Stanley Cup: Battle For Cup now a Best-of-Five Following Lightning’s Game 2 Victory
The Lightning take a 3-1 series lead over the Bruins, the Islanders and Golden Knights go up 2-1 in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Boston Bruins 3-1 to take a 3-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov collected two assists for the Bolts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read my take of this game by following this link. If both teams keep playing the way they have over the past three games, this series could be over on Monday evening.
Three unanswered goals by Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, and Anders Lee gave the New York Islanders a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Semyon Varlamov returned to the net after giving up three goals on 10 shots in Game 2, stopping 26 shots for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong first period by the Flyers was snuffed out by the Isles’ solid defense and opportunistic scoring over the next two periods. In what’s become a running theme in this postseason, the Flyers’ leading scorers weren’t much of a factor. Their playoff bubble will burst if this trend continues.
Robin Lehner picked up his second shutout in three games by kicking out 31 shots to blank the Vancouver Canucks 3-0. Alex Tuch and Zach Whitecloud scored in the first period and Mark Stone tallied in the third. The Golden Knights lead the series 2-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The game was pretty much over in the first period when Vancouver failed to cash in on a 5-on-3 opportunity. Defensive mistakes by the Canucks led to all three Vegas goals, the most egregious being Alex Tuch blazing through the defense to open the scoring.
Easy to point the finger at Benn on Tuch’s goal, but Beagle should’ve recognized that Benn had stepped up and stayed with Tuch. Not that Beagle would’ve had much luck keeping pace with Tuch… pic.twitter.com/vAbDBZ5hnN
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) August 30, 2020
THE DENVER POST: The recent two-day protest pause in the schedule could help the Colorado Avalanche, allowing banged-up players like Nikita Zadorov, Joonas Donskoi, and Matt Calvert a chance to heal and return to the lineup.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be the one to watch as the Florida Panthers narrow their list of contenders for their general manager position.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports NBC Sports hockey analyst Ed Olczyk has interviewed for the GM position.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Panthers job.
SPORTSNET: Kevin Weekes, Mike Futa and Bill Armstrong are also being considered by the Panthers, as well as the Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out for the Panthers and Coyotes. Both clubs desperately need quality management.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Joel Kellman to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. The first season is a two-way deal.
The Lightning and Canucks tie their respective series, updates on the Avalanche and Islanders, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored his first goal of the playoffs in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 4-3. With the win, the Lightning tied the series at a game apiece. Blake Coleman scored twice for the Bolts while the Bruins’ Brad Marchand also netted two goals, including the game-tying goal that forced the extra frame. The two clubs face off again tonight in Game 3.
— BOSHockeyNow (@BOSHockeyNow) August 26, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE A better effort from the Lightning in this contest compared to Game 1. They rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, taking their first lead of the series until Marchand tied it late in the third, and getting that big goal from Palat to tie the series.
The Vancouver Canucks tied their series with the Vegas Golden Knights with a 5-2 victory in Game 2. Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli marked his return from injury with a goal and two assists, Elias Pettersson also had three points, Bo Horvat scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back performance by the Canucks following their meek effort in a 5-0 loss to Vegas in Game 1. The return of Toffoli and his two-way skills provides a welcome boost to their lineup.
THE DENVER POST: Down 2-0 in their series with the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche need production from their secondary scorers if they’re to rally back. Apart from Nazem Kadri’s secondary assist in Game 1, none of their forwards beyond the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog has a point in this series.
NEW YORK POST: Facing back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, the Islanders could sit starter Semyon Varlamov for one of them. Varlamov’s played in every game thus far for the Isles in this postseason.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The NHL fined Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella $25K for his quick exit from his post-game video press conference following his club’s opening- round elimination by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tortorella answered just two questions before abruptly leaving.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella’s GAF factor (Give A F**k) was probably at zero by the end of that game.
NHL.com: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly isn’t ruling out the possibility of the league returning to action next season in divisional bubble cities but it’s not something they’ve necessarily considered.
“I don’t think our current format for bubbles would work for the regular season, particularly because our objective is to play a full season and I’m not sure how we do that in the format we’re currently utilizing. It’s already a significant amount of time just to complete our playoffs in that type of bubble format. I don’t think it’s going to look like what we’re currently doing, but could it be a variation of what we’re currently doing. I wouldn’t rule that out any more than I would rule out any number of other alternatives.”
Daly said they’d love to be in the position to open on Dec. 1 with full arenas but acknowledged that might not be possible under the current course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Options could include pushing back the start date of the season or opening to partial crowds in all or part of their 31 markets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s intention is to stage a full 2020-21 campaign. Daly indicated they will be flexible and will keep a close eye on other leagues that open this fall to determine what works and what doesn’t. With 24 of the league’s 31 teams located in the United States, the course of the pandemic in that country will determine when the puck drops next season and how and where they stage those games.