Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There are no playoff games scheduled for Friday and there was one Thursday.
What We Learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 26 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Colorado can't get over the hump
The Colorado Avalanche are loaded with talent and the Presidents' Trophy winners believed this was their year to make a run at winning the Stanley Cup. Instead, they're heading home earlier than they expected. After being eliminated in a 6-3 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Second Round on Thursday, the Avalanche were looking for answers. Center Nathan MacKinnon said the Golden Knights put them on their heels in Games 3 and 4, "and we couldn't shake that off," losing four straight. Captain Gabriel Landeskog said mistakes, turnovers and lapses cost them in Games 4-6. Goalie Philipp Grubauer's goals-against average went from 1.75 in the first round to 3.18 in the second. They also missed center Nazem Kadri, who was suspended eight games for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of the first round. Kadri would have been eligible to return for Game 7. The early exit is a tough pill to swallow. -- Tracey Myers, staff writer
Pietrangelo signing pays off for Vegas
Alex Pietrangelo scored what turned out to be the winning goal when the Golden Knights eliminated the Avalanche on Thursday. The defenseman scored five points (one goal, four assists) in the series, led Vegas in ice time (24:19 per game) and blocked 22 shots. "I thought he was the best player in the series on either team," Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. "He was an absolute monster for us." Pietrangelo, who captained the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019, signed with Vegas as a free agent Oct. 12, 2020. "That's what we brought him here for, for this time of year and for those situations," DeBoer said. -- Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
About Last Night
There was one playoff game Thursday:
Vegas Golden Knights 6, Colorado Avalanche 3: Pietrangelo had a goal and an assist, Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves and 12 skaters scored at least one point in the Golden Knights victory. Vegas won the final four games of the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Second Round against Colorado and will play the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. It's the third time in the Golden Knights' four seasons that they advanced past the second round of the playoffs. The Avalanche scored the first goal, by defenseman Devon Toews 23 seconds into the first period. After Colorado forward Andre Burakovsky tied the game 3-3 at 16:52 of the second period, Pietrangelo scored the series-winner with 18 seconds remaining in the period. Vegas scored two more goals in the third, by forward William Carrier at 11:46 and an empty-net goal by forward Max Pacioretty at 16:50.
Video: Daneyko on the Golden Knights series-clinching win