- Islanders neuter Crosby again, seize 3-0 series lead against struggling Penguins
- Columbus has Tampa Bay by the throat after another convincing win to take 3-0 series lead
- Winnipeg turns on the jets, scores six in statement win to claw back into series vs. St. Louis
- Vegas dominates Martin Jones once again to take 2-1 series lead
New York Islanders 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (NYI leads series 3-0)
The Penguins have no answers and the Islanders know it, and they now have a foot in the second round because of that knowledge. New York allowed the Penguins to lead the game for 28 seconds before Jordan Eberle tied the game. From there, the Islanders led 62 seconds later and never looked back. Sidney Crosby doesn’t have a point in the series, which is all you need to know about how Barry Trotz has enabled his players to neutralize one of the best in the game.
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 1 (CBJ leads series 3-0)
There would be no overtime posts this time around. No overtime losses, either. Instead, the Blue Jackets put their foot on the throats of the Tampa Bay Lightning and one game away from pulling off what might be the greatest upset in the Stanley Cup Playoffs history. Cam Atkinson scored and added and assist while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 in the win. The Lightning didn’t have Nikita Kucherov due to suspension and Victor Hedman was a late scratch because of an injury. It probably wouldn’t have mattered.
Winnipeg Jets 6, St. Louis Blues 3 (STL leads series 2-1)
Winnipeg came into St. Louis reeling after two losses at home but knowing they were right there with the Blues, despite the losses. And when the Jets finally solved Binnington in the second period, the Red Sea parted and the unbeatable rookie sensation appeared as a mere mortal for Jets shooters who took advantage. The Jets still have a big hill to climb here, but if they’ve entered Binnington’s head, they might reverse their fortunes.
Vegas Golden Knights 6, San Jose Sharks 3 (VGK leads series 2-1)
They chased Martin Jones in Game 2 and then followed that up with dropping six more goals behind him in Game 3. Vegas’s line of Mark Stone, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty combined for 12 points, with Stone and Stastny each producing five-point nights. Will San Jose make a change in net for Game 4? And what lies ahead for Joe Thornton after a terrible head shot on Tomas Nosek?
1. Mark Stone and Paul Stastny, Vegas Golden Knights
Too tough to separate the two. Stone had the hat trick along with two assists for a five-point night. Stastny had two goals and a trio of assists.
The Sharks just had no answer for the madness, and Martin Jones was back to playing his regular-season-style of hockey, which is to say he allows a lot of goals. Unless San Jose can stop this line and find a save, they’re done for.
2. Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets
The Jets needed a few of their players to start producing, and none more so, perhaps, than Connor. The 30-plus goal man hadn’t contributed much through the first two games of the series against St. Louis but erupted for two markers after getting a bump to the top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. The line took off, combining for four points. Patrik Laine kept scoring, and Kevin Hayes also found a big goal for the Jets.
3. Matt Duchene, Columbus Blue Jackets
Coming off a four-point night in Game 2, Duchene kept up the good work, scoring 1:44 into the second period to help the Blue Jackets take the lead. Duchene was a force in the faceoff circle, too, going 9-for-11. That’s two goals and five points for Duchene, acquired at the trade deadline by the Jackets, in three games now. Columbus owns a 3-0 series lead on Tampa Bay.
Highlight of the night
Mark Stone, hat trick hero.
Lowlight of the night
This bone-headed play from Joe Thornton:
Factoids of the night
- Vegas keeps making history, this time for scoring quickly. (NHL PR)
- Patrik Laine is the first player in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history to score in the first three games of a playoff year. (NHL PR)
- What Columbus is doing is to keep the Lightning from scoring is unreal. (NHL PR)
- Lightning are just the fifth team with the best regular-season record to lose first three in the playoffs. (Sportsnet Stats)
Game 3: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins (Series tied 1-1), 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Live Stream)
Game 3: Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals (WSH leads 2-0), 7 p.m. ET, CNBC (Live Stream)
Game 3: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators (Series tied 1-1), 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Live Stream)
Game 3: Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames (Series tied 1-1), 10 p.m. ET, CNBC (Live Stream)