Six Thoughts: Penguins and Oilers bounce back, Knights make noise out west
Dylan Callaghan-Croley (@DylanCCNHL)
August 4, 2020
Monday was another busy day of NHL hockey as six games took place over the course of the day in Edmonton and Toronto. Here’s one prevailing thought from each game:
1. Carolina Hurricanes 4 - New York Rangers 1 | Svechnikov makes his presence known
One of the league’s brightest and youngest developing stars resides in Carolina. That player of course is 20-year old Andrei Svechnikov, the second overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. After putting up 24 goals and 37 assists for 61 points in 68 games during the regular season, Svechnikov made his presence known on Monday afternoon against the New York Rangers. In the game, the Russian born right winger scored his first career hat trick and the Hurricanes first playoff hat trick in franchise history. Thanks to his three goal effort, the Hurricanes are one win away on Wednesday from eliminating the Rangers and moving past the qualifying round. If Svechnikov keeps up his high level of play from the first two games of this series, the Hurricanes will be a tough team to beat the rest of the way.
2. Winnipeg Jets 3 - Calgary Flames 2 | Jets show strong resilience in game two victory
Most teams after losing their best all-around player and their best goal scorer would shut it down and not really give the best of efforts. Winnipeg, however, did the opposite on Monday afternoon as they defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 in game two of their series. The Jets were without both Mark Schiefele and Patrik Laine for the game but still found a way to get the job done thanks to a Nikolaj Ehlers power paly goal midway through the third period. It ended up being the lone power play goal of the day for the Jets as they went 1-for-6 on the man-advantage. That being said, if they do hope to get past Calgary, they’ll need to fix those power play woes as they’re now 1-for-13 on the power play through their first two games.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning 3 - Washington Capitals 2 | Holtby looks strong in first game back
During the regular season, Braden Holtby was not having his best of seasons. The Stanley Cup winning goalie posted career worses with a .897 save percentage and a 3.11 goals allowed average. As with any team in the playoffs, they will often only go as far as their goalie can take them. That being said, there was a question of how far the Capitals could go in the playoffs if Holtby couldn’t regain his former form. If their round robin opener against Tampa Bay is any indication, Washington is still very much a dangerous team this postseason. Against Tampa Bay on Monday, Holtby stopped 26 of 28 shots not counting any shots in the shootout. It’s only one game but it should help Holtby regain some of his confidence as the Caps move forward in the round robin and deeper into the playoffs.
4. Vegas Golden Knights 5 - Dallas Stars 3 | Not the goalie battle we expected
Entering this game we expected a goalie battle between two goalies that were hot towards the end of last season in Dallas’s Ben Bishop and Vegas’s Robin Lehner. Monday’s round robin matchup between the two, however, was the exact opposite As both goalies exchanged poor performances following a rather conventional first period.
After a first period that saw the Knights take a 1-0 lead, the Stars would score three, second-period goals giving themselves a 3-1 lead heading into the final period of play. For a team that had one of the best goals allowed averages in teh league during the regular season, one would’ve expected a Dallas victory at this point. Vegas would have different plans as in the final 20-minutes of play, the Golden Knights picked up four goals all coming within the last 10 minutes of the period, including three in a five-minute window from the 9:46 mark to the 14:47 mark. Safe to say that it’s a big win for the Golden Knights and a tough loss for Dallas in the battle for the top seed in the Western Conference.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins 3 - Montreal Canadiens 1 | Montreal’s lack of fire power shows
Entering this series, the biggest question for the Canadiens is would their offense be able to do enough to beat the uber-talented Pittsburgh Penguins. In game one, they were able to do enough offensively to grab a 3-2 win behind a strong start from goaltender Carey Price. On Monday, however, the Canadiens lack of firepower showed against the Penguins. The Canadiens in the game were outshot by the Penguins 38-27 and struggled on the power play in their three opportunities. Leading scorer Thomas Tatar only had two shots on goal while other notable offensive pieces Nick Suzuki, Brendan Gallagher, and Max Domi combined for just five shots. With the game two loss, the Canadiens lost the opportunity at putting the Penguins in a tough 2-0 hole in the series and will now have to face a Pittsburgh team that is finding their footing offensively.
6. Edmonton Oilers 6 - Chicago Blackhawks 3 | Connor McDavid asserts his dominance
Connor McDavid once again on Monday night showed the hockey world why he’s one of the world’s best players. The 23-year old scored his first playoff hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks in a 6-3 win. The win for the Oilers evens the series at one game a piece meaning this series will at least go four games in the best of five series. The Oilers had to regain some momentum in the series following a disappointing effort in game one of the series on Saturday and were able to do just that on Monday. Now with at least some momentum on Edmonton’s side, one has to wonder if the Blackhawk lost their best chance of upsetting Edmonton in this qualifying round matchup.