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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Maple Leafs, Golden Knights look to advance

Toronto trying to win first postseason series since 2004, Vegas aiming to eliminate Sharks again

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL postseason. There were two Game 5s and a Game 6 on Saturday, with a fourth team advancing to the second round:

 

On Tap

There are two Game 6s on Sunday and the home team has a chance to advance in each one:

Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS): The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004 when they host the Bruins on Sunday. The Maple Leafs last won a playoff series in 2004, when they defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was the last time they had an opportunity to clinch a series on home ice. Since then, the Maple Leafs have had two chances to clinch a series: Game 7 against the Bruins in 2013 and in 2018, losing each game on the road.

San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS, ATTSN-RN, NBCSCA): San Jose forward Tomas Hertl believes the Sharks will win Game 6, saying after their Game 5 win, "We [are a] better team than them." The Golden Knights, who are 2-0 at home in this season's playoffs, have other plans, namely eliminating the Sharks for the second season in a row.

 

About last night

Here is what happened on Day 11 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Dallas Stars 5, Nashville Predators 3: Alexander Radulov and Jason Dickinson each scored two goals for the Stars, who took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round. Jamie Benn had three assists, and Ben Bishop made 30 saves for the Stars, who can win the series in Game 6 at American Airlines Center on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN1, TVAS2, FS-SW, FS-TN).

St. Louis Blues 3, Winnipeg Jets 2: Jaden Schwartz scored a hat trick and the Blues advanced to the Western Conference Second Round, where they will face either the Stars or Predators. Jordan Binnington made 18 saves for St. Louis, which won a Game 6 for the first time since April 21, 2001. They had lost their previous eight.

Video: Enterprise Hat Trick: Schwartz lifts Blues by Jets

Washington Capitals 4, Carolina Hurricanes 0: Nicklas Backstrom scored two goals and had two assists, and the defending Stanley Cup champs moved within one win of the second round. The home team has won every game in this series, which resumes at PNC Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, FS-CR, NBCSWA). The winner of this series will play the New York Islanders in the second round.

 
What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 11 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Predators made too many mistakes

The Predators had 19 giveaways, including 11 in the first period. Coach Peter Laviolette said they were "almost like those unforced errors in tennis." Too often, those mistakes ended up in the Predators net. Goalie Pekka Rinne allowed five goals on 26 shots Saturday, but his teammates didn't give him much help.

 

Stars are surging

The Stars are brimming with confidence heading back to Dallas for Game 6. The top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov was outstanding, combining for seven points (three goals, four assists) in Game 5. Their second line also was productive, with Jason Dickinson scoring two goals. The Stars also were strong defensively in the final 10 minutes of the game when the Predators, trailing 5-3, were more aggressive. The Stars know Game 6 won't be easy, but they like how their overall game has gotten better as the series has gone on.

Video: DAL@NSH, Gm5: Radulov converts Seguin's perfect pass

 

Binnington real deal for Blues

Blues rookie goalie Jordan Binnington handled his first Stanley Cup Playoff series like a veteran. He was 4-2 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage after setting Blues rookie records with 24 wins and five shutouts during the regular season. More importantly, in a tight series against the Jets, he remained calm and composed, making saves at key times, especially in a comeback 3-2 win in Winnipeg in Game 5. That kind of stable goaltending will make the Blues a dangerous opponent in the Western Conference Second Round against either the Dallas Stars or Nashville Predators.

 

Momentum was an issue for Jets

The Jets refused use it as an excuse, but inconsistencies late in the regular season caused by injuries and a heavy travel schedule (11 of the last 18 games on the road, in all four North America time zones) were not corrected sufficiently for the playoffs. Blown third-period leads in Games 1 and 5 at home were too much to overcome against a team that was their equal in points during the regular season but was playing with poise and confidence heading into the playoffs. Game 6 was the Jets' worst of the series by far, outshot 27-6 through two periods and only a late rally while the Blues were playing prevent defense made the final score look closer.

 

Hurricanes injuries might be catching up with them

After Carolina battled through injuries to win Games 3 and 4 against Washington, the hit to their forward depth appeared to take its toll in a 6-0 loss in Game 5. Playing without Andrei Svechnikov (concussion), Micheal Ferland (upper body) and Jordan Martinook (lower body), the Hurricanes looked overmatched for the first time in the series. "Definitely the injury bug, you could see it tonight," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We were missing some of these guys that make a difference in that area, but that's no excuse. We weren't beating anybody tonight." The good news is Svechnikov hopes to play in Game 6 at PNC Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, FS-CR, NBCSWA). But trailing 3-2 in the best-of-7 series and facing elimination, the Hurricanes need more from top players such as Sebastian Aho (one goal, two assists in the series), Teuvo Teravainen (one goal, one assist) and Nino Niederreiter (one assist).

 

Capitals may have found Kempny's replacement

Overshadowed even more than goalie Braden Holtby's 30-save shutout by Washington's offensive breakthrough was the play of rookie defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler. After the Capitals tried a variety of options to replace defenseman Michal Kempny, who had season-ending surgery to repair a torn left hamstring April 2, Siegenthaler got a chance Saturday to play in Kempny's usual spot on the left side on the top pair with John Carlson. Siegenthaler, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut playing mostly on the third pair with Brooks Orpik in Game 4 on Thursday, did not look out of place alongside Carlson, playing 17:28. Using Siegenthaler, 21, regularly on that pair, permitted Carlson to remain on his natural right side and not move back and forth with different partners throughout the game, which he had been doing. It also allowed the Capitals to utilize a steadier rotation of their three defense pairs.

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