As the second round of the playoffs rolls on, the Capitals, Islanders, Stars, and Predators are all trailing their series heading into Thursday’s action.
A one or two game deficit in the NHL is nothing to get too worried about. There have been many memorable comebacks from even 3-0 leads in recent years.
So don’t count any team out just yet. These are the three teams with the best chance of making a comeback in their series:
NEW YORK ISLANDERS, down to 2-1 to Lightning
Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Matt Murray came into Game 4 of the second-round matchup against the Washington Capitals riding an incredible hot streak. Over the past two games, Murray, 21, had posted a 1.50 goals-against average and .959 SP, and he looked near unbeatable in Game 3, stopping 47 of 49 shots.
In order to beat Murray in Game 4, the Capitals would have to be perfect. They would have to get Murray moving side-to-side, scrambling out of position, down-and-out — or maybe all they needed was a rolling puck and a bit of luck. That’s exactly how Washington center Jay Beagle found the back of the net early in Wednesday’s game.
Less than three minutes into Game 4, Capitals winger Tom Wilson carried the puck through the neutral zone before crossing center and flipping the puck into the left wing corner. Beagle, charging hard, got to the puck ahead of Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy. With the puck only about a foot from the goal line, Beagle took a backhanded swipe at the puck and somehow found space over Murray’s shoulder: Read more
Thanks to Patric Hornqvist, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from downing the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and advancing to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
The teams traded goals through two frames with Jay Beagle and John Carlson finding the net for Washington and Trevor Daley and Matt Cullen responding for Pittsburgh, and played a back-and-forth scoreless third period that set up overtime for the second time in the series. And in overtime, it was Hornqvist who was gifted an incredible opportunity when Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who was in the lineup in place of a healthy-scratched Nate Schmidt, made a nearly unthinkable error and poked a puck right into the Penguins winger’s wheelhouse.
Hornqvist made no mistake, firing the puck past Capitals netminder Braden Holtby for the win. Just like that, the Penguins skated away with a 3-2 victory in Game 4 and a 3-1 lead in the second-round series. Read more
Capitals winger Marcus Johansson was able to finish Monday’s Game 3 against the Penguins following the hit by Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, but Johansson’s status for Game 4 could be in question.
As the Capitals took the ice for practice Tuesday, the team announced that Johansson had suffered an upper-body injury and would not skate with the team. Being that it’s the post-season, no specifics regarding Johansson’s injury have been released, but the 25-year-old told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti that he cleared concussion protocol following the jolt and was dealing with a sore neck after the Capitals’ loss.
According to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, Capitals coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t confirm whether or not Johansson would be back in the lineup for Game 4, saying only that the winger would be re-evaluated Wednesday. Read more
Is Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang a lightning rod for dangerous plays or what?
Whether he’s giving or receiving, he can’t seem to dodge controversy. Letang avoided a suspension for this slash in the first round of the playoffs on the New York Rangers’ Viktor Stalberg, as the NHL Department of Player Safety felt the stanchion launched Letang’s stick into Stalberg’s face.
Letang might have a tougher time escaping the law after what happened in Game 3 of his Penguins’ Metropolitan Division final matchup against the Washington Capitals Monday. A look at his powerful hit on Caps left winger Marcus Johansson:
So much for messing with Matt Murray’s head.
That was the concern, at least in this corner, upon learning the Pittsburgh Penguins would dress their usual starting goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, for Game 3 of the Metro Division semifinal. Fleury hadn’t played since March 31, when he sustained his second concussion of the 2015-16 season. Fleury earned a clean bill of health after missing the Pens’ first seven playoff games, and coach Mike Sullivan dressed Fleury as a backup to Murray Monday night.
There were two risk factors there. For one, was it worth bringing Fleury back if he wasn’t going to start anyway? Why not rest him further in that case? And secondly, what would Fleury’s presence do to Murray’s psyche? It would only be human to look over his shoulder a little bit with the franchise’s all-time wins leader sitting a few dozen feet away in full gear.
Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was allowed to stay in Saturday’s Game 2 after knocking Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta out of the contest with a questionable hit. He did receive a minor penalty for interference on the play.
But Orpik didn’t escape more substantial punishment. The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Oprik for three games on Sunday, banning him from playing until a potential Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“This hit is forceful, unacceptably high and excessively late,” Player Safety director Patrick Burke said in a video explaining the rationale behind the suspension.
Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was only playing his second game since returning from what looked to be a serious injury resulting from a questionable check. And in that second game back, Orpik became the hitter under that same scenario rather than the recipient.
Orpik caught Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta with a high and late hit in the first period of Game 2 on Saturday – a 2-1 Pittsburgh victory. Orpik made contact with Maatta almost two seconds after he released the puck. Orpik’s forearm or elbow appeared to make contact with Maatta’s head.