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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Golden Knights try to eliminate Sharks

Hurricanes eye series-tying win against Capitals; Jets host Blues in Game 5

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL postseason. There were three Game 4s on the schedule Wednesday, with two teams evening their respective series and another moving within one win of advancing:

 

On Tap

There are two Game 5s and one Game 4 on the schedule for Thursday:

Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, FS-CR, NBCSWA): The Hurricanes, who trail 2-1 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round, are likely to be without injured forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland, but will hope to feed off a home crowd that roared throughout their 5-0 win in Game 3. The series winner will face the New York Islanders, who swept the Pittsburgh Penguins.

St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets (8:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN360, TVAS, FS-MW): The Jets will try to become the first home team in this series to win a game. Expect a Winnipeg Whiteout at Bell MTS Place for Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round after the Jets evened the series 2-2 with a 2-1 overtime win at St. Louis on Tuesday.

Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM): The Golden Knights take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round at SAP Center. Vegas showed a killer instinct in the playoffs last season, going 3-0 when it had a chance to close out a series. The Golden Knights have a chance to improve to 4-0 in those games and eliminate the Sharks after outscoring San Jose 16-6 in three straight wins.

 

About last night

Here is what happened on Day 8 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Colorado Avalanche 3, Calgary Flames 2 (OT): Mikko Rantanen scored 10:23 into overtime to put the Avalanche one win from closing out the Flames in the Western Conference First Round. The Flames led 2-0 in the third period, but J.T. Compher scored at 8:10 and Rantanen tied it with 2:50 remaining. Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer finished with 35 saves, none bigger than the one he made against Mikael Backlund 2:35 into overtime. Backlund took a point-blank shot from the right of the crease; Grubauer, while sprawled on the ice, lifted his left pad to stop the puck.

Dallas Stars 5, Nashville Predators 1: Roope Hintz scored his first two postseason goals and the Stars tied the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round 2-2. Goalie Ben Bishop made 34 saves, John Klingberg had three assists and Esa Lindell two for the Stars. Roman Josi scored for the Predators. Pekka Rinne allowed four goals on eight shots and was replaced at 13:45 of the first period by Juuse Saros, who made 20 saves.

Boston Bruins 6, Toronto Maple Leafs 4: Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who evened the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round with their Game 4 victory. David Pastrnak scored twice and Tuukka Rask made 38 saves for the Bruins. Auston Matthews scored twice and Frederik Andersen made 25 saves for the Maple Leafs.

Video: Bruins' top line better in Game 4, McAvoy stays calm

 

What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 8 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Bruins need more from fourth line

Every time coach Bruce Cassidy tapped his fourth line to take the ice at Scotiabank Arena during Game 4, it did not go well. The fourth line spent shift after shift pinned in its own zone, and it was that group -- Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner -- that was on the ice for the Maple Leafs' fourth goal, at 13:27 of the third period, which narrowed the Bruins' lead to one. There is hope forward Sean Kuraly will return soon, perhaps for Game 5 on Friday, and that could be crucial. Otherwise, Cassidy could be down to only three trustworthy lines, a very dicey proposition against a team with as much firepower as the Maple Leafs.

 

Maple Leafs generated some pushback

The Maple Leafs were trailing 5-2 with 13 minutes remaining and had generated one shot on goal in the third period. Desperation from the home team seemed like a foreign concept, but the fourth line of Tyler Ennis, Frederik Gauthier and Trevor Moore changed all that. Toronto stepped on the gas from that point on and cut Boston's lead to one. The Maple Leafs fired 16 third-period shots at Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who came up big to preserve the victory. Toronto came up short, but the pushback the Maple Leafs exhibited left their players encouraged moving forward.

 

Zuccarello keeps going for the Stars

Mats Zuccarello has been exactly what the Stars hoped he would be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: a dependable forward who can produce. Zuccarello, acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on Feb. 23 for a conditional second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored his third goal of the playoffs in Game 4. He has three points, all goals, in the first four games against Nashville.

 

Predators pay price for penalties

Nashville had been doing very well on the penalty kill through the first three games, but it had no answer for the Stars' power play in Game 4, when it allowed three goals. The penalties are starting to add up as well. The Predators were called for seven penalties Wednesday and have taken 22 through four games. That's not the most among teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- the San Jose Sharks have taken 32 penalties and the Vegas Golden Knights have 30, also in four games -- but it's still too many.

Video: Stars shine on power play in early stages of Game 4

 

Avalanche are comeback kings

Coming back from being down 2-0 is old hat for the Avalanche, who did it again Wednesday against the Flames. They made a habit of it during an 8-0-2 stretch run that enabled them to earn a playoff berth. Colorado did it in three straight games in the final week of the season with a 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on April 1, a 6-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on April 2 and a 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets on April 4 that clinched a playoff berth.

 

Flames stars need to start shining

The Flames will be hard-pressed to win another game, let alone the three they need to advance to the next round, unless their top five regular-season scorers start producing. Forwards Johnny Gaudreau (one assist), Sean Monahan (one goal, one assist), Elias Lindholm (one goal, one assist) and Matthew Tkachuk (two goals, one assist), and defenseman Mark Giordano (two assists), have struggled in this series. Tkachuk scored both his goals in Game 1, Calgary's only win. All five players had 74 to 99 points during the regular season, but they're not getting the job done when it counts the most.

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