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NHL Rink Wrap: McDavid earns his M-V-P chants; Panthers on brink


EDMONTON, AB - MAY 22: Connor McDavid #97, Evander Kane #91 and Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal against the Calgary Flames during the second period in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on May 22, 2022 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

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• Tough news for the Blues: Jordan Binnington will not be available for the rest of their Second Round series against the Avalanche after a collision with Nazem Kadri. The AP detailed the scrutiny surrounding Kadri, and the racist threats he’s faced.

• Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Evander Kane put on a big show for the Oilers, who dominated the Flames in Game 3. Milan Lucic also collided with Mike Smith, so this was a big weekend for people who love goalie hits.

• The repeat defending Stanley Cup champions could sweep the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners by Monday. The Lightning convincingly beat the Panthers in Game 3, and Florida looks lost.

• Much like in their previous series, the Hurricanes keep winning playoff games at home, then losing them on the road. In this case, the Rangers won Game 3 in another tight contest against the Hurricanes. There was nastiness afterward.

• Want to create a blueprint for a “hometown discount” contract? Consult the sweetheart deal Mark Giordano agreed to with the Maple Leafs.

Game 3: Edmonton Oilers 4, Calgary Flames 1 (EDM leads 2-1)

Earlier in the “Battle of Alberta,” the Oilers would surge back from poor starts, winning once and losing once against the Flames. In Game 3, the Oilers skipped the “slow start” part.

Granted, the Oilers didn’t receive an immediate reward for their strong start against the Flames in Game 3. The score was 0-0 despite Edmonton impressively beginning with a 21-7 shots on goal advantage.

Maybe that first period was a dress rehearsal of sorts? Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Evander Kane took over the middle frame, scoring four goals. Many of the goals were the sort of high-speed, high-skill, low-defense specials you only see so much during the postseason.

Fifty-two seconds in, Zach Hyman scored a 1-0 goal. Then, in six minutes of game time, Evander Kane recorded a natural hat trick. It’s already his second hat trick of these playoffs.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 Second Round schedule, TV info]

With performances like those (see more in the 3 Stars section), other moments get forgotten. It’s worth remembering moments like Mike Smith’s great save, and really, his beyond-his-years performance lately. If the Flames don’t get back into this series, the Oilers could run away with the “Battle of Alberta.”

During the third period, the battle part of “Battle of Alberta” was emphasized. Click here for more on Milan Lucic getting ejected for hitting Mike Smith. At the moment, it appears that Smith avoided an injury.

Game 3: Rangers 3, Hurricanes 1 (CAR leads 2-1)

In such a tight-checking, low-scoring series, sometimes you need to sprinkle in a little salt. Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant maybe seasoned things even a little too much after his team beat the Hurricanes in Game 3.

As you can read more about here, Gallant wasn’t happy about what he believed was a Max Domi “cheap shot” on Ryan Lindgren. Chaos ensued, and Gallant then went profane.

Beyond the rough stuff, the big story of Hurricanes - Rangers Game 3 was Igor Shesterkin sure looking a lot like the goalie who made a claim not just to the Vezina Trophy, but maybe the Hart Trophy this season.

Via Natural Stat Trick, the Hurricanes put the sort of pressure that translated to 3.39 expected goals at even-strength, and 4.5 at all strengths (the Rangers were close in both categories). Spoiler: the Hurricanes only scored once.

Game 3: Lightning 5, Panthers 1 (TBL leads 3-0)

Another Lightning - Panthers game, another big Corey Perry goal. Yet another time, Andrei Vasilevskiy gave the Panthers little (in the rare moments when the Lightning sprung any leaks). Maybe most predictably, Nikita Kucherov took over another contest.

Once again, the Panthers find themselves shaking their heads and searching for answers against the Lightning. Plenty of people picked the Lightning, citing their experience advantage (among other edges) over the Panthers. Did many people see a possible sweep happen?

Andrew Brunette doesn’t have much time to brainstorm for answers. Due to some strange scheduling, these two teams close off a rare-for-the-playoffs (outside the bubble) back-to-back set on Monday.

If nothing else, this would be as good an opportunity as any to take advantage of all of the mileage on Tampa Bay’s top players. Florida hasn’t exactly done a stellar job of exploiting what may just be a perceived advantage.

Three Stars from Sunday’s NHL playoff games

1. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane, Oilers

What’s the sense in picking just one after that Game 3 masterpiece?

In the case of Connor McDavid, he’s already putting up the sort of numbers players dream about for a full, best-in-career playoff run. Sportsnet notes that McDavid became the first player in NHL history to record nine multi-point games within 10 playoff contests. With three assists through 40 minutes, McDavid extended his active multi-point streak to six games.

Considering how the game’s changed, it’s still a little surprising to see McDavid standing shoulder-to-shoulder with legends like Wayne Gretzky.

Finishing the night with an absurd 23 points through 10 playoff games, we’re going to be talking about Connor McDavid’s torrid start for a while. Especially if this is just part of the fun, and not the peak.

Of course, he didn’t do it alone. Evander Kane is now at 10 goals and 13 points in 10 playoff contests. He recorded one of the fastest hat tricks in NHL playoff history.

Oh, and with four assists during that stupendous second period, Leon Draisaitl recorded the most assists in a single period in playoff history. Draisaitl’s 19 points in 10 games isn’t that far behind McDavid’s 23.

Via Sportsnet, Wayne Gretzky’s 29 points (1983) ranks as the most points through 10 playoff games in NHL history. Gretzky (1985) and Mario Lemieux (1992) are tied for second with 25, while McDavid’s now tied with Rick Middleton at 23.

Staggering stuff.

2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

If you can set aside superhuman Connor McDavid’s work, Nikita Kucherov’s enjoying an incredible playoff run of his own. (Frankly, he already deserved a Conn Smythe Trophy stemming from the repeat runs ... but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Kucherov’s been the biggest difference in a surprisingly one-sided series between the Panthers and Lightning. That was the case early on, when the scores were skin-tight. Game 3 of Panthers - Lightning was less subtle. Kucherov scored a goal and three assists for four points in that one, giving him 15 points over 10 playoff contests.

And he’s staying red-hot without Brayden Point. Remarkable.

3. Igor Shesterkin, Rangers

The reports of Igor Shesterkin’s departure have been vastly exaggerated. That said, if you believe that Shesterkin turned average early in the Penguins series, he’s back to being a huge difference-maker.

Shesterkin stopped 43 out of 44 shots as the Rangers shrunk the Hurricanes’ series lead to 2-1 in Game 3.

You may look at a tight final score inflated by an empty-netter (3-1 for the Rangers), and think it was another game where New York hung with the Hurricanes. Maybe that’s true in some ways, yet in others, it was more like what we were expecting. The Rangers needed Shesterkin to be the difference here, and he was.

Over the last four playoff games, Shesterkin’s save percentage has been .923 or better. Despite some high-scoring Penguins - Rangers games at times, Shesterkin’s overall save percentage is at .921 during this playoff run. If he left, Shesterkin is back.


Game 4 (TBL leads 3-0): Panthers at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 (COL leads 2-1): Avalanche at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Avalanche vs. Blues

Lightning vs. Panthers
Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
NHL Second Round predictions
Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round