For hockey fans, three Stanley Cup playoff games in one night is hockey heaven and with one going into overtime, another seeing the underdog coming out on top, and a third seeing a team assert its dominance, oh yeah, it was definitely a slice of hockey heaven.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Islanders
After the Lightning tied the game with 39 seconds to play in the third period, Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle, who hails from Hingham, Massachusetts, collected the rebound of Ryan Callahan’s shot off the end boards and put a shot of his own over the outstretched pad of Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss 2:48 into overtime giving his team a 5-4 win over the Islanders in Brooklyn, New York. Victor Hedman also assisted on the game-winner. It was Boyle’s first career playoff overtime goal. With the win, Tampa Bay takes a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.
Josh Bailey netted the game’s first goal at 7:55 of the first period when a bouncing puck came to him directly in front of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. Bailey wasted no time in shooting the disc past Bishop giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead assisted by Nikolay Kulemin and Travis Hamonic. For Bailey, it was his first goal in 21 games.
Ryan Callahan would answer for the Lightning with a power play goal with 13 seconds remaining in the first period to tie the affair at 1-1. He deflected a point shot by Alex Killorn. Valtteri Filppula also assisted on the lamplighter.
In the second period, Hedman put his club ahead 2-1 at the 8:10 mark. Tyler Johnson won the offensive zone faceoff back to Hedman, who sent a rocket past Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss.
At 14:50 of the second period, New York’s Nick Leddy scored his first of the postseason when he blasted a point shot that eluded Bishop through the 5-hole and the score was tied once again at 2-2, which is how the period would end.
Sixteen seconds into the third period, Tampa Bay’s Jason Garrison was sent off for high-sticking and New York took advantage of the power play when Josh Bailey accepted a centering pass from Thomas Hickey and sent a quick wrist shot behind Bishop putting the Islanders on top 3-2. Shane Prince garnered the secondary assist.
Tampa Bay’s Vladislav Namestnikov found the back of the net just 58 seconds after the Bailey goal. Killorn sent a pass behind the New York goal to Filppula, who sent the puck out from the corner to Namestnikov in the slot. Namestnikov released a quick wrist shot that Greiss could not stop and it was a tied game again, 3-3.
Cal Clutterbuck did the honors for New York at 11:23 of the third period putting his team back on top 4-3. After the puck deflected out of the corner into the high slot, he found the puck on his stick and he released a wrister that sailed over Bishop’s glove hand into the net. Casey Cizikas had the helper on the lamplighter.
As the clock ticked down, Lightning coach Jon Cooper pulled Bishop for the extra skater and Nikita Kucherov tied the score with 39 seconds remaining in the third period to tie it up again, 4-4. On the play, Jonathan Drouin carried the puck from the blue line deep into the Islanders zone and sent a cross-ice pass to Kucherov, whose shot from the slot ended up behind Greiss and set up the overtime. The goal was Kucherov’s seventh of the postseason. He leads all playoff performers in goals.
Bishop stopped 35 shots in recording his sixth win of the playoffs for the Lightning.
“(The) guys did a good job of holding on there, and sometimes it takes a little bit longer, but we got one there in the last minute and obviously overtime,” Bishop said after the contest.
Game 4 is scheduled for Friday, May 6th at Barclays Center at 7:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
San Jose Sharks vs Nashville Predators
The Predators fell behind in the first period but responded with four unanswered goals to defeat the Sharks 4-1 in Nashville. The victory cut San Jose’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Nashville captain Shea Weber contributed a goal and an assist towards the win and Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 26 shots.
Weber’s goal and assist equaled Predators records for career playoff goals (13), assists (15), and points (28).
“I thought we had a good mindset going into the game,” said Nashville’s James Neal, who scored a goal in the win. “I think we knew we were playing good hockey, needed to be a little bit better. Coming home, we knew we had to win one game, so big win and focus on the next one. ”
San Jose’s Patrick Marleau put his club on the board 13:13 into the game. He skated through two Nashville defenseman to get to a loose puck in the Predators zone then deked Rinne out of his crease before putting the puck into an empty net. Tomas Hertl and Marc-Edouard Vlasic assisted on the goal.
San Jose took that lead into the dressing room at the end of the opening 20 minutes.
After the teams emerged for the start of the second period, Neal tied the game with his third goal of the playoffs on the power play at 5:11 of the frame. Mattias Ekholm skated the puck through the middle of the Sharks zone and fed Neal in the right faceoff circle. He unleashed a slap shot over the shoulder of Sharks goaltender Martin Jones and the score was 1-1. Ryan Johansen was credited with the secondary assist.
Weber gave the Predators a 2-1 lead when he blasted a shot that blew past Jones and into the net at 14:44 of the frame. The unassisted goal was his third of the postseason.
Colin Wilson continued the Predators scoring parade 6:55 into the third period. He positioned himself at the right side of the Sharks net and was in the right place at the right time as he corralled the rebound of a Ryan Ellis shot off the end boards and tucked it past Jones putting his club in front, 3-1. Mike Fisher was also credited with an assist.
Nashville’s final tally of the night came off the stick of Filip Forsberg on the power play at 15:49 of the third session. He skated the puck out of the San Jose corner sent a pass to Roman Josi back at the point, who returned the pass to Forsberg. The 21-year-old forward ripped a wrist shot that went bar down and into the net. Weber garnered his second point of the game with the secondary assist.
The teams will return to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, May 5th for Game 4 at 9:00 pm ET (CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports 2).
Dallas Stars vs St. Louis Blues
If Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is playing with or had played with, an injury recently, as this writer suspects, it may be fully healed. He broke out for three points on a goal and two assists to lead the Blues to a 6-1 victory over the Stars in St. Louis. Teammates Alexander Steen and David Backes scored two goals each and David Brouwer contributed a goal and an assist in a contest in which goaltender Antti Niemi started for Dallas only to be replaced by Kari Lehtonen after giving up three goals on 12 St. Louis shots.
“We occupied the offensive zone and kept the pressure on,” Backes said following the contest. “It seemed to be something that guys bought into. We left the next line in a good position to have some success. Credit to everybody in the room that they bought in tonight. We had probably our most complete effort of the postseason.”
The win gave the Blues a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and unless Dallas’ goaltending woes can be sorted out in short order, their season will end sooner rather than later.
Just as in the game featuring San Jose and Nashville, the team that would go on to lose the contest, scored first. Dallas’ Colton Sceviour netted the Stars only goal of the evening 4:44 into the first period. He skated into the slot uncontested and received a pass from Jason Spezza, Sceviour’s initial shot was blocked but he gained control of the rebound and put a wrist shot past Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Johnny Oduya started the play and picked up the secondary assist.
The Stars lead would not last long. Steen struck for his first of the game 57 seconds after Sceviour scored to even the score at 1-1. Brouwer set up the play with a strong forecheck in the Stars’ zone forcing a Dallas defenseman to throw the puck up the boards onto Paul Stastny’s stick. Stastny and Steen passed the puck back and forth to each other before Steen put a wrist shot behind Niemi.
Backes would put the Blues in the lead with a power play goal at 16:10 of the first period. After a sequence where the Blues controlled the puck in the Stars’ zone, the puck ended up on Kevin Shattenkirk’s stick at the point. He unleashed a hard shot and – stop me if you’ve heard this before – Backes screening Niemi, deflected the shot past the netminder to make it a 2-1 game. Tarasenko assisted with the pass to Shattenkirk.
The Blues took that lead into the first intermission.
The second period was all St. Louis. The Blues put three pucks into the Stars net to take a 5-1 lead.
Brouwer scored his third of the playoffs from Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo at 2:34 of the period and the Blues had a 3-1 lead. Brouwer turned a Stars defenseman at the Dallas blue line, cut in towards the crease and put a shot over Niemi’s stick side.
Tarasenko registered his second point of the night with a goal 1:16 after Brouwer’s lamplighter to give St. Louis a 4-1 lead. Robby Fabbri took the puck from inside the Dallas blue line and broke in with Berglund and Tarasenko, three on two. Fabbri sent a pass into the middle of the ice to Berglund, who sent a pass to Tarasenko on the left wing and Tarasenko put a wrister behind Lehtonen.
The Blues picked up their second power play goal of the game at the 18:03 mark of the second period. Steen’s shot broke through Lehtonen and slowly made it’s way into the net increasing the Blues lead to 5-1. Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz were credited with the helpers.
St. Louis continued its heavy offensive pressure In the third period but Lehtonen stopped 12 of the Blues’ 13 shots.
The only shot that the goaltender did not stop was Backes’ second of the game 18:06 into the session. Backes started the play by stripping the puck off a Stars’ stick in the St. Louis zone. Backes started up ice and sent a pass across the ice to Carl Gunnarsson, who sent the puck back onto Backes’ stick. The Blues captain carried the disc into the Dallas zone until he ripped a shot over Lehtonen’s glove hand to make it a 6-1 game.
Elliott contributed 25 saves towards the win.
Tarasenko has posted 20 points (15 goals, 5 assists) in his first 23 career playoff games.
The clubs will lace up the skates for Game 4 at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center on Thursday, May 5th at 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Stat of the Night:
With the GWG, Backes tied a St. Louis Blues record with three game-winning goals in a single postseason. He is tied with Brett Hull (1988 and 1990) and Scott Young (2001).
Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Schedule:
Game 4 – Eastern Conference Second Round Series – Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.