Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
The top point-getter in the Western Conference was bounced in the first round, and now the conference’s second-best team is on the verge of getting the heave-ho.
The Colorado Avalanche now trail the Dallas Stars 3-1 in their second-round series in the NHL playoffs.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks find themselves in the same position following Sunday’s action. Nobody has sealed a place in either of the conference final matchups, but it looks like we can start tentatively penciling some teams in.
(W3) Dallas Stars def. (W2) Colorado Avalanche, 5-4
(E6) New York Islanders def. (E1) Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2
(W1) Vegas Golden Knights def. (W5) Vancouver Canucks, 5-3
Stars Swamp Avs with Early Onslaught
The 5-4 score is somewhat deceiving, as the Stars led 5-2 halfway through the third period. Valeri Nichushkin clawed a goal back for Colorado, and Vladislav Namestnikov scored with four seconds left in the game.
Dallas jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period, thanks in large part to the team’s performance on the power play. John Klingberg put the Stars ahead 6:18 into the game before Radek Faksa and Jamie Benn notched two power-play tallies in a little more than two minutes of game time.
Colorado stopped the bleeding in the second period and built some momentum with goals from Nichushkin and Cale Makar, but Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov provided Dallas with the breathing room it needed to hold on for the win.
While the Avalanche had a 37-29 advantage in shots, the Stars did a far better job of capitalizing on their opportunities.
“He’s got to be better, for sure,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of goaltender Pavel Francouz, per the Denver Post‘s Kyle Fredrickson. “They’re making it hard on him, on the power-play especially, but we’ve seen Frankie be way better.”
Dallas can close out the series Monday.
Nelson Bookends Islanders Win
Brock Nelson snapped his six-game scoring drought in emphatic fashion as he powered the New York Islanders to a 3-2 victory over the Flyers.
The two teams were deadlocked after the first period. Nelson drew first blood with 6:52 gone in the second frame as his wrist shot eluded Brian Elliott.
As New York was clinging to a 2-1 advantage in the third period, he found the net again after combining with Josh Bailey for a slick attacking move.
That goal proved even more important after Ivan Provorov halved Philadelphia’s deficit with 1:05 left on the clock.
Thomas Greiss was excellent between the pipes for the Isles. He made 36 saves on 38 shots and stepped up big in the final seconds of the third period to deny James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.
Between Greiss and Semyon Varlamov, goaltending has been a strength for the Islanders throughout the playoffs, and their stingy defense will likely propel them to the conference finals.
Vegas Golden in 3rd Period
The house always wins, so of course the Vancouver Canucks wound up going bust after briefly getting the better of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Bo Horvat and Tyler Toffoli scored in the second period to turn what had been a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead for Vancouver.
Nate Schmidt drew Vegas level with 2:52 elapsed in the third period before the Canucks had a minute and a half they’d like to forget.
Max Pacioretty put the Knights ahead for a third time at the 7:02 mark, and William Karlsson followed with an insurance goal 87 seconds later.
The Canucks haven’t reached the conference finals since their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, and that stretch appears destined to extend for another year.