NHL Bubble Wrap: Winning goalies look sharp during return to playoff action

lehner
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Scores for Saturday return to NHL playoff games

Game 4: Lightning 3, Bruins 1 (TBL leads series 3-1)

With two goals in Game 4, Ondrej Palat continues to be a difference-maker for the Lightning. Along with a keyed-in Andrei Vasilevskiy stopping 29 out of 30 shots, the Bolts pushed the Bruins to the brink of elimination. We’ll see if there’s supplemental discipline for Nick Ritchie‘s hit on Yanni Gourde, but either way, the hit drew a major penalty, and proved to be another blow to the Bruins’ hopes. The Lightning have taken three consecutive games from the Bruins.

Game 3: Islanders 3, Flyers 1 (NYI leads series 2-1)

In Game 2, the Flyers coughed up a 3-0 lead, only to need overtime to win. This time, the Islanders fought back from a 1-0 deficit to dominate the Flyers for most of Game 3. The Islanders enjoyed a mix of offense from the usual suspects (Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee) and also depth players (Leo Komarov, Matt Martin). The Flyers couldn’t get much offense going, at all, and need to find answers with Game 4 taking place as the closer of a back-to-back set on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBC (livestream]).

Game 3: Golden Knights 3, Canucks 0 (VGK leads series 2-1)

Despite a strong first period from the Canucks, the Golden Knights managed two early goals to enter the intermission up 2-0. From there, the Golden Knights carried most of the play. Special teams ended up going Vegas’ way, with Mark Stone scoring the game’s only power-play goal. This was closer than a 3-0 game at times, but Vegas leads nonetheless, and both teams turn around for Game 4 on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN [livestream]).

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

NHL Three Stars: Saturday’s 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs games

1. Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights

Again, the Canucks carried play early despite a 2-0 first period. Lehner loomed large — literally and figuratively – in shutting Vancouver out. For the second time in this series, Lehner pitched a shutout, this time being credited with 31 saves. Remarkably, Lehner has now shut out the Canucks four times: twice in the postseason, and twice during the regular season. It will be intriguing to see if the Golden Knights roll with Lehner in Game 4, or go with Marc-Andre Fleury consider the quick turnaround. But Lehner was exceptional in Game 3.

2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevskiy and the Lightning are on a three-game winning streak, pushing the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins to the brink of elimination. During the past two wins, Vasilevskiy’s only allowed one goal apiece. This was a strong performance, and Vasilevskiy managed 29 saves, only allowing a power-play goal. His save percentage is now at .927 during this postseason run. As instrumental as Ondrej Palat (two goals) was in the Lightning win, Vasilevskiy was key.

3. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

All three goalies were instrumental in their teams’ wins on Saturday. Maybe a bit of a break did them good during the NHL return to playoff action? Varlamov was tested the least of these three, as the Islanders absolutely dominated the Flyers following Tyler Pitlick‘s funky 1-0 goal. Over his last three wins, Varlamov’s only allowed a single goal. Of course, Philly chased Varlamov in Game 2, but clearly that was an anomaly for the stingy Islanders and their alert, reliable starter.

Highlights from Saturday’s 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs games

Here’s how the Lightning pushed the Bruins to the brink of elimination in their Game 4:

The Islanders made sure to keep the Flyers’ highlights sparse:

Watch the highlights of Vegas beating Vancouver:

SUNDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 4: Avalanche vs. Stars (DAL leads series 2-1) – 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Flyers vs. Islanders (NYI leads series 2-1) – 8 p.m. ET, NBC (livestream)
Game 4: Canucks vs. Golden Knights (VGK leads series 2-1) – 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)

PHT’s 2020 Second Round previews
Bruins vs. Lightning
Flyers vs. Islanders
Stars vs. Avalanche
Golden Knights vs. Canucks
PHT predictions

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