Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. There are two Game 4s on Thursday with the Colulmbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks looking to take 3-1 leads in their respective series:
Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is about to crack. The Bruins, who have a total of three goals in the past two games, better hope so. They trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 and need a win at Nationwide Arena, where the Blue Jackets are 3-0 during the postseason.
San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): Is any player hotter right now than Sharks forward Logan Couture? He has six points (five goals, one assist) in his past four games, including a hat trick in the Game 3 win that gave San Jose a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.
Need to know
Here are storylines to watch heading into the games Thursday:
The Bruins need more from Brad Marchand, and a key to that is him staying out of the penalty box.
The Blue Jackets have taken their 2-1 lead against the Bruins on the strength of their power play.
Avalance center Nathan MacKinnon got some advice from Pittsburgh Penuins captain Sidney Crosby before the playoffs began.
The Avalanche know they need to cut down on the mistakes against San Jose in Game 4.
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 22 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Aho contributing at both ends for Hurricanes
After leading the Hurricanes with personal NHL highs of 30 goals and 83 points during the regular season, Sebastian Aho has struggled at times to produce during his first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 21-year-old center has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 10 games, including an empty-net goal and an assist Wednesday, but he's found ways to contribute besides scoring. His play to set up Justin Williams' winning goal with 9:45 remaining in the third period stands out most. He demonstrated his world-class skill and instincts by reading where Islanders goalie Robin Lehner was going to pass the puck behind the net, batted it down out of mid-air and fed Williams in the slot. Equally impressive was his effort on the backcheck that prevented a Grade A scoring chance for Josh Bailey in the second period.
Islanders didn't test McElhinney enough
The Islanders knew that 35-year-old Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney had never started an NHL playoff game prior to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, but New York coach Barry Trotz admitted afterwards that though his team had 30 shots on goal, it didn't generate enough quality chances or pounce when McElhinney allowed a big rebound. Again in Game 3, there were instances when they had a clear shot but elected to try and make another pass.
It is unknown if McElhinney will start again in Game 4 -- Petr Mrazek is day to day with a lower-body injury -- but the Islanders know they will need to play with added desperation in Game 4 with their season on the line and shoot the puck when the opportunity presents itself.
Blues, Stars coaches playing game of chess
The Stars made changes to their top line in Game 4, similar to what the Blues did in Game 3. St. Louis coach Craig Berube's move of Jaden Schwartz to the top line worked that night, and Dallas' moves resulted in a win Wednesday.
Stars coach Jim Montgomery shifted Tyler Seguin to the second line, between Mats Zuccarello and Jason Dickinson, and moved Roope Hintz up to the first line between Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov.
The changes worked. Seguin and Zuccarello each had two assists and Dickinson scored the Stars' first goal. Hintz scored Dallas' fourth goal, and Radulov and Benn combined for three assists.
Video: STL@DAL, Gm4: Dickinson beats Binnington in tight
Blues need to rein in their emotions
The Blues weren't buying the theory that they lost their composure in Game 4, but they'll need to do a better job of keeping their emotions in check in Game 5. Goalie Jordan Binnington was assessed a roughing minor against Stars captain Jamie Benn and a slashing penalty against Dallas goalie Ben Bishop at the end of the second period, perhaps letting his passions get the better of him with his team trailing 4-1. There's no reason to believe he won't rebound on home ice with the series tied 2-2.
About last night
Here is what happened on Day 22 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Carolina Hurricanes 5, New York Islanders 2: Justin Williams scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and the Carolina Hurricanes moved within one win of the Eastern Conference Final with the Game 3 victory. Teuvo Teravainen scored two goals, including an empty-net goal with 58 seconds left. Justin Faulk scored, and Sebastian Aho added an empty-net goal with five seconds remaining. Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves for Carolina. The Islanders have lost three in a row after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.
Video: NYI@CAR, Gm3: Williams pots Aho's feed for lead
Dallas Stars 4, St. Louis Blues 2: Ben Bishop made 27 saves and the Stars evened the best-of-7 series with the Game 4 win. Jason Dickinson, Jason Spezza, John Klingberg and Roope Hintz scored for Dallas. Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Mats Zuccarello each had two assists. Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas scored and Jordan Binnington made 27 saves for the Blues, who lost for the first time in five road playoff games.
Video: STL@DAL, Gm4: Bishop stops bid from O'Reilly
Listen: New episode of NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast