NHL Playoff Buzzer: Goalies make difference in Game 2 action

  • The Penguins protected their Game 2 lead vs. the Islanders to tie the series 1-1.
  • In another nasty game, the Lightning beat the Panthers once again, taking a 2-0 series lead.
  • The Golden Knights looked like they were in trouble, but they won Game 2 vs. the Wild to tie the series 1-1.
  • There’s even more 2021 Stanley Cup Playoff action on Wednesday: four postseason games.

Game 2: Penguins 2, Islanders 1 (series tied 1-1)

Last time, Pittsburgh couldn’t make a 2-1 lead against the Islanders last through the third period. In Game 2, the Penguins locked down the Islanders to tie up the series. Semyon Varlamov shook off a bad 1-0 goal allowed to Bryan Rust; then the Penguins shook off a very bad Rust penalty late in the third. As tight-checking as this one was, there were plenty of hits and shots. It’s now a “best-of-five” series between the Islanders and Penguins.

Game 2: Lightning 3, Panthers 1 (TBL leads series 2-0)

On one hand, Florida’s frequently looked capable of hanging with Tampa Bay. On the other hand, the Lightning slowed down the often-frenzied Panthers attack more often in Game 2, and now the defending champs have a 2-0 series lead. That mixture of skill and hard feelings has made the first-ever Florida playoff series a blast, but Joel Quenneville needs to find answers or it will be short-but-citrusy-sweet.

Game 2: Golden Knights 3, Wild 1 (series tied 1-1)

The Wild dominated the first period of Game 2 against the Golden Knights, but couldn’t beat Marc-Andre Fleury. They ended up scoring their only goal of the contest in the second period, and that lead only lasted 18 seconds. Jonathan Marchessault tied it up, and Alex Tuch collected two goals to gain a huge win for Vegas.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 First Round schedule, TV info]

Three Stars for Game 2 action from Tuesday in the NHL

1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights

Really, you could make an argument for any of the three Game 2-winning goals in the NHL on Tuesday. Jarry actually ended up with slightly more saves, and if you want to count non-playoff games, Thatcher Demko was excellent in a contest that will be quickly forgotten.

But, really, it’s got to be Marc-Andre Fleury.

MAF ended up with 34 saves in driving the Golden Knights’ Game 2 win over the Wild. After only allowing a single goal but losing, it had to be satisfying to win here.

Kind of, well, wild that there was some thought to starting Robin Lehner, eh?

2. Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins

On a Tuesday of Game 2 NHL playoff action, there were some interesting goalie debates. Should the Panthers have gone with Chris Driedger instead of Sergei Bobrovsky, as they did? After winning, were the Islanders wise to shift from Ilya Sorokin to Semyon Varlamov?

Call it proactive or reactive, but the Islanders and Panthers both lost after making changes. The Penguins stuck with Tristan Jarry, and he delivered in a Game 2 where the Islanders didn’t prove him with much margin for error.

Beating up Jarry too much for Josh Bailey‘s beauty of backhander seems a little silly. Either way, that was the only goal he allowed, and the Penguins can probably chill about their goalie situation.

At least until their next loss.

3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

By Natural Stat Trick’s count, the Panthers generated 13 high-danger chances at 5-on-5, while the Lightning generated five in Game 2. Four of the Lightning’s five high-danger chances happened in the first period.

For much of Game 2, the Lightning decided to lean on their defense — and very much Vasilevskiy — to protect their lead over the Panthers. It worked, as Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots, only yielding a nice Mason Marchment one-timer goal.

If you’re sick of all of the Game 2 goalie talk regarding the three stars for Tuesday in the NHL, well … sorry? Ondrej Palat could be a solid alternate choice, though. He generated an assist and the game-winning goal.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Stats of the night for Tuesday in the NHL

  • Mason Marchment and Bryan Marchment continue the father connection.

WEDNESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 3: Capitals at Bruins (Series tied 1-1), 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 2: Predators at Hurricanes (CAR leads 1-0), 8 p.m. ET – CNBC (livestream)
Game 1: Jets at Oilers, 9 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 2: Blues at Avalanche (COL leads 1-0), 10:30 p.m. ET – CNBC (livestream)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Presidents’ Trophy race down to Avs, Golden Knights (Wednesday in NHL)

3 Stars for the NHL on Wednesday

1. J.T. Compher, Colorado Avalanche

For the first time in his NHL career, J.T. Compher generated a hat trick.

By scoring three goals, Compher extended a modest streak: it’s his fourth consecutive season with 10+ goals. It’s not particularly resounding being that Compher, 26, has never reached 20 goals. (His career-high is 16 from 2018-19. To be fair, he’s regularly a 30+ point player, which is solid since he’s never played more than 69 games in any season.)

You have to think that the Avalanche would be absolutely delighted if Compher gained some confidence from this hat trick.

Coming into Wednesday’s NHL action, Compher averaged less than a shot on goal per game (44 SOG in 46 GP before this one). Maybe it’s fitting, then, that Compher collected his hat trick on his first three SOG of the night?

Either way, a very nice accomplishment. Compher was part of a big blowout that leaves the Avs in “control of their destiny” in their race with the Golden Knights for the Presidents’ Trophy (and also the West Division title).

Both the Avs and Golden Knights crushed their competition on Wednesday, leaving the situation pretty simple to determine which team will finish the regular season atop the NHL. If the Avalanche beat the Kings on Thursday, they’ll finish first. If the Avs lose to the Kings, then the Golden Knights win the Presidents’ Trophy instead.

2. Ville Husso, St. Louis Blues

All three West Division games included a shutout. While the Blues authored the least important of the night’s three shutouts, Ville Husso’s was the most impressive goose egg of the three. (Truly, we’re splitting hairs between the two other light-work Wednesday shutouts in the NHL.)

Husso grabbed his first shutout of the season by stopping all 31 Wild shots.

Now, the Blues don’t want to depend upon Husso during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That said, if something happens with Jordan Binnington, it’s promising that Husso can gain some confidence. (Shutouts and renewed confidence: themes for Wednesday in the NHL?)

Before this shutout, Husso’s save percentage was a troubling .886. At least Husso’s arguably still learning the ropes at this level, as this was just his 17th career NHL game.

Ultimately, whoever wins the Presidents’ Trophy will face the Blues, while the West Division second seed takes on the Wild. Have the Blues heated up enough to seem like a comparable threat? Might depend upon who you ask.

(David Perron deserves a mention, as well, with a goal and two assists.)

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights; Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche

OK, we’d be pushing the limits here if we tried to distinguish between nearly identical shutouts. Grubauer only needed to make 18 saves for his shutout, while Marc-Andre Fleury needed one more (19).

Granted, from a historical perspective, Marc-Andre Fleury’s shutout was more significant.

MAF now has 67 shutouts for his career. That breaks a tie with Patrick Roy, and now ties Roy Worters for 14th all-time. (Don’t feel too bad if you hadn’t heard of Worters, despite him being in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He passed away at age 57 back in 1957.)

Apparently Fleury will grab hardware for 2020-21, however the Vezina voting works out.

Highlight of the night for Wednesday in the NHL

Again, Husso enjoyed quite the night. Watch highlights of the Blues’ win vs. the Wild.

Celebrating Patrick Marleau‘s career

Very cool gesture that Gordie Howe’s family requested that Patrick Marleau was presented with that stick:

Wednesday’s NHL scores

Oilers 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Senators 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Golden Knights 6, Sharks 0
Blues 4, Wild 0
Avalanche 6, Kings 0

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.