Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Three teams can advance in Game 6
Penguins, Panthers, Flames looking to move on against Rangers, Capitals, Stars
New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS, ATTSN-PT, MSG)
The Penguins will be without Sidney Crosby as they try to eliminate the Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round series. Crosby sustained an upper-body injury in the second period of Pittsburgh's 5-3 loss in Game 5 following a hit from New York defenseman Jacob Trouba. The Penguins still have firepower in forward Jake Guentzel, who has scored seven goals, including at least one in all five games of the series. The Rangers look to avoid elimination in Game 6 after they rallied from a two-goal deficit to win Game 5 on Wednesday, fueled by three goals in a span of 2:42, the fastest three goals in a potential elimination game in Rangers history. New York is 21-21 in Game 6 of a best-of-7 series, 8-12 on the road. The Penguins are 20-19 in Game 6's, 8-7 at home.
Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET; TBS, SN360, TVAS, NBCSWA, BSFL)
The Panthers look to eliminate the Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round and win their first playoff series since 1996, when they reached the Stanley Cup Final. Washington will try to avoid being eliminated in the first round for the fourth straight year. The Panthers rallied from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Capitals 5-3 in Game 5, powered by forward Carter Verhaeghe, who had two goals and three assists. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves for Florida. T.J. Oshie scored two goals, including one on the power play, for Washington. He has scored a power-play goal in three straight playoff games, tying the longest streak in Capitals history. The Panthers are 2-3 in Game 6 in a best-of-7 series, 0-3 on the road. The Capitals are 17-16 in Game 6s, 5-5 at home.
Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars (9:30 p.m. ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS, BSSW)
The Flames will try close their Western Conference First Round series against the Stars after Andrew Mangiapane scored the go-ahead goal at 10:38 of the third period in Calgary's 3-1 win in Game 5. The Flames are 7-16 in Game 6 of a best-of-7 series, 2-9 on the road. The Stars/Minnesota North Stars are 22-17 in Game 6 of a best-of-7 series, 12-12 at home.
What We Learned
Wild not feeling special
When it was all over and the Minnesota Wild had lost 5-1 to the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 and were eliminated from the Western Conference First Round, the Wild knew where to point the finger: special teams. "They literally [stunk] all year," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "We had stretches, but you can't not score. Obviously we just got beat by a team, their special teams were way, way better than ours." St. Louis scored at least one power-play goal in each game of the series and finished 8-for-26 (30.8 percent), the second most effective power play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, behind the Edmonton Oilers (38.9 percent). The Wild were 4-for-24 (16.7 percent) in the series. -- Shawn P. Roarke, Senior Director of Editorial
O'Reilly fueled by dad power
Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly dominated in every facet of the series. He is second on St. Louis with eight points (five goals, three assists), played a key shutdown role throughout the series and won 57.1 percent of his face-offs. He took his game up another notch once the Blues fell behind in the series after Game 3. In Game 4 he had a goal and two assists is a 5-2 win. In Game 5 he scored the game-opening goal in another 5-2 win. And then in Game 6 on Thursday he scored the game-winning goal, on the power play, in a 5-1 win. The reason for the late-series dominance? The birth of his daughter Sunday. "Yeah, I think I feel a little stronger," he said. "My release is a little harder after being a father of three now. Some nice luck is going my way." -- Roarke
Forbort plays the hero for Bruins
Derek Forbort signed with the Boston Bruins on July 28 didn't exactly move a lot of needles. And the defenseman didn't exactly bowl anyone over during the regular season. But he quietly has been a force during the playoffs, starting with the nine blocked shots he had in the Bruins' 4-2 win in Game 3 and continuing throughout the series. He hasn't been afraid to get in the way of any shots -- he had three blocks in Boston's 5-2 win in Game 6 on Thursday -- has combined with Connor Clifton to form a solid second defense pair and has become a crucial penalty killer. Add in the goal he scored at 10:43 of the third period of Game 6 to put the game away, and Forbort is getting a lot more notice and accolades. -- Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
More needed from Aho
The Carolina Hurricanes rely heavily on forward Sebastian Aho, on the competitiveness that makes him great and on the offense that he produces, like the 81 points (37 goals, 44 assists) in 79 games he scored during the regular season. He has scored five points (two goals, three assists) in six games during the playoffs, but he did not have a good Game 6. He sustained a big hit from Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy at 9:46 of the first period -- "Good hit by him," Aho said -- and played 18:11, but he was on the ice for four of Boston's goals. The Hurricanes could use more from Aho in Game 7. -- Benjamin
Vasilevskiy still looks human
The standard is high for Andrei Vasilevskiy, the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL in 2018-19. But he hasn't resembled his dominant self for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round, going 3-3 with a 3.37 goals-against average and .885 save percentage in six games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 on Thursday, he allowed at least three goals for the sixth straight game. Can the Lightning win Game 7 on Saturday if he does that again? He had five shutouts on the way to the Stanley Cup last season, including four in potential series-clinching games -- Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
Maple Leafs show resilience
After Anthony Cirelli gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead at 10:46 of the second period in Game 6, Auston Matthews responded for Toronto 54 seconds later. Then John Tavares scored twice in the final 34 seconds of the period to give the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead. After Nikita Kucherov tied it 3-3 on a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 9:20 of the third period, the Maple Leafs generated several scoring chances in the third and overtime. Matthews almost scored on a deflection not long before Brayden Point scored the winner at 18:04 of OT. That resiliency is a good sign considering how the Maple Leafs will need to bounce back from their Game 6 loss. -- Cotsonika
Oilers tough when McDavid is on
With three points (one goal, two assists) and his fingerprints all over Game 6, Connor McDavid is the unquestioned backbone of the Edmonton Oilers. He played with multiple linemates throughout his game-high 24:02 of ice time and had the Los Angeles Kings backing up frequently to try to defend his speed and skill. McDavid leads all NHL players with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) during the playoffs, hardly surprising given the chances he creates. But there were as many back pressures and board battles that McDavid engaged in during Game 6, a true leadership quality that figures to restore Edmonton's confidence heading to Game 7. -- Tim Campbell, staff writer
Kings style gives them a chance
It was not their best outing of the Western Conference First Round, but the Kings nearly won Game 6. They had their chance to close the series but were done in by a mediocre first 30 minutes, when they were guilty of substandard passing and pass receiving. Nothing will disrupt a team's flow more than when those basics are off, but the Kings at least were able to get it together to tie the game early in the third period. They'll need a more complete game in Game 7, but there's ample evidence in this series that their structure works and that they have it in them. -- Campbell
About Last Night
Boston Bruins 5, Carolina Hurricanes 2
Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle each had a goal and an assist to help Boston win Game 6 to even their Eastern Conference First Round series against Carolina, with Game 7 in Raleigh on Saturday. Jeremy Swayman made 23 saves and Tomas Nosek had two assists for the Bruins. Andrei Svechnikov scored twice, and Antti Raanta made 29 saves for the Hurricanes. Marchand scored his 10th goal in games when the Bruins have faced elimination, surpassing Peter McNab for the most in Boston history. Marchand also scored his 49th playoff goal, tying teammate Patrice Bergeron for second all-time for the Bruins.
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Point scored at 18:04 in overtime to help the Lightning tie their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Maple Leafs with a win in Game 6, and will play Game 7 in Toronto on Saturday. Ondrej Palat, Cirelli and Kucherov, also scored for Tampa Bay, and Vasilevskiy made 30 saves. Tavares scored twice in 26 seconds late in the second period after Matthews scored at 11:40 in the period, and Jack Campbell made 31 saves for Toronto. Point became the second player in Lightning history to score an overtime goal in a game where they faced elimination, joining Martin St. Louis (Game 6, 2004 Stanley Cup Final).
St. Louis Blues 5, Minnesota Wild 1
Jordan Binnington made 25 saves and five Blues players scored to eliminate the Wild in six games in the Western Conference First Round. St. Louis will face the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. Vladimir Tarasenko scored his fourth goal in two games for St. Louis. O'Reilly, Nick Leddy, Tyler Bozak and Colton Parayko also scored. Matt Dumba scored for the Wild, and Cam Talbot made 22 saves.
Edmonton Oilers 4, Los Angeles Kings 2
Tyson Barrie scored the go-ahead goal at 14:50 of the third period to help the Oilers force a Game 7 in their Western Conference First Round series against the Kings. Evander Kane scored twice and had an assist, Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists and Mike Smith made 30 saves for the Oilers. Sean Durzi and Carl Grundstrom scored for the Kings, and Jonathan Quick made 33 saves.