The Playoff Buzzer: Blowouts, nail-biters, and a scary fight

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  • This time, Auston Matthews and John Tavares came out on top, while Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand were nullified in the Maple Leafs’ win.
  • The Hurricanes really overwhelmed the Capitals in the biggest of Monday’s two blowouts.
  • In another tight-checking affair where every mistake counted, the Predators gained a 2-1 series lead against the Stars.
  • Nathan MacKinnon remains red-hot, Cale Makar had a tremendous debut, and Johnny Gaudreau‘s line had a really rough night. That’s a formula for a blowout, and that’s what happened as Colorado froze the Flames.

Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 2 (Toronto leads 2-1)

After going pointless in Boston, a change of scenery was kind to Auston Matthews, who scored his first goal and first assist of the series. Frederik Andersen remains absolutely on-his-game, and as mentioned above, Toronto was able to slow down Boston’s vaunted top line, at least for one night. It wasn’t easy, but Toronto won Game 3, and has a chance to really build a strong lead in this Round 1 skirmish.

Hurricanes 5, Capitals 0 (Washington leads 2-1)

The first two games were tight, but the Capitals managed to “hold serve” with two wins at home. The swing in Carolina was an extreme one, as Carolina absolutely ran away with this one, with Dougie Hamilton and Warren Foegele enjoying the biggest offensive outputs. (Jordan Staal also had two assists, while Petr Mrazek managed an 18-save shutout.) Speaking of swings, one outcome left clouds over this result, as Andrei Svechnikov was clearly hurt in the losing end of a surprising, one-sided fight with Alex Ovechkin. More on that here.

Predators 3, Stars 2 (Nashville leads 2-1)

You could argue that Ben Bishop made the difference in winning Game 1 for the Stars; you can definitely make that argument for Pekka Rinne in Game 3 for the Predators, too. Rinne made 40 saves, and Bishop allowed a couple of goals that might haunt him, and that was enough for Nashville to “regain home-ice advantage,” as they say.

Avalanche 6, Flames 2 (Colorado leads 2-1)

Wow. This wasn’t just a situation where “Mike Smith was Mike Smith,” i.e. the shaky goalie many expected, but one who didn’t show up in Games 1 and 2 (where Smith was fantastic). Smith had his struggles, but this was just an out-and-out rout, as Colorado  dominated virtually every facet of the game, from taking a 3-0 first-period lead on. The Flames have a lot of work to do to get back on track after this setback.

Once more, that fight

Get the full lowdown here, but the clip below includes that bout, plus reactions from both Ovechkin and Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour. Brind’Amour was not pleased.

Three Stars

1. Pekka Rinne

Rinne stopped 40 out of 42 shots against the Stars, only allowing goals by Mats Zuccarello and Tyler Seguin. So far, Stars – Predators has frequently come down to which goalie (Rinne or Bishop) blinks first, and in Game 3, Rinne was far superior. It’s tough to argue that anyone was more singularly crucial to a victory on Monday than Rinne.

Also, he provided a highlight of the night candidate with this save sequence:

2. Nathan MacKinnon

The speedy center almost managed a hat trick on Monday, but two goals and one assist stands as a strong output, too. If it weren’t for Mark Stone, MacKinnon might just be on the biggest role of any forward right now. Colorado’s top players vastly outplayed Colorado’s best in Game 3, and while Johnny Gaudreau and others are struggling, that remains a tall feat.

3. Warren Foegele

Much like MacKinnon, Foegele had a big three-point night with two goals and one assist. The 23-year-old also managed an assist in Game 2, so Foegele now has four points in his past two playoff contests. Not bad for a player who finished with 15 points in 77 regular-season games in 2018-19.

Highlight of the Night

Combine that Rinne save with a great Filip Forsberg goal and the Predators provided some of the evening’s best highlights, so let’s go with their 3-2 win against the Predators, in general:

Factoids

Tuesday’s games
Game 4: Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets (Columbus leads 3-0) (7 p.m. ET; CNBC; Live stream
Game 4: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins (Isles lead 3-0)(7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream)
Game 4: Jets at Blues (St. Louis leads 2-1) (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, Live stream)
Game 4: Sharks at Golden Knights (Vegas leads 2-1) (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, Live stream)

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.