- The Blues advanced to Round 2, and while the Jets made the final score look respectable, it wasn’t a great, complete effort by Winnipeg.
- The Stars’ top line was downright dominant for Dallas in taking a 3-2 series lead, putting the Central-winning Predators on the ropes.
- Washington’s biggest names flexed their muscles, and the Capitals took a 3-2 series lead by blasting the Hurricanes.
Blues 3, Jets 2 (St. Louis wins series 4-2)
Jaden Schwartz scored all three of the Blues’ goals, and he gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead in doing so. After a pitiful, 1-shot second period, Winnipeg did make things more interesting in shrinking that 3-0 deficit to 3-2, but that final push was pretty late, and the overall (lack of) effort could stick with Jets fans and management for quite some time.
St. Louis gets to rest up and prepare for the winner of the series right below …
Stars 5, Predators 3 (Dallas leads 3-2)
It would be frustrating for Nashville if this all came down to Pekka Rinne struggling. Instead, Rinne was often quite sharp on Saturday, particularly when the game was close but the Predators seemingly couldn’t get anything going. Dallas dominated much of the proceedings. The top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov was the most overwhelming, yet other players are stepping up for the Stars, who’ve carried much of the play lately in Round 1. The Predators have some serious work to do, or they’ll be another division winner who will hit the golf course far earlier than most expected.
Capitals 6, Hurricanes 0 (Washington leads 3-2)
To be fair to Carolina, this game was closer than the score seemed … at least early on. They even kinda, sorta had a chance through most of the second period, at least before that much-discussed Dougie Hamilton icing gaffe opened things up for the 3-0 goal. Still, the Hurricanes couldn’t score a goal in this one, and players like Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin really imposed their will on Game 5. So far, the home team has taken all five games in this series, so the Hurricanes must maintain that trend in Game 6, and then hope they can flip the script if they force a Game 7.
Note: Isabelle Khurshudyan and Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post report that T.J. Oshie suffered a broken collarbone, and will miss the remainder of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. An official announcement is expected, possibly as early as Sunday. PHT will monitor that situation.
1. Nicklas Backstrom
The Capitals are only five games into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, yet Backstrom already has many goals (five) as he had during all of their Stanley Cup run. He’s also only one behind his career-high for a single postseason of six. Backstrom’s known for his passing, and that’s still generally how he leans when attacking, but he’s absolutely on fire sniping-wise lately, and that will only make him tougher to contain.
Backstrom scored the first two goals of Game 5, including the game-winner to help Washington off to a blazing start, and also chipped in two assists for a four-point game. That’s the most of any skater on Saturday.
(Alex Ovechkin deserves consideration for player of that game and of Saturday, too, as he was a domineering physical presence, along with scoring one goal and two assists.)
2. Jaden Schwartz
You could make an argument that Schwartz’s strong Game 6 was just as important as Backstrom’s performance, even if Backstrom gets the edge in total points at four.
Schwartz scored all three of the Blues goals to claim a hat trick, and that’s coming off of scoring the Blues’ Game 5 winner with about 15 seconds left to stun Winnipeg, and maybe partially explain why the Jets seemed to lack a spark on Saturday.
Personally, Schwartz has been one of those Jonathan Huberdeau-type players who’s always signaled serious talent, but has sometimes been lost in the shuffle, in part because of bad injury luck. With that in mind, it’s nice to see a high-quality player such as Schwartz get his moment in the sun, and Schwartz is absolutely shining in the spotlight.
3. Jamie Benn
Consider this a collective Stars’ first line award if you’d like, as Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov were too much for the Predators to handle, too.
Benn had the most points of the trio, generating three assists, with two of them being primary.
Jim Lites’ “blanking horse-blank” roast of Benn and Seguin seemed to ignore a number of realities, such as the impact the aging curve can have on any star player, particularly a power forward such as Benn. Yet, Benn was that irresistible force at times in Game 5, particularly when he used his size and senses to muscle the puck away from Ryan Ellis to set up one of Dallas’ goals. (Benn’s three assists all came during a single period, a rare feat.)
The Predators will try their best to find an answer for Benn, Seguin, and Radulov, but performances like these make you wonder if they can be denied.
- The Blues are the first team to win a playoff series after being ranked last overall sometime after Jan. 1.
- Sportsnet notes that one shot on goal marks a new franchise-low for the Jets.
- Braden Holtby now has the most playoff shutouts in Capitals history with seven, breaking a tie with Olaf Kolzig. Alex Ovechkin scored his 64th career playoff goal, passing Evgeni Malkin for the most for any Russian-born player. With the Penguins out, Ovechkin can build some distance in what could remain a see-saw battle for that record.