Around the NHL: 1st Round Stunners

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is complete and man, were there some shocking results and wild finishes to series.

Last week, it was already known that the President’s Trophy winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning, were eliminated, as were the Pittsburgh Penguins. Six other teams have joined, and many of them were near the top of the regular-season standings.

Here is a breakdown of the remaining six series and the second-round matchups.

Eastern Conference

Boston Outlasts Toronto in Another 7-Game Series

It should come as no surprise that a playoff series between the Bruins and Maple Leafs went the distance. The result was all too familiar.

In our last update a week ago, Boston had pulled even with Toronto with a 6-4 win in Game 4. Toronto had a response in Game 5 with a 2-1 win with all three goals coming in the third period.

With a chance to clinch in Game 6, Toronto took the lead in the first period, but the Bruins took a 2-1 lead by the end of the period and held on to force a Game 7.

In Game 7 on Tuesday night, the Bruins struck for two late goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. John Tavares scored to cut the lead to one in the second. But in the third, the Bruins put things away with an early goal by Sean Kuraly and two empty-net goals late.

Toronto has not won a playoff series since 2004. It was the third time Boston had defeated Toronto in a Game 7 since 2013.

Carolina Completes the Comeback

The Hurricanes made it a series again with a dominant 5-0 win in Game 3 to bring the series margin back to 2-1. In Game 4, they evened the series with a 2-1 win.

The defending Stanley Cup champions piled on in a 6-0 win in Game 5 on Saturday night, setting the stage for a Game 6 in Carolina.

Carolina got a third-period goal from Jordan Staal, a generous call on a potential tying goal for the Capitals and came right back and scored on a goal by Justin Williams to swing the momentum in their favor for good, forcing a deciding Game 7 on Wednesday night.

In Game 7, Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, but the Hurricanes did not go quietly. They cut the lead to one in the second on a shorthanded goal by Sebastian Aho. But Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first of the series to make it 3-1 shortly after. A late goal by Teuvo Teravainen cut the lead back to one before the end of the period.

Jordan Staal scored the equalizer at 2:56 of the third period, setting up a marathon for the deciding goal. The rest of the third period went by, with the Capitals outshooting the Hurricanes, 12-5, forcing overtime. The Hurricanes outshot the Capitals, 11-4, in the first overtime, but no scoring forced a second.

Finally, at 11:05 of the second overtime, a turnaround shot by Justin Williams, Mr. Game 7, was tipped in by Brock McGinn at the front of the net to send Carolina to the second round and knock out the Metropolitan Division winners and defending Stanley Cup champions.

Western Conference

Avalanche Douse Flames

As of our last update last week, Colorado was on the verge of completing another first-round upset. They took care of business in Game 5.

It was a dominant 5-1 win on Friday night that was virtually never in doubt. Two goals in the first opened up a 2-1 lead, two more in the second made it 4-1 and an early power-play goal by Mikko Rantanen completed the scoring.

Calgary was the West’s top seed, and this upset by Colorado marked the first time both No. 1 seeds in each conference have been eliminated in the first round.

Blues Run Continues with Series Win Over Jets

Entering Game 5 with the series tied, Winnipeg took just 12 seconds to get on the board and put together a strong opening period, getting out to a 2-0 lead.

St. Louis had an answer in the third period. At 1:29, Ryan O’Reilly got the Blues on the board with a power-play goal. Brayden Schenn tied the game with 6:08 remaining in the third. With just 15 seconds remaining in the third, Jaden Schwartz scored the deciding goal that gave St. Louis the series lead.

Back on home ice for Game 6, the Schwartz show continued. Schwartz scored a natural hat trick to give St. Louis a 3-0 lead at 3:55 of the third period. The Jets scored two goals to cut the lead to one, but could not erase the deficit and the Blues claimed the series.

Stars Knock Out Predators

Following a dominant 5-1 win over the Predators in Game 4 to even the series, the Dallas Stars just kept the foot on the game. They took to the road for Game 5 and picked up a convincing 5-3 win to bring a 3-2 series lead home.

Nashville took the early lead in the first and held it until 5:20 of the second period when Blake Comeau tied things up. For the rest of the game, it was a showing of the goaltenders. Both Ben Bishop and Pekka Rinne shined in the game as Game 6 reached overtime.

It took 17:02 for the deciding goal to be scored, and it was John Klingberg sealing the series for Dallas.

San Jose Stuns Vegas

Following a 5-0 win in Game 4, it looked like Vegas was on their way to another series win. The Sharks had other ideas on home ice in Game 5, picking up a dominant 5-2 win to force Game 6.

Back on the road, the Sharks picked up a stunning victory to force Game 7. Locked in a 1-1 game in double overtime, Vegas got a power play with a chance to win the series. Instead, Tomas Hertl scored shorthanded to send the series back to San Jose.

In Game 7, it appeared Vegas was in control again, getting a goal in the first and another in the second to take a 2-0 lead to the third. When Max Pacioretty scored at 3:36 of the third period, it appeared Vegas was finally going to lock it down.

Then came the penalty call everyone will be talking about for quite some time. Cody Eakin took down Joe Pavelski off a face-off. Pavelski was knocked out cold on the ice and bleeding. The officials assessed a major penalty to Eakin. The Sharks got a goal from Logan Couture six seconds into the major, a goal from Hertl 53 seconds in, another from Couture with 1:21 left in the major and a goal from Kevin Labanc with 52 seconds left in the major. Four goals in 4:08 of a five-minute penalty completely changed the game.

Vegas didn’t go quietly, scoring with 47 seconds remaining in the third to tie the game and force overtime.

At 18:19 of overtime, Barclay Goodrow played hero, completing the Sharks stunning comeback.

Second Round

In the East, the Bruins will host the Blue Jackets in a series that begins on Thursday night. The Islanders will host Carolina in the other series, beginning on Friday night.

In the West, the Blues become the host team for the Dallas Stars in a series that begins on Thursday night. The Sharks will host Colorado in a series that begins on Friday night.

All four of the wildcard teams advanced in the playoffs and only three of the Top 10 teams in regular-season points got past the first round.

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