Tampa Bay Lightning are champions of the Central Division, waiting for the winner of the New York Islanders vs. The Boston Bruins East Division final, a series that could end on the island Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens got a game closer to see which team they face in the Stanley Cup semifinals, as the Vegas Golden Knights now have a 3-2 lead over the Colorado Avalanche after an overtime thriller.
Check out the ESPN NHL Playoffs Daily to catch up every day of the mail season until the Stanley Cup is handed out in July.
More: Playback schedule | Playoff Central
Game 6: Boston Bruins at New York Islanders | 19:30 (islands lead 3-2)
The Islanders have a chance to close out this series and bring another round of playoff hockey to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Excuse me, did we say the islanders? Of course, we mean “The New York Saints”, which is what Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy renamed the team during his epic postgame rant about unbalanced penalties in Game 5. There may be a reference or two to the Saints in the stands in Game 6, we imagine U.S. But will Cassidy’s words have any bearing on the way the game is called?
Around last night
Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Carolina Hurricanes 0 (Lightning wins 4-1)
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour lamented his team’s 6-4 loss in Game 4 because the team did not take advantage of a rare off night from Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy. Game 6 proved to be correct: Vasilevskiy was excellent, making 29 saves in the Bolts’ shutout victory that eliminated Carolina. Brayden Point scored on power play and Ross Colton added assurance for Lightning. Alex Nedeljkovic made 23 saves for the Hurricanes, but the return of Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck could not trigger a Hurricanes rally in the series, and the club has some expensive business to deal with this offseason. Full summary
Vegas Golden Knights 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT) (Knights lead 3-2)
Mark Stone’s goal of 50 seconds in overtime sent the avalanche to the brink of elimination as the Golden Knights gathered for victory in Game 5. Colorado had a 2-0 lead into the third period, after going 31-1-1 in the normal season as they led after two periods. But goals from Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault equalized the match. The Avs played better in their return to Denver, but could not put the game away. Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon has now gone three games without a point and has not scored a goal since the first game, despite coach Jared Bednar encrypting his top lines. Full summary
Three starred at night
1. Mark Stone, F, Vegas Golden Knights
Stone is now completely in the Conn Smythe conversation after his winner of overtime play in Game 5. He has eight points in 12 games, but his work at both ends of the ice has been crucial for the Knights. “He was exhausted, and you saw how hard he skated,” said the knight’s forward Alex Tuch. “He’s the heart and soul of this team. He’s the captain we’ve always wanted.”
Mark Stone saves the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Golden Knights to a comeback Game 5 victory against Avs.
2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning
Vasilevskiy made history in Game 5 and became the first goalie in NHL history with shutouts in clinch games in three consecutive series and is traced back to last season’s Stanley Cup final.
3. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas Golden Knights
Stone would not have a chance to win Game 5 if it were not for the Fleury game, which recovered from a soft goal at the end of the first period and made 28 saves in the game. This included a point-blank save at the start of overtime at JT Compher, which Knights players cited as important to their victory. “We wanted to help him out. He’s saved us out all year,” Tuch said.
Quote of the day
“It’s not the regular season. It’s not the Blues for that matter. It’s Vegas. Our game was needed to be called up to a point where you can play to win against Vegas.”
– Avalanche coach Jared Bednar
Suspension clock of the day
Bad hit by Palat here who gets two minutes for an illegal check to the head of Brett Pesce. Missing the body and squeezing him high up pic.twitter.com/8IJUwWWj6w
– NHL Safety Watch (@NHLSafetyWatch) June 9, 2021
When Lightning opens the next round against the Bruins or Islanders, they could be without Ondrej Palat after this attempted header on Carolina defender Brett Pesce. He received a minor punishment for an illegal check in the head.
Top line Saad with a top level goal 🤩 # GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/G7XiEo1eY1
– p – Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) June 9, 2021
Brandon Saad scored with 0.8 seconds left in the first period on a goal that Fleury certainly would have left.
ALMOST a buzzer. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/kKxzHj3ROv
– NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) June 9, 2021
At the end of the second period, Lightning almost hit the buzz for a 2-0 lead, but the puck crossed only a few tenths of a second late.