Yesterday was easily one of the most exciting days in recent NHL hockey fandom history. There were six series in which one team had a 2-1 lead and could have eliminated the other. Five teams did just that.
The New York Islanders eliminated the Florida Panthers, 5-1, and rumors came out almost immediately that general manager Dale Tallon is going to be let go less than an hour after the team took the “L”. The Arizona Coyotes did away with the Nashville Predators, 4-3, in a thrilling overtime game. On Sidney Crosby’s 33rd birthday, the Montreal Canadiens sent the Pittsburgh Penguins packing with a 2-0 shutout. A bubble city host was kicked out of the safety zone when the Chicago Blackhawks hung on to a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. To cap off the elimination results, the Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild, 5-4, in a thrilling overtime as well.
The only series that we will see a game five in is the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Columbus was four regulation minutes away from a 3-0 defeat of Toronto when the Leafs remembered they have some firepower to wield. With the goaltender pulled, they scored two goals in 49 seconds to pull within one goal. Columbus came literally inches from sinking an empty-net goal that likely would have ended the comeback. Unfortunately, they went a little to the left and the Leafs found a tying goal in the dying seconds of the game. In overtime, both sides had some good looks before Auston Matthews ended it to tie the series and force the game five tomorrow evening.
With so many series ending, today’s slate of games features just two round robin games. Out east, the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning will play to see who ends up at the top of the conference and who gets the second seed. Meanwhile, in the west, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights will faceoff for the same rights in their conference.