NHL Rink Wrap: Tying playoff series up in 2-2 knots

NHL Rink Wrap: Tying playoff series up in 2-2 knots
Andrew Bershaw /Icon_Sportswire

• The Bruins tied their series against the Hurricanes despite Charlie McAvoy missing Game 4.

• After turning to Jordan Binnington in Game 4, the Blues tied their series against the Wild at 2-2.

• Right off the bat, the Lightning took it to the Maple Leafs in Game 4, tying their series at 2-2 with gusto.

• Wrapping up a Sunday of tied NHL series in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Kings smothered the Oilers in Game 4.

Game 4: Boston Bruins 5, Carolina Hurricanes 2 (Series tied 2-2)

The Bruins began a trend across the NHL playoffs on Sunday, tying their series 2-2 with the Hurricanes. Unlike some of the other teams, the Bruins didn’t ride a red-hot start, though. Instead, the Bruins fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to win.

It’s dangerous to say “No Charlie McAvoy, no problem.” Instead, it may be wiser to say that Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and other top Bruins stars often find ways to solve Boston’s problems.

Game 4: St. Louis Blues 5, Minnesota Wild 2 (Series tied 2-2)

Now, we move to teams tying series 2-2 in part because of strong Game 4 starts.

Granted, in Game 4 of Wild – Blues, the first period ended 1-1. Still, the Blues opened the scoring, and dominated shots on goal (18-5) early on. While the Wild flipped the SOG battle in the second period (13-7), the Blues scored the frame’s two goals, including a tremendous Jordan Kyrou tally.

Late Blues goals inflated the lead, but the bottom line is that Kyrou, Ryan O'Reilly, and David Perron put together a strong effort to tie their series 2-2 with the Wild.

Game 4: Tampa Bay Lightning 7, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (Series tied 2-2)

It’s never great when a 7-3 score can be misleadingly positive, but that might be the case for the Maple Leafs. Or, at least, it inflates Toronto’s offensive efforts. Steven Stamkos had home fans buzzing by scoring just one minute in. Within the first eight minutes of Game 4, the Lightning were up 3-0 over the Maple Leafs, and the second and third goals came from depth players. Less than six minutes into the second period, it was already 5-0 Lightning.

The Maple Leafs only really got anything done against the Lightning once it was garbage time. Some really had huge reactions to this Leafs loss; some spun it positively as Toronto managing a 2-2 series split, with two of the three remaining games at home. The truth is somewhere in between. There’s a “burn the tape” element to this loss for the Maple Leafs, yet the bottom line is that they need to play much, much, MUCH better against the Lightning.

Game 4: Los Angeles Kings 4, Edmonton Oilers 0 (Series tied 2-2)

Connor McDavid and the Oilers won’t get that shot at a rest advantage. Instead, Phillip Danault beautifully set up Trevor Moore for the opening goal, and then Troy Stecher made it 2-0 with a bit less than six minutes left in the first period.

On one hand, an early 2-0 lead gave the Kings a golden opportunity to lock down the Oilers in Game 4. On the other hand, containing the Oilers isn’t really easy for anyone, especially a Kings team that’s as much about structure than outright star power. To their considerable credit, Los Angeles masterfully slowed McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, making sure that early lead stood.

Any chance the Oilers had really dissolved after a 3-0 goal withstood a goal review process, although the way the Kings were playing in Game 4, maybe that really just removed any drama?

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

Three Stars in NHL on Sunday (Seventh day of playoffs)

1. Brad Marchand, Bruins

While Brad Marchand barking at Tony DeAngelo captivated Twitter, the Bruins star walked the walk.

After being limited to zero goals and an assist in two Hurricanes wins, Marchand’s been delivering for the Bruins in Game 3 and 4 in Boston. As strong as Marchand was in Game 3 (1G, 2A), the pesky winger brought it up a notch during Sunday’s NHL playoff action. Marchand scored five points on two goals and three assists. That puts Marchand at nine points in four games so far in the Bruins – Hurricanes series.

Other Bruins got in on the fun, too. Patrice Bergeron generated three points (1G, 2A), while both David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk managed one-goal, one-assist outputs. Marchand was on another level, though.

2. Jonathan Quick, Kings

After two lopsided losses, it would’ve been reasonable if the Kings started Cal Petersen against the Oilers in Game 4. Instead, the Kings rolled with veteran goalie Jonathan Quick instead, and it paid off.

To an extent, the Kings played well against the Oilers in Game 4, setting Quick up to succeed. There were other times when Jonathan Quick nullified the Oilers (cough) bare-handed.

Jonathan Quick ended up pitching a 29-save shutout, his 10th career playoff goose egg.

3. Top Blues like Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Jordan Kyrou … Jordan Binnington?

How much does Binnington being named the No. 1 star of Blues – Wild Game 4 come down to the occasional homer three stars picker? How dare you for asking a question like that?

Binnington got the job done with 28 saves in a game where the Wild created more high-danger chances than the Blues. David Perron had the most points (2G, 1A), though one goal was an empty-netter. You may instead prefer Ryan O’Reilly, who impressed on his way to a goal and two assists. Then again, style points may drive Jordan Kyrou and his two goals to the top, considering this:

So let’s give those top Blues a collective star for that Game 4 win over the Wild.


Game 4: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET — TBS (WSH leads 2-1)
Game 4: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET — ESPN (PIT leads 2-1)
Game 4: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators, 9:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (COL leads 3-0)
Game 4: Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars, 9:30 p.m. ET — TBS (DAL leads 2-1)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews

Maple Leafs vs. Lightning
Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Blues vs. Wild
• Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
• NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

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    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

    Chase Agnello-Dean/Getty Images

    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

    mark stone surgery
    Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.

    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”