Maple Leafs win it for John Tavares, Nikita Kucherov injured in Bolts win, and more NHL Playoffs action

auston matthews wrist
May 22, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period in game two of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoff at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs won game 2 for John Tavares. After a disappointing loss to open the playoffs and seeing their captain sustain one of the scariest injuries to date, the Leafs played inspired hockey. They rallied for their fallen leader and evened the series against the Canadiens.

Maple Leafs win it for John Tavares

Gm 2, Maple Leafs 5 vs Canadiens 1 (Series tied at 1)

“This one was for him,” Auston Matthews said. “He’s our captain, he’s our leader.” The first ever Leaf to win the Rocket Richard Trophy led the team with a goal and two assists. Although Montreal opened the scoring, Toronto answered back with five straight to take this game with relative ease.

“It means a lot not only for the guys in the locker room but for John himself,” Matthews said. “He’s such a big part of this team, he’s our leader. When something really scary and serious goes down like it did the other night, I think the response from our group was unbelievable tonight.”

NHL.com

The Leafs came out of the first period knotted at 1, but a 20 shot second period is what propelled them to victory. Jack Campbell turned aside 22 of 23, while Carey Price (29/33) did his best to survive the middle period barrage. Game 3 of this series is set for Monday at 7 PM ET.

Lightning grab stranglehold but Nikita Kucherov injured

Gm 4, Lightning 6 vs Panthers 2 (Tampa Bay leads series 3-1)

nikita kucherov injured
May 22, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) falls the the ice after an apparent injury against the Florida Panthers during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

That Tampa Bay Lightning turned Sergei Bobrovsky into their own personal piñata as they beat him for 5 goals on 14 shots. Nikita Kucherov had himself a field day with four points in the contest before taking a slash from Anthony Duclair in the third period. Kucherov went down after the chop to his leg which had Tampa’s head coach Jon Cooper pretty upset.

“We had to weather our emotions there’s no doubt,” he said. “You know, when our players are being told, ‘Don’t do anything stupid, we’re gonna get you,’ so we don’t do anything stupid and the other team’s getting rewarded for it? I just don’t get it. It’s really frustrating.” When he was asked about Kucherov he was curt, “Nothing. Next Question.”

Game 5 of this series is scheduled for Monday at 8 PM ET. We should expect the Panthers to pull out all the stops in the next game, but who will they turn to in goal? Will Spencer Knight get a surprise start? The smart money is on Chris Driedger.

Islanders even series against Penguins

Gm 4, Islanders 4 vs Penguins 1 (Series tied at 2)

The Islanders brought their A game as the Penguins were meandering through a C effort at best. Four different players scored for the Isles in this game who built up a four nothing lead starting in the second period. Ilya Sorokin had time to take a nap for stretches in this game as the Penguins struggled to generate any real high danger chances. He finished with 28 of 29 stops. Game 5 for control of this series is Monday at 7 PM ET.

Marc-Andre Fleury shuts out Wild

Gm 4, Golden Knights 4 vs Wild 0 (Vegas leads series 3-1)

The Vegas Golden Knights got another stellar performance in net from my pick to win the Vezina Trophy, Marc-Andre Fleury. The Flower stopped all 35 shots he faced as the Knights put the Wild on the sink of elimination. “I feel good,” the charismatic goalie said afterwards. “The body feels good. And my defense has been great for me.”

Minnesota will try to save their season on Monday at 10:30 PM ET in game 5. They will need to do a much better job of getting shots through the teeth of this Vegas defense and goals past MAF. So far in this series they have only scored 4 times on 116 shots.