NHL Bubble Wrap: Capitals survive, but Golden Knights knock out Blackhawks; Red-hot Hart

NHL scores Golden Knights eliminate Blackhawks Capitals avoid
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  • Awful news: Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk passed away at age 57.
  • Ovechkin and the Capitals rallied to avoid being swept, even after the Islanders built a 2-0 lead. There was also some Tom Wilson controversy.
  • While the Capitals fought off elimination, the Blackhawks couldn’t do so for a second straight time. Vegas moves on.
  • The Canadiens cannot score against Carter Hart. That’s not ideal. Might want to look into fixing that.

NHL Scores from Tuesday in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Flyers 2, Canadiens 0 (PHI leads series 3-1)

Carter Hart shut out the Canadiens for the second game in a row, leaving the Flyers one win away from advancing past the First Round. While Carey Price would probably like that Philippe Myers goal back, there’s only so much you can do when your team cannot score; also, when you see lapses in coverage like Price suffered from during the Michael Raffl game-winner. After a great first game with Kirk Muller taking over for Claude Julien, the Habs haven’t found many answers.

Stars 2, Flames 1 (DAL leads series 3-2)

To a startling degree, the Stars have been far and away the most aggressive, assertive team in this series. Not just from a defensive standpoint, which would’ve been more expected. Dallas is controlling the puck, and the middle of the ice, and the Flames are probably lucky to only be down 3-2 in this series. If facing elimination going forward won’t ignite the Flames, then maybe nothing will.

Capitals 3, Islanders 2 (NYI leads series 3-1)

After the first period, it looked the Islanders would sweep the Capitals, as Washington was flat and New York built a 2-0 lead. There were quite a few penalties through the first 40 minutes of this one, and eventually that played to the Capitals’ (and Alex Ovechkin‘s) advantage as much as you might think. Ovechkin scored two goals, including the game-winner, and Evgeny Kuznetsov also managed a nice tally of his own to power up a rally for the Capitals. Will this merely be a case of saving face, or are the Capitals primed to make this First Round series interesting?

Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 3 (VGK wins series 4-1)

The Golden Knights became the first NHL team to advance to the Second Round during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That doesn’t mean it was easy. The Blackhawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 5, and responded to a 2-2 tie by grabbing a 3-2 lead thanks to Patrick Kane. Ultimately, the Golden Knights were just too good. They tied it once more, and then Alex Tuch‘s early third period goal ended up being the clincher. The heavy favorites won, and moved on quickly, but the Blackhawks put up a solid fight.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers

All season long, the Canadiens only got shut out once. Carter Hart blanked them two times in a row. After pitching a 23-save shutout to win Game 3, Hart made 29 to do it again in Game 4. While the Canadiens haven’t exactly forced Hart to work as hard as other goalies like Darcy Kuemper and Joonas Korpisalo have had during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s pretty tough to nitpick two shutouts in a row.

2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

It’s not as if Ovechkin merely woke up with two crucial goals in Game 4. He’s been one of the bright spots for the Capitals lately, as he now has five points (4G, 1A) over his last three games. This time around, Ovechkin’s offense made the difference in keeping Washington’s season alive. In these challenging times, we can enjoy the calming familiarity of Ovechkin scoring a power-play goal from his “office.”

3. Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights

Pacioretty scored with less than a minute remaining in the first period, shrinking a 2-0 Blackhawks lead to a more manageable 2-1. Then Pacioretty assisted on the Mark Stone goal that briefly tied things up. Other Golden Knights took it from there, but strong stuff from “Patches.” Considering his injury (or “unfit to play?”) issues during the NHL Return to Play, it’s huge to see Pacioretty produce. It might just make the Golden Knights the scariest team in the West, or even NHL. Finishing their series in five games may also keep them pretty fresh.

Highlights of the Night

Ovechkin’s second, game-winning goal and especially Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal rank among the prettiest tallies from Tuesday:

Plenty of thrilling moments in Golden Knights – Blackhawks, especially the plays that led to goals for Alex DeBrincat and Alec Martinez:

Factoids

  • Alex Ovechkin reached 69 career playoff goals on Tuesday, putting him all alone at 18th all-time in NHL playoff history. Ovechkin broke a tie with Sidney Crosby and Gordie Howe. Anyone still trying to claim that Ovechkin isn’t clutch (remember that garbage?) should look at his sniping stats in elimination games, in particular.
  • Via the Flyers and Arpon Basu of The Athletic, the Flyers are the first team to lead a seven-game series after four games despite only scoring five goals.
  • Carter Hart’s 120:00 shutout streak is already the seventh-longest in Flyers playoff history. He’d need to keep it going through more than just Game 5 to match NBC Sports’ own Brian Boucher, unless a Habs – Flyers Game 5 entered overtime at 0-0. (Considering the scoring in that series? Who knows.)

WEDNESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 5: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning (TB leads 3-1) – 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 5: Hurricanes vs. Bruins (BOS leads 3-1) – 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 5: Coyotes vs. Avalanche (COL leads 2-1) – 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (joined in progress)
Game 5: Canadiens vs. Flyers (PHI 3-1) – 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 5: Canucks vs. Blues (Series tied 2-2) – 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.

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