NHL Playoffs: Lightning sweep Panthers, Kadri hat trick leads Avs

nhl playoffs
May 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) looks back at the puck as right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) and defenseman Victor Hedman (77) skate into him during the second period against the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first team to advance in the NHL Playoffs Round 2 are none other than the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

As the Tampa Bay Lightning are going for a three-peat, they swept the Florida Panthers in four straight. Andrei Vasilevskiy became the all-time leader in series clinching shutouts with six, breaking a three-way tie with Chris Osgood and Clint Benedict.

In St. Louis, the NHL was dealing with local police to increase security at the Avs hotel and the arena after Nazem Kadri received threats. The Colorado Avalanche forward had been dealing with them since a collision in Game 3 with Blues goalie Jordan Binnington that knocked him out of the series.

Kadri responded to those threats and a series of shots by Blues’ players with a hat trick to put the Avs one win away from advancing.

NHL Playoffs: Lightning 2 vs Panthers 0

Andrei Vasilevskiy posted a ridiculous 49 save shutout to move the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final. By sweeping the visiting Florida Panthers with a 2-0 performance, Vasilevskiy became the all-time leader in series clinching shutouts.

Vasilevskiy, 27, let in just three goals in four games turning aside 151 total shots. He was the difference in Game 4 with the Panthers throwing the kitchen sink at him in a first period with an 18-3 shot differential.

“Nothing special really,” Vasilevskiy said. “I think the way the whole team plays in those games, the whole series, constant blocked shots, sacrifices, the boys clearly breaking bones to stop the puck. Such a great effort by everybody on our team. Obviously, it’s not just me. I am just trying to do my job the best that I can.”

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For the Panthers, the curse of winning the Presidents’ Trophy and not winning the Stanley Cup continues. The Chicago Blackhawks were the last team to do so during the 2012-13 season.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 stops in the losing effort but it was the Panthers anemic power play going 1-31 in the playoffs that eventually did them in.

Rarely used 42 year-old veteran Joe Thornton played for the Cats. It was career playoff game 187 without a Cup. Only his close friend and former Sharks’ teammate Patrick Marleau has more with 195.

The Tampa Bay Lightning actually had two goals disallowed on video reviews in this contest, but it would not matter. Pat Maroon scored the eventual series winning goal in the third period before Ondrej Palat secured it with an empty-netter.

Avalanche 6 vs Blues 3

nhl playoffs
May 23, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (91) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the second period in game four of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

Playing with a huge target on his back, Nazem Kadri used the hate directed his way by Blues fans and Blues players to net a hat trick and add an assist. The Colorado Avalanche stuck to their game plan as the Blues spent more time trying to hit Kadri than defending.

Colorado was able to walk out of St. Louis with a 6-3 win on Monday and now have a chokehold on the series at 3-1. The scene now shifts back to Denver where the Avs will try and close this out.

The Blues simply could not put a Game 3 collision involving Kadri with two of their own, defenseman Calle Rosen and goalie Jordan Binnington. Both players went for a loose puck and ran into Binnington, who suffered an injury and was forced out of the series.

“I wanted to come out tonight and really put a mark on this game,” said Kadri, who also had an assist. ” … I tried to do that as best as possible. Sometimes you’ve got to be patient and you’ve got to wait. I was able to strike early in the second period and was able to get the mojo going, in terms of individually and as a team, so it felt amazing. Especially to do it on the road, it was pure.”

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Erik Johnson, Devon Toews, and Mikko Rantanen rounded out the Avs scoring with Darcy Kuemper only facing 20 shots (17 saves).

St. Louis did get two goals from David Perron, who also tried to injure Kadri but missed with an elbow. Pavel Buchnevich added the other marker and Ville Husso made 31 saves on 36 shots.