NHL Bubble Wrap: Unlikely heroes emerge; Avs, Lightning, Bruins advance

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  • The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins win their rematch series, while the Montreal Canadiens push their series to a sixth game.
  • The Colorado Avalanche completely dominated the Arizona Coyotes again.
  • The Vancouver Canucks push the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues to the brink of elimination.

Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Columbus Blue Jackets 4 (OT) (Lightning win series 4-1)

There was no First Round upset in this matchup this season. The Lightning took care of business and made up for their opening round exit a year by eliminating the Blue Jackets on Wednesday afternoon with a 5-4 overtime. They did not play their best game and had to overcome a two-goal third period deficit, but they scored three unanswered goals (including a game-tying goal from Anthony Cirelli with less than two minutes to play) to move on to the Second Round. Brayden Point had another huge game with three points, including his second overtime winner of the series.

Boston Bruins 2, Carolina Hurricanes 1 (Bruins win series 4-1)

For the second year in a row the Bruins eliminated the Hurricanes from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, winning eight of the nine playoff games over that stretch. A year ago it was in the Eastern Conference Final, this time in the First Round. The Bruins scored a pair of power play goals just five minutes apart late in the second period (David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron) and it was just enough offense to get the win. It is a tough result for the Hurricanes who were in complete control of Game 4 of the series going into the third period and looked to be in a position to even the series. But a third period collapse put them into a 3-1 series hole and they were unable to break through on Wednesday offensively.

Colorado Avalanche 7,  Arizona Coyotes 1 (Avalanche win series 4-1)

What can you really say about this? This series was a mismatch on paper and it was somehow an even bigger one on the ice. The Avalanche won Games 4 and 5 of the series by matching 7-1 margins with both games being even more one-sided than the final scores would indicate. Nathan MacKinnon was unstoppable in this game and Nazem Kadri continued to show why he was a huge addition for an Avalanche team that looks like an absolute force right now.

Montreal Canadiens 5, Philadelphia Flyers 3 (Flyers lead series 3-2)

This game had a little bit of everything. Fights, questionable hits, a disallowed goal on an offside review, a coach changing his mind on benching his goalie, the two teams exchanging goals just 12 seconds apart, and Joel Armia scoring two goals to help the Canadiens force a Game 6 against the Flyers.

Vancouver Canucks 4, St. Louis Blues 3 (Canucks lead series 3-2)

After losing back-to-back games the Canucks found themselves with a 3-1 second period deficit against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues. Their response: Three consecutive goals to take a 4-3 lead that they would hold on to for a pivotal Game 5 win, pushing the Blues to the brink of elimination on Friday night. Tyler Motte was the big hero in this game for the Canucks with a pair of goals.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Joel Armia, Montreal Canadiens. A lot of people came through for the Canadiens on Wednesday night, including Brendan Gallagher, Nick Suzuki, and Carey Price. But Armia was the big star in the win with a pair of goals, including a shorthanded tally to open the scoring early in the game and a big game-tying goal in the second period to serve as a perfect response to the Flyers’ two power play goals that could have swung the game in their favor.

2. Tyler Motte, Vancouver Canucks. Entering play on Wednesday Motte had scored just four goals (all in the regular season) in 42 games (regular season and playoffs combined) this season. He scored two goals on Wednesday, including an incredible shorthanded tally (see it below) to open the scoring. You can not expect offense like this from your depth players every night, but you also can not win the Stanley Cup (or get close to it) without games like this from them. 

3. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. Point was one of the many Lightning players that was a massive disappointing in the 2019 playoffs in their four-game loss to the Blue Jackets. Like many of the others he bounced back in a huge way in the First Round this season. With his three-point game on Wednesday, he finished with seven points (five goals, two assists) in the five-game series and scored a pair of overtime goals. He scored the winner in the fifth overtime of Game 1 to open the series, then clinched the series with his Game 5 winner on Wednesday.

Highlights of the Night

Point sends the Lightning to the Second Round with another overtime winner.

Motte’s first goal of the game was an absolutely sensational shorthanded tally in the first period.

One of the many insane sequences in the Canadiens-Flyers game was this stretch in the second period where the two teams exchanged goals just 12 seconds apart. Nick Suzuki’s goal, the game-winner for Montreal, was a beauty.

Factoids

  • Nathan MacKinnon extended his postseason point streak to eight consecutive games. [NHL PR]
  • Carey Price won his seventh career game when facing elimination, the most in Montreal Canadiens franchise history. [NHL PR]
  • If it is a big game you can bet that David Krejci is going to make an impact for the Bruins. [NHL PR]

Thursday Schedule

Game 5: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Islanders lead series 3-1)
Game 6: Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Stars lead series 3-2)

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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