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NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Hurricanes tie series with Caps, Blues take series lead, Sharks avoid elimination

NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Hurricanes tie series with Caps, Blues take series lead, Sharks avoid elimination

As the first-round starts to head into the final games, each matchup is getting more and more critical, as was evident Thursday. Not only did the Carolina Hurricanes have the chance to even up the series with the Washington Capitals in Game 4, but the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets were playing for the 3-2 series lead and the San Jose Sharks found themselves in a must-win situation in order to avoid elimination against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Thursday's slate of games proved to be crucial and ultimately, played out well for the Hurricanes, Blues and Sharks. Here's how each series stacked up Thursday.

Hurricanes tie series against Caps with narrow 2-1 win

It was a close matchup between Washington and Carolina Thursday, but thanks to a couple of key goals and a big night for Petr Mrazek between the pipes, the Hurricanes were able to take Game 4 with a 2-1 victory.

Warren Foegele opened the scoring for Carolina just 17 seconds in, crashing the net and scoring on a lay-up that beat Braden Holtby. It was his third goal of the playoffs and the fastest playoff goal for Carolina in franchise history.

Alex Ovechkin was able to even the score in the second period with a one-timer on the man advantage, putting an end to 11 straight penalty kills for the Canes. The goal was Ovechkin's second of the playoffs, with both tallies coming on the power play. However, just before the second period came to a close, Teuvo Teravainen returned the lead for Carolina to make it 2-1.

Petr Mrazek made 30 saves on the night, including eight in the third period to guarantee the victory for the Hurricanes, while Holtby made 22 saves on 24 shots. Washington also lost T.J. Oshie to injury late in the game after he was hit from behind by Warren Foegele. The series is now tied 2-2.

Blues edge Jets with comeback victory, take series lead

Although the Jets were up 2-0 over the Blues heading into the third period, Winnipeg surrendered three unanswered goals as St. Louis took a 3-2 victory.

Adam Lowry scored just 12 seconds into the opening frame for the Jets' fastest playoff goal in franchise history to make it 1-0, and Kevin Hayes added a goal a little over halfway through the first to make it 2-0.

The lead would carry over until the final 20 minutes of regulation, where the Blues kicked it into full gear. Ryan O'Reilly beat Connor Hellebuyck on the power play a little over a minute into the third to pull the Blues within one. With about seven minutes to go, Brayden Schenn would tie the game at 2 with his first goal of the playoffs.

With the final minute winding down, it appeared that the game would be headed to overtime; however, Tyler Bozak was able to knock the puck loose and find a wide-open Jaden Schwartz in front, who fired the puck past Hellebuyck with just 15 seconds remaining to make it 3-2.

With the victory, the Blues now hold a 3-2 series lead and can eliminate Winnipeg in Game 6 Saturday.

Sharks stay alive with statement 5-2 win over Golden Knights

Thursday's game was a must-win for the Sharks, and thanks mainly to the effort of Tomas Hertl, they were able to dominate on home ice with an impressive win over Vegas.

A little over a minute in, Tomas Hertl jumped on a pass from Erik Karlsson and scored his third of the playoffs to make it 1-0 early. Later in the period, Logan Couture would beat Marc-Andre Fleury to put the Sharks up by two, but with 30 seconds to go in the opening frame, Reilly Smith was able to pull Vegas within one with his first of the postseason.

While it looked like Vegas would be able to shift the momentum with their end to the first, Barclay Goodrow redirected a Justin Braun shot past Fleury and the Sharks regained their two-goal lead.

Jonathan Marchessault would strike for the Golden Knights on the power play over halfway into the third to cut the lead to one, but Hertl soon after scored his second of the night on the rebound of a Joe Pavelski shot to make it 4-2. With less than two minutes to go in regulation, Pavelski scored on the empty net for his second point of the game, which ultimately sealed the deal for the Sharks.

Martin Jones, who had been struggling but was given the start regardless, proved his worth with 30 saves on 32 shots, and Erik Karlsson also put up a multi-point performance for San Jose in the win.

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Braden Holtby, Tom Wilson make strong statements in support of Black Lives Matter protesters

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Braden Holtby, Tom Wilson make strong statements in support of Black Lives Matter protesters

As protests have taken place in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to raise the issue of racial injustice in the U.S., Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and forward Tom Wilson have mulled how to use their platforms in order to help the cause.

On Wednesday, both veteran stars released statements voicing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been in the national spotlight since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in an arrest that was captured on video May 25.

Holtby, whose wife Brandi posted a message on Twitter from both of them Tuesday, encouraged protestors to continue spreading their message and ridiculed the country’s current climate for its “injustice and hatred infused power.”

Wilson vowed to donate to the East Of The River Mutual Aid Fund and the Fort Dupont Cannons, who are based in D.C. and known to be the oldest minority hockey program in the U.S. He closed out his statement by writing, “I am contributing to these funds today, but I am committing to learn, to listen and to support going forward.”

Holtby and Wilson were the latest Capitals to weigh in on the protests after defenseman John Carlson committed to being “a part of the solution” and forward Alex Ovechkin called for everyone to “respect and love each other no matter what we look like.”

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Former Capitals forward Brett Connolly offers options to take tangible action against racism

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Former Capitals forward Brett Connolly offers options to take tangible action against racism

The senseless murder of George Floyd has shed light on the racism that still exists within America. In the wake of his tragic death, there are many who want to take action but are not sure how. Brett Connolly is here to help.

The former Capitals forward tweeted out a heartfelt message on Tuesday in response to a Tweet from J.T. Brown.

Connolly then took the extra step of Tweeting out a number of ways to take tangible action against racism including organizations you can support and donate to, places you can contact and movies you can watch to learn more.

Connolly was largely a soft-spoken player in his three seasons in Washington, but he did decline an invite to the White House extended to the Capitals as Stanley Cup champions. Connolly would not go into detail on why.

Connolly left Washington as a free agent in the summer and is in his first season with the Florida Panthers.

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