- The Islanders and Penguins gave NHL playoff fans another double OT finish, with the Isles coming out on top.
- Speaking of double OT, why not do one better? The Oilers suffered a sweep after the Jets eliminated them in triple OT.
- In another tight game, the Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens to take a 2-1 series lead.
- The Panthers avoided elimination against the Lightning, and Spencer Knight looked brilliant.
- While the Wild only managed 14 shots on goal, they stayed alive vs. the Golden Knights by winning Game 5.
- After Monday’s frenzy of five playoff games, soak in two on Tuesday. Maybe throw in some tacos to hammer home the alliteration.
- Some perspective on the Jets sweeping an opponent who deployed the reigning Art Ross winner.
- Darnell Nurse logged 62:07 TOI in that triple OT win, including more than eight minutes on the PK. Being that Nurse logged 31:18 in Game 3, he logged almost 100 minutes of ice time in a back-to-back set. Seems difficult!
Game 5: Islanders 3, Penguins 2 [double OT] (NYI leads series 3-2)
Barry Trotz probably doesn’t need to agonize about his playoff goalie decisions for a while. Ilya Sorokin was absolutely tremendous in Islanders – Penguins Game 5, particularly during a one-sided second period. Between Sorokin’s splendid play and Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry‘s occasional brain cramps, the Islanders were able to take a 3-2 series lead by winning Game 5 in double OT.
Game 3: Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1 (TOR leads series 2-1)
Apparently the Maple Leafs can win these tight “playoff-type” games, as they showed vs. the Canadiens in Game 3. Neither team could score during the first period. William Nylander scored his third goal of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, then Nick Suzuki tied it up. Morgan Rielly found the net for the 2-1 goal, capping the scoring in both that second period and the game. Toronto leaned on Jack Campbell to make 15 saves during the third period, and he delivered.
Game 5: Panthers 4, Lightning 1 (TBL leads series 3-2)
In his first playoff game, Spencer Knight allowed a goal on the first shot he faced.
For a lesser goalie, that might have been the first line of a horror story — even though that goal wasn’t Knight’s fault. For Knight, it was merely the beginning of an inspiring performance. When the Lightning went up 1-0 so early, they pressed against the Panthers early on, but Knight was outstanding. Eventually, the potent Panthers took over Game 5 to avoid elimination, making this series a lot more interesting against the Lightning.
Game 5: Wild 4, Golden Knights 2 (VGK leads series 3-2)
Early on, the Wild played with the sort of urgency you’d expect facing elimination vs. the Golden Knights. While Mark Stone scored the first goal, the Wild then went on fire, ending the first period up 3-1. It’s unclear if it was a matter of sitting on a lead or the Golden Knights just turning up the heat, but the Wild didn’t do much during the second period. Well, everyone not named Cam Talbot sat back. The Golden Knights generated an absurd 22-1 shots on goal advantage during the second period, but only reduced the Wild’s Game 5 lead to 3-2. That lead ended up standing, as Minnesota tacked on an empty-netter to win 4-2. It wasn’t pretty. but the Wild avoided elimination.
Game 4 Jets 4, Oilers 3 [triple OT] (WIN wins series 4-0)
How can you not feel a little bad for the Oilers after this heartbreaking sweep at the hands of the Jets? The two teams played three OT games in four days. Game 4 was essentially two games in one, as the Jets eliminated the Oilers in triple OT. At least the last goal of the series was beautiful by hey-it’s-in-triple-OT standards; Kyle Connor got loose and burned Edmonton for the clincher. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers probably deserved better than a sweep, but hockey can be cruel, especially in the playoffs; the Jets made sure of that.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 First Round schedule, TV info]
Three Stars for NHL playoff action on Monday
1. Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin’s night played into the themes of Monday’s NHL playoff action.
For one thing, Sorokin stood tall in double OT. Beyond that, he also helped his team win despite getting dominated for a large chunk of that contest. In Sorokin’s case, he only allowed a single goal when the Penguins generated a 20-4 shots on goal advantage during the second period.
Overall, Sorokin made 48 out of 50 saves for a big Islanders win. Tristan Jarry made some mistakes, but Sorokin kept the door open for the that by being so razor-sharp in that double OT win for the Islanders.
2. Spencer Knight, Florida Panthers
Seriously, what a way for Knight to make his playoff debut.
Again, allowing a goal on the first shot he ever faced already added some drama — particularly since you couldn’t really blame Knight for it. From there, he made 36 consecutive saves, helping the Panthers stave off elimination in the process.
As Brian Boucher noted during the telecast, Knight showed plenty of confidence. Some big saves came with Knight being shockingly aggressive. Cameras even caught the 20-year-old laughing during that do-or-die situation.
Following suit with other top goalies from Monday in the NHL, Knight didn’t cave in to big pressure. The Lightning generated 22 SOG in the first period, but Knight only let one goal in.
Now the Panthers are only down 3-2 in the series … and maybe they found their answer in net?
3. Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild
The Wild avoided elimination because of a hot stretch in the first period, and Cam Talbot during the second. Among many one-sided periods in Monday’s NHL action, the Golden Knights generated the most lopsided one in the second vs. the Wild. Vegas generated a silly 22-1 SOG advantage, but only Alec Martinez could break through on the power play. Talbot ended up with 38 saves and Minny lives to see another day.
3b. The Oilers and Jets, really.
It’s hard to place Connor Hellebuyck or Mike Smith ahead of the goalies above. While Connor McDavid, Mark Scheifele, and Leon Draisaitl contributed a lot in that triple OT loss, they aren’t quite in that top three range. But you have to tip your cap to both teams for playing so hard into triple OT, especially since that closed a rare back-to-back set of playoff games.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Stats of the Night: Triple OT tidbits
Kyle Connor scored 6:52 into triple OT as the @NHLJets earned a third straight OT win to complete the first sweep in franchise history. They are the fifth club to sweep the team with the Art Ross Trophy winner (since 1947-48). #StanleyCup #NHLStats: https://t.co/cK4xyTX6AC pic.twitter.com/auLdgcxwYG
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 25, 2021
TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 3: Maple Leafs at Canadiens (TOR leads series 2-1), 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) (livestream)
Game 5: Predators at Hurricanes (Series tied 2-2), 8 p.m. ET (CNBC) (livestream)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.