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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Blues look to eliminate Jets

Predators, Capitals host Game 5s

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL postseason.

 

On Tap

There are two Game 5s and a Game 6 on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Saturday:

Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS): The Predators' top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, which combined for 162 points (76 goals, 86 assists) during the regular season, has one goal and one assist against the Stars in the first four games. With the best-of-7 series tied 2-2, that line needs to get going if Nashville is going to advance.

Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, FS-MW): The road team has won each of the first five games of the best-of-7 series. If the Blues can halt that trend, they will advance to the second round. The Jets, who saw a two-goal lead in the third period vanish in a Game 5 loss, need to rebound or they will be going home for the offseason. 

Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS): The only first-round series where the home team has won every game returns to Washington, where they defending Cup champions will look to take a 3-2 lead without injured forward T.J. Oshie. The Hurricanes, who lost six straight to the Capitals in the regular season and first two games of the series, have won two in a row. 

 

About last night

Here is what happened on Day 10 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Boston Bruins 1: The Maple Leafs scored twice in the third period and held on for the victory that gave them a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. Auston Matthews scored at 11:33 for a 1-0 Toronto lead and Kasperi Kapanen extended the lead to 2-0 at 13:45. The Maple Leafs will go for the series win at home Sunday. 

Colorado Avalanche 5, Calgary Flames 1: The Avalanche advanced beyond the first round for the first time since 2008. Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson each had two goals and one assist, and Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each had three assists for the Avalanche, who will play the winner of the series between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves. 

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Colorado moves on to Second Round

 

What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 10 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Bruins power play does not deliver 

Though the Bruins scored at least one power-play goal in each of the first four games of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Maple Leafs, they didn't get it done with the man-advantage in Game 5. Boston, which was 5-for-11 on the power play in the first four games, went 0-for-3 on Friday and that may have cost the Bruins the game. The Bruins will need to change that in Game 6 and find a way to defeat a team that has mostly kept them under control at 5-on-5, or they'll be out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

Maple Leafs can play stifling defense, too

From forward William Nylander diving to knock pucks out of his own zone to center John Tavares battling for pucks in the defensive end, the Maple Leafs might have played their most complete defensive game of the season. They clogged the neutral zone and filled the seams the Bruins like to use as passing lanes, a blueprint that scuttled Boston from having any offensive flow. Defensemen Jake Muzzin and Travis Dermott were particularly effective. Muzzin's ability to clear rebounds from the danger areas made goalie Frederik Andersen's life much easier; Dermott seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to blocking centering feeds from Bruins forwards. Forward Zach Hyman said it might have been Toronto's best defensive effort of the season. The Maple Leafs will need that kind of performance again if they hope to win Game 6.

Video: Andersen's 28 saves help Toronto take 3-2 series lead

 

Avalanche speed kills

The speed of the Avalanche was more than the Flames could handle in the first round, and good luck to their second-round opponent who will need to find a way to contain Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. Colorado's potent first line excelled on the playoff stage, combining for 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists), two fewer goals that Calgary produced as a team. Landeskog believes the Avalanche see themselves as underdogs, saying "our goal is to gain some respect along the way." They certainly did that with their convincing series win over the Flames.

 

Flames' power failure, Neal's status are puzzles

How could the Flames not have had high expectations of themselves heading into the playoffs? They'll have a long offseason to analyze what went wrong, but clearly the inability of their top forwards to score was a major factor. James Neal, Calgary's high-profile free-agent signing last offseason, was scratched for Game 5. Neal, with 104 playoff games under his belt, had no points, seven shots and was minus-3 through four games. He was replaced with the faster Austin Czarnik, who was playing his first postseason game. Czarnik saw 5:27 of ice time in 11 shifts, the Flames shortening the bench to no avail. More importantly, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm again were held off the scoresheet in Game 5 and combined for five points (two goals, three assists) in the series.

 

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