Stanley Cup Playoff Daily – Leafs take control, Flames extinguished

Does anyone know what goaltender interference is? Bueller?

OK, here’s a recap of last night’s action (check out replays of every playoff game on ESPN+), and what to watch for tonight, in today’s edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:

Jump ahead: Last night’s games | Three Stars
Play of the night | Today’s games | Social post of the day

About last night …

Game 5: Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Boston Bruins 1. (Toronto leads the series 3-2.) The series has been chippy, but on Friday night it was choppy; the ice conditions at a humid TD Garden were less than ideal and that slowed the pace down. “The ice is really tough to make plays on right now,” Brad Marchand admitted. Much will be said about the goalie interference no-call that gave Toronto a 1-0 lead (perhaps Patrice Bergeron said it best: “It could have gone either way”) but the Maple Leafs ground out a great defensive effort on the road, including stopping all three Boston power plays.


With the game scoreless through 2 periods, Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen put the puck in the back of the net as the Maple Leafs win Game 5 2-1.

Game 5: Colorado Avalanche 5, Calgary Flames 1. (Colorado wins the series, 4-1.) The Avalanche took the momentum from Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime winner in Game 2 and upset the West’s top seed with swagger, winning four straight. With the season on the line, Johnny Gaudreau couldn’t buy a goal. Johnny Hockey had a penalty shot stopped, a breakaway chance quashed, and then when he finally thought he scored in the second period, it was goaltender interference. It was a disappointing end to a spectacular season for Calgary, but at least they have other would-be top Cup contenders with whom they can wallow.

Three Stars

1. Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs. When the game needed a hero, the young American stepped up. After scoring one goal in his previous nine postseason games (all against the Bruins), Matthews now has four goals in his last three. Matthews’ four goals through the first five games of a playoff series are the most by a Maple Leafs player since Alexander Mogilny in 2003. It wasn’t just the goal that gets the center the nod. “It was his best 200-foot [game] of the playoffs,” Mike Babcock said.

2. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche. The Finn’s emergence in this series is a huge boon for the Avalanche. The top-line winger missed the last eight regular season games with injury, but has bounced back just fine. Rantanen scored two goals and added an assist in Game 5.

3. Frederik Andersen, G, Toronto Maple Leafs. The defense played well in front of him, but let’s not overlook the fact that Toronto’s goalie stopped 28 shots for a road win to have his team on the brink of winning their first playoff series in 15 years. The Dane was sharp.

Play of the night

Tic tac toe, it’s a beauty.

Dud of the night

It was the most important game of the Calgary Flames’ season, and they were without their fourth-highest paid player, James Neal. He was a healthy scratch. The 31-year-old forward signed a five-year, $28.75 million deal in free agency, but underperformed, scoring a career-low seven goals this season as his ice time got shaved down to 14:57 per game, also a career low.

On the schedule

Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators, Game 5, 3 pm ET. (Series tied, 2-2)

Nashville has one of the most talented first lines in the league, but they’ve been M.I.A. this series. Through four games, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg have combined for only two points. The Preds also want to clamp down on the penalty kill; they’ve taken 22 penalties through four games, and allowed three power-play goals in their Game 4 stinker. As for the Stars? All of the sudden, secondary scoring is no longer an issue. Thank rookie Roope Hintz and Mats Zuccarello, the latter of whom has exceeded expectations since returning from injury, for that.

Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues, Game 6, 7 pm ET. (St. Louis leads the series, 3-2)

If there’s one resounding message the Blues have sent this season, it’s this: never give up on them. A wild rally in Game 5 gave the Blues a chance to seal the first-round upset today on home ice. Home wins have been elusive so far in this series; it’s only the fourth time in Stanley Cup playoff history that the road team has won each of the first five games in a best-of-seven series. The Jets, a team built to win a Stanley Cup now, will be tested for grit. “It’s all mental,” coach Paul Maurice said about the blown lead at home in Game 5.

Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals, Game 5, 8 pm ET. (Series tied, 2-2)

This one is getting testy, but also testing both team’s depth. The Canes are without three regular forwards: Micheal Ferland, Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Martinook. The Caps suffered a huge loss in Game 4 when winger T.J. Oshie — a high-energy, emotional leader — crashed into the boards late in the third period. Coach Todd Reirden says Oshie is going to be out “a while.” Oshie will be missed on the ice and in the locker room, though the Caps get a boost by recalling Devante Smith-Pelly, a folk hero of last year’s Stanley Cup run and a popular player among teammates.

Social post of the day

Alright, so it’s not the NHL playoffs… but here’s your periodic reminder that the mullet still has it in him.


“You don’t want to start selling it. I guess if I fell on my a– there, it would have been a different story,” — Tuukka Rask on the goalie interference no-call that gave Toronto a 1-0 lead in the third period.

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