Around the NHL: Blue Jackets Upset Lightning, Islanders Moving On

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is well underway and already two teams have seen their seasons come to an end — one the postseason favorite and the other a team with two Stanley Cups already this decade.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that tied an NHL record with 62 wins in the regular season, were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in four games. The Pittsburgh Penguins, the Stanley Cup champions in 2016 and 2017, were also swept by the New York Islanders in four games.

Here is a breakdown of those two series and where the other six are after Wednesday night’s action.

Columbus defeats Tampa Bay

The series started as many would have expected. Tampa Bay opened up a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 1. But Columbus stunned the Lightning by rallying back to tie the game and take the lead on a power-play goal by Seth Jones and win Game 1, 4-3.

Columbus took the momentum from Game 1 and handily beat the Lightning in Game 2, 5-1, and Game 3, 3-1. In Tuesday’s Game 4, Columbus opened up a 3-1 lead in the first period, but Tampa rallied back to tie the game late in the second. A late goal by Oliver Bjorkstrand during a delayed penalty call put Columbus back in front, 4-3. With three empty-net goals late in the third, Columbus finished off the unlikely sweep.

It is the first time Columbus has advanced beyond the first round in franchise history. Columbus will face the winner of the Boston-Toronto series.

Islanders Move On Against Penguins

The Islanders and Penguins went back and forth in Game 1. The Islanders had a 2-1 lead after one on a goal by Brock Nelson. Evgeni Malkin tied the game with 6:19 left in the second. Nick Leddy gave the Islanders the 3-2 lead with 7:25 left in the third, but Justin Schultz scored the game-tying goal with 1:29 remaining to force overtime. It took just 4:39 for Josh Bailey to score the overtime winner.

For the rest of the series, the Islanders held the Penguins to just three goals, picking up a 3-1 win in Game 2, a 4-1 win in Game 3 and a 3-1 win in Game 4 on Tuesday to complete the series sweep.

The Islanders came up just short of a division title as one of the surprise teams in the conference this season. Under Barry Trotz, they held the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel at bay the entire series.

The Islanders will face the winner of the Washington-Carolina series.

Washington Has Edge on Carolina

Much like Tampa Bay, Washington opened up a 3-0 lead in first period of Game 1 and Carolina started on the comeback trail, getting two goals in the third period to threaten late. An empty-net goal sealed the Game 1 result for the Capitals.

Carolina did rally back in Game 2 to force overtime on a power-play goal by Jordan Staal with five minutes left in the third. But in overtime, Brooks Orpik scored at 1:48 to put Washington ahead in the series, 2-0.

Carolina announced their presence in the series in Game 3. With two goals from Warren Foegele and two goals from Dougie Hamilton, the Hurricanes rolled to a 5-0 win to cut the deficit in the series to 2-1.

Game 4 is on Thursday night.

Boston Even with Toronto

So far, these two teams have alternated decisions. Toronto took Game 1 on the road, 4-1, and the Bruins returned the favor in Game 2 by the same score.

Game 2 is remembered for Nazem Kadri’s deliberate hit to the head of Jake DeBrusk, which netted him a suspension that will last for the remainder of the first round of the playoffs.

Toronto moved ahead in the series again in Game 3 with a 3-2 win over the Bruins. Boston got the series evened up again in Game 4 on Wednesday with a 6-4 win.

Colorado Has Calgary on Brink

Calgary opened the series with a dominant 4-0 win, but things shifted dramatically in the next three games.

In Game 2, J.T. Compher tied the game with 2:39 remaining in the third period and Nathan MacKinnon scored in overtime to win the game and even the series.

In Game 3, Colorado cruised to a 6-2 win to take the series lead.

In Game 4, Calgary took a 2-0 lead, but held a one-goal lead late in the third period. A power-play goal by Mikko Rantanen tied the game with 2:50 remaining in the third. In overtime, Rantanen scored again to give Colorado a commanding 3-1 lead in the series on the Western Conference No. 1 seed.

Dallas Hanging Tough with Nashville

The Dallas Stars were one of the last teams to make the playoffs and held on in Game 1 against the Central Division winners for a 3-2 win on the road.

Nashville bounced back in Game 2 with a 2-1 overtime win on a goal by Craig Smith to even the series. The Predators also took Game 3 on a third-period goal by Mikael Granlund and a stellar performance in goal by Pekka Rinne.

In Wednesday’s Game 4, the Stars got the series evened up again, storming out to a 4-0 lead in the first period and chasing Rinne from the game in a 5-1 win.

Jets and Blues Tied Through 4

It’s been a road affair in this series. St. Louis took Games 1 and 2 in Winnipeg with third period game-winning goals in each game.

In the opener, David Perron tied the game at 4:05 and Tyler Bozak scored with 2:05 to play in the third. In Game 2, an early third-period goal by Ryan O’Reilly proved to be the game-winner.

As the series shifted to St. Louis, the Jets got back into the series. A three-goal second period put the Jets in front and they finished off the rally with three more goals in the third for a 6-3 win. In Game 4, Kyle Connor scored the game-winning goal at 6:02 of overtime to tie the series and send it back to Winnipeg.

Game 5 will be on Thursday night.

Vegas on Cusp of Advancing

The Sharks made the first move in the series, taking a 4-1 lead after two periods on their way to a 5-2 win in Game 1. But since then, it’s been all Vegas.

The Golden Knights responded with three goals in short order in Game 2 to take a 3-0 lead, only to have San Jose come back and tie the game before the period was over. A power-play goal by Mark Stone and a shorthanded goal by William Karlsson put Game 2 away for Vegas.

In Game 3, Stone got things started early with the first goal on his way to a hat trick just 16 seconds into the game. Vegas opened up a 5-1 lead before San Jose trimmed the gap to two. Stone’s hat trick came complete with Vegas’ final goal in a 6-3 win.

In Game 4, Vegas cruised to a 5-0 shutout win with Marc-Andre Fleury making 28 saves and Max Pacioretty scoring two goals. The win gave the Golden Knights a 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is on Thursday night.