Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL postseason. There was two Game 7s on Tuesday, one featuring an incredible comeback that led to an OT thriller. And there is one final first-round game remaining to be played on Wednesday.
The final game of the first round will be played Wednesday:
Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS, NBCSWA, FS-CR): The first round concludes with the defending Stanley Cup champions needing a win at home to advance to the second round. The home team has won every game of this series, which is good for Washington. The bad news? The Hurricanes have forward Justin Williams, who is the NHL all-time leading scorer in Game 7 with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in eight games where he and his teams are 7-1.
About last night
Here is what happened on Day 14 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Boston Bruins 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 1: The Bruins didn't need a comeback to eliminate the Maple Leafs this time around, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on their way to the Game 7 victory. Boston needed third-period rallies to defeat the Maple Leafs in Game 7 during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs and last season. The Bruins will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference Second Round; Game 1 is at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
San Jose Sharks 5, Vegas Golden Knights 4: Forward Barclay Goodrow's goal at 18:19 of overtime capped one of the wildest playoff games in recent memory, sending San Jose to the Western Second Round against the Colorado Avalanche. The Golden Knights led 3-0 in the third period, but the Sharks scored four times in 4:01 during a five-minute power play after Vegas center Cody Eakin took a major penalty for cross-checking San Jose center Joe Pavelski. The Golden Knights tied the game with 47 seconds left, on a goal by center Jonathan Marchessault, to send the game to OT. San Jose will face the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Second Round; Game 1 is at SAP Center on Friday (time and TV TBD).
Video: Sharks' power play sparks 5-4 comeback Game 7 OT win
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 14 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Lack of secondary scoring cost Maple Leafs
Three Maple Leafs players scored more than one goal in the seven-game series: centers Auston Matthews (five), John Tavares (two) and Mitchell Marner (two). That was not enough, especially for a team that prided itself on its offensive skill. Six other Toronto forwards scored one goal each over seven games; that could not support the top guns, who were checked closely throughout the majority of the series by Boston. Marner scored each of his goals in Game 1, a 4-1 Toronto victory, and went without a goal for the next six games. Secondary scoring was not believed to be an issue heading into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the end, it certainly proved to be.
Bruins run deep
Though we learned the Maple Leafs needed more beyond their top players, we also learned the Bruins go deeper than just elite center Patrice Bergeron and forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Boston's top line was tasked with shutting down the Tavares line, which it did, leaving an opening for other players to provide some offense. Which they did, at the most crucial moment of the season, when center Joakim Nordstrom, forward Marcus Johansson, center Charlie Coyle and center Sean Kuraly each scored for the Bruins in Game 7. Coyle tied for second on Boston with three goals in the series and Nordstrom scored twice in the seven games. When the Bruins are healthy -- which they mostly are -- they go beyond their stars, all the way to a fourth line that might be their best since the 2011 Stanley Cup win that featured the Merlot Line (Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille). That will be more and more important as they head deeper into the playoffs this season.
Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Boston moves on to Second Round
Couture is difference-maker for Sharks
Center Logan Couture scored two of the four power-play goals in the third period that turned a three-goal hole into a 4-3 lead for the Sharks in Game 7. That gave Couture six goals in the playoffs, tying him for the lead with San Jose center Tomas Hertl and Golden Knights forward Mark Stone, and eight points. It's easy to forget, but Couture led all players with 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 24 games when the Sharks went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. He has 89 points (40 goals, 49 assists) in 103 career playoff games.
Golden Knights now know heartbreak
Vegas set records for NHL expansion teams and went to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season of 2017-18. Yes, the Golden Knights lost to the Washington Capitals in five games and watched them celebrate on their ice. But they had no expectations. It was magical. This season, they set out for nothing less than the Cup, and they had a 3-0 lead in the third period of the first Game 7 in their history with about 5,000 fans watching on a big screen in Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena back home. And then, in a blur, they lost 5-4 in overtime. Vegas fans now have experienced what so many other hockey fans have: heartbreak.
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