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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Bruins go for 2-0 series lead

Hurricanes win second-round opener against Islanders; Sharks beat Avalanche in Game 1

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL postseason. There were two Game 1s on Friday; and there will be two Game 2s on Saturday. 

 

On Tap

The second round of the playoffs continues with Game 2s:  

Columbus Blue Jackets at Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET. NBC, SN, CBC, TVAS): For the first time this postseason the Blue Jackets will look to rebound from a loss, having swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. The Bruins have won three straight postseason games, getting a total of 12 goals from nine different scorers. They look to use that scoring depth to take a 2-0 series lead.

The Dallas Stars defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round earlier Saturday.

 

About last night

Here is what happened on Day 17 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: 

Carolina Hurricanes 1, New York Islanders 0 (OT): Jordan Staal scored the only goal of the game at 4:04 of overtime to give the Hurricanes their third straight win in the playoffs and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Staal scored after a shot by Nino Niederreiter came off the end boards to him at the bottom of the right circle, and his short-side shot hit the left skate of Islanders goalie Robin Lehner and went in. Petr Mrazek made 31 saves for Carolina; Lehner made 31 for New York. It was the first loss of the postseason for the Islanders, who swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and last played April 16.

San Jose Sharks 5, Colorado Avalanche 2: Brent Burns had a goal and three assists, and Joe Thornton (goal, assist) and Marcus Sorensen (two assists) each had two points for the Sharks, who have won four straight postseason games and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson scored, and Philipp Grubauer made 22 saves for the Avalanche, who had won their past four games.

Video: Thornton's goal, assist propel Sharks to Game 1 win

 

What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 16 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Hurricanes are resilient 

The Hurricanes continue to show resilience while defying the odds, winning their third straight game despite not having forwards Andrei Svechnikov (concussion protocol), Micheal Ferland (upper-body injury) and Jordan Martinook (lower-body injury) in the lineup. Carolina went 4-for-4 on the penalty-kill against the Islanders and is 9-for-9 during its three-game win streak. Coach Rod Brind'Amour credited his team for figuring out a way to match the intensity of the Islanders from the outset despite having played a double-overtime Game 7 against the Washington Capitals less than 48 hours prior to puck drop. There's a belief and expectation that players have in one another to get the job done no matter how difficult the situation, making the Hurricanes a very dangerous and confident group.

Video: Standout Game 1 moments from Islanders, Hurricanes

 

Islanders still confident 

The Islanders know this isn't going to be easy. They understand the Hurricanes are here for a reason, especially after they rallied to defeat the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round in an epic seven-game series that required double overtime in Game 7. But New York was pleased with the bulk of its performance, considering it hadn't played for 10 days and the rust seemed to dissipate within the first six or seven minutes of Game 1. There was an overwhelming confidence in the Islanders' dressing room afterwards that they won't need to tweak much to have a better result when the best-of-7 series resumes Sunday.

 

Thornton's line makes difference for Sharks 

Joe Thornton was an impact player against the Avalanche with a goal and an assist, and his line was the biggest reason the Sharks won Game 1. Thornton, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen helped generate three goals in 8:55 of the second period to pull the Sharks from down 2-1 to up 4-2. Thornton has six points (two goals, four assists) in seven playoff games this season and was precise with his passing, well-positioned in his checking and deadly with his shot when he and Sorensen converted a 2-on-1 in the second period. With captain Joe Pavelski out with injury, Thornton's step-up game showed leadership in spades.

 

Avalanche are not only fast team in series

Colorado may have more faster straight-line skaters but still seemed discombobulated by the Sharks' quickness in Game 1. The Avalanche had a decent enough start to the game, even had a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but made a number of risky plays in the middle of the ice, some forced by San Jose's getting in on the forecheck quickly. Once that started leading to turnovers, the Sharks were tough to stop. If the Avalanche don't do a better job of dealing with San Jose's quickness going forward, they are inviting a world of trouble against a veteran team that will prey on their mistakes.

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