Coming into Sunday’s action, Minnesota and Los Angeles were down 2-0 and heading home while the Capitals lost their first game at home and badly needed a win to even the series before it headed to Columbus.
The NHL playoffs are only five days old and already there are teams in big trouble, especially Washington and Anaheim who lost both their games at home and are headed on the road down a pair.
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PITTSBURGH 5 PHILADELPHIA 1
Sidney Crosby is great! There is no other way to put it as he singlehandedly restored the Penguins home ice advantage with the opening goal and three assists to give the Penguins a 5-1 win and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven quarter final.
Crosby opened the scoring by taking a Patric Hornqvist pass, going around the net and tucking it in. It was his fourth goal of the series after a hat trick in Game 1.
The Penguins rode their special teams to the win as they were three-of-seven on the power play while a perfect zero-for-six on the penalty kill.
Derick Brassard made it 2-0 with a power play goal in the second period while Evgeni Malkin and Brian Dumoulin upped it to 4-0 as they scored five seconds apart to tie the NHL playoff record set in 1965 by Detroit and Chicago. Travis Sanheim broke up the shutout bid of Matt Murray to score Philadelphia’s only goal.
Nolan Patrick drew an assist on Sanheim’s goal and he has been so impressive down the stretch of the regular season as well as the start of the playoffs. The Flyers stuck with him early on, rather than sending him back to junior, or the World Juniors, or the Olympic Games as Canada wanted him badly. But he has been great of late and should be a stud in the years to come for Philly. He was drafted second overall in the 2017 Draft and deservedly so.
Justin Schultz finished the scoring as the blueliner scored with a man-advantage.
Murray made 26 saves for his second win in the post-season this year while Brian Elliott stopped only 21 shots for the loss. His 4.43 GAA and .863 save percentage make it difficult to think that the Flyers can come back and win the series.
MINNESOTA 6 WINNIPEG 2
The Wild are back in their best-of-seven series after a big 6-2 win at home over the Jets who had trouble reaching their destination due to the storm in Minnesota. The Jets tried to reach the Twin Cities on Saturday but were forced back to Winnipeg after they were forced to land in Duluth because of the storm and then sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours before returning home. They managed to make it on Sunday but the extra time may have taken its toll.
Eric Staal, Mikael Granlund and Matt Dumba each scored once and added an assist to lead the Wild to the win. Six different Wild players found the back of the net, including Zach Parise who scored his third of the playoffs and has scored once in each game. Marcus Foligno and rookie Jordan Greenway also scored for Minnesota as they scored a couple of power play goals in the first, en route to the victory.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 29 shots for his first win of the 2018 post- season while Connor Hellebuyck stopped only 16-of-22 in the first two periods before Steve Mason replaced him to start the third. He stopped all seven shots in the final stanza.
Blake Wheeler on the power play and defenseman Tyler Myers scored for the Jets. Myers was forced to leave the game in the second period with a lower body injury after colliding with Foligno. He did not return.
COLUMBUS 5 WASHINGTON 4 (Overtime)
The Blue Jackets sure love five-on-five overtime in Washington as they won for the second time in four nights with a 5-4 win over the suddenly stumbling Capitals.
Columbus has taken a 2-0 lead in the series and head back to the Ohio capital for Game 3 on Wednesday. Matt Calvert was the hero as his goal at the 12:22 mark of the overtime lit the lamp and sent the Blue Jackets home with the big advantage.
It looked to be Washington’s night as Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of power play goals to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead but the Blue Jackets fought back to win it.
While Cam Atkinson was the top scorer with a pair of goals for Columbus, sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski led the way with a goal and two assists. Josh Anderson had a goal and an assist to finish the scoring for the Blue Jackets.
Sergei Bobrovsky was sensational for the second game in a row as he turned aside 54 shots as the Capitals threw everything at him save for the kitchen sink. Bobrovsky has given the Blue Jackets playoff goaltending while the same cannot be said for Washington.
Philipp Grubauer started for the second straight game but he was pulled after two periods as he stopped only 18-of-22 shots. He was replaced after two periods by Braden Holtby who stopped seven straight shots in the third and overtime periods before being beaten by Calvert for the loss. Look for Washington coach Barry Trotz to go back to Holtby for the remainder of the series.
T.J. Oshie scored to tie the game and send it into overtime. He had a two point game Sunday.
Ovechkin had 10 shots on goal while Evgeny Kuznetsov had eight.
VEGAS 3 LOS ANGELES 2
Who can believe the Vegas Golden Knights? All year long they were the surprise team of the NHL as the expansionists won the Pacific Division. Of course, come playoff time, a majority of the pundits thought that the fourth place Los Angeles Kings would be too much for the Golden Knights but that has not been the case thus far.
Vegas entered the third period trailing 1-0 but scored three times in the final stanza and then withstood an Anze Kopitar goal to become the first team this season to take a commanding 3-0 series lead, winning 3-2.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 37 shots as he shut down the Kings to pick up his third win of the series.
Kopitar made it close but the Golden Knights prevailed. They are going to party all-night in Las Vegas after this win.