The Buzzer

The Playoff Buzzer: Hats off (again) to Jaden Schwartz

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  • Jaden Schwartz records his second hat trick of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • Vladimir Tarasenko keeps producing.
  • Jordan Binnington records his first career postseason shutout to help bring the St. Louis Blues one step closer to the Stanley Cup Final.

St. Louis Blues 5, San Jose Sharks 0 (Blues lead series 3-2)

This game was every bit as lopsided as the 5-0 final score would have you believe. The St. Louis Blues were simply the better team in every single phase of the game and put together what might have been their best performance of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to this point. They now return home on Tuesday night with a chance to clinch their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1970 and have to be confident given how well they have played over the past two games. Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko both had multi-point games in the win (Schwartz recorded his second hat trick of the postseason), while Oskar Sundqvist started things off early in the first period to continue his strong playoff run. The Sharks were not only on the wrong end of the score, but they also now have some major injury questions heading into Game 6, especially regarding top defender Erik Karlsson who played just 10 minutes on Sunday as he continues to deal with his lingering injury. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington recorded his first shutout of the playoffs in net.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues. His incredible postseason continues. After a disappointing regular season performance that saw him score just 11 goals in 69 games, one of the worst offensive outputs of his career, Schwartz has been a constant force in these playoffs and recorded his second hat trick on Sunday. He is now up to 12 goals for the playoffs, exceeding his regular season total, and is now just one goal away from tying Brett Hull’s franchise record for a single postseason.

2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues. After a fairly quiet (by his standards, anyway) start to the playoffs the Blues needed their best player to shine in the Western Conference Final. He has. He extended his current point streak to five games on Sunday with a goal and two assists. He now has two goals and five assists in the series, and is up to seven goals and 12 total points in the playoffs. He has always been a big-time performer for the Blues in the playoffs, and he is shining just when they need him most.

3. Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues. He did not need to be great on Sunday, especially over the second and third periods when the Blues completely took over the game and dominated, but a shutout in a Western Conference Final game is still a big deal. It his first career shutout in the playoffs.

Highlights of the Day

Sundqvist got things started for the Blues when he capitalized on a bad turnover by Karlsson. It is his fourth goal of the playoffs.

This was just a terrible play by Sharks goalie Martin Jones and it resulted in an easy goal for Schwartz, his first of the game.

Tarasenko’s penalty shot goal in the second period was the first playoff penalty shot goal in Blues franchise history, and it came on a shot that looked to be pretty unstoppable.

Factoids

  • Schwartz became just the third player in Blues franchise history to score at least 10 goals in a single playoff run and the first since Brett Hull during the 1991 playoffs. [NHL PR]
  • The St. Louis Blues have won more games this postseason than in any other postseason in franchise history. [NHL PR]
  • Vladimir Tarasenko scored the first postseason penalty shot goal in St. Louis Blues history in the second period of Sunday’s game. It was only the second postseason penalty shot the team has ever had. [NHL PR]
  • The Blues have won seven of their first nine road games this postseason, something only 17 other teams have accomplished. [NHL PR]
  • Schwartz is the first player in Blues history to have two hat tricks in a single postseason and the first player for any team since Johan Franzen did it for the 2008 Detroit Red Wings. [NHL PR]

MORE: Stanley Cup Final 2019 schedule, TV info

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Playoff Buzzer: Big night for Blues’ Binnington, Barbashev and Bozak

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  • The St. Louis Blues matched a franchise record for playoff wins in a single postseason.
  • Jordan Binnington was outstanding in net.
  • Ivan Barbashev picks a great time for his first goal of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

St. Louis Blues 2, San Jose Sharks 1 (Series tied 2-2)

The St. Louis Blues’ power play has been a big trouble spot this postseason but is finally starting to show some signs of life. It scored the game-winning goal on Friday night in a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks to even the Western Conference Final at two games apiece. After that goal, which gave the Blues a 2-0 first period lead, everything fell on the play of their defense and starting goalie Jordan Binnington, and all of them were up to the challenge to help them bounce back from Wednesday’s controversial overtime defeat.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues. He has been a little up-and-down throughout these playoffs and that has been especially true in the Western Conference Final series against the Sharks. He has had two tough games, giving up five goals in each, and two outstanding games. Friday was one of the outstanding games as he stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced in the Blues’ huge Game 4 win. It was also a night of milestones for him (more on that in a bit in the factoids).

2. Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues. Barbashev picked a great time to score his first goal of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring just 35 seconds into the first period to help get things started. A fast start is always important, but it was especially true for the Blues in this game after the way Game 3 went for them. Falling down early after that loss would have been a potentially crushing swing, but they were able to get out in front early and never look back.

3. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks. This result wasn’t his fault. Not even close. Jones was actually one of the biggest reasons this game was still reasonably close early on as the Blues dominated the scoring chances early in the game and really carried the play at the start. Bozak’s game-winning goal was a fluky play that went in off of his teammates skate and he mostly played well enough to get the result. He was the tough-luck loser in Game 4. Sometimes it happens.

Highlights of the Night

This is the fast start the St. Louis Blues needed.

Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, and the Blues definitely got some here when Bozak was credited with the power play goal that turned out to be the difference in the game.

One of Binnington’s best saves of the night is this one as he casually snags Melker Karlsson‘s shot out of the air after Karlsson found himself wide open in front of the net.

Factoids

  • Friday’s win is St. Louis’ 10th of the postseason, tying a franchise record for most wins in a single postseason. [NHL PR]
  • Speaking of those 10 wins, Binnington has been in net for all 10 of them and is the first goalie in Blues franchise history to win 10 games in a single postseason. [NHL PR]
  • He is also the 10th rookie goalie to win 10 games in a single postseason. [NHL PR]

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Playoff Buzzer: Bergeron, Rask help Bruins advance to Stanley Cup Final

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  • Tuukka Rask stopped all the pucks and Boston’s top line contributed all the goals as the Boston Bruins became the first to book their ticket into the Stanley Cup Final. Boston won 4-0, knocking out the Carolina Hurricanes in four straight. 

Bruins 4, Hurricanes 0 (Bruins win series 4-0)

They had to go at it without their captain, but the Bruins rallied around the absence of Zdeno Chara and put in one of their most complete performances of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to advance to their 20th Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins will contest for their seventh mug after sweeping the Hurricanes following a 4-0 win in Thursday’s Game 4 in Raleigh.

Tuukka Rask, who’s got one hand on the Conn Smythe Trophy, stopped all 24 shots he faced. The Bruins ‘Big Three’ did the rest. Patrice Bergeron scored twice and added an assist, David Pastrnak tallied once and added two helpers and Brad Marchand split it down the middle with a goal and an assist. A combined eight points from those three in Game 4, and a total of 14 between them in the series.

The Bruins now have some time to recover and get set for a meeting with either the San Jose Sharks or the St. Louis Blues. The Sharks currently lead the Western Conference Final 2-1, with Game 4 set for Friday night in St. Louis.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three stars

1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

The superlatives for Rask are running thin and there’s still a round to go in these playoffs. Rask has been on a mission in these playoffs, an unbeatable presence who is already in an opponent’s head before the puck drops.

Rask stopped 24 shots for the shutout on Thursday and stopped 109 of 114 in the series, good for a .956 save percentage. He’s one seven straight and 10 of Boston’s past 12 in the postseason.

He’ll win the Conn Smythe by a country mile if the Bruins are successful in the final round.

2. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Bergeron scored twice and helped another get past Curtis McElhinney, giving the perennial Selke contender three goals and five points in the series.

Bergeron is one of the few players remaining on the Bruins that lifted Lord Stanley in 2011 and he appears dead-set on doing it once more.

He’s got eight goals and 13 points in 17 games and his line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak is too hot to handle at the moment.

3. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins

Pastrnak was the quieter of the Big Three heading into Game 4. He had just one assist through the first three games but exploded for a goal and two helpers.

He redirected a stiff pass from Marchand in the second period, a goal that would eventually be marked as the game-winner. Pastrnak finished the series with four points.

Highlight of the night

A lesson regarding turnovers:

You never touch the trophy:

Factoids

The ‘NFL players doing things at hockey rinks’ moment of the night

Friday’s schedule

Game 4: San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN; Live Stream). Sharks lead series 2-1


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

The Playoff Buzzer: Great Sharks-Blues Game 3 ends with missed OT call

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Blues defenseman Vince Dunn was injured midway through the first period when he was struck in the mouth by the puck and he couldn’t return.

San Jose had a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes and later led by 3-1, but the Blues rallied to a 4-3 lead that they took into the third period.

The Sharks battled back to tie it with just 1:01 remaining in regulation time then Erik Karlsson scored the game-winner due to a missed call.

San Jose Sharks 5, St. Louis Blues 4 (OT) (Sharks lead 2-1)

While the game was ultimately defined by a controversial goal, this was otherwise an excellent, back-and-forth contest. The Sharks took an early 2-0 lead thanks to Erik Karlsson’s first goal of the 2019 playoffs and Joe Thornton taking advantage of a rebound. That early deficit, coupled with Vince Dunn leaving the game after being struck by the puck made it entirely possible that this could have been a blowout win for the Sharks. Instead, the Blues battled back. They scored four goals in the second period, including back-to-back markers by David Perron in the span of just 2:39 minutes to give St. Louis a 4-3 lead. The Blues came so close to carrying that lead to the finish line and almost won the contest on an empty netter that instead hit the post. With just 1:01 remaining, Logan Couture capitalized on a rebound in front of the net to tie the game. Erik Karlsson went on to score the overtime winner at 5:23, but not before Timo Meier made a hand pass that was missed by the referees.

Three Stars

1. Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks. So Karlsson’s second goal was obviously marred in controversy, but that doesn’t change the fact that he had an amazing game. He still scored twice while logging an incredible 27:51 minutes. The Sharks acquired Karlsson before the start of the season in the hopes that he might be the missing piece needed to push them to a championship. He’s had to battle injury and probably is playing hurt now, but he’s still managed to be a major factor.

2. David Perron, St. Louis Blues. The second period started with a flurry of goals that left the Blues down 3-2. The game settled for a while after that until Perron got a wrister up and past Martin Jones at 16:03 of the second frame. With the contest tied, Perron blasted a shot just 2:39 minutes later to put the Blues up 4-3.

3. Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues. With Vince Dunn out from the middle of the first period onward, the rest of the Blues’ defensemen had to step up. Not only did Parayko log 29:49 minutes, but he also contributed three assists. That came after he was held off the scoresheet in the first two games of the Western Conference Final.

Highlights of the Night
Joe Thornton had a great game and both of his goals were in part thanks to him being in the right place at the right time. That’s not to suggest that they weren’t high-skill goals though. Thornton did an amazing job both creating opportunities and capitalizing on them, as you can see with his second goal of the game.

The missed call
Of course, this is the moment most will remember from the game. Erik Karlsson scored after Timo Meier made a hand pass. It was a missed call, but it couldn’t be reviewed, so that was the game. Needless to say that the Blues and their fans were understandably very upset.

That said, Blues coach Craig Berube declined to comment on the issue after the game.

Factoids

  • Logan Couture already has 14 goals in 17 games. His latest marker tied the Sharks’ franchise record for most goals in a single postseason. [NHL PR]
  • With Erik Karlsson’s two-goal effort, the Sharks now have three different defensemen who have had multi-goal games in the 2019 playoffs. The only other team to match that feat were the 1982-83 Boston Bruins. [StatsCentre]
  • Due to Dunn’s injury, St. Louis had three different defensemen record at least 27 minutes of ice time. They were: Jay Bouwmeester (27:51), Colton Parayko (29:49), and Alex Pietrangelo (31:57).
  • The Blues scored their most goals in a single playoff period (four) since the 2000 Conference Quarterfinals. [NHL PR]

Thursday’s Schedule

Game 3: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

The Playoff Buzzer: Rask keeps dominating, Hurricanes special teams keep struggling

8 Comments
  • Tuukka Rask is the difference in the Eastern Conference Final.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes’ special teams is also a factor … a negative one for them.
  • David Krejci reaches a personal postseason milestone for the Bruins.

Boston Bruins 2, Carolina Hurricanes 1 (BOS leads series 3-0)

There are two very big factors for the Boston Bruins’ commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final.

The obvious one is the play of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask because he has been, in a word, dominant, and he was at his best in the Bruins’ 2-1 Game 3 win on Tuesday night.

The other factor is the fact that Boston’s special teams has completely taken over the series. Carolina had struggled on both the power play and penalty kill in the first two rounds and entered the series near the bottom of the league in both categories in the playoffs. Things have not gotten much better against the Bruins.

After Tuesday’s 0-for-5 night on the power play (including a first period two-man advantage where they did not score), the Hurricanes are just 1-for-12 in the series and have already given up five power play goals to the Bruins on 12 attempts. That is not going to get the job done at this point in the playoffs. Or at any point, really.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins. Simply the best player on the ice. He stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced and is now up to a .939 save percentage in the playoffs. He kept the Bruins in the game early in the first period when they were getting outshot by a 20-6 margin, holding off the Hurricanes’ initial surge just long enough for the Bruins to finally strike first early in the second period. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game this is some of the best hockey he has ever seen Rask play. You will not see goaltending much better than this from anyone.

2. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins. He struck again for the Bruins to record his sixth goal and 16th point of the playoffs. His power play goal in the second period goes in the books as the game-winner, which is now his second of the playoffs. Dislike him all you want, he is one of the absolute best players in the NHL and a constant force on the ice.

3. Chris Wagner, Boston Bruins. The Bruins’ fourth line started the scoring early in the second period when Wagner scored his second goal of the series. The unit was strong all night long for the Bruins and continued what has been a solid showing all postseason. The only downside of the night for Wagner and the Bruins is that he exited the game in the third period after blocking a shot and the immediate response from Cassidy after the game did not sound optimistic.

Highlights of the Night

Wagner’s goal came off of a pretty passing play by the Bruins’ fourth line. When you are getting play like this from your bottom line you are going to be in a pretty good position.

Marchand got a little bit of a lucky break on his goal in the second period, but sometimes you need that in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to get the win.

Here is a brief collection of some of Rask’s best saves on the night.

Factoids

  • The Bruins’ Game 3 win was their sixth in a row, tied for the third-longest postseason winning streak in franchise history. [NHL PR]
  • David Krejci recorded his 100th career postseason point for the Bruins, tying him for third on the franchise’s all-time playoff scoring leaderboard. [NHL PR]
  • Rask became the first goalie since Tim Thomas in 2011 to stop at least 20 shots in a postseason period. [NHL PR]
  • This was the Bruins’ 60th win of the season, including regular season and playoffs, the eighth time in franchise history they have accomplished such a feat. [NHL PR]
  • The Bruins are one win away from what would be their 20th appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. [NHL PR]

Wednesday’s schedule

Game 3: San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Live Stream) (Series Tied 1-1)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.