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The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs rolls along Sunday and we’re following all of the action. The Penguins re-asserted themselves in Game 3 against the Flyers, using a huge second period to propel them to a 5-1 win and a 2-1 series lead. The Wild also got back into their series with the Jets, scoring four goals in the second period to roar to a 6-2 win and cut the Jets’ series lead to 2-1. The Capitals in overtime, but only found more disappointment against the Blue Jackets. Finally, the Vegas Golden Knights edged their way past the Los Angeles Kings once again, forcing L.A. into a 3-0 series hole and threatening to sweep their first-ever playoff series.
Here, we have everything you need to follow along. Keep on scrolling for Sunday’s schedule, game-by-game updates and odds/predictions for the entire postseason.
Sunday’s Full Schedule
- Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Philadelphia Flyers 1
- Minnesota Wild 6, Winnipeg Jets 2
- Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Washington Capitals 4 (OT)
- Vegas Golden Knights 3, Los Angeles Kings 2
- The Penguins-Flyers series has been completely unpredictable so far, as both teams have proved they’re capable of getting blown out on any given night, but the Flyers probably don’t stand much of a chance if they keep giving the Penguins opportunities on the power play.
- The Wild were impressive on Sunday and delivered somewhat of a statement win in Minnesota after getting dominated in the first two games against Winnipeg. They managed to play physical and get contributions from throughout the lineup. Most importantly, they were able to hold a share of the possession and limit the Jets to under 40 shots for the first time in the series.
- The Capitals continue to find mind-blowing ways to let games slip away from them. They outshot Columbus by a whopping margin of 58-30 in Game 2 and still managed to lose in overtime. Washington had a few costly defensive breakdowns and missed opportunities on the offensive end that prevented them from putting this game away and evening the series. They also ran into a very good Sergei Bobrovsky, and so their postseason woes continue. After replacing Philipp Grubauer with Braden Holtby during the second intermission on Sunday, it’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod in Game 3.
- The Kings put together their best offensive performance of the playoffs on Sunday (not saying much) but still couldn’t get past Vegas. Los Angeles held the possession advantage and outshot the Golden Knights 39-26, but Vegas capitalized on their scoring chances and won their third straight one-goal game. The Kings now have their backs up against the wall…but at least they finally scored two goals in a game?
Golden Knights push Kings to the brink
The Kings got Drew Doughty back in the lineup on Sunday following his one-game suspension, and they were back in their own barn for Game 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights. It wasn’t enough, though, as Vegas once again came away with a narrow victory against Los Angeles.
As has been the case for most of this series, Sunday’s game was a defensive battle featuring excellent goaltending on both ends, but the Golden Knights were able to break a 1-1 tie late in the game thanks to this goal by James Neal.
Nice little move by Neal to slip by the defense, but Oscar Fantenberg is likely going to lose some sleep over that missed check. Jonathan Quick probably isn’t thrilled he let that shot sneak through his five-hole either.
But that wasn’t the only late strike. The Kings had a major defense lapse on the ensuing possession, allowing William Karlsson to wander alone in front and double the lead just 21 seconds later.
The Kings quickly got one of those back thanks to an Anze Kopitar deflection in front, but it wasn’t enough. They lost 3-2 and have officially been pushed to the brink of elimination. The Knights will look to complete the sweep in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Hug a Capitals fan in your life
Oh no, Capitals…oh no.
After blowing a two-goal lead in regulation, the Capitals managed to force overtime in Game 2 with a late power play equalizer from T.J. Oshie. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to seal the deal.
Instead, the Blue Jackets got a second straight win in overtime to start this series. Sunday’s game-winner came off the stick of Matt Calvert, who one-handed a rebound to beat Braden Holtby and stun the Caps.
Now, the Blue Jackets will head back to Columbus with two road wins under their belt, and the pressure is on the Capitals to reverse course and stave off another early postseason choke. Best of luck with that, Washington.
Wild cured by home cooking, stun Jets with big win
Sometimes, even the greatest of frustrations can be solved with a little home cooking.
That was the case for the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night. After getting outplayed and frustrated through the first two games of their opening-round series against the Jets, the Wild returned home to Minnesota for Game 3 and turned it into a statement win that few saw coming – taking down Winnipeg, 6-2.
Things got off to a shaky start for the Wild in the early going, as they took two penalties in the first three-and-a-half minutes and Devan Dubnyk gave up an ugly, ugly goal to Blake Wheeler on the power play.
The nastiness that came at the end of Game 2 carried over into Sunday, as tempers flared early and often in the first period of Game 3. The Wild were able to bait the Jets into a few dumb penalties, and Minnesota took advantage — scoring twice on the power play in the opening frame. It was the confidence boost Minnesota’s offensive unit desperately needed. In each of the first two games of the series, the Wild were held off the board until the third period.
After a Tyler Myers goal cut Minnesota’s lead to one in the second period, the Wild looked to be fading. They took a couple of penalties and went over seven and a half minutes without an attempt on net. It looked like momentum was tilting in Winnipeg’s favor, but then Mikael Granlund found Eric Staal for this sick highlight.
That goal reignited the home crowd and was the first of three Wild goals in 3:43 to close out the second period. They took a 6-2 lead into the third period, and that score ultimately held on to be the final.
That’s Alexander Ovechkin’s music!
Alex Ovechkin got his first goal of the playoffs on Sunday night in Washington. He also got his second. He did both on the power play, and you can probably guess from where on the ice.
Columbus is probably not going to want to give him that shot moving forward. There is PLENTY of evidence to suggest it’s a very bad idea.
Penguins bounce back with another big win
After notching a hat trick in the Penguins’ dominant Game 1 victory, Sidney Crosby had a frustrating time in Pittsburgh’s Game 2 loss. However, the captain got back to his productive ways early in Game 3, notching a nice wrap-around goal during the first period in Philadelphia.
That’s an excellent display of footwork and hands in the same sequence. It’s also a tough pill to swallow for Philly fans, who were chanting “Crosby sucks” andon Sunday.
Despite going into the intermission down 1-0, the Flyers actually outplayed the Penguins for most of the first. However, things didn’t quite go their way on the other side of the break.
The second period turned Game 3 into the one-sided affair that we’ve come to expect from this series. The Penguins broke it open thanks to two straight power play goals — one from Derick Brassard and one from Evgeni Malkin. Both were one-timed beauties.
The real devastating blow came when the Penguins scored five seconds after Malkin’s power play goal, tying the record for the quickest two goals in Stanley Cup playoff history. It happened because Sidney Crosby was able to do this to Claude Giroux on the faceoff at center ice.
The Flyers were able to get one back thanks to Travis Sanheim‘s first career playoff goal, but climbing out of a 4-0 hole is certainly no easy task. Ultimately, for the second straight game in the series, the final scoreline read 5-1. This time, the Penguins were on the victorious end, taking back control of the series.
Both teams have proven to have their weaknesses and can be inconsistent, but the biggest key for the Flyers is not letting the Penguins kill them on special teams. Philadelphia had the third-worst penalty kill in the league this season, while the Penguins’ power play unit was the best in the league. That was a big key for the Pens on Sunday, as they went 3-for-7 on their man-advantage opportunities in Game 3. The Flyers, meanwhile, went 0-for-6 on the power play.
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