Two games, two eliminations
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Bruins 1 (Lightning win series 4-1)
The Bruins scored the first goal of Game 5, but that ended up being their final tally of 2017-18. Brayden Point & Co generated three unanswered goals to send Boston packing. Despite being a game behind the other series, the Lightning ended up advancing before everyone else. This series stands as a helpful reminder that the Bolts are one of the true powers in the NHL, and they figure to give the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins all they can handle.
Vegas Golden Knights 3, Sharks 0 (Golden Knights win series 4-2)
Here’s a bold take: the Sharks won’t hate this post more than they hated that post in Game 6.
San Jose was snakebitten for all of Game 6, as Marc-Andre Fleury made all 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the posts/crossbar did the rest. Jonathan Marchessault continued his line’s strong run with the 1-0 goal, which ended up being the game-winner. Nate Schmidt really took the air out of the Sharks with his unusual 2-0 goal, while an empty netter made it automatic. After carrying stretches of play in Game 6, the Sharks largely went out with a whimper during the third period.
1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights – So far, “MAF” is putting together a truly spellbinding postseason run. It gets more impressive when you consider the fact that he’s carrying over this work from what was arguably the best regular season of his vaunted career.
By stopping all 28 shots to close out the Sharks, Fleury is now 8-2-0 with an absurd .951 save percentage during this postseason run. Whether it’s the Jets or Predators next round, those high-powered offenses face a challenge in trying to trample “The Flower.”
2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning – Fleury is grabbing the headlines, and with good reason, but don’t sleep on a goalie whose honesty about fatigue drew a lot of attention. Vasilevskiy sure seems like he’s playing like an energized goalie.
The Bruins have the firepower to make plenty of netminders look bad, yet Vasilevskiy held strong, including stopping 27 out of 28 shots in Game 5.
His numbers look elite once again. If you’re the Capitals, avoiding a Game 7 against the Penguins might also keep him from being that much more refreshed.
3. Nate Schmidt, Golden Knights – Brayden Point deserves an honorable mention for completing a great series against the Bruins, and also teaming up with Keanu Reeves to inspire this post’s headline.
Schmidt gets the slight edge for the third star, though. His 2-0 goal wasn’t just unusual; it also seemed to sap the Sharks’ energy. He grabbed an assist on an empty-netter. Beyond that, Schmidt generated a +3 rating, two shots on goal, and two blocked shots in 24:02 time on ice.
Fleury continues to put together some really impressive milestones.
The Lightning are no strangers to the third round:
Tough stat for the Bruins.
Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, Game 6, 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets, Game 6, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN