NHL Playoff Buzzer: Aho, Suzuki score overtime winners on Thursday

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  • Two of the Montreal Canadiens best young players contribute to the overtime winner to keep their series going.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes are advancing to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 
  • There is one Game 7 on Friday when the Minnesota Wild visit the Vegas Golden Knights.

Montreal Canadiens 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (OT) (TOR leads 3-2)

The Montreal Canadiens are not finished just yet. After jumping out to an early 3-0 lead (then letting it slip away) the Canadiens were able to get a 4-3 win in overtime thanks to Nick Suzuki‘s game-winning goal, capitalizing on an Alex Galchenyuk turnover. The Canadiens had scored just four goals in the first four games of the series heading into Thursday’s game and matched that total in their Game 5 win. Joel Armia scored two goals, while Jesperi Kotkaniemi also added a goal. The series shifts to Montreal for Game 6 on Saturday where they will play in front of 2,500 fans.

Carolina Hurricanes 4, Nashville Predators 3 (OT) (CAR wins 4-2)

The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 3-1 second period deficit on Thursday night to eliminate the Nashville Predators in six games. Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton both made signifiant impacts from the blue line to help drive the comeback, while Sebastian Aho scored two goals, including the series-clinching overtime winner. The Hurricanes will now prepare to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Second Round of the Central Division playoffs.

Three Stars

1. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes. It is always a significant moment when you get a chance to score a series-clinching goal in overtime. Aho did exactly that for the Hurricanes on Thursday night when he managed to get his stick on Jaccob Slavin’s shot to beat Juuse Saros for the game winning goal. Aho also helped start Carolina’s comeback late in the second period when he scored a power play goal to bring the Hurricanes within a single goal.

2. Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens. With their season on the line it was two of Montreal’s best young players, Suzuki and Cole Caufield, converting on a two-on-none rush to beat Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell for the game-winner. Suzuki is one of the most important players on the Canadiens roster and was arguably their best player in the bubble a year ago. He followed that with a strong 2020-21 regular season and now has two goals in five games this postseason, including what is so far their biggest goal of the playoffs.

3. Joel Armia, Montreal Canadiens. Armia scored only seven goals in 41 games for the Canadiens this season. He scored two in the first period on Thursday night. Those two goals helped the Canadiens race out to a 3-0 lead to help push their series to a Game 6 on Saturday night. If you are going to have any chance of winning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs you are always going to need some unexpected heroes emerge for a big game every now and then, and Armia was the player to provide that on Thursday.

Highlights Of The Night

Suzuki and Caufield take advantage of an opportunity in overtime.

Dougie Hamilton’s game-tying goal is a thing of beauty.

Sebastian Aho with a series clinching goal for the Hurricanes.

Friday’s NHL Playoff Schedule

Game 7: Minnesota Wild at Vegas Golden Knights (Series tied 3-3) — 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)

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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