Friday night, all four road teams found themselves on the winning side of the hockey ledger which was a very good thing for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Minnesota Wild. Those two teams kept their Stanley Cup hopes alive. The New York Islanders may now be on the verge of an upset, and the San Jose Sharks took a big step forward.
Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers
The stage was set. The Capitals had a 3-1 series lead and were at home for Game 5. All they had to do was be the better team and they would win the game and the series. For sixty minutes, Washington was, without a doubt, the better team but Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth, was the best player as he stopped 44 shots to lead Philadelphia to a 2-0 win.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, Neuvirth’s 44 saves were the most by a Flyers goaltender in a playoff shutout and in a regulation postseason win.
If you are one who believes the true way to measure a player’s worth is by studying the analytics charts and graphs, guess again. The best way to evaluate a player is with your own two eyes and Neuvirth proved that in Game 5.
Washington outshot Philadelphia 44-11 in the game. Yes, you read that right. Philadelphia managed just 11 shots for the entire game. Heck, Alex Ovechkin almost outshot the Flyers with eight shots of his own, but it was Ryan White (7:52 of the second period) and Chris Vandevelde (empty net at 19:29 of the third period) who found the back of the net for Philadelphia.
The Flyers are the first team to win a playoff game with 11 shots since the Capitals achieved the feat in 1998 versus Ottawa.
Philadelphia forced a Game 6 when trailing 3-0 in a best-of-seven series for the second time in franchise history with the first coming in 2010 versus Boston.
The clubs will travel back to Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center for Game 6 on Sunday at 12:00 pm ET (NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers
With this series tied 2-2, Game 5 in Florida was pivotal for both teams.
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead 13:31 into the first period on Frans Nielsen’s third goal of the postseason. Thomas Hickey garnered the assist.
After a scoreless second period, Florida tied the score on a goal by Aleksander Barkov, assisted by Alex Petrovic and Jaromir Jagr at 1:59 of the third period.
And that is how it ended after sixty minutes of regulation time.
Thanks to the goaltending of Florida’s Roberto Luongo and New York’s Thomas Greiss, the clubs skated through one overtime that included a Panthers power play and a failed penalty shot by Barkov. Neither team could find a way to end the game.
The second overtime saw more scoring chances thwarted by the goaltenders.
At the 5:06 mark of the period, the Islanders went on the power play but did not capitalize on the opportunity.
New York went back on the power play at 14:31, and with the Panthers Derek MacKenzie off for slashing, Islanders defenseman Alan Quine scored his first of the playoffs to give his team a 2-1 victory.
“Everyone knew we had to dig deep, and we did,” Quine said after scoring the game-winner.
Greiss turned aside 47 shots in earning the win.
The win for the Islanders was the first road OT win since 1993.
Game 5 lasted 96 minutes. It was the second longest game in the histories of each franchise.
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, teams that win Game 5 in a series tied 2-2 hold an all-time record of 189-52 (78.4 percent).
The Islanders can win the series in Game 6 at home at the Barclays Center on Sunday, April 24th at 7:00 pm ET (NBCSN, MSG+, SUN).
Minnesota Wild vs Dallas Stars
Holding a 3-1 series lead going into Friday’s action, the Stars were on home ice and looking to take control of the series but after three periods of exchanging goals, Miko Koivu scored his second goal of the game in overtime to give the Wild a 5-4 win over Dallas.
In the first period, Minnesota took a 2-0 lead on goals by Mikael Granlund and Jordan Schroeder. Dallas defenseman Johnny Oduya would cut the Wild’s lead in half with a lamplighter at the 17:18 mark of the period.
The teams sent a total of 21 shots on goal in the second period but Minnesota goaltender, Devan Dubnyk and Dallas puck stopper, Antti Niemi, kept all pucks free and clear from the back of their nets.
For the game, Dallas put 41 shots on goal. Minnesota sent 24 pucks at Niemi.
Dubnyk stopped 37 Stars shots to record the victory.
In the third period, the clubs combined for five goals with Dallas scoring three times off the sticks of Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, and Alex Goligoski. Minnesota scored twice with Nino Niederreiter and Miko Koivu lighting the lamp. Koivu’s goal set the stage for his overtime game winner.
Players, besides the goal scorers, who accumulated points are the evening for Minnesota were John Klingberg (2 assists), Cody Eakin (1 assist), Patrick Eaves (1 assist), Mattias Janmark (1 assist) and Radek Faksa (1 assist).
Garnering points for Dallas included David Jones (1 assist), Jason Pominville (2 assists), Granlund (1 goal, 1 assist), Ryan Suter (2 assists), Nate Prosser (1 assist), Jared Spurgeon (2 assists).
Holding a 3-2 series lead, the Stars will have the opportunity to win the series Sunday, April 24th at American Airlines Center in Dallas at 3:00 pm ET (NBC, SN, TVA Sports).
San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings
Some people believe that things in life, good or bad, happen in threes and that was the case in Game 5 in Los Angeles where the Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to see that lead erased when the Kings scored the next three goals. San Jose would go on to score the game’s final three goals to defeat Los Angeles 6-3.
The Sharks victory eliminated the Kings from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Throughout the last couple of years, things have been said by players on that team that, to me personally, I take it as disrespectful so it is nice to stick it back to them and beat them in this series,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said after his team ended the series.
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer was happy for his players but cautioned there is more hockey to be played.
“It’s a step,” the coach said. “It’s a great step because of the opponent that we beat and I think the fact that we beat them three times in this building (Staples Center), that’s the great part about it but it’s still only one step on where we want to go.”
Taking a 2-0 lead into the dressing room after the first period on goals by Joonas Donskoi and Chris Tierney was a big step in the right direction for San Jose and when Matt Nieto scored to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead 4:05 into the second period, it appeared the Sharks were well on their way to a win but the Kings have the experience of winning two Stanley Cups in four years and it came shining through for the remainder of the period.
After watching the Sharks take the three-goal lead, Los Angeles reeled off three consecutive goals of their own by Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Kris Versteeg to tie it at 3-3 setting up an all or nothing third period.
The final period saw the teams concentrating on playing sound defensive hockey. Each one knowing that good offense comes from good defense and it was San Jose who took advantage of their chances as they scored three goals on five shots to put the game and the series into the history books.
Third period goal scorers for the Sharks were Donskoi (his second of the game), Joe Pavelski, and Melker Karlsson.
San Jose goaltender Martin Jones made 19 saves in backstopping his club to the victory.
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau was awarded a penalty shot in the second period. He was stopped by Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
The Sharks will have a few days off to rest and prepare for the Second Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs where they will face off against the winner of the Anaheim vs Nashville series.
Stat of the Night:
Thursday was the first time since April 9, 1988, that there were two penalty shot attempts on the same night during the Stanley Cup playoffs.