NHL playoffs results daily: Cale Makar wins it in OT for Avs, Rangers, Panthers, Stars even it up

Game 2: Rangers 5, Penguins 2 | Series tied 1-1

Who was the guy? The same guy it always is. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Two nights after making 79 saves in a triple-overtime loss, Shesterkin was as spectacular as ever, making 39 saves in Game 2 as the Rangers evened the series. Bonus points for magically coming back to life 30 seconds after apparently being murdered by Jeff Carter late in the third period, even drawing two penalties in the process. Give him the Hart, the Conn Smythe, the Oscar, and – most prestigious of all – the Playoffs Daily Guy Of The Game.

What was the key? The Rangers have the best goalie in the world in net. The Penguins have the best goalie-who-also-is-an-avid-baker in the world in net.

Key stat: From midway through the first period of Game 1 through the 1:05 mark of the second period in Game 2 – with triple-overtime in between – the Penguins went 118 minutes and five seconds without having a penalty called against them. Pittsburgh fans will tell you it’s because they’re such an incredibly well-disciplined, skill-based team that would never dare look askance at another player, let alone resort to any malfeasance or skullduggery. Rangers fans will tell you it’s because the league is obviously trying to eliminate the (checks notes) largest market in North America in favor of a city of 302,205 residents. Fun fact: They’re both 100 percent correct. I read it on the Internet.

The moment it was over: The Rangers were on their heels and clinging to a 3-2 lead as the Penguins came out strong and fired the first nine shots of the third period. But then Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano scored 1:47 apart – Panarin banking a centering pass off Mike Matheson’s skate and Vatrano blowing past Matheson on his way to the net – and suddenly it was over. Panarin had an adventurous night – he scored a goal, handed out two assists, committed a neutral-zone turnover that led directly to Pittsburgh’s first goal, and got badly beaten by Sidney Crosby on Pittsburgh’s second goal.

The moment of the game: We talk a lot about Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon and the bevy of brilliant talent currently in their primes around the league for good reason. They’re spectacular. But Sidney Crosby still exists and, at 34 years old, he’s still one of the very best players in the game. So, let’s take a moment to appreciate the aging Kid, who put together a virtuoso effort to draw the Penguins back within 3-2 in the last minute of the second period. Crosby burst through the neutral zone, leaving a half-hearted Panarin one-handed lunge in the dust, then bulled his way through Justin Braun and Jacob Trouba, leaving the puck in a prime spot for Bryan Rust to get a shot on net. Crosby immediately jumped on the rebound and smacked it past Shesterkin for the goal, but he barely celebrated because he was dead-set on yelling at the officials for not calling holding on Braun. Vintage Crosby, all around.

Penguins worry meter: 😬 😬 😬 A split at the Garden is good. But they need Tristan Jarry’s foot to heal in a hurry.

Rangers worry meter: Never πŸ™ƒ You never want to yield home ice in a series, and giving up 88 shots in six regulation periods is a huge concern – unless you have Shesterkin, that is.

– Mark Lazerus

Game 2: Panthers 5, Capitals 1 | Series tied 1-1

Who was the guy? There were a few candidates – including Sergei Bobrovsky with 26 saves, and Anton Lundell, who was involved in a couple of big plays – but Aleksander Barkov was in on two huge first-period goals for the Panthers after the Capitals had largely controlled play for the first 15 minutes.

First, Barkov got to a puck on the half wall and sent it to the slot. It actually looked like he missed his intended target, but it slid through to Aaron Ekblad, who got a favorable bounce to take the lead. Then, less than 90 seconds later, Barkov again got to a puck while supporting the forecheck, and it set up an amazing Jonathan Huberdeau play that Barkov tapped in. Credit Huberdeau for the highlight; he made the play. But Barkov started and finished it.

What was the key? That very sequence. Coming off their Game 1 win, Washington once again frustrated the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the first period. But that late-period burst from the Panthers’ big guns put Florida in control.

Key stat: Vitek Vanecek allowed 3.48 goals above expected in his two periods of work, according to Evolving Hockey. The weird bounce on the Ekblad goal surely plays into that – and it’s certainly hard to blame Vanecek for it – but that’s a big number for 40 minutes of work.

The moment it was over: Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart’s tic-tac-toe play to make it 4-1 late in the second. Maybe that’s an early call, but the play featured an outstanding effort to keep the offensive zone possession alive by Carter Verhaeghe, who sprung Lundell and Reinhart on the 2-on-0. From there, it was awfully hard to see any path back for the Capitals. Sure enough, Verhaeghe made it 5-1 two minutes later.

The moment of the game: While the two late-first period goals technically gave the Panthers everything they’d ultimately need, the Capitals did threaten to claw their way back into the game with a power-play goal early in the second period to make it 2-1. But less than 30 seconds after that, Lundell secured a defensive-zone takeaway and led the rush up ice, leading to a huge answer by Mason Marchment. It grabbed all the momentum right back for the Panthers.

Capitals worry meter: 😬 😬 😬 Technically, the Capitals head back to DC having stolen home-ice advantage. Realistically…

Panthers worry meter: 🀠 That looked familiar.

– Max Bultman

Game 2: Avalanche 2, Predators 1 | Colorado leads 2-0

Who was the guy? Cale Makar’s breakthrough was inevitable long before his actual OT winner. He was closer to an NBA guard than he was an NHL defenseman with his shot volume, putting up a whopping 20 shot attempts. The offensive zone was like an open race track for him, with no opponent or obstacle in sight to slow him down. Connor Ingram was sensational, the only reason Nashville was in this game, but Makar was relentless and the dam eventually had to break.

What was the key? Colorado’s top players have shown up to play and Nashville’s not. Makar is playing like he wants to be crowned the best defenseman in the NHL. Nathan MacKinnon already has three goals and four points in this series. The Preds were never going to have the depth to match Colorado, but their top-end talent has disappointingly been silent. Filip Forsberg is pointless. Roman Josi has just a single point in this series to go along with paltry 5-on-5 play-driving numbers. Ryan Johansen has disappeared.

Key stat: Colorado had 21 shots on goal just with Makar on the ice at 5-on-5. Nashville had 21 shots total at 5-on-5 in the game. That pretty much sums up how anemic Nashville’s offensive performance was. The scoreline was close, but the play was not – Ingram’s valiant effort was the only reason this contest got to OT in the first place.

The moment it was over: Makar’s goal is obviously the highlight here, but shout out to Darren Helm for his work on the forecheck to recover the puck and then to Logan O’Connor for providing the high screen to disrupt Ingram’s sight on the shot.

The moment of the game: When Nashville blew its extended 5-on-3 power-play. The Predators were overwhelmed at even-strength but with the game still tied, this was their perfect chance to steal a lead early in the third. With the way Ingram was playing, a goal on the 5-on-3 could easily have been enough to squeak out a victory.

Predators worry meter: 🀯🀯🀯🀯🀯

Avalanche worry meter: 🀠

– Harman Dayal

Game 2: Stars 1, Flames 0 | Series tied 1-1

Who was the guy? Here’s who the guy was not – me. I was not the guy. On Thursday morning, I volunteered to write this one up. Pretty sure Preds-Avs was on the board, but I picked this anyway. It wasn’t the biggest mistake I’ve made in the last calendar year, but it’s on the list. I unwittingly locked myself into watching, no joke, one of the worst playoff hockey games I can remember. When it was finally over and I got to flip over to Avs-Preds, I almost fainted, like a scuba diver who ascends too quickly. My body and brain were not prepared for the contrast.

Anyway, Jake Oettinger was good. The Stars’ “grind opponents and viewers into dust” philosophy only leads to wins when the goalie is on point, and Oettinger was. Sure, he stopped all 29 of Calgary’s shots and faced 10 high-danger chances, but you can only save what they put in front of you. Oettinger has been solid in both games, really; 54 stops on 55 shots (.982), 14 high-danger saves and a goals saved above expected of 3.06.

What was the key? Now, here’s where we slag on the Flames a little bit; in terms of quality, they’re generating next to nothing. Too many of their attempts come from the perimeter, and a disproportionate number do not make it to Oettinger in the first place. This is one of the very best offensive teams in the NHL. It was, at least. If they’re having an existential crisis over that game, they aren’t alone. I should’ve just been an electrician. There is still time.

Key stat: 27. That’s how many years this game set the game back. Hello, Jacques Lemaire.

The moment it was over: When Joe Pavelski redirected a shot by Jason Robertson past Jacob Markstrom. Sure, there were 52 minutes left in regulation, but on some level, we knew. If we looked into our heart of hearts, we all knew. Beyond that, it was when Darryl Sutter waited to pull Markstrom until there were just 81 seconds left. He should’ve sold out and done it halfway through the third.

Stars worry meter: πŸ™ƒ πŸ™ƒ

Flames worry meter: πŸ™ƒ πŸ™ƒ

– Sean Gentille

Three stars

On tap for Friday

Hurricanes at Bruins, 7 pm ET (Hurricanes lead 2-0)

Maple Leafs at Lightning, 7:30 pm ET (Series tied 1-1)

Wild at Blues, 9:30 pm ET (Series tied 1-1)

Oilers at Kings, 10 pm ET (Series tied 1-1)

(Photo of Igor Shesterkin and Sidney Crosby: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

.

Leave a Comment

BIELSKO1