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Playoffs Round Up: Stanley Cup champion Columbus Blue Jackets

All hail the underdog!

Apr 14, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) reacts after scoring a goal on an empty net against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Na Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs have been a wild ride and not just for our San Jose Sharks. We have suspensions, tied series and upsets all around. It’s the greatest time of the year, isn’t it? If the stress of the Sharks’ first round is stressing you out, here is a nice distraction.

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets

This series may be my favorite one right now. Currently, the Columbus Blue Jackets are one win away from sweeping the series and advancing to the next round. Let’s not forget, the Tampa Bay Lightning were first place in the entire NHL for a majority of the season. Sure, they choke in the playoffs often, but who would have expected this?

Game 1 seemed to be in the bag for Tampa Bay, or so they thought. They were up 3-0 by the end of the first period. Momentum shifted when Columbus scored a goal in the second period, then netted three unanswered ones in the third. Tampa stood no chance in Game 2. Columbus came hot out the gate, netting two in the first, one in the second and two in the third period, compared to Tampa’s lone goal in the third period. The 5-1 Columbus victory saw goals from Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Zach Werenski, Cam Atkinson and Riley Nash. Tampa put 24 shots on net.

Game 3 belonged to Columbus yet again. Matt Duchene and Oliver Bjorkstrand found the net in the first period, giving the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead. Tampa looked to revive themselves with a third period goal from Ondrej Palat, but that would be all she wrote for the Lightning. Columbus responded with a late goal from Cam Atkinson and won that one 3-1.

The Lightning lost their leading goal scorer Nikita Kucherov to suspension after a dangerous hit. They are also down Victor Hedman, their star defensemen, who we assume is injured. He had two big turn overs in game one that resulted in two Columbus goals. As if things couldn’t get worse for them.

This series could end on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Pacific.

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs

This series was a sure fire match up for several weeks. The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs have this one split 1-1. Game 1 looked favorable for Boston, who scored first thanks to Patrice Bergeron. The rest of the game belonged to Toronto. Mitch Marner found the net twice, once on a penalty shot. William Nylander, a player who is in desperate need of proving himself, scored as well. John Tavares also had his first postseason goal in blue and white. The game ended 4-1 in favor of Toronto.

Game 2 on Saturday was a totally different story. It is very obvious these two teams don’t like each other. Boston scored twice in the first period, netting two more in the second and third periods respectively. Toronto didn’t get on the board until Nazem Kadri found the net in the third period. There were several questionable calls and ultimately Kadri took it into his own hands, checking Jake DeBrusk in the face, forcing his head into the boards. He did something similar last year against our old friend Tommy Wingels. He’ll be suspended for five games, missing the rest of the first round. Game 2 ended with a 4-1 Bruins win.

Game 3 is today at 4 p.m. Pacific.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Islanders

This series is another one surprising people, though I’ve always had faith the Pittsburgh Penguins would go down early (yes, I am still living through the pain for the 2016 Final). The New York Islanders have the series in hand, 3-0. IN Game 1, the Islanders had a 2-1 lead after the first period, but by the end of the third, the game was all tied up. Josh Bailey gave the Islanders the 4-3 win in in overtime. Game 2 was much more cut and dry. The Penguins didn’t score until the third period and only scored once at that. The game ended 3-1, Islanders.

Game 3 on Sunday was full of excitement for Islanders fans. They never lost the lead, scoring twice in the first period and twice again in the second. Again, the Penguins only got on the board once. Pittsburgh put 26 shots on net compared to the 35 shots the Islanders had. Matt Murray didn’t stand a chance.

The Islanders can wrap it up on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Pacific.

Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes

The reigning Stanley Cup champs are currently leading a bunch of jerks 2-0 in their series. The Carolina Hurricanes fell 4-2 in Game 1. The Capitals ran all over them, seeing goals from Lars Eller and Alexander Ovechkin, while Nicklas Backstrom had a pair. Both Carolina goals were scored by Andrei Svechnikov.

Game 2 saw much more of a fight from Carolina. The Washington Capitals were up 3-2, but went scoreless in the third period, allowing Carolina to tie it up. The game went to overtime, where Washington’s Brooks Orpik finished it off.

Game 3 is today at 4 p.m. Pacific.

Western Conference

Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche

The first place Calgary Flames are tied 1-1 with the Colorado Avalanche, who have fought hard to get themselves into the postseason. Game 1 was a tough one for Colorado, falling 4-0. Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals, while Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangipane each found the net once. The Avalanche put 26 shots on Mike Smith, but couldn’t buy a goal.

Game 2 was another story. Colorado were desperate to prove themselves and that they did. Both teams were scoreless by the end of the first period, then were tied 1-1 in the second. Sean Monahan gave the Flames the go-ahead goal, but Colorado weren’t backing down. J.T. Compher got Colorado on the board and it was time for extra hockey. Nate MacKinnon ended it in overtime for the Colorado, splitting up the series.

Game 3 goes down today at 7 p.m. Pacific.

Winnipeg Jets vs St. Louis Blues

The once terrible St. Louis Blues became unbeatable late in the season, earning them a ticket to the playoffs. The round one match up against the Winnipeg Jets currently sits in their favor, 2-1. Game 1 was close, but ended with a 2-1 Blues victory. Patrik Laine opened up scoring, but Winnipeg couldn’t find the net after that. Tyler Bozak and David Perron scored in the third period to give the Blues a comeback win.

Game 2 was another close win for St. Louis. The score sat tied up at 3-3 after the second period, but Ryan O’Reilly’s third period goal sealed the deal for the Blues.

Winnipeg got one game under their belt, beating the Blues 6-3 on Sunday. The Blues opened up scoring in the first, but Winnipeg responded by netting three goals in both the second and third periods. Kyle Connor scored two, while the others came from Dustin Byfuglien, Patrik Laine, Kevin Hayes and Brandon Tanev.

Game 4 is Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.

Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars

Two games down between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. The Dallas Stars took home a 3-2 win in Game 1. Nashville struck first, but went scoreless in the second period, allowing the Stars to tie it up. Dallas added two more in the second, while Nashville added just one more. Ben Bishop made 30 saves on the night for the Stars.

The Predators bounced back in Game 2 with a 2-1 overtime winner. Both teams scored in the second period and that was it for regulation. Craig Smith found the net in overtime, splitting up the series.

Game 3 is today at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.