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The Buzzer: Scary injury for NHL official; Robbery by Bob

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Sunday’s games

Penguins 5, Flyers 1 (Penguins lead series 2-1)

Is this a series or a see-saw? So far, the Penguins won by a mile in the odd-numbered Games (1 and 3), while the Flyers won 5-1 in Game 2. In Sunday’s case, Sidney Crosby really took over the afternoon, while Matt Murray made some huge saves in stopping 26 out of 27 shots on goal. Special teams was one of the stories of the game. While the Penguins went 3-for-7 on the power play, the Flyers failed on their six opportunities.

The Penguins really ran away with the game when they scored two goals in five seconds.

Wild 6, Jets 2 (Jets lead series 2-1)

Game 3 opened with an engaged Wild team taking a one-goal lead in the first period as the two teams seemed to take turns losing their cool and getting sent to the penalty box. Between Tyler Myers‘ injury and a two-goal burst in 21 seconds, things really fell apart for the Jets in the second period. The Wild ended up inflating their lead to 6-2 in the middle frame, and that was about it, as Connor Hellebuyck saw a hot start to the postseason hit a big wall.

Blue Jackets 5, Capitals 4 [OT] (Blue Jackets lead series 2-0)

Brutal. The Capitals squandered another two-goal lead, once again. This time around, the Capitals sent the game beyond regulation thanks to a T.J. Oshie tally in the third, but Washington once again fell in overtime. They absolutely dominated puck possession, and Alex Ovechkin scored two power-play goals (nearly nabbing a hat trick), yet Sergei Bobrovsky was brilliant in helping the Blue Jackets send the series back to Columbus with a 2-0 series lead.

Again, brutal.

Golden Knights 3, Kings 2 (Golden Knights lead series 3-0)

Los Angeles put forth its best effort of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs so far, generating a 39-26 shots on goal advantage. The Kings scored first, but Vegas took over in the third, scoring three straight goals. Things really got out of hand for L.A. during a 21 second span when James Neal and William Karlsson made it 3-1. The Golden Knights managed to hold on for the win, opening the door for another franchise first: a possible sweep on their first try. Those Golden Knights are unbelievable, right?

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Three Stars

1. Sidney Crosby, Penguins: After generating a hat trick in Pittsburgh’s Game 1, Crosby enjoyed another standout performance in Game 3, scoring a goal and three assists. Crosby’s seven points in three games puts him second in scoring during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, trailing only David Pastrnak‘s ridiculous nine points in two contests.

2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Golden Knights: Jonathan Quick was very close to stealing Game 2 for the Kings. Fleury produced a fantastic performance in Game 3, turning aside 37 out of 39 shots, and he enjoys the added bonus of grabbing the win.

So far during this series, Fleury has only allowed three goals through as many games, generating a stupendous .970 save percentage. Considering how well he played for the Penguins during the 2017 postseason, he’s been on a playoff hot streak lately.

3. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets: Speaking of goalies who’ve developed reputations for struggles in the playoffs, “Bob” is really coming through Columbus so far. The Capitals ended up scoring four goals in Game 2, but Bobrovsky was astounding, making a whopping 54 stops. You could absolutely argue that he was actually the first or second star of the night instead.

MISC.

Warning: this might make you a little queasy. Official Steve Barton was helped off the ice during the Blue Jackets – Capitals game. Looks like he blew out his knee:

The Kings didn’t win Game 3, but they did draw in celebrities, including Margot Robbie (think she was impressed by the skating after playing Tonya Harding?):

And David Beckham:

Factoids

The Golden Knights are making more history in the postseason.

Some perspective on the Blue Jackets’ comebacks.

Monday’s games

Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils, 7:30 p.m. ET (CNBC)
Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche, 10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET (CNBC)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Backstrom provides OT winner as Capitals take 3-2 series lead

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The Washington Capitals are on the verge of the second round.

Yes, the Capitals, who began the series with back-to-back losses in Game 1 and 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, are now on the brink of eliminating Ohio’s team after Nicklas Backstrom‘s deft deflection in overtime gave the Capitals their third straight win and a 3-2 series lead.

It was the fourth time in the series both clubs played to a tie in regulation. After Columbus won the first two in OT, Washington replied with a win in double-overtime in Game 3 before Backstrom ended Game 5 at the 11:53 mark of the first frame of free hockey.

Backstrom scored his first goal of the series to open the scoring for the Caps and assisted for the sixth time in the series on the go-ahead goal in the second period before Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it in third.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Braden Holtby had to be sharp, especially in the third period as, inexplicably, the Caps were outshot 16-1. At home. Holtby made 40 saves when it was all said and done.

Two-hundred feet away, Sergei Bobrovsky was up to the task, making some silly stops including a big one on Alex Ovechkin earlier in overtime and a bigger one in regulation time off the same man’s stick.

Game 6 of this series is slated for Monday in Columbus, with a start time still to be determined.

In his post-game comments, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said, twice, that his team will be back in the capital for Game 7.

The promise has been made.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Kucherov, Vasilevskiy shine as Lightning eliminate Devils in 5

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One’s up for the Hart as the NHL’s best player while the other is up for the Vezina as the league’s top goaltender. Both combined their talents to eliminate the New Jersey Devils with a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday.

Nikita Kucherov was once again on point for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Saturday’s matinee. Leading 1-0 in the third period, Kucherov scored a clutch goal — his fifth of the series — to put the Lightning from just inside the blue line to put the Bolts up two with seven minutes and change remaining.

It proved vital, Kucherov’s goal, as the Devils attempted a late comeback with Kyle Palmieri scored with three minutes remaining after Devils pulled Cory Schneider for the extra attacker 30 seconds earlier.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall in the final 180 seconds, stopping 26-of-27 to help usher the Lightning into the second round.

Tampa, the Atlantic Division winners in the regular season, will face the winner of the series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, who play later on Saturday in Game 5. The Bruins lead the series 3-1.

Kucherov was as immense for the Lightning as he was oppressive for the Devils, adding five assists to bring his series total to 10 points. His usual scoring touch was supplemented by his play in the physical department, including this bone-crushing hit on New Jersey defenseman Sami Vatanen.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

For the Devils, it was hard-fought series from a young team still trying to find its way in the playoffs.

The Devils abandoned goalie Keith Kinkaid after dropping the first two games. Cory Schneider, who hadn’t won a game in 2018 before Game 3, came in and provided the spark in goal, one that seemed to get the Devils going at the other end of the rink as well as they rolled to a 5-3 win.

But that well ran dry in Game 4 as the Devils produced just one goal in a 3-1 loss. Game 5 was much the same, production-wise, with the Devils only managing one goal.

Fellow Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall provided two goals and six points in the series after a 93-point regular season. Rookie Nico Hischier managed just a goal after scoring 20 in his rookie campaign.

For Vasilevskiy, after looking far more human in the second half of the season, finding his mojo again can only be mean bad things for future playoff opponents.

The young Russian finished with a .941 save percentage in the series.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blue Jackets’ Matt Calvert scores unusual breakaway goal

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We’ve all see some breakaways go horribly, horribly wrong in the past.

Patrik Stefan reigns supreme here. Devin Setoguchi didn’t fare too well on this one. And then there was this gaffe by Dennis Wideman once upon a time.

But sometimes one screws up, only to rebound quickly and turn a near-blunder into a nice-ish goal.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert did that today, in what’s already being called the best/worst breakaway attempt of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As you can see in the video above, Calvert gets a nice clean breakaway. As he attempts to first a wrist shot, he whiffs on the attempt but manages to corral the puck back, doing the whole spin-o-rama thing, and deposit the puck past Braden Holtby for his second goal of the game.

Sometimes it just all works out.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Lightning, Bruins try to move on to Round 2

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Game 5: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning, 3 p.m. ET (Lightning lead series 3-1)
NBC/NBCSN*
Call: Gord Miller, Joe Micheletti
Series preview
Stream

Game 5: Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals, 3 p.m. ET (Series tied 2-2)
NBC/NBCSN*
Call: Chris Cuthbert, Ray Ferraro
Series preview
Stream

Game 5: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET (Bruins lead series 3-1)
NBC
Call: Mike Emrick, Mike Milbury, Pierre McGuire
Series preview
Stream

*Regionalized coverage – Florida markets and WNBC in New York metro area will air NJ-TB on NBC and CBJ-WSH on NBCSN; all other markets will receive CBJ-WSH on NBC and NJ-TB on NBCSN

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]