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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins amass 47 shots in, 5-1, win on the road

After giving up the game’s first goal, the Boston Bruins pounded the Buffalo Sabres into submission with five unanswered goals and 47 shots on net in a, 5-1, victory at KeyBank Center Wednesday night.

Jeremy Swayman (6-3-0, 2.23 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in nine games played) made 24 saves on 25 shots faced in the win.

Meanwhile, Sabres goaltender, Aaron Dell (0-4-0, 4.57 goals-against average, .862 save percentage in five games played), made 18 saves on 22 shots against before being replaced by Dustin Tokarski (3-4-2, 3.27 goals-against average, .904 save percentage in 11 games played) after the first period.

Tokarski turned aside 24 out of 25 shots faced in relief of Dell for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 10-6-0 (20 points) on the season, but stuck in 5th place in the Atlantic Division as the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets all won their respective matchups on Wednesday night– keeping Boston out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as the season reaches the American Thanksgiving benchmark for gauging success.

Teams that are in playoff position by the time American Thanksgiving rolls around tend to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs about 78% of the time.

As for the Sabres, they dropped to 7-10-2 (16 points) overall and stuck behind the Bruins in the Atlantic, sitting in 6th place in the division.

The B’s also improved to 2-0-0 against Buffalo this season with two more matchups against the upstate New York based club on Jan. 1st and April 28th (each remaining game is at TD Garden in Boston).

Trent Frederic (upper body) remained out of the lineup for Boston on Wednesday, while Linus Ullmark was relegated to the role of the backup goaltender after tweaking something during morning skate.

Other than that, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one minor change to his lineup– promoting Matt Grzelcyk up to the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and relegating Derek Forbort to the second pairing alongside Brandon Carlo.

Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman served as healthy scratches for the B’s in Buffalo.

Jakub Zboril opened the action with a cross checking infraction at 2:25 of the first period when he knocked down John Hayden in front of Boston’s own net.

The Sabres, however, weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

After David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand couldn’t connect on a 2-on-1 opportunity in the other end (Marchand failed to corral a rebound), Kyle Okposo (5) received a pass from Rasmus Asplund while entering Buffalo’s attacking zone and wiring a shot through Patrice Bergeron’s legs over Swayman’s blocker side as the Bruins captain inadvertently screened his own goaltender.

Asplund (7) had the only assist on Okposo’s goal and the Sabres led, 1-0, on the scoreboard at 10:56 of the first period.

A few minutes later, though, Bergeron (7) pounced on a rebound and elevated a backhand shot over Dell while the Buffalo netminder was sprawled out in desperation to snag the puck and cover it up for a faceoff in his own zone.

Pastrnak (11) and Marchand (13) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins tied it, 1-1, at 13:29.

51 seconds later, Boston took the lead and started to run away with the rest of the night as Charlie Coyle (6) sent a shot over Dell’s glove on the short side and under the crossbar to put the B’s ahead, 2-1, at 14:20.

Nick Foligno (2) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal, which matched his season total (six goals) from 2020-21, in 35 fewer games.

About a minute later, Rasmus Dahlin hooked Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 15:30 of the first period.

It only took Boston 69 seconds on the skater advantage to find the back of the net on a patented one-timer under the blocker from Pastrnak (6) at the faceoff dot to Dell’s right side to extend the Bruins’ lead to two-goals.

McAvoy (10) and Bergeron (8) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the B’s took a, 3-1, lead at 16:59.

With one minute remaining before the start of the first intermission, Zboril sent a puck towards the net that deflected off of his own teammate (Foligno) before Mike Reilly (2) pinched in from the point for the goal on the mostly empty twine to make it, 4-1, Boston.

Foligno (3) and Zboril (3) notched the assists at 19:00 of the first period.

After 20 minutes of play, the Bruins carried a, 4-1, lead into the dressing room and a, 22-8, advantage in shots on goal.

Buffalo held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (4-0), while Boston led in hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (71-29).

Both teams had three blocked shots each.

The Sabres were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Sabres head coach, Don Granato, replaced Dell with Tokarski ahead of the second period after Dell allowed four goals against in the opening frame on 22 shots faced.

Less than a couple minutes into the second period, Foligno and former Bruins defender, Colin Miller, became entangled in a battle as the puck went the other way, yielding an exchange of fisticuffs between Foligno and Miller and resulting five-minute majors for fighting at 1:42.

It was the fourth fighting major for Boston this season (and first since McAvoy fought Joel Farabee in Philadelphia on Nov. 20th).

Midway through the second period, Forbort tripped up Hayden and the on-ice officials deemed a penalty shot would suffice as a result.

Hayden skated in towards Swayman, but the Bruins netminder made the routine stop as though it were a regular breakaway in the first penalty shot that he faced in his young National Hockey League career.

Not much else happened after that in terms of scoring and penalties as neither team hit the back of the net or served an infraction other than Foligno and Miller’s majors for fighting in the second period.

Through two periods, the Bruins held onto a, 4-1, lead, as well as a, 29-22, advantage in shots on goal, despite Buffalo outshooting Boston, 14-7, in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (7-6), hits (22-14) and faceoff win% (66-34) entering the second intermission, while the Sabres held the advantage in takeaways (6-4) and giveaways (6-2).

Buffalo was 0/2 on the skater advantage, while Boston was still 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Not too much was happening as the two teams went through the motions until about midway in the third period, when Zemgus Girgensons checked McAvoy along the boards and sent the star Bruins defender into the glass face first.

Girgensons was assessed a major for boarding as McAvoy took an extra minute to get off the ice (presumably with a head injury) and an official review upheld Girgensons’ major infraction and game misconduct, yielding a five-minute power play to the Bruins at 13:46 of the third period.

Arttu Ruotsalainen glided over to the penalty box to serve Girgensons’ major as the B’s went to work on the skater advantage.

About midway in the power play, Coyle setup Craig Smith who tossed a pass over to Taylor Hall (5) for the one-timer power-play goal against his most recent former team– extending Boston’s lead to four goals in the process.

Smith (2) and Coyle (5) had the assists on Hall’s goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 5-1, at 15:26 of the third period.

The B’s didn’t score on the remainder of Girgensons’ major, but then again, not much else happened after Hall’s goal.

Boston wracked up shots on goal and held the Sabres to just three shots against in the third period alone as the final horn sounded– signaling a, 5-1, win for Swayman and the Bruins.

The Bruins exited the building with the advantage in shots on goal, 47-25, including an, 18-3, advantage in the third period alone, as well as the lead in hits (27-18) and faceoff win% (69-31).

Buffalo left their own rink with the lead in giveaways (8-4), while both teams recorded 10 blocked shots apiece.

The Sabres went 0/1 and the Bruins went 2/3 on the power play in Wednesday’s effort.

After the game, Cassidy told reporters that McAvoy “[was] good” and received some stitches but won’t know that much more until Thursday as it would depend on if “[McAvoy] wakes up feeling good tomorrow and is ready to go Friday.”

Boston improved to 3-3-0 (1-2-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 8-0-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 5-4-1 (3-2-0 at home) when scoring first, 2-6-1 (2-3-1 at home) when trailing after one and 0-7-0 (0-5-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins finish the month of November with a three-game homestand starting with Friday’s matinee matchup with the New York Rangers on ABC in the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown before hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday (Nov. 28th) and Detroit Red Wings next Tuesday (Nov. 30th).

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NHL Nick's Net

Vladar earns shutout in first game against former team

Calgary Flames forward, Andrew Mangiapane, continued his dominance on the road as Dan Vladar made 28 saves in a, 4-0, shutout over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Sunday night.

Vladar (4-0-1, 1.57-goals against average, .945 save percentage in five games played) stopped all 28 shots that he faced for his second shutout this season (as well as the second of his career)– bringing Calgary’s total to seven shutouts this season alone.

Bruins netminder, Jeremy Swayman (5-3-0, 2.39 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in eight games played) made 28 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.

Boston fell to 9-6-0 (18 points) on the season and stuck in 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while the Flames improved to 11-3-5 (27 points) overall and jumped into 1st place in the Pacific Division– leaping over the Edmonton Oilers (13-4-0, 26 points) in the process for not just the division lead, but the best record in the entire Western Conference entering Monday.

Sunday night marked the first meeting between the Bruins and Flames since Feb. 25, 2020, when Calgary beat Boston, 5-2, at TD Garden in their last meeting before the ongoing pandemic was declared about three weeks later.

The Bruins were once again without the services of Trent Frederic (upper body), but head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no lineup changes from Saturday night’s, 5-2, victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on the road to Sunday night’s matchup on home ice with Calgary.

Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman remained in the press box as healthy scratches for Boston in the 499th consecutive sellout at TD Garden.

Shortly after puck drop, Brandon Carlo was checked along the boards and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him as he made his way down the tunnel before returning after missing approximately one shift.

It didn’t take much longer, however, for the first official event on the scoresheet as Juuso Välimäki sent a shot on Swayman that rebounded right to Johnny Gaudreau (8) for the right place, right time goal and the, 1-0, lead for Calgary at 1:29 of the first period.

Välimäki (2) and Matthew Tkachuk (8) tallied the assists on Gaudreau’s goal, which marked the 12th consecutive road game in which the Flames scored first.

Moments later, Rasmus Andersson cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking David Pastrnak at 6:27, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on the ensuing power play.

Heading into the first intermission, the Flames led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-7, in shots on net.

Calgary also held the advantage in just about everything else, including blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (3-2) and hits (14-13), while Boston led in giveaways (6-2) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).

The Flames had yet to see any action on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Massachusetts native, Noah Hanifin (1), scored his first goal of the season on yet another rebound that Swayman couldn’t control at 13:51 of the second period after Boston generated momentum in the other zone that was quickly depleted by a faceoff loss to the Flames in Calgary’s attacking zone in the build up to Hanifin’s goal.

Tkachuk (9) and Andersson (9) notched the assists on the goal as the Flames took a, 2-0, lead.

A few minutes later, Hanifin was off to the penalty box for catching Anton Blidh with a high stick at 16:44 of the second period.

Once again, however, the Bruins couldn’t do anything with the skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action Sunday night in Boston, the Flames led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 20-18, in total shots on net, despite both teams amassing 11 shots each in the second period alone.

Calgary led in blocked shots (10-9), while the Bruins held the advantage in giveaways (10-4), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (59-42).

The two squads managed to have four takeaways aside entering the final frame, while Boston was 0/2 on the power play and the Flames had yet to see any action on the skater advantage.

Välimäki was assessed a holding infraction at 2:09 of the third period, but (stop me if you’ve heard this before) Boston couldn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Instead, the Bruins gave up a shorthanded goal against as too many skaters went into the attacking zone and not enough could get back in time before Dillon Dubé and Mangiapane exchanged rapid fire with Swayman– generating save after save and rebound after rebound until Mangiapane (15) tucked the puck into the back of the twine.

It was the 14th goal scored on the road for Mangiapane in 15 games this season– marking the first time that any NHL player recorded as many goals outside of their home arena in as many games since John LeClair notched 14 goals on the road in 15 games in 1994-95.

Dubé (7) had the only assist on Mangiapane’s shorthanded goal as the Flames took a, 3-0, lead at 3:08 of the third period.

About a minute later, Mikael Backlund (7) followed up with a shot that Swayman got a piece of before the rubber biscuit slid over the goal line prior to Charlie Coyle fishing it out and keeping play going– at least until the play was reviewed when the puck was clearly observed completely over the line on replay.

Elias Lindholm (12) had the only assist on Backlund’s goal and Calgary took a commanding, 4-0, lead at 4:11 of the third period.

Boston was frustrated for the rest of the night by both Vladar’s ongoing shutout and their own efforts (or lack thereof) as Brad Marchand took a slashing penalty at 7:48, followed by a holding minor against Nick Foligno at 13:56.

The Flames didn’t score on either power play, however.

At the final horn Calgary sealed the deal on a, 4-0, win with Vladar earning his second career shutout in the process.

The Flames finished the night leading in shots on goal, 32-28, including an, 12-10, advantage in shots in the third period alone.

Calgary also exited TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (15-14), while Boston wrapped up Sunday night’s action leading in giveaways (12-6), hits (37-28) and faceoff win% (53-47).

The Flames went 0/2 and the Bruins went 0/3 on the power play.

According to Sportsnet Stats, Calgary also became the first NHL team since offensive passes were allowed in 1929, to record seven shutouts within their first 19 games of a season.

Meanwhile, Boston dropped to 2-3-0 (2-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-3-0 (2-1-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-4-0 (1-1-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Flames improved to 11-1-3 (9-1-2 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 10-1-1 (9-1-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 10-0-1 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins hit the road for a game in Buffalo against the Sabres on Wednesday before returning home to finish November with a three-game homestand starting Friday afternoon against the New York Rangers in the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown (Nov. 26th at 1 p.m. ET on ABC).

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NHL Nick's Net

Forbort scores pair in, 5-2, win for Boston

Derek Forbort notched his first career two-goal game and earned his second career game-winning goal in the process, while leading the Boston Bruins to a, 5-2, win over the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Linus Ullmark (4-3-0, 2.86 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in seven games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots against in the win for Boston.

Philadelphia goaltender, Martin Jones (3-2-0, 2.82 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in five games played), stopped 39 out of 44 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 9-5-0 (18 points) on the season and remain 5th in the Atlantic Division, while the Flyers fell to 8-5-3 (19 points) overall and stuck in 4th place in the Metropolitan Division.

As a result of Saturday night’s win, the B’s are now 1-1-0 against Philadelphia this season and will face the Flyers once more in the 2021-22 regular season schedule on Jan. 13th at TD Garden.

Trent Frederic (upper body) remained out of the lineup for Boston, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lines with Craig Smith and Curtis Lazar returning to action.

Smith took to the third line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and Erik Haula at center, while Lazar was inserted on the fourth line right wing with Anton Blidh to the left of Tomáš Nosek.

On defense, Mike Reilly was back after serving as a healthy scratch in Boston’s, 5-2, victory over the Montréal Canadiens last Sunday.

Reilly suited up on the left side of the third defensive pairing with Jakub Zboril as his partner and Connor Clifton joining Karson Kuhlman in the press box on the short list of healthy scratches for the Bruins.

Oskar Steen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Taylor Hall tripped up Claude Giroux to present the Flyers with their first power play of the night at 4:36 of the first period, but Philadelphia wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Giroux tripped Brandon Carlo and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the evening at 10:19.

The Bruins even had a 5-on-3 advantage for 12 seconds when Justin Braun tripped David Pastrnak at 12:07, but the B’s couldn’t muster anything on either power play.

Late in the period, Lazar went deep on a forecheck and ensured that a puck chipped in from Matt Grzelcyk would find its way onto another Bruins skater’s stick.

Blidh sent a quick pass to Nosek from the trapezoid to the slot where Nosek (2) elevated a backhand shot under the bar from close range to give Boston the first lead of the night, 1-0, at 18:25 of the first period.

Blidh (2) and Lazar (3) tallied the assists on Nosek’s goal.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and outshot the Flyers, 21-8.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (3-2) and hits (9-7), while Philly led in blocked shots (3-1), giveaways (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (60-40).

Philadelphia was 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

It didn’t take the Bruins long to extend their lead to two-goals as Forbort (3) sent a blast from the point that may have tipped off of Braun’s stick and floated over Jones’ blocker side to make it, 2-0, 30 seconds into the second period.

Brad Marchand (12) and Pastrnak (10) recorded the assists on Forbort’s first goal of the night.

Less than a minute later, however, Boston gave up a goal as Cam Atkinson won a race to a loose puck in the trapezoid and bounced a shot off of Ullmark before Derick Brassard (3) scooped up the rebound goal while crashing the net– cutting Boston’s lead in half.

Atkinson (3) and Rasmus Ristolainen (4) had the assists on the goal and the Flyers trailed, 2-1, at 1:22 of the second period.

About a couple minutes later, Forbort tripped Joel Farabee and was sent to the penalty box at 3:42, but Philadelphia wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Marchand cut a rut to the sin bin after a post-whistle scrum resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction at 8:30.

It didn’t take the Flyers long to convert on the power play as Brassard (4) received a pass that deflected off of Lazar’s stick and buried a catch and release goal– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Giroux (8) and Ivan Provorov (4) tabbed the assists on Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:25 of the second period.

About a minute later, Charlie McAvoy took exception to Farabee’s aggressive play and the two exchanged fisticuffs– yielding five-minute majors for fighting at 10:32, as a result.

Late in the period, Smith setup Forbort (4) for a snap shot over Jones’ glove and under the bar to put Boston ahead, 3-2, on what became the eventual game-winning goal.

Smith (1) and DeBrusk (2) had the assists on Forbort’s second goal of the game as the Bruins defender doubled his career-high goals in a season (four) in just his 14th game with Boston at 16:27 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 34-19, including a, 13-11, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (8-5), takeaways (5-4), hits (25-18) and faceoff win% (55-45), while both teams had five giveaways each after two periods.

Philadelphia was 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins remained 0/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame.

Early in the final frame, Haula fed Smith with a lead pass into the zone before Smith (1) beat Jones on the short side to give Boston another two-goal lead.

Haula (2) and DeBrusk (3) tallied the assists on Smith’s first goal of the season and the Bruins led, 4-2, at 1:28 of the third period.

Oskar Lindblom was sent to the sin bin for hooking at 4:11, but Boston’s power play didn’t last long as Patrice Bergeron cut a rut in Lindblom’s wake with a hooking infraction of his own at 4:29.

After a span of 1:42 at 4-on-4, the Flyers had an abbreviated power play, but couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark.

Carlo went to the box for tripping Brassard at 11:54 and Philadelphia was set to begin a power play on an offensive zone faceoff– except Brassard got thrown out before the draw, so Giroux glided in to take the faceoff against Bergeron, but then the resulting redo was botched.

Bergeron might have accidentally nudged the linesman, but officials on the ice determined it was Giroux– for some unexplained reason– that had committed a faceoff violation and (seeing as it was Philadelphia’s second violation on the same faceoff) resulted in an automatic bench minor for delay of game.

Giroux protested to no avail as Zack MacEwen skated to the box at 11:54– negating Philly’s power play for 4-on-4 action instead.

Less than a minute later, Pastrnak sent a pass back to Zboril in the attacking zone whereby Zboril was patient with the puck before giving it back to his fellow Czechia native.

Pastrnak (5) then held the rubber biscuit while cutting through the slot before wrapping the puck high behind Jones’ glove into the open twine.

Zboril (2) and Charlie Coyle (4) were credited with the assists as the Bruins took a, 5-2, lead at 12:47 of the third period.

Finally, in the last entry on the event sheet for the night, Forbort hooked MacEwen and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:20, but the Flyers couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 44-31, despite trailing Philadelphia, 12-10, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins exited the building leading in blocked shots (9-8), giveaways (7-5), hits (33-29) and faceoff win% (51-49).

The Flyers finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while the B’s left Wells Fargo Center 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 7-3-0 (3-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 7-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 6-1-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, dropped to 2-5-1 (1-3-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-3-1 (1-2-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-4-2 (0-2-1 on home ice) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home on Sunday to host the Calgary Flames before hitting the road to face the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center next Wednesday (Nov. 24th) prior to closing out November with a three-game homestand including next Friday’s (Nov. 26th) matinee matchup with the New York Rangers– which will air nationally on ABC at 1 p.m. ET as part of the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning repeat as Stanley Cup champions in Game 5 shutout

Ross Colton’s goal was more than enough to seal the deal on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s third Stanley Cup championship in franchise history Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves in a, 1-0, shutout victory on home ice over the Montréal Canadiens as he became the first goaltender since legendary Canadiens goaltender, Ken Dryden, to play in every playoff game en route to winning back-to-back Stanley Cup rings.

It was also the 5th shutout (6th of his postseason career) for Vasilevskiy this postseason as the Lightning goaltender became the first in league history to win all four series clinching games in a shutout.

He’s also won his last five consecutive playoff series’ in shutout fashion as Tampa shutout the Dallas Stars, 2-0, in Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final before going on their 2021 run by shutting out the Florida Panthers, 4-0, in Game 6 of Tampa’s 2021 First Round matchup, eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0, in Game 5 in the 2021 Second Round and beating the New York Islanders and Canadiens, 1-0, in Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals and Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, respectively.

Colton was also the fourth rookie to score a Stanley Cup clinching goal since 1927, in Wednesday night’s effort.

The Bolts are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, having won the Cup in 2020 and 2021, as the first repeat champions since the Pittsburgh Penguins did so in 2016 and 2017.

Tampa also did so in a span of about 10 months, since the ongoing global pandemic altered the National Hockey League’s postseason calendar for 2020, and shortened the 2020-21 league calendar to 56 games in the regular season, followed by a postseason that began in May and ended in the first week of July.

Last year, the Lightning raised the Cup as the designated road team at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta at a neutral site as the NHL played through the COVID-19 pandemic in a bubble in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This year, for the first time in 17 years, the Bolts raised the Cup in front of their home fans as 2004 Stanley Cup champion with Tampa, Dave Andreychuk, watched along in attendance to cap the 2020-21 Lightning’s run.

In 2004, NHL on ESPN and NHL on ABC coverage had come to an end with the conclusion of Tampa’s Game 7 victory over the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Final.

The 2004-05 season-long lockout that ultimately canceled all NHL action for the year meant that ESPN could punt their broadcasting rights to the 2005-06 season or opt out altogether.

They chose the latter.

That’s when NBC stepped in and the NHL had games on Outdoor Life Network, then Versus, NBC Sports Network (which shortly rebranded as NBCSN), as well as on NBC.

In 2021, NHL on NBC signed off for the final time as the league shifts its focus back to ESPN/Disney and Turner Sports for the next seven seasons in the United States starting with the 2021-22 season (the 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft and first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will be on ESPN2 this month, if you’re wondering).

Back at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night, Vasilevskiy (16-7, 1.90 goals-against average, .937 save percentage in 23 games played) made 22 saves on 22 shots against en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Most Valuable Player.

Montréal goaltender, Carey Price (13-9, 2.28 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in 22 games) stopped 29 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, improved to 9-0 all time in a series when leading 2-0, while the Bolts became the first team to raise the Cup on home ice since Chicago did so in 2015.

Pat Maroon, meanwhile, also became the first player (and fourth overall) since Ed Litzenberger to win three consecutive Cups with two different teams as Litzenberger won with Chicago in 1961, as well as Toronto from 1962-64.

Neither Habs head coach, Dominique Ducharme, nor Cooper, made a change to their lineups for Game 5 on Wednesday.

Alex Killorn remained out of the lineup for the Lightning for fourth game in-a-row after blocking a shot in Game 1. He told reporters after the game that he suffered a broken left fibula in Game 1 and wanted to suit up again if he could play.

Corey Perry kicked things off in Game 5 with a hooking infraction as Perry impeded Mathieu Joseph’s play and presented the Lightning with the game’s first power play at 3:21 of the first period.

Tampa couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Moments later, the Canadiens got their first chance on the power play as Jan Rutta cross checked Artturi Lehkonen at 7:19.

Montréal’s time on the advantage was unchanged as Erik Cernak earned an interference minor and Perry was assessed an embellishment infraction almost a minute after Rutta cut a rut to the penalty box at 8:15.

About 30 seconds after Cernak and Perry went to the sin bin, though, Josh Anderson hooked Blake Coleman and joined his teammates in Montréal’s box at 8:43 of the opening frame.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for 37 seconds before Tampa had an abbreviated power play thereafter.

Just past the midpoint of the first period, the Bolts were outshooting the Habs, 11-2, with 9:53 remaining in the opening period– reminiscent of how the Lightning outshot the Canadiens, 11-1, through the first half of the first period in Game 4.

Entering the first intermission, the score was still tied, 0-0, despite Tampa outshooting Montréal, 13-4.

The Bolts also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-0), takeaways (2-1) and hits (25-16), while the Habs led in faceoff win percentage (52-48) after one period.

Both teams had three giveaways each while the Canadiens were 0/1 and the Lightning were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

David Savard sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play and received an automatic minor 21 seconds into the second period, but the Habs couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

Almost midway through the second frame, Mikhail Sergachev tripped up Nick Suzuki and presented the Canadiens with another power play that went by the wayside at 8:32.

Moments later in Tampa’s attacking zone, Ryan McDonagh made a lateral pass along the blue line to Savard, who promptly crashed the slot and slid a shot pass towards the crease for Colton (4) to redirect into the twine.

Savard (5) and McDonagh (8) had the assists on Colton’s goal as the Lightning took a, 1-0, lead at 13:27 of the second period.

Keeping in the trend with the rest of the series– the team that scored first in each game won the game.

Late in the period, Ben Chiarot yanked Brayden Point down on a breakaway, yielding a power play to the Bolts as a result as Chiarot was assessed with a holding infraction at 19:22.

Though the ensuing skater advantage spanned the end of the second period and the start of the final frame of regulation, the Bolts couldn’t find a way to solve Montréal’s penalty kill.

After 40 minutes of action at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night, the Lightning lead the Canadiens, 1-0, on the scoreboard and were outshooting the Habs, 19-14, despite Montréal holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Tampa held the lead in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (7-3), giveaways (10-3) and hits (44-35), while the Canadiens led in faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final period.

Early in the third period, Nikita Kucherov had a great chance to score, but Price stood tall and shut him down while losing his stick and making desperation saves.

Montréal responded with a breakaway as Anderson burst into the zone with tremendous speed, was denied by Vasilevskiy and ultimately crashed back-first into the post and briefly went down the tunnel before returning for the rest of the game.

With 1:51 remaining in the third period, Ducharme pulled Price for an extra attacker, but after a stoppage resulted in neutral zone faceoff, the Habs sent Price back into the crease for a few seconds to ensure a little security between the pipes if they lost the draw.

Montréal won the ensuing faceoff as Price once again sprinted for the bench with 1:36 remaining, but Tampa’s defense was too much for the Canadiens– though the Lightning’s offense couldn’t put an exclamation point on the game with an empty net goal.

The Habs used their timeout with 1:24 remaining as assistant coach, Alex Burrows, tried to rally his players for one last push.

At the final horn, Vasilevskiy and the Bolts earned a, 1-0, shutout in Game 5 and clinched their second-straight Stanley Cup ring in as many years.

Wednesday night marked the third time that Tampa won the Cup in franchise history.

The Bolts also improved to 17-3 all time when scoring first in series-clinching games.

Tampa finished Game 5 leading in shots on goal, 30-22, including an, 11-8, advantage in the third period alone.

The Lightning dominated in just about everything else at the end of the night, leading in giveaways (11-6), hits (56-48) and faceoff win% (52-48), while both teams had nine blocked shots each.

Montréal exited the building 0/3 on the power play, but then again, Tampa also struggled on the skater advantage in the action– going 0/3 on Wednesday night as well.

Tampa finished the 2021 postseason 16-7 overall, while the Habs went 13-9.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #222- Habs And Hab Nots

The Montréal Canadiens are going to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993, and the Vegas Golden Knights were eliminated in six games as a result. Plus, the Tampa Bay Lightning host the New York Islanders in a Game 7 to decide which team will have home ice advantage against Montréal in the Final! Oh and did we mention the Seattle Kraken hired their first head coach? Because that happened too.

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Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #138- 2019’s Already Going Down

Nick and Connor recap and react to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship so far, review the latest suspensions and injuries, look to the future of the NHL in 2019 and beyond, discuss 2019 All-Star Game captains, Jake Guentzel’s new extension and Jim Lites’ quotes on Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

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