Game 6: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 2 | Series tied 3-3
Who was the guy? It’s safe and boring, probably, to pick Brad Marchand in this spot. He’s consistently great, and Thursday night was a quiet one on the extracurricular side of the street. But he still had a huge impact; he scored first, which was the first time Boston has managed that in the series, and his line — you may have heard of the other two guys there, as well — was outstanding.
What was the key? After Marchand’s goal, it was all about Boston’s support players. It’s been true of the Bruins for a couple of years now: If they get something from the middle six, they’re a dangerous team. It just doesn’t happen with enough regularity. On Thursday, though, they got goals from Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, Derek Forbort and Curtis Lazar. If they get that in Game 7, look out, Carolina — and if they get it consistently, look out, everyone else.
Key stat: If Boston wins Game 7, it’ll be its 16th such victory in franchise history, breaking a tie with the Canadiens. If the Hurricanes win Game 7, it’ll be their sixth straight, tying an NHL record most recently equaled by the Rangers in 2015.
The moment it was over: Forbort’s goal, which made it 4-1 for Boston at 10:43 of the third period. No better sign that a game is over than a back-breaker from Derek Forbort.
The moment of the game: When Charlie McAvoy shook off the after-effects of a collision with Sebastian Aho, at the tail end of an odd-man rush…
Here’s that McAvoy hit against Aho pic.twitter.com/vop0pWp7ZE
— Shayna (@hayyyshayy) May 12, 2022
… and put one on a platter for Haula to make it 3-1. He was visibly banged up on the bench a few seconds before this.
— NHL (@NHL) May 13, 2022
Big swing. Big goal. Also, it certainly feels like the “is this suspended” hit of the night. To me, it seemed to be incidental contact with a tough result after Aho reached for the puck. I’m sure everyone agrees. Hopefully, Aho is OK. He stayed in the game, but we know how that can work.
Bruins worry meter: 🤪🤪🤪🤪 … Momentum doesn’t carry over from game to game, but it helps to come into Game 7 off a win.
Hurricanes worry meter: 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯 … They certainly should feel more pressure than Boston; They were one of the few best teams in the league during the regular season and beat the hell out of the Bruins each time they met.
— Sean Gentile
Game 6: Lightning 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT) | Series tied 3-3
Who was the guy? Brayden Point. Because, of course he was. Because all this guy does is show up in massive moments. OK, he shows up in minor moments, too — because he’s one of the best players in the sport — but when the game is on the line, he is always there. Every time. So when Jack Campbell couldn’t quite freeze an overtime slot shot by Alex Killorn, of course it was Point standing right at the mouth of the crease to bang it in (possibly with an assist from a couple of Leafs defenders trying desperately to keep it out).
— Shayna (@hayyyshayy) May 13, 2022
What was the key? Before we get to it, I want to say this: the Maple Leafs did so much right on Thursday. They came back from an early current again, showing truly impressive resilience. For a team whose mental makeup in big moments has been (fairly) questioned, it was huge to see them turn a 2-0 hole into a 3-2 lead in a close-out road game. In some alternate universe, that’s the story of the game. But two high sticking penalties midway through the third (one deserved, one pretty obviously a blown call) gave the Lightning a long 5-on-3. Nikita Kucherov capitalized, tying the game at three and ultimately forcing overtime. Even after that, though, the Leafs had a strong showing in the extra frame, until a bang-bang play — that started with Auston Matthews, who was excellent in the game, blowing a tire — that wiped away what should have been such a success story.
Key stat? 0-and-8. That’s the Maple Leafs record in closeout games since 2017, with their current core intact. They have another chance on Saturday to end this narrative. But it’s the stat that will hover above all others until they do.
The moment it was over: Cosmically, maybe the moment Matthews fell at ice center because that’s when the breath-holding began. Brandon Hagel scooped up the puck, brought it in and centered it for Killorn, and then Point banged it home. But really, especially when you look at the behind-the-net view, this one wasn’t over until both Michael Bunting and Justin Holl trying to keep the slow-creeping puck from missing the goal line. It was that close.
The moment of the game: There were so many — from the winner, to Matthews’ colossal response goal less than a minute after Anthony Cirelli made it 2-0, to John Tavares’ go-ahead goal late in the second — but it feels like it all comes back to those two high sticking penalties midway through the third. While the second one — which ultimately was more likely responsible for Kucherov’s tying goal — looked like the right call on Alex Kerfoot, the previous penalty that set it all up looked like a clear phantom call. But hey, nobody in Toronto believes in ghosts, right?
IT HIT HIS SHOULDER! pic.twitter.com/C33fHawgt7
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 13, 2022
Maple Leafs worry meter: 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯 … It was right there for the taking, and they really did play well Thursday. They’re also getting Game 7 at home. The bad news? Well, you know.
Lightning worry meter: 🥴🥴🥴🥴 … Maybe this should be higher, considering they were very nearly golf-bound Thursday. But they just don’t have demons the Leafs do.
— Max Bultman
Game 6: Blues 5, Wild 1 | st. Louis wins 4-2
Who was the guy? Not Kevin Fiala. While we don’t want to take away from the Blues, they’ll be here to talk about in Round 2, unlike the Wild. Minnesota scored 16 goals this series, and Kirill Kaprizov tallied seven. The JEEk line was responsible for four. But where was the offense from one of their best sources in the regular season? It’s hard not to look at the glaring zero in the goals column, and just three assists in six games. st. Louis had at least a multi-goal scorer in each top-nine combination. The Wild can’t say the same, and Fiala’s play has a lot to do with it.
What was the key? Special teams were once again a difference-maker for the Blues. st. Louis has been one of the better teams on the power play this postseason, from an offensive creation and results standpoint. And last night, they scored two goals on the advantage in their six opportunities. Minnesota, on the other hand, has not been so lucky. Penalty killing from each side of this matchup obviously comes into play and makes an impact on how well, or not, a team performs on the advantage. But the Wild’s power play has been a mixed bag with some low lows all season, and Game 6 was no different after going 0-for-5, as they allowed four shots against and only generated six for.
Key stat: The Blues weathered a tough first period from the Wild when they took 76 percent of the shots and 88 percent of the expected goal share. Minnesota came out firing at five-on-five and had two power-play opportunities, but had zero goals to show for it. st. Louis, on the other hand, came out of the period with a 1-0 lead that they built on in the second frame.
The moment it was over: We’re sticking with special teams. This was before the Blues scored either of their power-play goals, but were in the lead thanks to an even strength score from Nick Leddy. The Wild were on their third power play of the game, and this happened… What was the thought here, Marcus Foligno?
Minnesota spent little time in formation and kept trying (and struggling) to regroup.
After uninspiring play on their opportunities, the Blues responded with a power-play goal of their own the next time they had a chance. That Ryan O’Reilly goal felt like the back-breaker because they did something the Wild could not. And then St. Louis added to it later that period with Vladimir Tarasenko’s tally on the advantage.
The moment of the game: Tarasenko’s power-play goal is good for quite a few reasons. First, it shows how the Blues generated offense from the advantage which we’ve discussed is important. Second, his resurgence this season has been a gift. How many teams on the outside of the playoff picture are looking at the power forward getting back to his scoring ways and thinking they could have had that on their team had they made a move last summer?
Wild Worry Meter: ☠️… After a disappointing exit, good luck with the cap crunch!
Blues Worry Meter: ✌️… Good luck with the Avalanche 🥴.
— Shayna Goldman
Game 6: Oilers 4, Kings 2 | Series tied 3-3
Who was the guy? To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Connor McDavid was king with the Oilers’ backs against the wall. McDavid opened the scoring less than a minute in. He had the zone entry and secondary assist on Tyson Barrie’s game-winner. And he put a bow on it all with a strong defensive play on the back check to strip Andreas Athanasiou and send Evander Kane in for the empty-net insurance marker.
From beginning to end, No.97 was a workhorse. With McDavid on the ice, the Oilers had 20 shots on goal and 3 goals at five-on-five. The Kings as an entire team had 24 shots and 1 goal at 5-on-5.
What was the key? Edmonton extinguished its trend of bad starts in this series. LA’s been able to set the tone for a lot of games in this matchup by establishing the forecheck and negating Edmonton’s speed through the neutral zone with a 1-3-1 neutral zone setup. McDavid’s best asset is his ability to gather speed underneath and catch full flight on entries which the Kings were able to contain early on in many games. This time, McDavid found a way.
the oilers attack with speed, and connor mcdavid scores on a beautiful wraparound. 1-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/6gVLhBHjtd
— zach laing (@zjlaing) May 13, 2022
Key stat: Edmonton won the 5-on-5 battle to the tune of a 3-1 margin. The Oilers’ special teams have been so strong for most of this series but what’s outdone them is how badly they’ve been beaten down at evens — they’ve been outscored 10-2 at 5-on-5 in their losses. LA was snatching wins by dominating the even-strength battle. It was pivotal for Edmonton to at least hold its own at evens, they did one better by decisively winning it thanks to McDavid.
The moment it was over: McDavid zipped through the neutral zone for the clean entry, Leon Draisaitl laid it back and Barrie jumped up as the trailer to reclaim the lead with the eventual game-winner.
tyson barrie with easily the biggest goal of his oilers career gives the oilsers a 3-2 lead late in the third. pic.twitter.com/2liCMOgKJ1
— zach laing (@zjlaing) May 13, 2022
The moment of the game: Edmonton’s late third-period kill with less than five minutes remaining to preserve the lead was huge. Mike Smith made some great stops on Adrian Kempe and Arthur Kaliyev.
Kings worry meter: 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯 … They have a legit shot to win Game 7, but it doesn’t help that they’re now on the road, have McDavid en fuego and Darnell Nurse returns.
Oilers worry meter: 🥴🥴🥴🥴 … They’re still 60 minutes away from another possible first-round exit.
— Harman Dayal
On tap for Friday
Rangers at Penguins, 7 pm ET (Penguins lead 3-2)
Panthers at Capitals, 7:30 pm ET (Panthers lead 3-2)
Flames at Stars, 9:30 pm ET (Flames lead 3-2)
(Photo: Mark LoMoglio / NHLI via Getty Images)