NHL Playoffs 2021: Takeaways from Wednesday's Scores and Bracket Results

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJune 3, 2021

NHL Playoffs 2021: Takeaways from Wednesday's Scores and Bracket Results

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Entering the postseason, the Colorado Avalanche were viewed as one of the top contenders to win the Stanley Cup. So far, they are more than living up to those expectations.

    After sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the first round, the Avs have taken a 2-0 lead over the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round. Colorado routed Vegas in Game 1, winning 7-1. In Game 2, it pulled out a 3-2 victory in overtime. Both of those games came on the Avalanche's home ice, so they will be heading on the road for Games 3 and 4.

    But with the way that Colorado has been playing, it's going to be difficult to beat. It has scored four or more goals in five of its first six games this postseason, and it's also allowed two or fewer goals five times.

    Here's a look at the second-round outlook, as well as takeaways from Wednesday's playoff action.

2nd-Round Results, Schedule

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    Peter Power/Associated Press

    No. 3 Boston Bruins vs. No. 4 New York Islanders

    Game 1: Boston won 5-2
    Game 2: New York won 4-3 (OT)
    Game 3: Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
    Game 4: Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET, NBC
    Game 5: Monday at TBD
    Game 6 (if necessary): Wednesday at TBD
    Game 7 (if necessary): June 11 at TBD

                 

    No. 3 Winnipeg Jets vs. No. 4 Montreal Canadiens

    Game 1: Montreal won 5-3
    Game 2: Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network
    Game 3: Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
    Game 4: Monday at TBD
    Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday at TBD
    Game 6 (if necessary): June 11 at TBD
    Game 7 (if necessary): June 13 at TBD

                  

    No. 1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 3 Tampa Bay Lightning

    Game 1: Tampa Bay won 2-1
    Game 2: Tampa Bay won 2-1
    Game 3: Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, USA Network
    Game 4: Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, USA Network
    Game 5 (if necessary): Tuesday at TBD
    Game 6 (if necessary): June 10 at TBD
    Game 7 (if necessary): June 12 at TBD

                       

    No. 1 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 2 Vegas Golden Knights

    Game 1: Colorado won 7-1
    Game 2: Colorado won 3-2 (OT)
    Game 3: Friday at 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
    Game 4: Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
    Game 5 (if necessary): Tuesday at TBD
    Game 6 (if necessary): June 10 at TBD
    Game 7 (if necessary): June 12 at TBD

Canadiens Have Extra Motivation to Keep Rolling

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    Larry MacDougal/Associated Press

    The Canadiens have been underdogs this postseason. They weren't expected to make a deep run as the No. 4 seed out of the North Division, especially considering they had 59 regular-season points, the fewest of any team to reach the playoffs.

    But Montreal overcame a 3-1 deficit in the first round, winning three straight games to knock out the No. 1-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs. And on Wednesday night, it opened its second-round series against Winnipeg, fresh off a first-round upset sweep of the Edmonton Oilers, in impressive fashion.

    The Canadiens beat the Jets 5-3. But it's what happened in the final minute that could give Montreal some extra motivation to keep its recent success going.

    Forward Jake Evans sealed the Habs' victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute. However, after the puck went in the net, Evans was decked on a late hit by Jets forward Mark Scheifele, which led to Evans being stretchered off the ice. And the Canadiens were not pleased by Scheifele's actions.

    "It was a dirty hit, but the league's going to take care of it," Montreal defenseman Joel Edmundson said, per the Associated Press. "If he gets back in the series, we're going to make his life miserable, but I think the league's going to do a good job with that."

    Even if Scheifele doesn't return to the ice because the NHL disciplines him, the Canadiens are going to want to play extra hard for Evans, whose status was uncertain following Game 1.

    The Habs got off to a hot start in Game 1, scoring three goals in the first period. Considering how that contest ended, they may begin strong again in Game 2, which will also be taking place in Winnipeg. If Montreal can take a 2-0 lead into Games 3 and 4, which it will host, it could be difficult for the Jets to stay in the series.

    As unlikely as it seemed that the Canadiens could make a deep postseason run, they put themselves in a good spot with their Game 1 victory. And they are going to want to play tough moving forward, especially if they end up being without Evans for any amount of time.

Golden Knights Need to Bounce Back and Win Game 3

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    The second-round series between the Avalanche and Golden Knights was expected to be competitive. Not only were they the top two teams in the West Division this year, but they also tied for the most points in the NHL during the regular season.

    So it was surprising when Colorado won 7-1 in Game 1. The Avs are a great team, but the Golden Knights are also strong, and it seemed like the matchups would be close.

    Game 2 lived more up to expectations, as the teams were tied at the end of three periods. But it didn't take long for the Avalanche to emerge victorious, with Mikko Rantanen scoring the game-winning goal on a power play a little more than two minutes into overtime.

    Still, it was a much better performance from the Golden Knights, who will head home to host Games 3 and 4. And they remain confident that this will become the competitive series that many expected it to be.

    "If we keep playing the way we did [Wednesday night], we all have confidence in our team that we can come back in the series," Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said, per Pat Graham of the Associated Press.

    After winning three of their first four games this postseason, the Golden Knights have lost four of their past five. They nearly blew a 3-1 lead during their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, but they notched a 6-2 victory in Game 7 at home to prevent that from happening.

    Vegas lost Game 1 in the first round, and it's facing a bigger deficit in the second. If it doesn't find a way to win Game 3, it will need to win four straight games to advance. That's a challenge, especially when playing a team as strong as Colorado.

    If the Avalanche win Game 3, the series is as good as over. But if the Golden Knights can bounce back and halve the deficit, things could quickly get interesting.

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