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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Bruins, Sharks hope home ice is edge in Game 5

Boston hosts Blue Jackets; San Jose tries to slow MacKinnon, Avalanche

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. There were two games on Friday, with one series coming to an end: 
 

 

On Tap

There are two Game 5s on the schedule Saturday; in each case the series is tied 2-2.  

Columbus Blue Jackets at Boston Bruins (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS): The last time the Bruins hosted a Game 5 with a series tied 2-2, they lost at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Coming off their Game 4 win in Columbus on Thursday, they are looking to keep the momentum going instead of putting themselves on the brink of elimination. Boston's power play, which had been 1-for-9 in the first three games of the series, went 2-for-6 in Game 4 and that, along with the fact forward David Pastrnak scored one goal and center Patrice Bergeron had two, could be a sign the scales are tipping in this series. But the Blue Jackets are 3-1 on the road this postseason and will look to win another. 

Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): Center Nathan MacKinnon did it all for the Avalanche in their Game 4 win and looks to stay hot with the series shifting to SAP Center. MacKinnon and forward Mikko Rantanen are tied for the NHL playoff scoring lead with 13 points each, and they could give the Sharks headaches. San Jose faced elimination in Game 5 in the first round but won at home and went on to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games. With the way the Avalanche have played at home this postseason, San Jose can't risk going back to Denver down 3-2. 

 

About last night

Here is what happened on Day 24 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Carolina Hurricanes 5, New York Islanders 2: The Hurricanes reached the Eastern Conference Final by sweeping the Islanders. Center Sebastian Aho and forward Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist, and goalie Curtis McElhinney made 26 saves for the Hurricanes, who completed the first sweep of a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series in Carolina/Hartford Whalers history.

Dallas Stars 2, St. Louis Blues 1: Goalie Ben Bishop made 38 saves and the Stars moved within one win of the Western Conference Final. Forward Jason Spezza and defenseman Esa Lindell scored for the Stars. Forward Jaden Schwartz scored, and goalie Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for St. Louis, which is trailing in a series for the first time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 24 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Hurricanes are for real

Maybe some thought Carolina would run out of gas after outlasting the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in seven games in the first round. Or maybe some thought it was a fluke. But after a four-game sweep of the Islanders in the second round, it would be unwise to doubt this team again. The Hurricanes have dealt with a slew of injuries, including losing No. 1 goalie Petr Mrazek (lower body) in the second period of Game 2 against New York, and haven't missed a beat. In fact, getting forwards Andrei Svechnikov (concussion) and Jordan Martinook (lower body) back for Game 3 made the Hurricanes even more formidable; they outscored the Islanders 10-4 over the final two games of the series to extend their postseason winning streak to six. Waiting for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins to finish their second-round series might slow Carolina's momentum, but the Hurricanes are viewing it as a chance to rest and recover before revving up for the Eastern Conference Final.

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Carolina surges to Conference Final

 

Islanders beaten at their own game

Coach Barry Trotz basically admitted as much after the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Second Round. Carolina was able to frustrate New York with its 5-on-5 play, allowing two goals at even strength over the course of the series. The Hurricanes consistently took away shooting lanes and, much like the Islanders did in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, quickly responded any time it appeared New York had any momentum. Perhaps the long layoff after sweeping the first round hurt the Islanders, but one has to wonder if forward Jordan Eberle would have continued his torrid scoring pace -- he had a goal in each of the four games against the Penguins in the first round -- had there not been 10 days between games.

 

Stars speedy forwards creating havoc on penalty kill

If not for Binnington, Dallas could have had at least one shorthanded goal, if not more. The Blues goalie stopped three Stars breakaways with St. Louis on the power play; another Dallas shot hit the post. The opportunities are coming because of the pressure Stars forwards are putting on the point men of the Blues, who appear rattled by the speed of the penalty killers and continue to turn pucks over. 

 

Blues get careless

St. Louis didn't have its best game handling the puck, committing 15 giveaways to six by Dallas. Perhaps part of the problem was the Stars pressure, evident throughout the game. But Blues coach Craig Berube said it was more about what his team wasn't doing; they weren't supporting each other or keeping their composure under pressure. Binnington minimized a lot of the potential damage, but St. Louis has to be better in front of him.

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