• The Washington Capitals stun the Florida Panthers to take a 2-1 series lead.
• The Pittsburgh Penguins let a three-goal lead slip away but still get the win over the New York Rangers to take a 2-1 series lead.
• The Colorado Avalanche take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Nashville Predators and have a chance for the sweep on Monday.
The Washington Capitals did not get the memo that they are supposed to have no chance against the high-scoring, Presidents’ Trophy winning Florida Panthers. Outside of one period in Game 2, the Capitals have looked like the better team this entire series and now have a 2-1 lead after a very convincing 6-1 win on Saturday. Alex Ovechkin scored a power play goal, Anthony Mantha had two assists, and Ilya Samsonov played his best game of the season in his first start of the series to help lead the Capitals to the win.
The big concern here for the Avalanche is the status of starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper after he had to leave Saturday’s game due to a stick to the eye. Assuming it is not a long-term injury the Avalanche should be okay because they now have a commanding 3-0 lead over an overmatched Predators team. The big turning point in this game was a failed coaches challenge by Nashville late in the second period. Shortly after the Predators tied the game, 3-3, Gabriel Landeskog quickly answered with a go-ahead goal to put the Avalanche back ahead. Nashville thought Arturi Lehkonen interfered with goalie Connor Ingram and challenged for goalie interference. The call was upheld, the Predators were penalized for delay of game, and Colorado quickly scored on the power play to take a two-goal lead. Devon Toews added a third period goal for Colorado.
The Pittsburgh Penguins scored four goals in the first period, chased New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin, allowed a three-goal lead to slip away, then still ended up getting the win thanks to three third period goals to take a 2-1 series lead. Evan Rodrigues and Jeff Carter both scored two goals while Louis Domingue stopped 32 out of 36 shots to get the win.
Game 3: Dallas Stars 4, Calgary Flames 2 (DAL leads series 2-1)
Joe Pavelski scored two more goals and the Dallas Stars were able to grind out another win to take a surprising 2-1 lead against the Calgary Flames. The past two times we saw the Stars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs they ended up making surprising runs deep into the postseason, and they are trying their best to play spoilers again. Their top line has been great and Jake Oettinger is giving them outstanding play in goal and all of it has them ahead of the Flames in a tight, defensive series where everybody seems to hate each other.
Three Stars in NHL for Saturday (Sixth day of playoffs)
1. Ilya Samsonov, Washington Capitals
Goaltending is the big question mark for the Capitals and they decided to change things for Game 3 by going to Ilya Samsonov instead of Vitek Vanecek. Things looked grim early when Jonathan Huberdeau beat Samsonov for an early goal, but that would be the only shot to beat Samsonov all day. He stopped 29 out of 30 shots and gave the Capitals a spark to take the series lead. The pressure now really shifts to the Panthers in this series.
2. Evan Rodrigues, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins have needed their secondary players to start providing some offense and they got that in a big way on Saturday. Rodrigues only played nine minutes in the game but he made the most of them, scoring two goals, adding an assist, and recording a game-high five shots on goal.
3. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
After scoring the game-winning goal in Game 2, Makar had three assists on Saturday to help the Avalanche to another dominant showing in their Game 3 win over the Predators. He now has two goals, five assists, seven total points, and 17 shots on goal in the first three games of the series while also completely controlling the pace of the game when he is on the ice. He is unmatched in the NHL right now.
SUNDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 4: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes, 12:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (CAR leads 2-1)
Game 4: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild, 4:30 p.m. ET — TBS (MIN leads 2-1)
Game 4: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m. ET — TBS (TOR leads 2-1)
Game 4: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m. ET — TBS (EDM leads 2-1)
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