- The New York Islanders continued to feast on Tristan Jarry to advance to the Second Round.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning star players were great in Game 6 to beat their interstate rivals.
- We will have at least one Game 7 in the First Round thanks to the Minnesota Wild.
New York Islanders 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (Islanders win series 4-2)
Goaltending is the great equalizer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The New York Islanders have it. The Pittsburgh Penguins do not. That is why the Islanders are moving on to the Second Round where they will face the Boston Bruins and why the Penguins are going home without winning a round for the third consecutive season. Brock Nelson scored two goals and helped the Islanders erupt for three goals in three minutes to take control of Game 6 and clinch the series.
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Florida Panthers 0 (Lightning win series 4-2)
The Florida Panthers did everything they could in this series, and it was a great effort, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are just too much. Thanks to a 29-save shutout from Andrei Vasilevskiy, two points each from Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, and another goal from Brayden Point the Lightning are advancing to the Second Round where they will await the winner of the Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators series.
Minnesota Wild 3, Vegas Golden Knights 0 (Series tied 3-3)
Thanks to Cam Talbot‘s second shutout of the series, a two-point night from Kevin Fiala, and a goalie interference call the Minnesota Wild were able to force a Game 7 in Vegas on Friday night. The Wild have won back-to-back games while facing elimination and refuse to go away. It was a clinical defensive performance on Wednesday and it has them in a winner-take-all game with a trip to the Second Round on the line.
1. Brock Nelson, New York Islanders. Nelson scored two goals for the Islanders as part of a second period offensive outburst that helped lead them to a 5-3 win over the Penguins, punching their ticket to the Second Round. He finished the First Round series with three goals and two assists in the six games.
2. Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild. Entering play on Wednesday Fiala had zero points in the first five games of their series with Vegas. That changed in a big way on Wednesday as he set up Ryan Hartman‘s game-winning goal in the third period with a great pass, and then scored a huge insurance marker on the power play.
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning. He is the best goalie in the league and he played like it on Wednesday, shutting out the Florida Panthers in an elimination game. The Panthers had Vasilevskiy’s number a little bit during the regular season, but he came through in the playoffs to help be a difference-maker. While he was his usual solid self the Panthers went through a revolving door of three goalies in six games.
Highlights of the Night
The New York Islanders scored three goals in three minutes to take control.
The Lightning advance thanks to a vintage Steven Stamkos one-timer, two assists from Nikita Kucherov, and a highlight reel goal from Brayden Point. Watch them all here.
The Minnesota Wild score three third period goals to force a Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Thursday’s NHL Playoff schedule
Game 5: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs (TOR leads 3-1), 7 p.m. ET — NBCSN (livestream)
Game 6: Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators (CAR leads 3-1), 9:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN (livestream)
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.