Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. There were two Game 4s on Thursday:
The Carolina Hurricanes can become the first team to reach the conference finals this season in the first of two games on Friday:
New York Islanders at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Hurricanes have won five straight games since a 6-0 loss at the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the first round and are one win from reaching the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2009. The Islanders, who swept the Penguins in the first round, are looking to keep their season alive and avoid becoming the first NHL team to sweep one series and get swept in the next one since the 1993 Buffalo Sabres.
Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS): The Stars and Blues have alternated wins in the first four games of this best-of-7 series, with Dallas winning Game 4 on Wednesday. St. Louis is 2-3 at home in the postseason, so it's hard to tell if playing at Enterprise Center will be much of an advantage. The Stars shuffled their top two lines for Game 4 and scored four times; it will be interesting to see how the Blues counter that.
About last night
Here is what happened on Day 23 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Boston Bruins 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 1: Goalie Tuukka Rask made 39 saves, center Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and the Bruins won on the road to even the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round at two wins apiece. Forward David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist, and center and Ohio native Sean Kuraly scored for the Bruins. Forward Artemi Panarin scored and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 42 saves for the Blue Jackets.
Colorado Avalanche 3, San Jose Sharks 0: Goalie Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves and the Avalanche evened the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round 2-2 with their Game 4 win at Pepsi Center. Center Nathan MacKinnon, forward Colin Wilson and defenseman Erik Johnson scored for Colorado. Goalie Martin Jones made 25 saves for the Sharks.
Video: Bobrovsky, Wilson, Bergeron lead the way on Thursday
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 23 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Confidence in beating Bobrovsky pays off for Bruins
When Boston's Brandon Carlo was asked Thursday morning whether he regretted talking about his team's ability to crack Bobrovsky, the Bruins defenseman doubled down regarding the Blue Jackets goalie: "That's my opinion on it. Especially if we play the way that we do and the way that we can." Carlo was right. Boston scored four times on Bobrovsky in Game 4, including twice on the power play. Though they weren't necessarily the second-chance goals Carlo had been referring to -- Pastrnak's came on a one-timer, as did Bergeron's first, and Kuraly scored on a puck that went off the end boards and off defenseman David Savard -- the Bruins were able to find openings behind Bobrovsky. They were confident going into the game and they delivered, something that can pay dividends for the rest of the series.
Columbus can't bank on power play only
The Blue Jackets won Games 2 and 3 because their power play connected for three of their combined five goals, including the game-winner in each. They swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round largely because their power play went 5-for-10. But Columbus learned in Game 4 that it needs to score more at 5-on-5; it was 0-for-4 on the power play Thursday and has scored four 5-on-5 goals in the four games against Boston. The Blue Jackets have one goal at 4-on-4 to go along with their three power-play goals. They need to start connecting more at 5-on-5 to take some pressure off their special teams.
Avalanche can play disciplined, defensive hockey
Though Grubauer made some big stops, notably one on Sharks forward Gustav Nyquist's breakaway late in the second period, the story was also discipline and defense. The Avalanche didn't force plays with the puck as often, and they played better without the puck. After allowing five goals in Game 1, three in Game 2 and four in Game 3, they allowed none for the first time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Video: Grubauer shuts out Sharks, Avalanche even series
Sharks need more net-front traffic
San Jose was in a good position well into the second period of Game 4, but couldn't come up with the push that would have given it a stranglehold on the series. It fairly signified just how tight the series has been; neither team has been able to win back-to-back games. The adjustments are constant, and one of the Sharks' objectives looking ahead will be to get more traffic in front of Grubauer. The Sharks acknowledged the Avalanche goalie's fine play in Game 4, but believe they can do a better job of taking away his vision when pucks are headed toward the Colorado net.
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