Game 3: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2 | Carolina leads 2-1
Who was the guy ?: David Pastrnak was moved to the top of the lineup, reuniting the “Perfection Line” which was responsible for one even-strength goal. The winger’s scoring, however, came solely on the power play with a goal (we’ll get there) and an assist. Plus, the team out-attempted Carolina 10-6 with him on the ice at five-on-five and generated almost 77 percent of the expected goal share, according to Natural Stat Trick. That, of course, all came after rocking a man bun in warmups.
The power of the Man Bun returns. pic.twitter.com/bUecKOtOsb
– Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 7, 2022
What was the key ?: You know what’s been struggling a lot recently? The Bruins’ power play. Their issues were deeper than just missing Pastrnak while he was injured, but his absence only magnified them. Fixing their struggles on the advantage against a Hurricanes’ power kill was a tall ask, which is why Games 1 and 2 were such a struggle. While Patrice Bergeron managed to break through on Wednesday, the power play still went 1-for-5. That’s why last night was so important. Marchand set up Pastrnak with a royal road pass. While he did not even fire immediately, giving Pyotr Kochetkov a chance to reset, he still beat him with his elite finish. Figuring out their special teams – on both ends of the ice – was quite important for Boston, and that’s a reason why they’re not facing elimination in Game 4.
Key stat: Brad Marchand’s second period goal gave Boston their first lead of the series. First lead! In Game 3! While the Hurricanes have been using their second- and third-string goaltenders! That’s something.
The moment it was over: Just after a Hurricanes’ power play expired, they were in the offensive zone pressuring the Bruins, trying to tie the score. There were a few frantic sequences in front of Jeremy Swayman’s crease and close chances. Jordan Staal tried to elevate the puck from a sharp angle to beat the netminder. When that didn’t work, seconds later he attempted another shot and Jake DeBrusk layed out to take away a lane for Carolina’s captain. Boston’s desperation play maintained the lead, and helped them stay in the series.
The moment of the game: DeBrusk’s short-handed goal wins for two reasons. First, it was a great play, preceded by a saucer pass from Charlie Coyle. Second, offense on the penalty kill is more exciting than offense on the power play. You expect it in one situation, but not necessarily the other,
Bruins Worry Meter: 😬😬😬 … Boston is just not dominating the series enough to give us better vibes, yet.
Hurricanes Worry Meter: 🙃🙃 … They’ll be fine, probably.
– Shayna Goldman
Game 3: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 2 | Toronto leads 2-1
Who was the guy?: Ilya Mikheyev. Yes, his two goals were empty-netters. But The Soup Man also had a huge penalty kill shift early in the game – running time off the Lightning power play deep in the Tampa Bay zone – and a total of six shots on goal. Shoutout to his linemate, Pierre Engvall, who had three assists, and Jack Campbell, who was excellent. But Mikheyev gets the nod.
Ilya Mikheyev going pressure kill mode pic.twitter.com/9Szf2I7HGk
– Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 7, 2022
What was the key?: Toronto’s depth scoring really delivered, with the two late goals from Mikheyev, one from David Kampf, and another from Colin Blackwell. If the Leafs are getting four goals from their bottom six, they’re not losing.
Key stat: 17 blocked shots for the Leafs, nearly double what Tampa Bay put up. Certainly, you’d rather have the puck than be blocking it, and the Lightning more than doubled up the Maple Leafs in shot attempts in the third. But if you want to protect a lead against the two-time champs, you’re going to have to eat some rubber, and Toronto showed it had no problem doing so.
The moment it was over: Mikheyev’s first empty-netter, which made it 4-2 with 1:40 left. Until then, the Lightning were getting real pressure in the third period, having fought back from down 3-0 to make it a one-goal game. The old ghosts were starting to stir. But Nikita Kucherov’s pass from below the goal line – after pulling the puck out from a scrum – missed its target at the point and cleared the zone, springing Engvall and Mikheyev towards the empty net.
The moment of the game: Just as his teammates finished killing off his high-sticking penalty in the first period, Ilya Lyubushkin came out of the penalty box and jumped into the rush, setting up Blackwell for a goal to make it 2-0. That’s a massive momentum swing to go from a Lightning power play to an early two-goal lead for Toronto.
Look how Ilya Lyubushkin draws the Tampa defenders to him, freeing up Colin Blackwell for a quick shot after that cross-slot pass. pic.twitter.com/0fhs1YZAW2
– Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 7, 2022
Maple Leafs worry meter: 🙃🙃
Lightning worry meter: 🤯🤯🤯🤯
– Max Bultman
Game 3: Wild 5, Blues 1 | Minnesota leads 2-1
Who was the guy ?: Joel Eriksson Ek had an assist in the first minute of the game, and a big goal of his own in the first minute of the third period. He laid heavy hits, and found his way to shots from dangerous areas. He looks made for playoff hockey.
What was the key ?: St. Louis’ banged-up ‘D’ corps. The Blues were already without trade-deadline acquisition Nick Leddy (upper body) and had Marco Scandella playing through a lower-body injury when Torey Krug left the game after just three minutes of ice time and did not return. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 of 30 for Minnesota, and two Wild goals in the first 140 seconds certainly made a difference, but the Blues’ injuries on the back end loomed large as they tried to come back – and now loom even larger going forward .
Key Stat: Zero, as in the number of times Ville Husso gave up four or more goals in back-to-back games during the regular season. But he just did so in Games 2 and 3, and while the expected goals say he gave up almost exactly what the shot quality would have estimated Friday, Jordan Binnington’s presence on the bench means there could be some goalie controversy brewing in St. Louis this weekend.
The moment it was over: In the first 30 seconds of the third period, Eriksson Ek laid a huge hit on Brayden Schenn below the offensive goal line to win a puck, and even though his shot was deflected, he worked himself back into the slot to finish off a setup from Marcus Foligno. That it made it 4-0, and although the Blues would score on the power play soon after, the deficit was already too steep at that point.
The moment of the game: Less than two minutes after Jordan Greenway opened the scoring for Minnesota, Kirill Kaprizov lost his handle on a breakaway, only to recover the puck and bank it off Ville Husso and into the net. That gave the Wild a 2-0 lead on their first two shots, and ultimately, all the offense they would end up needing
Blues worry meter: 🤯🤯🤯🤯
Wild worry meter: 🙃🙃
– Max Bultman
Game 3: Oilers 8, Kings 2 | Edmonton leads 2-1
Who was the guy ?: In an 8-2 win, there are usually quite a few players to highlight. Close your eyes and point at the scoresheet and you’ll probably land on one of the seven players to have a multi-point game. One of them in this game was Connor McDavid who got that scoring started when he rushed down the ice and threaded a pass to Leon Draisaitl who put the puck in the net. But there’s more about McDavid’s game that stands out from Game 3. A lot was made of how he would handle the pressure of facing off against Phillip Danault, who shut down some of the league’s best last postseason, or former Selke Trophy winner Anze Kopitar. And rightfully so. But look at what McDavid managed in Game 3. In 6:13 against Kopitar at five-on-five, he helped the Oilers generate 22 shot attempts for only five against. In 4:28 versus Danault, the ice was still tilted, with shots 10-4.
What was the key ?: The Oilers are just a better team than the Kings. Literally, that’s the key in this series. And if Edmonton can overcome the fact that Los Angeles has a couple of excellent shutdown centers, then it’s over for the Kings. In Game 1, this was a problem for Edmonton. In Game 2, the matchups did not matter, the home team was just better. In theory, the Kings controlling the matchups could give them an edge to shake up this series. In reality, it has not so far. And without them being able to shut down the Oilers’ best, they can not go very far. This team has to suppress incoming offense at a high rate because they legitimately can’t keep up otherwise.
Key stat: Mike Smith stopped 44 of 46 shots and saved 1.95 goals above expected, according to Natural Stat Trick. While he had offensive support, things could have gotten chaotic had he let a couple slip past him.
The moment it was over: If we had to pinpoint a moment, let’s go with the Zach Hyman goal that put the Oilers ahead 4-0. Why? Because that meant it would have needed at least five goals from the Kings to win. That’s a hill that Los Angeles just can’t climb too often. Do you know how many times the Oilers scored at least five goals in a game in the regular season? A total of 32. The Kings? Just a dozen. That’s a pretty big gap.
The moment of the game: Phillip Danault’s power-play goal gave a shred of hope that this game wasn’t necessarily over yet. Of course, the only thing worse than hope is false hope. The game was indeed over because, well, see the numbers about the Kings and offensive generation.
Oilers Worry Meter: 🤠
Kings Worry Meter: 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯
– Shayna Goldman
On tap for Saturday
Panthers at Capitals, 1 pm ET (Series tied 1-1)
Avalanche at Predators, 4:30 pm ET (Avalanche lead 2-0)
Rangers at Penguins, 7 pm ET (Series tied 1-1)
Flames at Stars, 9:30 pm ET (Series tied 1-1)
(Photo: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)