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The Buzzer: Lightning, Golden Knights put opponents on the brink

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Friday’s results

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Boston Bruins 3 OT (Tampa leads series 3-1): Nikita Kucherov scored his first goal of the series, Steven Stamkos scored his first even-strength goal in 21 games and Dan Girardi provided the heroics in overtime as the Lightning pushed the Bruins to the brink of playoff elimination with their win. Boston’s top line contributed all three goals, but it wasn’t enough on the night. Oh, and Brad Marchand licked a fellow player again.

Vegas Golden Knights 4, San Jose Sharks 3 (Vegas leads series 3-2): It all looked good around the midway point of the third period. Vegas owned a 4-0 lead and were heading to an easy win when the Sharks attacked. San Jose brought the game to 4-3 in just over six minutes to make the game oh-so-interesting, at least until an empty net goal by Jonathan Marchessault ended the comeback attempt. Alex Tuch provided two goals, including the game-winner.

Three stars

Alex Tuch, Golden Knights: Tuch had two goals on four shots for the Golden Knights, including an important — and very pretty — a third-period goal that ended up being the game-winner.

Steven Stamkos, Lightning: Stamkos’ third-period goal was not only a very important goal (it tied the game and forced overtime, where the Lightning won), it was his first even-strength marker in 21 games. Stamkos has been quiet in the playoffs while the team’s second line has provided a lot of firepower, so perhaps the goal will spark more out of the sniper going forward.

Patrice Bergeron, Bruins: Sure, the Bruins lost, but it wasn’t for lack of trying from Bergeron. The Selke finalist tied the game in the second period and then scored the go-ahead goal shorthanded in the third period. Bergeron had seven shots on goal and won 73 percent of the faceoffs he took.

Highlights

Stamkos beauty:

Tuch’s with a deft redirection:

Glove save of the night:

Fleury sillyness:

Factoids

Saturday’s action

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET (NBC) — series tied 2-2

Winnipeg Jets vs. Nashville Predators, 9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) — series tied 2-2


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Golden Knights survive late Sharks attack to take 3-2 series lead

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Vegas Golden Knights fans, are your heart rates returning to normal yet?

The Golden Knights hopped back on their magical playoff ride on Friday night in Sin City, but they sure didn’t make it easy on themselves after amassing a 4-0 lead through the first 50 minutes of the game.

Few figured the Golden Knights were going to roll over and die off after getting shutout in Game 3, and while they showed no signs of any lingering effects in Game 5 early following their worst loss of the playoffs two days earlier, things certainly got shaky in the third period.

Vegas was on cruise-control until the final 10 minutes, when the San Jose Sharks began their all-out assault on Marc-Andre Fluery’s net.

In a span of 6:09, the game went from a comfortable 4-0 rout to an uncertain 4-3 scoreline thanks near-epic comeback effort from the Sharks.

Earlier in the game, Alex Tuch scored two goals, including a third-period marker — a slick redirect that spelled the end of Martin Jones‘ night. Tuch’s goal proved to be an ever-important, being the fourth strike in what ended up being a 5-3 win and a 3-2 series lead for Vegas.

Jones allowed four goals on 31 shots while Fleury, who appeared to be on his way to his fourth playoff shutout this season alone, ended up stopping 27-of-30.

Kevin Lablanc, Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Boedker provided the quick strikes for San Jose, but with the Sharks’ net empty, Jonathan Marchessault slid a shot from his own blue line into the open cage to seal San Jose’s fate.

The Sharks are now in must-win mode as the series shifts back to the Shark Tank on Sunday night.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Martin Jones stands tall as Sharks even series

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So this is what happens when Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t stand on his head and Wild Bill and Co. can’t manage to score.

The San Jose Sharks evened their second-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights with a 4-0 shutout win on Wednesday in California.

Vegas’ top line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith combined for 19 points in the first three games, but were blanked by Martin Jones, who made 34 saves for his sixth career playoff shutout.

Marcus Sorensen‘s first-period goal stood as the game-winner, and it didn’t disappoint. Sorenson showed a great deal of patience and survived being tripped up to fire it by Fleury.

Vegas preached the need to stay out of the penalty box before the game, but the Sharks were able to convert on one of their four power-play attempts. Vegas, meanwhile, couldn’t get anything going offensively and was 0-for-5 on the power play on the night.

Joonas Donskoi didn’t play in Game 3 with a lower-body injury but returned and immediately had an impact, scoring with six seconds left in the first.

It’s now a best-of-3 to decide who will head to the Western Conference Finals. The series shifts back to Vegas on Friday night.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Point is on point, Karlsson, Fleury combine for overtime magic

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Monday’s results

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Boston Bruins 2 (series tied 1-1): Tampa’s prospects of moving on in the series if they trailed it 2-0 heading to Boston would have been very poor. Instead, the Lightning rallied after a rough outing in a 6-2 loss on Saturday. Brayden Point, whose name you will read a few times here, was stellar putting up four points after throwing up a dud with a minus-5 on Saturday. Point’s line with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat combined for seven points in the game as Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak struggled to find the same form they displayed in a combined 11-point Game 1.

Vegas Golden Knights 4, San Jose Sharks 3 OT (Vegas leads series 2-1): A third-third period comeback from the San Jose Sharks seemed to have them in the driver’s seat heading into overtime as they sought a second-straight victory in the free hockey periods. But it was a combination of Marc-Andre Fleury‘s brilliance in goal and William Karlsson‘s theatrics on offense that thwarted San Jose’s momentum and gave the Golden Knights a 2-1 series lead.

Three stars

Brayden Point, Lightning: A bit of a no-brainer here. Point was on fire on Monday, redeeming a particularly unsightly effort on Saturday with a four-point game. Point assisted on each of Tampa’s first three goals in the game and then plunged the final dagger in the Bruins with an empty-net goal late to cap off an impressive outing.

Marc Andre-Fleury, Golden Knights: Shelled once again on Monday night, Fleury was simply sensational, including a ridiculous save in overtime to keep the Golden Knights in the game. Fleury has yet to see fewer than 30 shots in a playoff game this year yet he holds a 6-1 record with a .960 save percentage.

William Karlsson, Golden Knights: What can you say about Wild Bill that hasn’t been said this season? No one expected him to do what he’s doing yet there he is, producing highlight after highlight, as was the case on Monday’s overtime winner. Karlsson’s goal to end overtime was unstoppable, a perfectly placed shot as he rushed down his off-wing and nestled the puck on the opposite side of Martin Jones, who had no chance.

Highlights of the Night

This filth from Wild Bill:

This insanity from Fleury:

EK9 with a beauty short side:

Andrei Vasilevskiy magic:

Factoids of the Night

Tuesday’s schedule

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:30 p.m. ET, (NBCSN) — series tied 1-1

Nashville Predators vs. Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m. ET (CNBC) — series tied 1-1


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Vegas casino creates chocolate sculpture of Marc-Andre Fleury (Photo)

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The Vegas Golden Knights will be hosting their first ever Stanley Cup playoff game on Wednesday night, so you can imagine what the excitement level is like around the city after an historic inaugural NHL season.

Part of the fun around Vegas this week includes the introduction of a five-foot tall, 90-pound chocolate sculpture of Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury inside the Bellagio Patisserie.

MGM

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, it took assistant executive pastry chefs Yamilet Hillers and Jerome Jacob five weeks to create the Fleury sculpture using 90 pounds of chocolate over a base of Rice Krispie Treats, Styrofoam and wires. Fondant was used on the jersey and number part of the creation.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

You know you’ve done something in your life when someone creates a chocolate sculpture of you.

Jaromir Jagr got the sculpture treatment in 2014 when a tribute was created of him entirely out of marzipan. There was also the Chicago pastry school that took 150 hours and made a 100-pound chocolate Stanley Cup. And this chocolate Eddie Olczyk. But the real G.O.A.T. when it comes to the worlds of hockey and food colliding is a tie between the bacon Cup and the one made from poutine. Gorgeous and (probably) delicious!

If the Golden Knights achieve the unthinkable and go #CupIn1, then the Bellagio chefs will surely have to tweak the Fleury sculpture to include a fourth Cup for the netminder. You know, for the sake of accuracy.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.