The Carolina Hurricanes are headed to the Eastern Conference Final after sweeping a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.
The Hurricanes advanced to the conference final for the fourth time in their past four postseason appearances by defeating the New York Islanders 5-2 on Friday in Game 4 of the second round at PNC Arena. A packed house of 19,495, the largest crowd in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers history, saw five players score and Curtis McElhinney make 26 saves to complete the first sweep of a best-of-7 series in Carolina/Hartford history.
Carolina also made the conference final in each of its past three trips to the playoffs. The Hurricanes lost the Cup Final to the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, defeated the Edmonton Oilers in the Final to win the Cup in 2006 and were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 Eastern Conference Final. The only other teams to advance to the conference finals in at least four consecutive playoff appearances (regardless of when those occurred) since the round was introduced in 1982 are the Red Wings (1995-98) and Colorado Avalanche (1999-2002).
The Hurricanes are the 11th team in NHL history to win a Game 7 and sweep its next series in the same playoff year. Six of the previous 10 to do so have gone on to win the Stanley Cup; the 2011 Boston Bruins were the most recent.
Carolina is the first team in 26 years, and the ninth in NHL history, to sweep an opponent that had swept its previous series. The most recent was the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, who swept the Buffalo Sabres in the 1993 Adams Division Final after the Sabres swept the Bruins in the previous round.
The Hurricanes have won six in a row, one short of the Carolina/Hartford record set in 2006, and are 5-0 at home in the playoffs for the first time.
After becoming the 15th team in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champion in the opening round, Carolina is the eighth of that group to win its next round. Four of those clubs reached the Final; only the 1971 Canadiens won a championship.
Video: Hurricanes advance to ECF with sweep of Islanders
Behind the surge
Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour is the first rookie NHL coach to reach a conference final since Guy Boucher did it with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011. Brind'Amour was Carolina's captain when the Hurricanes won the Cup in 2006.
Hurricanes forward Justin Williams scored one of Carolina three second-period goals for the 100th playoff point of his career (39 goals, 61 assists in 151 postseason games). He is the 10th active NHL player to reach the milestone. Twenty of his postseason points (nine goals, 11 assists) have come in series-clinching wins.
McElhinney is 3-0 with a 1.56 goals-against average and .947 save percentage since entering Game 2 against the Islanders after Petr Mrazek left with an injury. The Hurricanes are the third team in the past 29 years to sweep a best-of-7 series with multiple goalies each earning at least one win.
Video: McElhinney earns first career playoff series win
Bishop comes up big for Stars
Ben Bishop showed why he's a Vezina Trophy finalist by making 38 saves to help the Dallas Stars hold off the St. Louis Blues 2-1 at Enterprise Center in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round on Friday. Dallas can advance to the conference final for the second time in Stars/Minnesota North Stars history with a win in Game 6 of the best-of-7 series at American Airlines Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
Bishop matched the Stars record for most saves in a regulation playoff game since the team relocated to Dallas in 1993-94, equaling a mark set by Ed Belfour in Games 3 and 4 of the 2000 Western Conference Final against the Avalanche and matched by Marty Turco in Game 5 of the 2008 Western Conference Final against the Red Wings. Cesare Maniago (Game 1 of the 1971 NHL Quarterfinals against St. Louis) and Gilles Meloche (Game 1 of the 1985 Norris Division Final against the Chicago Blackhawks) each made 42 saves for Minnesota, the most in a playoff game since the North Stars/Stars entered the NHL in 1967.
Bishop is 15-7 in 23 road playoff games with a 1.81 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and two shutouts. His goals-against average on the road in the playoffs is the seventh-lowest in NHL history (minimum 10 games) and the third-lowest of the modern era (since 1943-44) behind Patrick Lalime (1.77) and Mike Smith (1.78).
Video: DAL@STL, Gm5: Bishop stretches to rob Sundqvist
Bruins, Sharks host Game 5s
The Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks hope home ice will be an advantage for them as they prepare to host Game 5 in their respective best-of-7 second-round series on Saturday. The Bruins play the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) after evening their Eastern Conference series at 2-2 with a 4-1 road win on Thursday. San Jose hosts Colorado (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) two nights after the Avalanche evened their Western Conference series at two wins apiece with a 3-0 victory in Denver.
When a best-of-7 series is tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner owns an all-time series record of 207-57 (78.4 percent), including 2-2 this year.
The Bruins are tied 2-2 in a best-of-7 series for the 34th time since entering the NHL in 1924; they are 13-3 (81.2 percent) when winning Game 5 in those scenarios. The Blue Jackets have played a Game 5 three times since entering the NHL in 2000 and have lost all three.
The Avalanche split Games 1-4 in a best-of-7 series for the 21st time in Colorado/Quebec Nordiques history and are 9-3 (75.0 percent) when winning Game 5 in those scenarios. The Sharks are tied 2-2 in a best-of-7 series for the 18th time in since entering the NHL in 1991; they are 5-2 (71.4 percent) when winning Game 5 after splitting the first four games.
Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon enters Game 5 with an eight-game point streak. MacKinnon can expect to see plenty of Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, who played 28:39 on Thursday, his highest total in a regulation game this postseason. Burns, who leads the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 29:36 average time on ice, has played 112:21 of the 240 minutes in this series. He has spent 58.2 percent of his time on ice going head-to-head with MacKinnon; the two have been on the ice together for 65:24 through four games (35:27 in San Jose, 29:57 in Colorado).