NHL Playoff Buzzer: Canadiens crush Jets; Golden Knights blast Avs

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  • The Canadian government granted NHL travel exemption for Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Read more)
  • David Krejci received a $5K fine for slashing Mathew Barzal.
  • The Canadiens put the Jets on the verge of a sweep by running away with Game 3.
  • That wasn’t the only 5-1 game in the NHL on Sunday. The Golden Knights did it too, absolutely dismantling the Avalanche in Game 4.

Game 3: Canadiens 5, Jets 1 (MTL leads series 3-0) — series livestream

Thanks to a Corey Perry goal less than five minutes into Game 3, the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead over the Jets. While that didn’t serve as the game-winner, it rarely felt like Winnipeg had much of a chance. Really, Montreal dominated the second period even more. Can the Jets avoid a sweep vs. the Canadiens? At this point, it’s tempting to ask if Winnipeg will even make Montreal break much of a sweat.

Game 4: Golden Knights 5, Avalanche 1 (Series tied 2-2) — series livestream

Well, wow. The Avalanche actually took an early 1-0 lead in Game 4, and then the Golden Knights never looked back. Jonathan Marchessault ended up being the biggest star of that contest, and of Sunday in the NHL. But this was a total team effort. The Avalanche looked lost against an overwhelming Golden Knights attack, with Nathan MacKinnon & Co. getting little traction in Game 4. The Avs face some real adversity as the series shifts to Colorado for Game 5 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]

Three Stars for NHL playoff action on Sunday

1. Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights

No doubt, Marchessault gains the headlines for Sunday in the NHL. For the first time in his impressive career, Marchessault collected a playoff hat trick.

As is his style, Marchessault peppered the net to get that hat trick. He ended up firing seven shots on goal in Game 4. With this hat trick, Marchessault has four goals in his last two playoff games after being limited to a single tally through his first nine playoff games of this run.

Don’t forget William Karlsson in this equation, though.

“Wild Bill” generated three assists in Game 4, gaining a helper on all three of Marchessault’s hat trick of goals. At their best, the Golden Knights feel like they have “two first lines.” Marchessault and Karlsson created that feeling on Sunday in the NHL.

2. Joel Armia, Montreal Canadiens

Like the Golden Knights over the Avalanche in their Game 4, the Canadiens enjoyed a total team effort in smothering the Jets in Game 3.

Joel Armia played a big role in that win, though. Armia scored two goals (one a shorthanded tally, the other a nice empty-netter) while adding an assist in Game 3.

If Armia can carry over from Game 3, they’d be even more thrilled than they already are. Armia ended a four-game scoring drought with this three-point night. He was productive early vs. the Maple Leafs, generating four points (2G, 2A) through the first five games of that series. With how tight the Habs are playing defensively, Armia could be a very nice asset.

3. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Look, it must be said that the Canadiens are playing great defensive hockey.

Think back to how lost the Maple Leafs looked in trying to create offense, especially late in that stunning series. The Jets might be even more clueless about how to break through against the Habs, and it showed as the Canadiens put on a clinic in Game 3.

But, no doubt about it, Carey Price’s sharp play is crucial. It’s a symbiotic relationship, as perhaps Jets scorers feel like they need to hold onto that puck for an extra moment (or make one pass too many?) to beat Price.

Price and the Canadiens have now won six playoff games in a row. He’s only allowed one goal in his last two contests, making 26 of 27 saves in Game 3. With a sparkling .938 save percentage during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, “Playoff Carey Price” sure feels like a genuine thing.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Marchessault hat trick

Check out Marchessault’s hat trick in the clip below:

Stat of the night: Canadiens defensive dominance continues in Game 3

Could things be a little different if the Canadiens fail to get a 1-0 lead?

MONDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 5: Bruins at Islanders, 6:30 p.m. ET (Series tied 2-2) – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4:
Jets at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (MTL leads 3-0) – NHL Network (livestream)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.