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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Stars try to pull even with Blues

Islanders seek first win in second round; Blue Jackets, Sharks grab 2-1 series leads

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. There were two Game 3s on Tuesday and there will be one Game 4 and one Game 3 on Wednesday.

 

On Tap

There is one Game 3 and a Game 4 on the schedule Wednesday:  

New York Islanders at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): Andrei Svechnikov could return for Carolina when it tries to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. The rookie forward has not played since being injured in Game 3 of the first round against the Washington Capitals. The Hurricanes will be without goalie Petr Mrazek, who was injured in Game 2, and turn to 37-year-old Curtis McElhinney. The Islanders, who have scored one goal through the first two games, will likely be without injured forward Cal Clutterbuck.

St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS): The Blues look to move within one win of the Western Conference Final after a thrilling Game 3 win Monday. St. Louis is 4-0 on the road in the playoffs this season, but Dallas is in familiar territory, having fallen behind 2-1 to the Nashville Predators in the first round before winning the series in six games.

 

About last night

Here is what happened on Day 21 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Columbus Blue Jackets 2, Boston Bruins 1: Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves and the Blue Jackets, playing the first second-round home game in their history, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Boone Jenner and Matt Duchene scored for Columbus. Jake DeBrusk scored and Tuukka Rask made 32 saves for Boston. Game 4 is Thursday at Nationwide Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

San Jose Sharks 4, Colorado Avalanche 2: Logan Couture had a hat trick, including the tie-breaking goal at 12:50 of the third period, to give the Sharks a 2-1 series lead. He capped his big night by scoring into the empty net with 29.5 seconds to play for his ninth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 4 is Thursday at Pepsi Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

 

What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 21 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

McAvoy is force for Bruins

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy called defenseman Charlie McAvoy "dominant" in Game 3. It was hard to see it any other way. McAvoy topped Boston with 24:00 of ice time, putting two shots on goal, and adding seven more shot attempts. He was credited with a team-high five hits, including a massive one on Columbus forward Riley Nash, and created offensively and defensively. And he nearly got the Bruins on the board first, hitting the post at 3:37 of the first period. For a team that has often needed more from its stars in this series, it got everything it could have asked for and more from McAvoy. 

 

Jenner can drive the Blue Jackets too

Boone Jenner, who scored 30 goals in 2015-16, skated on the Blue Jackets' fourth line and played a major role in Game 3. He scored a goal on a skilled solo rush, led Columbus with five shots on goal, and had three hits and three blocked shots. John Tortorella said it was the best he has seen Jenner play since he took over as Blue Jackets coach Oct. 21, 2015. Jenner's performance is another indication of the Blue Jackets depth. They have gotten goals from 14 players in the playoffs. They need their best players to lead the way, which is happening, but they're not 6-1 in the playoffs without contributions from fourth-liners like Jenner, Riley Nash and Brandon Dubinsky, or defensemen like David Savard and Scott Harrington. Jenner had a game for the depth players Tuesday, showing loud and clear how important they are.

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm3: Jenner buries wrister from the slot

 

Jones continues to shine for Sharks

Goalie Martin Jones stopped 25 of 27 shots in Game 3, continuing a solid stretch of play, building more confidence and justifying the Sharks' faith in him after a shaky start to the postseason. Through four games of the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights, Jones was 1-3 with an .838 save percentage and was pulled twice. Since then, he is 5-1 with a .935 save percentage.

 

Avalanche need better puck management

When Colorado has been sloppy bringing the puck up the ice during the second round, the Sharks have been able to turn them over often and swing the momentum strongly in their favor. The Avalanche defensemen aren't the only guilty parties with errant passes but there have been an abundance of pucks they put to the wrong areas or directly on San Jose sticks. Colorado coach Jared Bednar pointed it out again after Game 3, that repeated dump-ins weren't hard enough to get behind the San Jose goal line, and that it helped the Sharks turn the play back up the ice so quickly that the Avalanche could never apply any pressure. That flaw helped feed the Sharks' momentum, so watch this element of Game 4 to see if the Avalanche have learned anything from this trend, that their poor puck management has coincided with their lapses in the first three games.

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