NHL Playoff Buzzer: Habs sweep Jets; Islanders push Bruins to brink

NHL Playoff Buzzer: Habs sweep Jets; Islanders push Bruins to brink
  • The Canadian government granted NHL travel exemption for Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Read more)
  • After the Jets lucked their way into Game 4 OT, the Canadiens completed the sweep.
  • Despite a hail of shots from the Bruins, the Islanders won Game 5, putting Boston on the brink.
  • To put things mildly, Bruce Cassidy was not happy about the officiating in Bruins – Islanders Game 5.

Game 4: Canadiens 3, Jets 2 [OT] (Habs sweep Jets)

Simply put, the Jets didn’t exactly go out swinging to try to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Canadiens. With their season on the line, Winnipeg managed a tepid 16 shots on goal. Yes, the Jets lost Mark Scheifele to a suspension, but plenty of teams have to zig and zag due to injuries and other issues. Instead, the Jets sagged, and the Canadiens made no mistake finishing off that sweep.

Game 5: Islanders 5, Bruins 4 (NYI leads series 3-2) — series livestream

Again, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was not happy about the penalties that largely went the Islanders’ way in Game 5. Whether you think his gripes are justified (or partially? Not at all?) or not, special teams made a big difference. The Islanders did just enough to win Game 5, pushing the Bruins to the brink of elimination. It was a heck of a back-and-forth affair, though, so check out those jam-packed highlights:

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

Three Stars for NHL playoff action on Monday

1. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

It might seem odd that the top star for Monday’s NHL playoff action allowed four goals.

If you tuned into the Islanders’ 5-4 Game 5 win over the Bruins, you’d likely agree that Varlamov (and the Isles’ power play) ended up making a big difference. The Bruins dominated at even-strength and overall, firing 44 shots on goal and generating 11 high-danger chances. Varlamov rarely faltered in making 40 saves.

(Maybe you’d ding Varlamov a bit for the third period. Again, though, Boston easily could’ve run away with that game. Varlamov was especially crucial in Game 5.)

While Cassidy indicated that Tuukka Rask wasn’t 100 percent for the Bruins in Game 5, Varlamov was splendid. If this pattern holds, goaltending could be an advantage for the Islanders as they aim to close out the Bruins.

2. Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens

For all the Canadiens who’ve raised their games during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toffoli’s really just carried over from his splendid debut Habs season. Off a brilliant pass from Cole Caufield, Toffoli scored the overtime-winner to complete the Canadiens sweep in Game 4. Toffoli also grabbed an assist, fired three SOG, generated a +1 rating, and even won a couple faceoffs.

3. David Pastrnak and top Bruins or Connor Hellebuyck for the Jets?

Here’s an under-the-radar theme for Monday in the NHL: strong losing efforts.

Do you prefer David Pastrnak (2G, 1A) and other top Bruins skaters? Both Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy (3A) were all over the place, pairing their three-point nights with five SOG apiece. Brad Marchand scored a beautiful goal, produced an assist, and seemingly could have scored more.

Or, do you prefer Connor Hellebuyck trying to bail out his befuddled Jets teammates? Hellebuyck stopped 39 out of 42 shots, while Logan Stanley scored both of Winnipeg’s goals in a losing effort.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Stat of the night: Canadiens haven’t had to come back much lately

Amusingly, the Canadiens team that was down 3-1 to the Maple Leafs haven’t had to “come back” from much lately. Consider how long it’s been since the Canadiens trailed in a playoff game:

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 5: Lightning at Hurricanes, 6:30 p.m. ET (TB leads 3-1) – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 5:
Avalanche at Golden Knights, 9 p.m. ET (Series 2-2) – NBCSN (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.