It's been a wild opening weekend of playoff hockey already, and Sunday was no different.
First, the Islanders headed to Pittsburgh and squashed the Penguins' home ice advantage, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Pens 4-1 and take a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Pens have looked undisciplined and sloppy so far in this series and Sidney Crosby has been stunningly quiet, recording zero points through the first three games.
The Lightning attempted to climb back in their series with the Blue Jackets in Columbus, but they once again they came out flat and only managed to dig their hole deeper. The Bolts were without top forward Nikita Kucherov, who was suspended for Game 3 as a result of a bad hit he threw on Friday, and top defenseman Victor Hedman, who was scratched with lingering health issues.
The Blues arrived home in St. Louis with a 2-0 series lead, but they weren't able to push Winnipeg to the brink. The Jets came out with their strongest performance of the series so far and delivered a big win.
Lastly, the Sharks and Golden Knights went at it in another installment of what's been a highly entertaining series so far. It was Mark Stone and the Golden Knights who came up big on home ice, securing a second straight win to take a 2-1 series lead.
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Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for Sunday, April 14
- Game 3: FINAL - Islanders 4, Penguins 1 (NYI leads, 3-0) (Recap)
- Game 3: FINAL - Blue Jackets 3, Lightning 1 (CBJ leads, 3-0) (Recap)
- Game 3: FINAL - Jets 6, Blues 3 (STL leads, 2-1) (Recap)
- Game 3: FINAL - Golden Knights 6, Sharks 3 (VGK leads, 2-1) (Recap)
Mark Stone's hat trick powers Vegas to win
That Mark Stone acquisition at the trade deadline is looking pretty good for Vegas right now. Stone had a five-point night on Sunday, including a hat trick that helped push the Golden Knights to their second straight win and a 2-1 series lead. Stone now has six goals (a new career playoff high) and two assists through three games so far. The Stone-Stastny-Pacioretty line has been an absolute monster for the Golden Knights in this series.
A quick start for Vegas
With the Vegas crowd behind them, the Golden Knights got off to a blazing start on Sunday night, scoring just 16 seconds into the opening period. The first goal honors went to Mark Stone, who now has four goals already in the series.
Max Pacioretty added another goal for Vegas, and it was looking like another rough start for San Jose and Martin Jones. But Jones was able to settle down a bit in the crease and the Sharks got one back when Kevin Labanc was able to stuff a puck past Marc-Andre Fleury at the other end.
Vegas held a 2-1 lead heading into first intermission, but things opened up pretty quick on the other side of the break. The Knights got another very quick goal out of the gate, this one from Paul Stastny coming just 21 seconds into the second period.
They added another when Mark Stone delivered a great pass to find Stastny on the doorstep for a power play goal. With a commanding 4-1 lead, the Sharks started to get frustrated and the game got increasingly chippy. Then, Joe Thornton threw this hit.
It only earned him a minor on the ice but there's a chance that Thornton could receive supplemental discipline and find himself out of the lineup for at least a game moving forward.
Jets finish strong for statement win
The Winnipeg Jets are back in the fight. After dropping the opening two games on home ice, the Jets came out with a strong performance in St. Louis on Sunday. Jordan Binnington looked a little more mortal in the Blues' net and the Jets took full advantage, putting up six goals on the rookie for a big win to cut the series lead in half. Dustin Byfuglien got on the board for the first time in these playoffs, scoring this weird goal from behind the goal line. It was just that kind of night for the Jets.
Lightning show some fight, but not enough
The Lightning finally got on the board in the third period with a goal from Ondrej Palat, and they started to make a push to threaten the Blue Jackets in Columbus. However, it was all the offense they could muster, and Cam Atkinson buried the empty netter to ice the game for CBJ. And just like that, the mighty Lightning are down 3-0 and are one of the first teams with their back against the wall this postseason.
Jets fly out to lead over Blues
After the Blues jumped out to a lead in the first period, Winnipeg has responded in a big way in the middle frame. The Jets have ripped off three straight goals, including another tally from Patrik Laine, who now has three goals in the series.
Kyle Connor also got his first goal of the series, putting the Jets up 3-1.
Islanders pour it on, take 3-0 series lead
So, the Islanders, huh? Home-ice advantage wasn't much of an advantage for the Penguins after all, as the Islanders responded to Pittsburgh's opening goal by ripping off four unanswered and taking Game 3 in decisive fashion.
Now Sidney Crosby (zero points in three games) and the Penguins will be fighting for their playoff lives as they look to avoid the sweep Tuesday in Game 4.
Penguins strike first but quickly fall apart
With home ice advantage on their side, the Penguins appeared to seize some key momentum with an early lead against the Islanders. Garrett Wilson got on the board with a net-front redirect of a Marcus Pettersson shot, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
But that lead lasted under 30 seconds, as Jordan Eberle quickly answered with an equalizer from a sharp angle. Eberle has been on fire in this series and he's already got three goals through the first three games.