NHL Bubble Wrap: Three more playoff series on the brink; ROR roars for Blues

  • Three of the four Game 4s resulted in teams take 3-1 series leads. Could we see a handful of shorter series in the First Round?
  • The defending champions, on the other hand, tied their series.
  • Speaking of the defending champions, and the team they beat to win the 2019 Stanley Cup, both the Blues and Bruins flexed their muscles in their Game 4 NHL playoff games on Monday.

NHL Scores from Monday in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Lightning 2, Blue Jackets 1 (Tampa Bay leads series 3-1)

By no means has it been easy for the Lightning. Then again, maybe that’s a blessing in disguise? They’ve had to grind away to build a 3-1 series lead against the rugged Blue Jackets. It’s fitting that the Lightning won this one on the strength of supporting cast members, including two depth acquisitions in Barclay Goodrow (1G, 1A) and Blake Coleman (assist). Andrei Vasilevskiy was key, too, stopping 28 out of 29 shots.

Avalanche 7, Coyotes 1 (Colorado leads series 3-1)

While Darcy Kuemper saved the Coyotes in Game 3, no one could bail them out of the beating the Avs handed them in Game 4. Colorado never really missed a beat in Game 4, continuously building off of the strong start of a 3-0 first period. Nazem Kadri and Nathan MacKinnon were among those who were brilliant. Here’s hoping that neither Cale Makar or MacKinnon suffered anything from the rough stuff at the end.

Bruins 4, Hurricanes 3 (Boston leads series 3-1)

For much of that Game 4, it looked like the Hurricanes would maintain their 2-0 lead. Then again, it probably should’ve been a bad sign that Carolina hadn’t fired a shot on net for most of the the third period. Eventually, the Bruins broke through following an odd goal by Jake DeBrusk, and never really looked back. Boston quickly flipped a 2-0 deficit to a 4-2 lead, and while Carolina got a goal back, they’re now staring at the brink of elimination instead of a 2-2 series tie.

Blues 3, Canucks 1 (Series tied 2-2)

Consider this the night when the two teams who battled in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final (and, by standings but not by round robin, also finished atop their conferences) looked like themselves. While the Bruins presented the surge a truly powerful team can pull off, the Blues revealed their strength over most of Game 4 against the Canucks. Ryan O'Reilly made the biggest difference in doing so, as we will discuss …

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues

As a Selke finalist once again, it’s not as though Ryan O’Reilly wasn’t looking like Ryan O’Reilly in 2019-20. Still, maybe some needed a reminder after the Blues stumbled a bit into the NHL Return to Play. “ROR” really made the difference in the Blues’ Game 4 win, factoring into their three goals with two goals (including the GWG) and an assist. Impressive stuff for a player who also likely factored heavily in limiting the Canucks’ dangerous young scoring weapons.

2. Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche

What a tremendous start to the postseason for Kadri. Even for those who believed he’d be a nice addition for the Avalanche, it’s gotta be surprising to see him do this well. Kadri scored two power-play goals and also managed an assist as Colorado absolutely obliterated the Coyotes. He also wisely stayed out of some of the rough stuff. Maybe he’s learned from past mistakes with the Maple Leafs?

3. Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins

DeBrusk already made a huge difference with the odd goal he scored by getting behind Haydn Fleury and then avoiding a sprawling James Reimer. But DeBrusk also scored a very big second goal as the Bruins went from down 2-0 to winning Game 4 by a score of 4-3. With David Pastrnak on the shelf, the Bruins will need DeBrusk and others to occasionally contribute performances like these.

Highlights of the Night

These extended highlights capture the Bruins’ comeback quite well, and can give you a chance to judge that huge Charlie McAvoy hit on Jordan Staal, too:

From sheer aesthetics, there was a Cale Makar goal that was more impressive in the Avs’ win. But this Ryan O’Reilly goal was both big and impressive, rather than kicking a dead horse:

Factoids

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 4: Flyers vs. Canadiens (PHI leads 2-1) – 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 5: Flames vs. Stars (Series tied 2-2) – 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 4: Capitals vs. Islanders (NYI lead 3-0) – 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 5: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights (VGK lead 3-1) – 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

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.

Scroll Down For: