• During a night where leads weren’t safe, neither was Sidney Crosby. The Penguins have to hope Crosby’s injury is minor, as the Rangers rallied to stay alive in Game 5.
• The Panthers’ comeback was even more dramatic against the Capitals, although maybe you’d argue that every goal is like precious gold in the sludgy series between the Stars and the Flames. Either way, the three playoff games ended with the Flames, Panthers, and Penguins being up 3-2 in their First Round series.
• Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse received a one-game suspension for head-butting Kings forward Phillip Danault. The Oilers will face elimination without a key defenseman.
• Trevor Zegras, Michael Bunting, and Moritz Seider were announced as the 2022 Calder Trophy finalists.
Game 5: New York Rangers 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (PIT leads 3-2)
Well, this one went places.
Early in Game 5, the Penguins went up 2-0, and the Rangers looked done. Then a Jacob Trouba hit sidelined Sidney Crosby, the Rangers scored three of four goals in a dizzying stretch, and they rallied against the Penguins to keep this series going.
Really, there’s a lot to digest. Read up on Game 5 of Penguins – Rangers here.
Game 5: Florida Panthers 5, Washington Capitals 3 (FLA leads 3-2)
With a punchless power play and facing a red-hot Ilya Samsonov, the Panthers looked listless against the Capitals. Once it was 3-0, it was fair to wonder if Washington simply turned the Presidents’ Trophy-winners toothless.
Then we witnessed maybe the clearest glimpse of the Florida Panthers team that dominated the playoffs with blazing speed, overwhelming pressure, and remarkable comebacks.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]
Yes, the Panthers tied the Gretzky-era Oilers for the single-season record with 29 comeback wins, but it was still bewildering to see the Panthers impose their will (and style) on the Capitals. That’s what they did, though, as Carter Verhaeghe, Claude Giroux, Aleksander Barkov, and others conjured the return of those “Comeback Cats.”
Sergei Bobrovsky also deserves credit for frequently making saves to keep the Panthers in games during what’s been a challenging series against the Capitals.
Game 5: Calgary Flames 3, Dallas Stars 1 (CGY leads 3-2)
In a vacuum, rallying from a 1-0 deficit is the least impressive comeback of Wednesday’s playoff games. Maybe that’s true.
Yet, considering how tough it’s been to score against Jake Oettinger and the Stars, you cannot totally blame the Flames for being pumped about breaking through. Midway through the second period, Jason Robertson gave the Stars that 1-0 lead. It wasn’t until the third that Calgary started heating up.
Andrew Mangiapane assisted on Mikael Backlund‘s tying goal, then scored the eventual game-winner. The empty-netter provided that key insurance in yet another tight Stars – Flames contest.
(Hot take: the Stars might want to try to score more than a goal, just saying.)
Three Stars in NHL Playoffs on Wednesday
1. Carter Verhaeghe, Panthers
How could it be anyone other than Carter Verhaeghe?
In a desperate situation for the Panthers, Verhaeghe catalyzed the “Comeback Cats” with an outstanding two goals and three assists. Impressively, Verhaeghe didn’t just score those goals and generate those assists. Often, Verhaeghe powered sequences by gaining loose pucks, knifing through defenders, and finishing with great touch.
CARTER VERHAEGHE! That’s it. That’s the tweet. #TimeToHunt
— Fox Sports 640 South Florida (@FoxSports640) May 12, 2022
Verhaeghe already had a solid five points through the first four playoff games, so it’s not just one hot night. Pretty incredible stuff from a player whose NHL career took quite a while to blossom.
Five years ago, Carter Verhaeghe – fresh off an ECHL stint – was healthy scratch for @SyracuseCrunch. He walked into Ben Groulx‘s office and told him, “At least give me a shot. I’ll show you what I can do.” Now scoring big-time goal in NHL playoffs https://t.co/3pIIdOIEtb
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) May 12, 2022
2. Andrew Mangiapane, Flames
Through four games, Andrew Mangiapane failed to generate a single point. That’s frustrating, for sure, but it’s been difficult for anyone to score in this slog of a series.
Mangiapane just kept plugging away, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a nice assist and a game-winning goal. Mikael Backlund contributed to that win, too, also scoring a goal and an assist as he found rhythm with Mangiapane.
3. Alexis Lafrenière, Rangers
The Rangers’ Game 5 rally was done by committee. That said, we saw some flourishes of that No. 1 overall pick talent with Alexis Lafrenière, who scored a key 2-2 goal, and assisted on Filip Chytil‘s power-play game-winner.
Kudos to Lafrenière for engaging in the physical game, too, delivering three hits and blocking one shot in a physical contest. If nothing else, if he’s not scoring, Lafrenière might stay in Gerard Gallant’s good graces by playing rough.
THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 6: Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET — TNT (CAR leads 3-2)
Game 6: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET — TBS (TOR leads 3-2)
Game 6: Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET — TNT (STL leads 3-2)
Game 6: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m. ET — TBS (LAK leads 3-2)
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
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.