The Carolina Hurricanes have stormed back to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 10 years with a 4-0 sweep of the New York Islanders. The Canes thoroughly outclassed the Isles in Game 4, getting goals from Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Williams, who tallied his 100th career Stanley Cup playoff point. Williams, the Hurricanes captain, continues his quest for his fourth Stanley Cup title, and will get come rest along with the rest of his teammates as they await the winner of the Bruins-Blue Jackets series, which is tied 2-2 and will go at least six games.
In the nightcap out west, the Stars defeated the Blues on the road in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. Ben Bishop was tremendous in net for the Stars, making 38 saves in a 2-1 victory. Dallas will have a chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference finals at home on Sunday, but the Blues are 4-1 on the road so far this postseason so it won't be an easy task.
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Stanley Cup playoffs for Friday, May 3
- Game 4: Hurricanes 5, Islanders 2 (CAR wins, 4-0) [Box score]
- Game 5: Stars 2, Blues 1 (DAL leads, 3-2) [Box score]
Stars hang on to push Blues to brink
The Stars experienced a hiccup in the third period when Ben Bishop accidentally provided a gift to the Blues which allowed them to get on the board. Bishop committed a costly giveaway while handling the puck and Jaden Schwartz was able to make him pay.
But that was Bishop's only blemish on the night and Dallas was able to hang on for the 2-1 win. Bishop made some big stops down the stretch, but none bigger than this denial of Oskar Sundqvist with the pad.
That was one of 38 saves for Bishop on the night as he helped power the Stars to victory and push St. Louis to the brink of elimination as the series heads back to Dallas for Game 6.
Dallas frustrating Blues at home
So much has been made about how good the Blues have been on the road in these playoffs, but it's the Stars bringing a strong performance as the visiting team in a pivotal Game 5. Dallas wasted no time in getting on the board first, striking 2:42 into the first period with a goal from 35-year-old Jason Spezza.
Spezza, who had eight goals during the regular season, has three through the first five games of this series.
The Stars doubled that lead with a second-period goal from defenseman Esa Lindell. You may know Lindell as the guy who flopped all over the place earlier in the series, but he made his mark in Game 5 with a nice rush that culminated in a backhander for a 2-0 lead.
Canes close out Isles in four
Welp, the Islanders are all done. The Hurricanes sealed the deal with a pretty stress-free third period, adding another goal to their lead late in the period thanks to a snipe from Andrei Svechnikov, who is playing in his second game since returning from concussion. That's a great late sign for the Canes heading into next round.
The Islanders got a late goal from Brock Nelson but the game was all but over at that point.
The final scoreline read 5-2 Carolina and it's a clean sweep for the Hurricanes, who will move on to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2009 and they'll await either the Bruins or Blue Jackets. For the Islanders, their improbable season and playoff run ends in the second round.
Hurricanes pour it on in 2nd
Oh boy, the second period did NOT go well for the Islanders. After getting the first goal, New York has given up four unanswered, including three in the middle twenty.
Things quickly came unraveled for the Isles, as Tuevo Teravainen put the Canes ahead just a few minutes into the second period, then Greg McKegg tallied his first career playoff goal to double that lead.
Islanders goalie Robin Lehner was pulled after that third goal, replaced by Thomas Greiss. There was some discussion that Greiss might start Game 4 but the team decided to stick with Lehner, who played relatively well in the first three games.
Then, Justin Williams (aka Mr. Game Four) beat the Isles defense to the net and made a great play to bat a puck out of mid-air to make it a three-goal margin.
The Islanders looked tentative and lost in the middle period and it looks like they're en route to a season-ending loss in Raleigh. Then again, things could still get weird!
Islanders score twice in opening frame
That may seem a little misleading considering the score is 1-1 after 20 minutes, but the Islanders actually scored both goals. Unfortunately, one of them came on their own net.
New York got on the board early with a power-play goal from Mat Barzal two and a half minutes into the game. Barzal showed strong net-front presence by lifting a defender's stick and burying a rebound past Curtis McElhinney following an initial shot from the point. That goal was huge for the Isles, who were looking for a strong start in a potential elimination game on the road.
However, the Islanders quickly gave that goal back when Carolina went on the power play a few minutes later. With some chaos taking place in front of Robin Lehner, NYI defenseman Adam Pelech accidentally whacked the puck past Lehner and into his own net.
That's a pretty demoralizing turn of events that ripped the momentum and lead away from the Islanders, but the score remained tied as the game headed into the first intermission.