Avalanche and Bruins advance, Jets put Oilers on the brink, and more NHL playoffs action

nhl central division preview
May 23, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) shakes hands with St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly (90) after victory in the third period in game four of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche really took Blues’ captain Ryan O’Reilly “we’re going to beat them” to heart. In what many expected to be a tough series, the Avalanche buried the Blues in just four games. When Colorado captain, Gabriel Landeskog was asked if O’Reilly’s comments were motivation he promptly answered, “Yeah, it did.”

Avalanche sweep Blues to advance to round two

Gm 4, Avalanche 5 vs Blues 2 (Colorado wins series 4-0)

Stanley Cup favorite Colorado absolutely waltzed through the first round against St. Louis. After the game, O’Reilly was asked if the Avs were simply a better team to which he replied, “Oh, clearly.” He also went into detail on how this series loss was his fault.

“I’m very disappointed in myself; it was pretty pathetic,” the Blues captain said. “I didn’t really do much this series. If I’m not doing my job, I can’t expect anyone else to do theirs, so it’s tough. I have to obviously improve and especially in the crucial times, it’s very disappointing.”

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Five different Avs tallied goals in this contest. The top line each potted one to help the team advance. Nathan MacKinnon finished the series with 9 points and is tied with Nikita Kucherov for most points in the playoffs. Landeskog has 8 points and Mikko Rantanen has 7 to pace the Avs. Colorado now awaits the winner of Vegas and Minnesota.

Bruins eliminate Capitals in give games

Gm 5, Bruins 3 vs Capitals 1 (Boston win series 4-1)

bruins advance
May 23, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

David Pastrnak opened the scoring in the second period with a beautiful net front move and Patrice Bergeron scored twice to advance the B’s to round two. The Capitals have been sent home early again after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 and moving on from Barry Trotz. Tuukka Rask was the star of the show making 40 saves but he just heaped praise on his captain.

“He’s been one of our many leaders for years now,” Rask said. “Now he has the captain’s letter on his chest, [but] he hasn’t changed at all. I think everybody knows what kind of a player and a person he is. Especially in a clutch game like tonight, nobody should be surprised that he scored a goal or two.”

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Rask finished the series with a 1.81 GAA and Pastrnak led all scorers with 6 points for Boston. They now await the winner of Pens and Isles.

Oilers on brink of elimination, Jets win in OT

Gm 3, Jets 5 vs Oilers 4 OT (Winnipeg leads series 3-0)

The Oilers blew a 4-1 third period lead and then watched Nikolaj Ehlers, fresh off the injured list score in OT to win it. Another stunning loss for a team that boasts the top two scorers in the NHL this season. “That’s our team. I mean, we don’t give up,” Ehlers said after the game. “We showed a battle at the end, and it paid off.”

oilers on brink of elimination
May 23, 2021; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) and defenseman Logan Stanley (64) celebrate the overtime goal by Winnipeg Jets left wing Nikolaj Ehlers (27) against the Edmonton Oilers in game three of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton is now on the brink of elimination, and should they fall in game 4 the postmortem analysis will be lengthy. The Jets will go for the sweep tonight at 9:45 ET PM.

“We’re in a good spot obviously, up 4-1,” McDavid said. “They go on the power play, and we can’t get a kill and kind of gave them a lifeline there, and they took advantage, obviously. We’re not going to roll over and play dead on these guys. We’ve got to find a way to get a win tomorrow night and we’ll take it from there.”

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Predators even the series after another double OT win

Gm 4, Predators 5 vs Hurricanes 4 2OT (Series tied at 2)

Nashville has a new hero in town and his name is Luke Kunin. The 23 year-old forward opened the scoring just one minute into the game and then won it in double OT. The Predators have now evened the series against heavily favored Carolina Hurricanes at 2 games each.

“I broke my stick, our equipment guy (Pete Rodgers) had it ready,” Kunin said. “I got up in the slot and found a way to get it in there. Great play by [Calle JarnkrokĀ and Granlund]. Just happy it went in.”

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Game 5 will be played on Tuesday at 8 PM ET for the stranglehold in this series. Can the Predators actually get closer to the upset I predicted?