2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Complete Week 4 Roundup

Mat Barzal (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Mat Barzal (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

Divisional and international borders are finally being crossed this year, with four teams left in the race for Lord Stanley.

We’re down to four teams left standing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the second straight year, the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders face a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line. And for the second straight year, the Vegas Golden Knights are facing off with…Corey Perry, with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line.

Finally, after watching teams play the same six or seven other teams all season, we’re going to get some new match-ups. All four divisions have crowned a champion. Now it’s time to settle who gets to play for the Cup.

These aren’t technically the conference finals this year. There were no conferences this year, after all. One series is seeing a Western Conference team play an Eastern Conference team. Instead, we’re calling these the Stanley Cup semi-final series, apparently.

One series is underway, and the other gets going tonight. Let’s get you all caught up in this week’s edition of our postseason roundup.

Tampa Bay Lightning VS New York Islanders

The Lightning needed just five games to dispose of the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the shutout, and Brayden Point scored a sick goal in a 2-0 series-clinching victory last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Islanders fell behind 2-1 for the second straight series and then won three straight games. Brock Nelson scored twice to help New York eliminate the Boston Bruins with a 6-2 win in Game 6 last Wednesday.

And so, it’s the Lightning and Islanders again – a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final that Tampa Bay won in six games en route to the franchise’s second Stanley Cup championship.

The Isles fell into a 2-0 hole in last year’s series. This time they’re off to a better start. Semyon Varlamov had his shutout broken by Point in the final minute but still made 30 saves as the Islanders hung on for a 2-1 victory in Game 1 on Sunday.

Mathew Barzal stayed hot for New York, scoring his fourth goal in the last five games.

Game 2 goes Tuesday in Tampa.

Vegas Golden Knights VS Montreal Canadiens

The Golden Knights were about five minutes away from falling into a 3-0 series hole against a Presidents’ Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche team that hadn’t lost a game yet in these playoffs. Instead, Vegas came back to win that game, and then the three after that as well, coming back to stun Colorado in six games and advancing to the final four for the third time in the team’s four-year history.

Mark Stone scored the overtime winner in Game 5 after the Knights erased a 2-0 deficit in the third period.

In Game 6, Alex Pietrangelo broke a 3-3 tie in the final minute of the second period, and the Golden Knights never looked back.

Their next opponent will be the Kings of the North, Canada’s Team, the Montreal Canadiens.

Since falling behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and looking dead in the water, the Canadiens haven’t lost. In fact, they haven’t even trailed a game at any point over the course of the seven-game winning streak they’ve put together since then.

If the Habs win the Cup this year, they may build a Tyler Toffoli statue in Montreal. They might build one anyway. Toffoli continued his incredible first season in bleu, blanc et rouge, scoring the overtime winner against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 last Monday to finish off the sweep and send the Canadiens to the third round.

And so, LA Kings fans, it’s time to choose sides. It’s Toffoli versus Alec Martinez for a trip to the Cup Final. The Canadiens are the first team to cross the Canada-U.S. border this year. Game 1 goes in Las Vegas on Monday.