NHL Playoffs: Panthers win classic, Penguins edge Islanders, Habs take first game, and Golden Knights shine

nhl playoffs panthers
May 20, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) is congratulated after scoring the game winning goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning by teammates during overtime in game three of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Playoffs saw the Panthers win an absolute classic! Three out of four games were decided by one goal last night in what’s becoming a theme in round one. Florida and Tampa was the game of the night and a joy to watch. The see-saw battle between the two clubs went to OT in order to decide the winner.

NHL Playoffs sees Panthers beat Lightning in a classic

Gm 3, Panthers 6 vs Lightning 5 OT (Tampa Bay lead series 2-1)

If someone asked you, what’s all the fuss about playoff hockey? Your answer should simply be to show them this classic. Sam Bennett, fresh off his one game suspension opened the scoring in the first period and we were off to the races. What ensued was a thrilling contest that saw the lead exchange hands several times and each team had to overcome a deficit of two goals.

In the end, it was the most unlikely of players to win the contest. Ryan Lomberg with just two goals in 34 games in the regular season came flying down the ice to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. “Frank (Vatrano) made a nice play advancing the puck behind their [defensemen], and I was in alone,” Lomberg said. “It was a great play all around. Good execution.” That puts the Panthers back in this series with game 4 set for Saturday 12:30 PM ET.

Penguins get late goal from Brandon Tanev to edge Islanders

Gm 3, Penguins 5 vs Islanders 4 (Pittsburgh lead series 2-1)

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the drivers seat as they won a big one in enemy territory. Trade deadline acquisition, Jeff Carter scored twice and Brandon Tanev won it with less than five minutes in the contest to give the Pens a 2-1 series lead. The Islanders are a tough team to beat at the Nassau Coliseum which was loud and raucous, but Tristan Jarry hung in there to make 26 saves for the victory.

“It wasn’t our best period, but at the end of the day, we found a way to win and that’s what matters,” Tanev said. “The guys came together as a group, and we battled through adversity and got the win.”

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The Islanders offense was going but Semyon Varlamov was not. He struggled, only stopping 22 of 27. For the Penguins, Evgeni Malkin played his first playoff game and picked up 2 assists. Game 4 of this series is scheduled for Saturday at 3 PM ET.

Paul Bryon scores beauty to give Habs game one; John Tavares doing ok

john tavares injury
May 20, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (91) his hit by Montreal Canadiens forward Corey Perry (94) after falling during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Gm 1, Canadiens 2 vs Maple Leafs 1 (Montreal leads series 1-0)

Carey Price is just not someone to take lightly. The Habs goaltender was the star of the night as he thwarted the Maple Leafs attack time and time again. Paul Byron scored a gorgeous shorthanded goal in the third to win it while falling down. In the end, Price made 35 saves and was the game’s first star. Serves me right for picking the Leafs to sweep.

“That was Carey Price for you, he was an absolute wall tonight,” Montreal forward¬†Josh Anderson¬†said. “He loves playing in these big games and in these positions. When it gets to the playoffs, you have to bring it to another level and I think Carey and everyone did that tonight.”

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Of course, the story of the night was the injury to John Tavares. An accidental collision with Corey Perry’s knee caused head and neck trauma to the Leafs captain. Perry after the game said he was “sick to his stomach.” Tavares was bleeding and taken off the ice by stretcher. All indications are that he’s going to be ok, but he’s expected to miss significant time. Game 2 is Saturday at 7 PM ET.

“I’ve experienced a lot of different things, a whole lot of tough injuries and stuff like that in my time as a player and as a coach, but in an empty building like that, that was probably the most uncomfortable situation that I’ve been a part of on the ice,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It was tough to get through. Our players were rattled and concerned.”

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Golden Knights take it to Wild for series lead

Gm 3, Golden Knights 5 vs Wild 2 (Vegas leads series 2-1)

It wasn’t an easy game for Vegas as Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period. Then the Knights got on their horses and dominated by scoring five straight to win the contest and grab a series lead. Mark Stone scored twice to lead the Vegas offense with Max Pacioretty out due to an undisclosed injury. Marc-Andre Fleury made only 14 saves, undoubtedly a rare bad outing. Game 4 is Saturday with a 8 PM ET start time.

“Obviously when you get down by two, you always, you can get back in the game pretty quickly,” Fleury said. “You get that first goal and it’s 2-1, and there’s still a lot of time to be played in the game. I thought that was a huge call by our coaches, and after that in the second and third, I thought we took over and played so well.”

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