Goals are piling up int he second round. Let's hit the last three days of action.
The Caps opened up the scoring in Game 3 when Bryan Rust tipped home a blast from John Carleson on the power play. Another deflection, this one intentional from Jake Guentzky, tied the game at one. Patric Hornqvist game the Pens the lead when he banged home an Evgani Malkin pass through the net mouth but the Caps fired back wto tie it off a Chandler Stephenson one-timer. It looked like Murray got a good push, it was just a great shot off a one-timer in the slot that caught Murray just above the pad. Some nifty hands from Guentzky drew three Caps defenders before he dished it off to the surest hands in the league for the finishing touches on a goal that looks nice but on the highlight real for the Pens but the Caps team and individual defense looked clueless. The Caps wouldn't say die, however as Matt Niskanen crushed a one-timer from 50 feet out off of a stretched out Murray's pad. Murray saw the shot the whole way but went with a big reaching save. It looked like he may not have gotten his feet set and it is tough to tell from the angle of the camera but I would guess he probably moved too far past the puck and opened up the far side. Either way, it was pretty ugly. Finally, with just over one minute remaining in the game, Alex Ovechkin took over and knocked home his own rebound shot out of the air to beat Murray and give the Caps the lead and ultimately the win. Neither goalie had a ton of work in the game - they both faced 22 shots - and the amount of goals scored would suggest tough games but it's tough to blame either goalie for any of the goals that were scored with the exception of Niskanen's shot from the point. That being said, as you can see from this highlight video, there were a few spots where the goalies got away with some ugly plays that went their way.
The goals continue to pile up in this series, this time despite the goaltender's best effort. For reference, the Sharks and Golden Knights combined to allow just 7 goals in 8 first round games. They've combined for 7 goals in each of the first three second round games.
It took a lucky bounce and a great bang-bang pass and score to beat Fleury on the first goal. After the Knights came roaring back with three straight goals, Evander Kane whipped a nice shot by his ear to the make it a one-goal game. I could be wrong but it looked like he may have tried to embellish some interference there but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. A scrambling puck in front found Tomas Hertl's stick and he banged it past Fleury to tie the game. He was able to come up with an incredible glove save in OT to give his team a chance to win it at the other end.
On the other end, Martin Jones stopped 29 of 33. The first one is a tough goal, a one timer all the way across the face of the net, but Jones doesn't help himself as he is starting to lean into the RVH while the pass is being made which limits his mobility drastically. An incredibly nifty pass from William Karlsson found an open Reilly Smith for the third. Jones made some nice saves to close out the game and it took a Kessel-esque bar-down wrister from William Karlsson to end the game and give the Knights a 2-1 series lead.
Martin Jones returned to Round 1 form in Game 4. He stopped all 34 shots to pitch the shutout and tie the series up at 2. Not much to say here except that he is scary good when he is on the top of his game and can steal a game from any team on any given night. Fleury had a bit more difficult time as he faced 34 shots as well but was only able to come up with 29 of them. Marcus Sorensen opened up the scoring by simply skating around the entire Las Vegas team like the game was on easy mode. Donskoy added another with just a few seconds left in the first when Fleury whiffed on a wrist shot from the high slot. He was able to stretch out and get his toe on this one but less than two minutes later the Sharks banged home a rebound in tight to make it 3-0. Fleury made a nice save on the deflection but again there were no Las Vegas defenders in sight and Pavelski was able to tap in his own rebound to make it 4 against Fleury.
Connor Hellebyuck dug himself into a quick hole in Game 3 as two pucks slipped right through the wickets and another caught him leaning to give the Predators a 3-0 lead in the 1st period. It looked like it was all part of the Jets plan as Winnipeg came roaring back to start the second. Paul Stastny had one bounce off his skate past Rinne then Dustin Bfuglien cranked a shot through a timely screen before Jacob Trouba put one past a diving Rinne to tie the game. Three goals in just over three minutes of game time. Hard to blame Rinne for any of them.
The Predators didn't learn from their mistakes and they left Bfuglien open on the backside again for the go-ahead goal. They finally had something go their way, however, when Fillip Forsberg somehow shelfed a wrister through traffic to tie the game back up and they could have taken the lead just a few minutes later but Connor Hellebyuck grabbed a Viktor Arvidsson breakaway chance. Later in the third, Blake Wheeler was in the right place at the right time as he was able to bang home a sharp angle rebound to give the Jets a lead they would not give back up. Two empty netters sealed the deal and the Jets are up 2-1 in the series.
Game 2 was more of a defensive showing for both teams who combined for just 49 shots on the goaltenders but scored on 5 of them. Rask got more of the work, facing 30 and stopping 27. His second save may have been the best of the night as he stoned Anthony Cirelli alone in tight just over a minute into the game. The first goal came when Brayden Point passed all the way across the ice to Yanni Gourde who put it in past the stretching Rask. Notice how Rask did not find where the puck was going, he just pushed straight and ended up moving out toward the middle of the ice. He had to make the adjustment to get over to where the puck was being passed and, by the time, he was already too far behind the play to make the save. Vasilevskiy suffered a related but not identical gaff on the first Bruins strike. A few nifty passes had Vasilevskiy moving a lot to keep up with the puck. Watch as his first movement on the final pass is to back up instead of square up. When the shot gets taken, he is still turning, meaning he is not taking up the most amount of net and not in an ideal position to move into the shot.
I'm not entirely sure what Rask was doing on the second goal against. He seemed to track the puck real well then for some reason he pushed away from the shot toward the center of the ice. There wasn't even anyone streaking in that spot for a pass. Maybe his new skate blade is busted. He came up with a big save on Kucherov but then made like Matt Murray and whiffed on the third goal. Vasilevskiy answered with a gaff of his own and that would be all for the goals against in Game 2, not the prettiest of goaltending games we've seen thus far in the playoffs.
Game three started out wide open with four goals scored in the first period - three by Tampa Bay. It wasn't for lack of effort on Tuukka Rask's part who, after allowing the very first shot of the game to get by him, stopped 17 of his final 19 in the first period including this flurry as he battled to do what he could to keep the Bs from going down three just 7 minutes into the game. The first goal is a tough play as a Bruins defenseman fumbles the puck which leads to a 2-on-1 opportunity but Rask doesn't square up before he slides and you can notice how he has to sort of reach backward with his blocker to try to get the shot. The second came on a tip through a screen off a nice dish from Victor Hedman. The Bruins cracked Vasilevskiy when Patrice Bergeron knocked home a scrambling puck through Vasilevskiy. Another tough save but Vasilevskiy didn't do himself any favors by kicking the rebound on Marchand's shot out and front and ending up on his butt afterward. Minutes later the Lightning did what the Lightning do, taking advantage of a neutral zone turnover by creating a scoring chance off the rush. Rask made the initial save through some traffic but Anthony Cirelli banged home his own rebound to give the Bolts back their two goal lead.
The teams combined to score 4 goals in the first 32 shots of the game one goal - an empty netter - on the final 33. Both goalies locked it up in the final two periods to make this game much closer than it looked like it would be through 20 minutes of play.
Remember how I mentioned that the transition into the RVH has cost goalies a few times so far this postseason? Goalies have been so worried about sliding into the RVH instead of reacting into the save that it opens up holes. It almost cost Vasilevskiy here, as he slides back to the post into the RVH and the puck almost finds its way into the hole above his pad and under his blocker. Vasilevskiy could have made the save look much easier if he just drove across and was off the post (toward the puck) a few inches. Interestingly enough, he does that here in an almost identical situation and takes up more net and seems to have an easier time with the stop. Transitioning into the RVH slows down the lateral move and opens up awkward hols as we saw with the first save.