo Komarov had six hits.

Travis Konecny had four minutes in penalties.

The night got off to a great start for Philadelphia as Oskar Lindblom partook in the pre-game warmup for the first time since he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma on December 7. He rang the bell at hospital in early July, signifying that he had beaten cancer and has been trying to return ever since. We wish him the best of luck and it was great seeing him in the warmup.

VEGAS 5 VANCOUVER 3 (Vegas leads the best-of-seven series 3-1)

The Vegas Golden Knights scored three unanswered third period goals to defeat Vancouver 5-3 and take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Vancouver was the only team on the night to use the same goaltender in back-to-back games and it looked like the amount of play really hurt Jacob Markstrom as he gave up all three goals in the final stanza and dropped both games on the weekend.

The Golden Knights opened the scoring with a power play goal at 9:28 as Max Pacioretty scored from the top of the faceoff circle with a wrister that easily beat Markstrom.

The Canucks tied it up with a power play goal of its own as Elias Pettersson beat Marc-Andre Fleury from the faceoff dot with a wrist shot to the shortside.

The Golden Knights regained the lead as Chandler Stephenson and Shea Theodore worked a nice give and go with Stephenson’s shot easily beating Markstrom. There was no scoring the rest of the first and Vegas took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room.

The Canucks scored the only two goals of the second period as Bo Horvat equaled the game at 2 with a tap-in as Edler’s point shot was stopped by Fleury but the rebound wasn’t cleared and Horvat tapped the puck into the net.

Tyler Toffoli gave the Canucks their only lead of the night as Quinn Hughes outskated everyone and set up Toffoli, who easily beat Fleury.

The Golden Knights came out flying in the third as Nate Schmidt ripped a shot past a tired Markstrom who should have had it, to tie the game at 3.

Pacioretty’s second of the night was set up by Schmidt, who returned a pass by Pacioretty and tipped it past Markstrom.

The Knights clinched it with William Karlsson’s third of the post-season. He tapped in a pass from Pacioretty, who was behind the net, to give Vegas a 5-3 lead that they would not give up.

Fleury picked up his third win in three post-season starts this season as he stopped 28 saves.

Markstrom made 28 saves in taking the loss. He is 8-6 and has lost three of his last four games to Vegas.

J.T. Miller and Mark Stone each had three assists.

Jonathan Marchessault and Stephenson each had four penalty minutes.

Ryan Reaves had eight hits while Edler had six blocked shots.

Hughes had a pair of assists and broke the Vancouver record for most points by a rookie as he now has 13 points, beating the record of 11, set by Lars Molin in the 1981-82 campaign.

NIGHTLY LEADERS

Goals

Valeri Nichushkin – 2

Brock Nelson – 2

Max Pacioretty - 2

Assists

Mark Stone – 3

J.T. Miller – 3

Quinn Hughes – 2

Shea Theodore – 2

Samuel Girard – 2

Radek Faksa - 2

Andre Burakovsky – 2

Josh Bailey - 2

Shots on Goal

Ryan Graves – 7

Nazem Kadri – 6

Hits

Ryan Reaves – 8

Jamie Oleksiak – 7

Jason Dickinson – 6

Leo Komarov - 6

Blake Comeau - 6

Penalty Minutes

Travis Konecny - 4

Nazem Kadri – 4

Chandler Stephenson – 4

Jonathan Marchessault - 4

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 16th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for NBC Sports Edge. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.