Five things to know about the National Hockey League playoffs
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McDavid’s magic ends the Battle of Alberta, the Hurricanes win at home again and the Blues are looking to stave off elimination once again.
Here are five things to know as we head into Friday’s post-season action:
BATTLE OF ALBERTA COMES TO AN ENTERTAINING END
It may have only lasted five games, but the Battle of Alberta was one to remember, with plenty of drama and lots of goal scoring.
The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 5-4 in overtime on Thursday in a deciding contest that proved to be an excellent bookend to a wonderful series that began with the two teams combining to score 15 goals in a Calgary win.
The Flames led 2-0 early in the second period, only to see Edmonton storm back and tie it up midway through the frame at 2-2.
After that, in a sight similar to Game 1’s goal bonanza the two sides ended up scoring four goals combined within a 1:11 timeframe to once again come even at 4-4 entering the third period.
In that frame, it appeared as though Flames centre Blake Coleman had put Calgary ahead with a little under six minutes left to play as he charged the net hard, but it was controversially waved off as video review ruled that he kicked the puck into the net.
That set the stage for Connor McDavid in the extra period to win the series for Edmonton and send his Oilers to their first conference finals since 2006.
OILERS STARS SHINE BRIGHT IN CLINCHER
The disallowed Coleman goal in the third period will make for much discussion in the days to come, but that shouldn’t overshadow the brilliance of McDavid’s series-clinching overtime game-winner.
McDavid only recorded one point on the night, but none was bigger.
And in much the same vein, Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers’ other former Hart Trophy winner, shone bright in the spotlight of an elimination game, recording four assists, including setting up McDavid’s winner.
The Oilers’ dynamic duo have dominated thus far during this post-season, each recording a playoffs-high 26 points, with work still to do.
CANES IN GOOD HISTORICAL COMPANY
The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Rangers 3-1 Thursday to take a 3-2 series lead and improve their home record during this post-season to a perfect 7-0.
Though it may look like an odd stat, it’s undeniable that Carolina has been dominant in the friendly confines of PNC Arena. In all of their home games thus far through the playoffs, the Canes have never given up more than two goals, a feat that puts them in some elite company.
Carolina is only the third team in NHL history to win its first seven home playoff games while allowing two or fewer goals in each of those contests. The two other teams that did it before (2003 New Jersey Devils and 1965 Montreal Canadiens) both won the Stanley Cup.
SURE AND STEADY SHESTERKIN
Despite the loss, Igor Shesterkin was the better goalie Thursday night between him and Hurricanes counterpart Antti Raanta.
The Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist stopped 31-of-34 shots compared to the 16 of 17 that Raanta made.
Being put on the brink of elimination is never a good thing, but the Rangers faithful can take some comfort knowing that their goalie remains on his game after a pair of strong performances in Games 3 and 4.
It’s the New York offence, particularly while playing in Carolina, that has been the problem.
CAN BLUES KEEP MOMENTUM GOING TO FORCE A GAME 7?
Game 6 between the Colorado Avalanche and Blues goes Friday evening in St. Louis.
The Blues looked like they were going to be bounced in Game 5 when Nathan MacKinnon went coast-to-coast with an electrifying goal to put the Avs up 4-3 with less than three minutes left to play in regulation, completing a hat trick.
However, even with Ball Arena rocking and Colorado fans giddy with delight, St. Louis never stopped pushing and were rewarded with a Robert Thomas goal at the 19:04 mark to tie the game followed by Tyler Bozak scoring the winner in overtime to force Game 6.
From a momentum standpoint, it’s all going St. Louis’ way, and they have a chance now to ride that wave straight into a Game 7 back in Denver.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.