The Avalanche-Golden Knights and Bruins-Islanders series are shaping up to be classics, while the Hurricanes and Jets are both one loss from elimination.
All four second-round series in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs are now well underway.
Two of the series have been whittled down to a best-of-three. Meanwhile, the defending Stanley Cup champions are one win away from returning to the final four, and we may be close to crowning the champions of Canada.
Here’s everything you need to know about the last week of Stanley Cup Playoff action.
Colorado Avalanche VS Vegas Golden Knights
After a 7-1 demolition by the Avalanche in Game 1, I wondered if even the Golden Knights were no match for them and if this might be a quick series.
As it turns out, we’ve got a good one here, after all. Vegas played a much better Game 2 but came up short in overtime after a questionable slashing call on Reilly Smith put Colorado on the power play.
Then, the Knights went home and won Games 3 and 4 to even up the series. They’ve outshot the Avs by 56 over the last three games.
If Vegas ends up winning this series, a pair of goals scored 45 seconds apart late in Game 3 — one by Jonathan Marchessault to tie it, one by Max Pacioretty for the lead — will be seen as the turning point.
Marchessault then scored a hat trick in a 5-1 Game 4 win on Sunday.
With the series tied 2-2 and the home team winning every game so far, Game 5 is set to go on Tuesday back in Denver.
Carolina Hurricanes VS Tampa Bay Lightning
After a pair of 2-1 losses on home ice to begin the series, Sebastian Aho gave the Hurricanes a desperately-needed Game 3 win in overtime.
After falling into that 2-0 hole in the series, Carolina turned to Petr Mrazek in net after Alex Nedeljkovic had started the team’s first eight playoff games. Mrazek played well in Game 3, but Game 4 was a different story. The Lightning lit him up for six goals on 26 shots.
Down 3-1 in the series, the Canes will face a must-win Game 5 back home on Tuesday.
Boston Bruins VS New York Islanders
These teams traded overtime wins after Boston’s Game 1 victory. First, it was Casey Cizikas on a breakaway in Game 2 to get the Islanders on the board in the series.
Then in Game 3, Brad Marchand restored the Bruins’ lead in the series, somehow beating Semyon Varlamov from a terrible angle.
But the Isles responded again in Game 4. Mathew Barzal broke a 1-1 tie with under seven minutes to go in the third period.
Cizikas and Jean-Gabriel Pageau added empty-netters as New York evened up the series at 2-2 with a 4-1 win. Game 5 goes Monday in Boston.
Winnipeg Jets VS Montreal Canadiens
If you know a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, give them a hug. They need it.
Yes, they really did it. The Maple Leafs lost another Game 7, 3-1 last Monday, completing the collapse after building a 3-1 series lead on a Montreal Canadiens team they were heavily favored against. The Leafs lost in the first round — or in last year’s case, the qualifying round — in all five years of the Auston Matthews/Mitch Marner era and are 0-7 when trying to close out a series.
But enough about the Leafs. This isn’t about them. And it may not be about the Jets for much longer either. That is because after sweeping the Edmonton Oilers out of the first round, Winnipeg is in danger of getting swept out of the second round by Montreal.
The Jets have been hurt by the absence of their leading scorer and No. 1 center, Mark Scheifele, who’s serving a four-game suspension for charging Canadiens forward Jake Evans in the final minute of Game 1.
Without Scheifele, the Jets were shut out in Game 2 and then did not put forth a nearly good enough effort in what was essentially a must-win Game 3 for them on Sunday. They lost 5-1 and were getting outshot 25-13 through two periods. They’ve also given up three shorthanded goals in the last two games (albeit one was on an empty net).
The Habs can complete the sweep at home on Monday. Leafs fans, that would at least make Toronto’s loss slightly less embarrassing, right? No? Alright then.