It's desperation time in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, as three teams looked to avoid going down 3-1 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs hosted the Bruins up 2-1, the Stars tried to avoid disaster against the Predators at home and the Western Conference's No. 1 team in Calgary tried to even things up with the Avalanche, who went up 2-1 in the series Monday.
Beginning in Toronto, the Bruins and Leafs scored 10 goals in a game that had serious pendulum swings. The Leafs dominated most of the game but Boston was able to score goals in spurts and come out on top with a 6-4 victory. The Bruins' first line bounced back after a rough showing in Game 3 with two goals from David Pastrnak on Wednesday.
The Dallas Stars also came into the night in a precarious situation, but they were also to earn with a big-time win. Dallas pounded Nashville with four goals in the first period (three on the power play) and chased Pekka Rinne from the game. The Stars came away with a 5-1 win to tie the series at 2-2.
For the nightcap, the Avalanche mounted a thrilling comeback late in their contest against the Flames, then won in overtime to increase their series lead to 3-1. The series has been filled with incredibly fun, fast-paced action and the Avalanche's top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog has begun to take over. Now we're one Colorado victory away from seeing eight-over-one upsets in both conferences this postseason.
NHL playoff schedule for April 17, 2019
- Game 4: FINAL -- Bruins 6, Maple Leafs 4 (Series tied, 2-2) -- [Box score]
- Game 4: FINAL -- Stars 5, Predators 1 (Series tied, 2-2) -- [Box score]
- Game 4: FINAL -- Avalanche 3, Flames 2 OT (COL leads 3-1) -- [Box score]
Colorado wins in overtime thriller
The Colorado Avalanche finished incredibly strong in Game 4 on Wednesday and they managed to finish off an amazing comeback against the Flames in overtime. Mikko Rantanen, who had the game-tying goal at the end of regulation, also got the winner with a great shot that beat Mike Smith. The Avs' top line has been outstanding over the past couple of games.
It's a devastating loss for the Flames, who were not only up 2-0 in the third period but also nearly won in overtime with this opportunity. Unfortunately for Calgary, Philipp Grubauer made an incredible stop to keep his team alive.
Now the Flames will go back to Calgary in a 3-1 series hole and be forced to fight for their playoff lives moving forward. One more loss and the West's top-seeded team could soon join the East's No. 1 seed (the Lightning) in an early first-round exit. Incredible.
Avs mount comeback to force OT
Mike Smith held strong as long as he could but the Flames' defense hasn't done him a lot of favors and the Colorado attack just keeps coming. The Avalanche were able to erase a 2-0 Calgary lead in the third period to force overtime for the second time in this series. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen connected for the equalizer late in the third with this beautiful display:
Colorado put 46 shots on net in regulation.
Flames riding another strong Mike Smith outing
The Calgary Flames currently hold a narrow lead on the Avalanche after 40 minutes of play, but it could have easily been a tie game heading into the third period. Flames goaltender Mike Smith is having another strong performance between the pipes and has a shutout through two. He's had some tremendous saves too, none better than this one.
Stars roll to big win
Dallas needed a win desperately on Wednesday night and boy did they ever seize the day. Four goals in the opening period blazed a trail for Dallas to take a 5-1 win in Game 4 and tie the series. The series heads back to Nashville all knotted up at 2-2.
Leafs make it interesting but Bruins hold on
What a finish in Toronto. Trailing by three goals in the third period, the Leafs managed to climb back into the game and pull within one thanks to goals from Auston Matthews and Travis Dermott. Matthews' goal, his second of the game, came on the power play and was set up by a brilliant pass from Mitch Marner.
The Leafs continued to dominate possession as the Bruins hung on for dear life, but the B's were able to keep it together and eventually bury an empty net goal to ice the win. The series heads back to Boston all tied up at 2-2.
Stars lighting up Predators
If you expected a low scoring game in Dallas on Wednesday, you were in for a surprise when the first period of action brought four goals ... all of them coming from the Stars. FOUR! Three of them came on the power play and the Stars hold a massive advantage heading into the final 40 minutes as they look to pull even in the series.
David Pastrnak, Bruins' power play push ahead
Auston Matthews was able to tie the game 2-2 early in the second period thanks to a very soft display of goaltending by Tuukka Rask. But the Bruins responded with back-to-back goals from David Pastrnak, who came into Wednesday riding a three-game cold streak. Pastrnak's second goal came on the power play, continuing the Bruins' success on the man-advantage in this series.
Boston is still largely being outplayed and out-possessed at five-on-five, so we'll see how the third period goes.
Bruins strike twice early, but Leafs finish strong
After a disappointing effort in Game 3, the Bruins have once again rebounded with a quick start after a loss. Boston struck twice in the first period of Wednesday's Game 4, and Charlie McAvoy largely factored into both. The Bruins defenseman scored on the power play early, then quickly added an assist with a great dish to Brad Marchand on the doorstep.
However, the Leafs recovered to finish the period strong. They got on the board thanks to a net-front deflection from Zach Hyman to cut the lead in half before intermission. The Bruins are lucky that they've still got the lead at this point.