We have had our first elimination, and I don’t want to talk about it.
Capitals 5 – 4 Leafs (Series tied 2 – 2)
Finally, this series has seen its first regulation win, and it came despite the Caps looking desperate to throw it away.
The Caps were two goals up within five minutes through goals from TJ Oshie and a power play marker from Alex Ovechkin. Zach Hyman responded shortly after for the Leafs, but the Caps would lead 4-1 by the end of the first through an inspirational three minutes from Tom Wilson.
First, he reacted the quickest to stop the Leafs equalising when the puck squeezed through Braden Holtby’s 5-hole, then went up the other end and redirected a Lars Eller shot to make it 3-1. Shortly afterwards he made it four, and the Caps looked like finally getting their first regulation win.
The Leafs started the second strongly though. A goal from James Van Riemsdyk reduced the gap, and while they didn’t score again, they were the better team.
The 13th minute of the third settled the game, however. Auston Matthews scored his second of the post-season to bring the Leafs to within one, but 59 seconds later Oshie scored his second of the night to seal the win. Tyler Bozak scored in the last minute, but there wasn’t enough time to push for the equaliser.
Senators 1 – 0 Bruins (OTT leads 3 – 1)
What an utterly dull game this was.
Bobby Ryan got the only goal, reading a delightful pass from Erik Karlsson to dangle around a Bruins defender and slide the puck behind Tuukka Rask.
The only other thing of note was Charlie McAvoy being denied his first NHL goal on an offside coach’s challenge. It was the right call, but it was cruel to those watching, as it was actually something of note happening.
Craig Anderson had a 22-save shutout, with Rask making 26 saves.
Wild 2 – 0 Blues (STL leads 3 – 1)
A 28-save shutout from Devan Dubnyk helped the Blues to claim their first win of the series, and potentially set up the reverse sweep.
Goals from Charlie Coyle at 16:50 and Martin Hanzal at 36:41 were enough, with the Blues offence – which has not exactly been explosive to date – failing to find a way past Dubnyk.
It’ll still be some effort for the Wild to take the series, but they have a chance now.
Ducks 3 – 1 Flames (ANA WINS 4 – 0)
The same can not be said of Calgary, who put in the worst performance of the series as they were swept by the Cartoon Heroes.
The Ducks took the lead through an early Patrick Eaves goal, finding the one spot Brian Elliott didn’t have covered. This was enough for Elliott to be pulled for Chad Johnson, and he looked absolutely devastated.
The pull didn’t work, with Nate Thompson burying a rebound to make it 2 – 0 after just 6:46. The Flames had nothing to them in the first, and the tie could have been called there and then.
They did push back later on, to give them credit. Sean Monahan scored his fourth power play goal at 36:07, but that was all the Flames could muster, as Ryan Getzlaf scored with seconds remaining on an empty net to seal the series and claim a few days off.
Due to the scheduling tomfoolery of the last game four being played tonight, I’m abandoning the leaders track until the end of the first round, when I’ll do a big look back on the entire bracket.
Four more games tonight: three game fives, and a game four.
Rangers @ Canadiens (Series tied 2 – 2)
TV: USA, CBC, TVAS, MSG, Premier
Four fairly uninspiring games leave this as a best of three. They’ve both won and lost at their home arenas, so home advantage doesn’t mean as much as it otherwise might.
Nothing new from the Rangers. Alexei Emelin is a game-time decision for the Habs.
What the Rangers need to do: A good 60 minutes
What the Habs need to do: Take advantage of home ice
Reason to watch: It’s a close series, someone might break out.
Jackets @ Penguins (PIT leads 3 – 1)
TV: NHLN, SN, TVAS2, Root, FS-O
So the Jackets managed to avoid the sweep on home ice, but they now head back to Pittsburgh, and they surely can’t drag this out to six, can they?
No changes are expected for either side. The Jackets finally won a game, and the Pens have been looking good prior to that.
What the Jackets need to do: Keep trying to shut Crosby down
What the Pens need to do: Not be shut down. They’ve won three, they know what to do.
Reason to watch: There’s likely an elimination tonight.
Blackhawks @ Predators (NSH leads 3 – 0)
TV: NBCSN, SN360, TVAS3, FS-TN, CSN-CH
The Chicago Blackhawks are one game away from being eliminated by the second wildcard team. That would certainly be something.
It just hasn’t happened for the Hawks this year in the playoffs – they finally broke out in game three and still lost. There’ll be some line changes for them, but probably not in terms of personnel. Nothing different out of Nashville’s camp.
What the Hawks need to do: Something. Wake up. Play hockey.
What the Preds need to do: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Reason to watch: The Hawks being swept in the first sure would be a thing.
Sharks @ Oilers (Series tied 2 – 2)
San Jose finally came to play in game four. Seven unanswered goals at home to what appeared to be a very lost Oilers outfit.
Nothing new for either team. Leon Draisaitl avoided a suspension for his tactical spear to the testicles of Chris Tierney, so both should be as you are.
What the Sharks need to do: Carry momentum
What the Oilers need to do: Make the most of last change and try to get themselves back into it.
Reason to watch: The Oilers could bounce back spectacularly, or they might lose in a blaze of glory. Could be fun.