Brayden Point and Ross Colton scored and Andrei Vasilevskiy controlled the crease, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the host Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0, on Tuesday night to win the second-round playoff series in five games.
Next up for Tampa Bay is the winner of the series between the Islanders and Bruins, which New York leads, 3-2.
Vasilevskiy finished with 29 saves and stumped the homesteading Hurricanes for the third time in as many series games at PNC Arena. The finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender had allowed just two goals on 70 shots through the first two games.
Then, after a wild Game 4 in Florida that saw each team score four second-period goals, Vasilevskiy turned away all shots to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions advance. Among his saves was a huge glove stop of a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance by Vincent Trocheck.
Point’s goal came moments later on a gorgeous effort. He took a feed from Alex Killorn to his backhand side near the crease, went to his forehand, before returning to the backhand to get Carolina netminder Alex Nedeljkovic off balance just enough to score at 4:06 of the second.
The Lightning nearly pushed that lead to 2-0 with captain Steven Stamkos scoring a buzzer-beating goal, but a review determined the puck didn’t cross the goal line in time. But Colton made up for it at 9:04 of the third, making it 2-0 and more than enough for Vasilevskiy.
The Hurricanes got a significant boost with the return of Trocheck and winger Nino Niederreiter from injuries. Niederreiter hadn’t played this series due to an upper-body injury suffered in a practice before the series opener. Trocheck suffered a lower-body injury in Game 2 and hadn’t played since.
Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele remained sidelined with a shoulder injury suffered in a Game 3 hit.
It was a frustrating finish for the Hurricanes, who were in the playoffs for the third straight season after a nine-season drought. They won the Central Division title for their first division crown since winning the Cup in 2006, and were in the Presidents’ Trophy race until the final week of the season.
Arbiter denies bid by Colorado’s Nazem Kadri to play in Game 5
Colorado forward Nazem Kadri saw his eight-game suspension for an illegal hit upheld by an arbiter Tuesday, hours before Game 5 of the Avalanche’s second-round series against Vegas. The series is tied at two games apiece.
Kadri has already served six games of a suspension he was given after an check to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series. Faulk sustained a concussion, according to the report, and didn’t play in the final two games as the Avalanche swept the Blues.
Colorado was holding out hope that Kadri might be available for Game 5 in Denver. But the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced the decision by arbitrator Shyam Das.
The NHLPA originally appealed the suspension to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, arguing a four-game suspension was more appropriate. The commissioner upheld the ruling May 31.
There was an arbitration hearing last Friday via videoconference, with both sides presenting arguments. No witnesses were called.
Kadri’s final game of the suspension will be Game 6 on Thursday in Las Vegas. He would be eligible to return should there be a Game 7 or if the Avalanche advance.
It was the sixth suspension of Kadri’s career.
The 30-year-old Kadri was the only Avalanche player to suit up in all 56 regular-season games. He finished with 11 goals and 21 assists. He also led the team in faceoff wins.
Canadiens win time to rest up
Tyler Toffoli scored at 1:39 of overtime, lifting the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Jets on Monday night and a four-game sweep of their second-round series. Montreal awaits the winner of the Colorado-Vegas series.
Toffoli took a cross-crease pass from Cole Caufield and beat Connor Hellebuyck with a one-timer for the winner and his fourth goal of the postseason.
“I think that’s definitely one of the bigger ones,” Toffoli said of his series-clinching goal. “It’s fun right now. We’re doing a good job. It just feels like we’re all kind of playing as one. We just have to continue like this. Hopefully, we just keep having success and keep winning games.”
Erik Gustafsson and Artturi Lehkonen scored in regulation for Montreal, which has won seven straight playoff games since trailing Toronto 3-1 in the opening round. Montreal’s seven-game playoff winning streak is the franchise’s longest since Patrick Roy led the Canadiens to 11 consecutive victories on the way to capturing Canada’s last Cup in 1993.
Carey Price made 14 saves for the North Division’s No. 4 seed in front of another boisterous crowd of 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre.
“These guys are playing as well as any team has ever played,” Price said.
The 16th and final team to qualify for the playoffs after winning just one of their final nine regular-season games in regulation, the Canadiens are the first club to make the semifinals of the Stanley Cup tournament this year.
“Winning the fourth game is always the hardest one,” defenseman Shea Weber said. “Going through playoff series, you know that when a team is down and they’ve got their back against the wall, they’re going to bring their best effort. It’s always the hardest one to close out. You don’t want to give a team too many chances because things can turn around really quickly.”
The Canadiens improved to 34-0 all time when leading a series 3-0, and added to their NHL record with the franchise’s 23rd sweep.
“It’s just one of those things where we just don’t care who gets the job done for us,” Toffoli said. “We have everybody going. Everybody’s playing the right way. We’re just winning games and just playing. Honestly, we’re all playing our best hockey at the right time, so we’ve just got to keep going.”
Rookie defenseman Logan Stanley had two goals for Winnipeg, which was coming of a sweep of its own in the first round against Edmonton.
“I think it’s all bitter right now,” Stanley said. “In the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who scores. You win as a team and you lose as a team. I’m glad I got a couple by [Price] to try to help the team. But at the end of the day, we lost to the team, so it stings right now.”
The Jets were without No. 1 center Mark Scheifele after he was suspended four games for charging Montreal forward Jake Evans in the series opener.
Hellebuyck stopped 39 shots.
“They’re playing at a really high level right now,” Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler said of Montreal. “You just have to give them all the credit. We just couldn’t get the first goal. We just couldn’t do it all series. That plays right into their hands.”
The Canadiens were without defenseman Jeff Petry (upper-body injury) after he appeared to jam his right hand caught in one of the camera holes along the glass in Game 3. The veteran’s absence paved the way for rookie Alexander Romanov to make his NHL playoff debut on Montreal’s third line.