NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2023
The Panthers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Golden Knights push the Oilers to the brink of elimination and the Hart Trophy finalists are announced. Get the details in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1996 with a 3-2 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of their best-of-seven second-round series. Nick Cousins tallied the game-winner after the Leafs overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals by Morgan Rielly and William Nylander. Aaron Ekblad and Carter Verhaeghe also scored for the Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals. The date has yet to be announced for Game 1 but it will likely be Wednesday at the earliest.
After upsetting the Boston Bruins in the first round, the Panthers suffered no letdown in this series. They outworked and out-hustled Toronto during the first three games while their best players were consistently at their best. While the Leafs improved in the final two games, the Panthers made the most of their opportunities. They also took home-ice advantage away from their opponent, winning three of their four games in Toronto.
Down 2-1 late in the second period, Rielly appeared to have tied the game for the Leafs but the NHL situation room claimed the referee deemed the play to be dead before the puck crossed the line. Nylander would tie the game in the third period but it might have been the game-winner had Rielly’s goal counted.
Despite winning their first playoff round in 19 years during this postseason, there’s a feeling of disappointment and heartbreak in Leafs Nation amid speculation that big changes are coming in this offseason. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumors update.
The Vegas Golden Knights are on the verge of advancing to the Western Conference Finals following a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 of their second-round series. They overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits and held off the Oilers’ third-period push after Connor McDavid cut their lead by one goal. Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault each had three points while Adin Hill stopped 32 shots. McDavid scored twice for the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel is thriving in his first-ever NHL playoffs. He leads the Golden Knights with 13 points and is tied for the club leads in goals (six) with Chandler Stephenson.
All of the Oilers’ goals in this game came on the power play but they also gave up two on the penalty kill. Their difficulties in scoring at even strength are becoming an issue for them in this series. There’s also concern about their goaltending as Stuart Skinner got pulled again after giving up four goals on 22 shots.
Both clubs were without their best defensemen for this contest as Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo and Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse were both serving one-game suspensions.
Speaking of Connor McDavid, he joins Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk as finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy as this season’s most valuable player on his team.