Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. There is one game Sunday, with one team looking to advance to the Western Conference Final:
There is one game Sunday, with one team looking to advance to the Western Conference Final:
St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS): The Stars look to reach the conference final for the first time since 2007-08 with a win in Game 6 at American Airlines Center. The Blues are 4-1 on the road in the postseason, but lost Game 4 in Dallas and have scored three goals in their past two games.
About last night
Here is what happened on Day 25 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Boston Bruins 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3: David Pastrnak scored his second goal of Game 5 with 1:28 remaining in the third period to move the Bruins within one win of the Eastern Conference Final. Pastrnak scored the game-winner on a 2-on-1 off a pass from Brad Marchand, who had a goal and two assists. Tuukka Rask made 33 saves. Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves for Columbus.
San Jose Sharks 2, Colorado Avalanche 1: Tomas Hertl scored his second goal of Game 5 at 6:26 of the third period to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round. Philipp Grubauer made 37 saves and Tyson Jost scored for the Avalanche.
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 25 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Bruins can win at 5-on-5
So far, the Eastern Conference Second Round between the Bruins and Blue Jackets has often felt like a special-teams battle. It took two power-play goals for the Bruins to win 4-1 in Game 4, and they lost the previous two games while scoring one power-play goal in Game 2 and none in Game 3. But despite going 0-for-2 with the man-advantage in Game 5, the Bruins scored four even-strength goals in a 4-3 win that put them ahead 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. They got three goals from their top line -- two from David Pastrnak, one from Brad Marchand -- and proved that they haven't entirely been stymied by the Blue Jackets. The passes were crisper, the shots were on target and the pressure didn't get to them. The Bruins were waiting to see what they'd seen all season at 5-on-5, especially from their top line. They finally got it.
Video: Pastrnak helps Bruins put Blue Jackets on brink
Blue Jackets found lines that work
Expect Columbus' forward lines at the start of Game 6 on Monday to look drastically different from what they were for the first two periods of Game 5. The Blue Jackets discovered lines that worked in the third period and scored three goals with three different lines on the ice in a span of 3:25 after going more than 100 minutes without a goal. Boone Jenner centered Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson. They were on the ice when Seth Jones scored at 10:33 to make it 2-1, Boston. Matt Duchene centered Ryan Dzingel and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Dzingel scored off a pass from Duchene to cut the Bruins' lead to 3-2 at 12:07. Panarin, who played with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson, set up Dean Kukan for a one-timer that tied the game 3-3 at 13:58. Columbus also recognized the ability of defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, who played 14:17 in his NHL debut and was on the second pair with David Savard after the first period.
Burns excels defensively for Sharks
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, the Norris Trophy winner in 2016-17 and a finalist again this season, has struggled defensively at times during the 2019 playoffs. He had an especially hard time in a 3-0 loss to the Avalanche in Game 4, but he and partner Marc-Edouard Vlasic shut down Colorado's top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen in a 2-1 win in Game 5. Wherever MacKinnon went, there was someone in his face, and often it was Burns. MacKinnon had one shot on goal and his eight-game point streak ended.
Video: Hertl scores twice to lead Sharks to Game 5 win
Avalanche won't win with B game
Colorado felt strong and confident after Game 4, but with a couple of elements of its game not working well in Game 5, its odds of winning diminished significantly. The power play was 0-for-3 with one shot on goal and MacKinnon was held off the scoresheet for the first time in the series. The Avalanche were also less determined in their checking than in Game 4 and when the Sharks ramped up that element of their game, the 39-22 shots-on-goal tally for San Jose described the swing in momentum perfectly.