Three games went to overtime Saturday. The other was a physical battle that brought drama and a potentially costly suspension.
Here's a recap of last night's action (check out replays of every playoff game on ESPN+), and what to watch for today, in Sunday's edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:
About last night ...
Game 2: Washington Capitals 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3 (OT). Capitals lead series 2-0. An afternoon full of momentum swings concluded with Brooks Orpik netting the overtime winner. Washington looked especially dominant to begin the game, though it let the Canes crawl back in it. There were some positives for Carolina: Goalie Petr Mrazek showed resilience, overcoming a shaky start. Sebastian Aho scored for the first time in a month. And when the Canes landed back in Carolina, they were greeted by a group of fans who were lining the street to cheer them on. North Carolina is ready for its first NHL playoff game in a decade.
We have the BEST FANS!
Thank you for the warm welcome back home, Caniacs �� pic.twitter.com/tThgXeUAf1
- Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 14, 2019
Game 2: Nashville Predators 2, Dallas Stars 1 (OT). Series tied 1-1. It wasn't technically a game the Predators had to win, but it sure felt like it -- especially after dropping three straight home playoff games (dating back to last year's second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets). Rocco Grimaldi was a late add to the lineup and capitalized, scoring his first career playoff goal. Tyler Seguin's feed to Jamie Benn for Dallas' lone goal was a beauty. Ben Bishop (40 saves) was awesome, but my, oh my, the Stars' power play could use some juice; the Stars went 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
Game 2: Boston Bruins 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1. Series tied 1-1. The Toronto Maple Leafs totally outplayed the Boston Bruins in Game 1. For Game 2, it was the complete opposite. Boston had a near-perfect first period. In fact, from the moment Rob Gronkowski emphatically waved the Bruins flag to rev up the crowd, this game never felt in doubt. The Maple Leafs can feel good about stealing one game in Beantown, but now they're short-handed. Nazem Kadri is likely out for a few games with a suspension for cross-checking Jake DeBrusk. Mike Babcock says he'd likely play William Nylander or Patrick Marleau at third-line center if that comes to pass.
Game 2: Colorado Avalanche 3, Calgary Flames 2 (OT). Series tied 1-1. Calgary was a big favorite in this series, but Colorado stole a game in the opening set thanks to timely goals by J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon. Calgary must feel encouraged by its goaltending. The narrative for the Flames entering the playoffs? They're a complete team with a firepower offense that might get undone by its uncertainty in net. So much for that. Mike Smith is playing like it's 2012, allowing only three goals combined in the first two games.
Overtime hero edition!
1. Craig Smith, RW, Nashville Predators. In a very important game for the Predators -- who lost Game 1 at home -- Smith found himself in the right position at the right time and sealed it. He gets bonus points for the celly:
- NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) April 14, 2019
2. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche. In 2017-18, MacKinnon willed the Avs to the playoffs nearly all by himself. This season, the No. 1 center has gotten a bit more help. But on Saturday night, the 23-year-old reminded us why he's still the team MVP.
3. Brooks Orpik, D, Washington Capitals. The 38-year-old defenseman was bought out last summer. His ice time was down nearly four minutes per game this season. He has scored just 18 goals in his 1,000-plus regular-season games. That makes Orpik a most unlikely hero -- for everyone except the Caps. "Orpy is a secret weapon," Alex Ovechkin said. "Any time he's on the ice, when he takes a shot, it's always dangerous."
Play of the night
John Carlson had the game on his stick in the final second! AND MRAZEK MAKES THE STOP. pic.twitter.com/BcuQFtbmEW
- Ian Oland (@ianoland) April 13, 2019
This game almost didn't go to overtime.
Dud of the night
Note to young hockey players: Fumbling the puck in front of your net is not great. It's especially not great when your goalie is looking in the other direction. That's just what William Nylander did in the second period, setting up Danton Heinen for one of the easiest goals he'll ever score.
Danton Heinen makes William Nylander pay.
3-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/qKpq2Ljr7K
- Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 14, 2019
What's on the schedule
Though it was goaltender by committee for most of the season, the playoffs have belonged to Robin Lehner, who has become a fan favorite because of his accessibility and humility (as well as vulnerability in being open about past substance abuse and struggles with mental health). With a .948 save percentage and 1.93 goals-against average through two starts, Lehner should get the nod in Game 3. The Penguins, meanwhile, are frustrated. They expect more from their first line especially, which has been stymied so far.
The team that matched the regular-season record for wins (62) lost its first two games and now will be without the league's leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov, for Game 3. Not great, Bob. Perhaps Tampa Bay will use Kucherov's suspension as a rallying point. Columbus is clicking at the right time and getting a ton out of its rentals, notably Matt Duchene, who had a goal and three assists in Game 2. Token reminder that the Blue Jackets were also up 2-0 on the Capitals in the first round last season. Washington went on to win the series and, well, you know the rest.
Something doesn't look quite right with Connor Hellebuyck (.897 save percentage and 3.08 GAA through two games) but the Jets are sticking with their goaltender as the series shifts to St. Louis. But how about those Blues? Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington barely looks fazed. St. Louis' usual suspects, like Ryan O'Reilly, are showing up, but the Blues are also getting production from unlikely sources, like Oskar Sundqvist, who scored two goals Friday. St. Louis is excited for some counterprogramming to Winnipeg's White Out. Get ready for blue rally towels.
This series is getting testy -- and we're not just talking about Logan Couture's choice quote after Game 2. Goaltending has been shaky all season for the Sharks, and that was exposed in Game 2 as Martin Jones was yanked after allowing three goals on seven shots. The Sharks will go back to Jones for Game 3. The Golden Knights took far too many penalties in Game 2 (11) but shined on the PK. Marc-Andre Fleury looks locked in.
Kadri has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL's department of player safety after he received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his high cross-check on DeBrusk. An in-person hearing means the league has the ability to suspend Kadri for more than five games.
This would be Kadri's second postseason suspension in as many years; exactly a year ago (also in a series against the Bruins) Kadri was banned three games for boarding Tommy Wingels.
"It's up to the league to decide, to be honest. I got no comment," DeBrusk said after the game. "I did a series of tests. I'm just hoping they come back negative. It's all kind of a blur, to be honest. From what I remember, it was high. I felt it in my face."
Social post of the day
- Joe Mazur (@joemazurabc11) April 13, 2019
Talk about bad omens.
"I don't see head contact. Like, Ferls has never been suspended, so he doesn't hit like that. That's the frustrating part is they said it was a hit to the head when I don't see it as a hit to the head. If four [officials] are going to get together, someone better at least see it that way. I don't want to get into the reffing, but ... there was a hit to the head earlier in the game on one of our guys. So I think we should just let them play, that's what I'd like to see." -- Canes coach Rod Brind'Amour, in a refreshingly candid in-game interview with NBC, explaining why he disagreed with Micheal Ferland's ejection following his high hit on Capitals center Nic Dowd.