DENVER -- After coughing up a 2-0 third-period lead at home, the Colorado Avalanche are on the brink of elimination.
Vegas captain Mark Stone scored 10 seconds into overtime of Game 5 on Tuesday, and the Golden Knights earned a 3-2 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. The Golden Knights can clinch the series with a Game 6 win at home on Thursday.
Historically, when a best-of-seven series is tied at two games apiece, the winner of Game 5 wins out 78.8% of the time.
"We don't have much time to do much but rebound," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We have to go into Vegas and play hockey; it's as simple as that."
It has been an inconsistent series for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Avs, with coach Jared Bednar calling out the team's effort after Game 3.
"We were cooking in Game 1, we started out great in Game 2 and then it got hard," Bednar said. "Vegas started playing their game. It's not the regular season. It's not the [St. Louis] Blues, for that matter. It's Vegas. Our game needed to be dialed up to a point where you need to win against Vegas. We weren't there."
Bednar was much happier with the team's performance in Game 4, despite losing 5-1. And on Tuesday, Bednar was once again pleased with his team's effort.
"I'd say, I loved the way we played. I loved it," Bednar said. "We are the aggressors, we were on our toes, we were playing to win the hockey game, we played to our identity. Even in the third period, I had no problems with it. Except for the turnovers. I didn't think we had a lot of turnovers tonight, but we had three that I know led to goals against."
Trailing 2-0 entering the third, the Golden Knights got on the board when Alex Tuch scored 1:03 into the period, taking advantage of an Andre Burakovsky turnover. Jonathan Marchessault scored just three minutes later, capitalizing off of an errant Avs pass in their own offensive zone.
Vegas has been a tough place to play for visiting teams -- especially now that the Knights have welcomed back their full capacity of more than 18,000 fans. The Avs split the regular-season series in Vegas but lost Games 3 and 4 of this series in front of a full house.
Bednar's message to his team heading into the hostile environment: "Go do it again and eliminate a couple of those plays."
"I told them that's exactly how you have to play in order to win against Vegas," Bednar said. "And you have to do it again."
Before Tuesday, the Avalanche hadn't lost a game at home since March 27, a 13-game winning streak that spanned the regular season and playoffs.
Bednar made some significant adjustments to his lineup in Game 5. After his star top line of Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen dried up offensively -- they combined for six goals in the first two games of the series, then just one over the next two -- the coach mixed things up.
Brandon Saad replaced Landeskog on the top line, and the new combination paid immediate dividends, with Saad scoring with 0.8 seconds remaining in the first period to give the Avs a 1-0 lead. At 5-on-5, the new top line had a 3-1 edge in high danger chances and 66 expected goals for percentage.
The new second line, featuring Landeskog, J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin, was equally strong at even strength, with a 5-1 edge in high danger chances and 87 expected goals for percentage.
"I don't care if it's home or the road, and I don't know if our guys do, either," Bednar said. "There's no reason we can't get the job done in Vegas."
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning continue to play like champions, eliminating Carolina Hurricanes with shutout
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Andrei Vasilevskiy was at his best again with the Tampa Bay Lightning in position to close out a playoff series.
Throw in a couple of timely goals from Brayden Point and Ross Colton, and the reigning Stanley Cup champions are a step closer to playing for another title.
Vasilevskiy posted his third straight shutout in a series-clinching victory, helping the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Tuesday night to win the second-round series in five games.
Point's power-play goal -- which followed a huge save from Vasilevskiy -- put Tampa Bay up in the second period, then Colton scored in the third. That was more than enough for Vasilevskiy, who finished with 29 saves and stumped the homesteading Hurricanes for the third time in as many series games at PNC Arena.
Tampa Bay is now 5-1 on the road in the playoffs, including taking a 2-0 series lead in the first round against Florida and then claiming all three in this series.
And the Lightning are now 8-3 overall this postseason, having dispatched the two teams that finished above them in the Central Division: first-place Carolina, and the second-place Florida Panthers, who fell to the champions in Round 1 in six games.
Indeed, the team that -- as the No. 1 overall seed -- lost in the first round in 2019 to the Columbus Blue Jackets has now won six straight series dating back the postseason bubble last year.
"We've got a lot of confidence in our group," Point said. "I thought we had a pretty good regular season where we were kind of building to this. ... Yeah, it's just a belief in our group. We've got four lines and all the D and great goaltending. So we just feel confident."
It started with Vasilevskiy, a former Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top goaltender and a finalist this year. He allowed just two goals on 70 shots through the first two games to open this series.
Then, after a wild Game 4 in Florida that saw each team score four second-period goals, Vasilevskiy turned away every shot. Among his saves Tuesday was a huge glove stop of a 2-on-1 short-handed chance by Carolina's Vincent Trocheck.
Point's goal came moments later on a gorgeous effort. He took a feed from Alex Killorn to his backhand side near the crease, went to his forehand before returning to the backhand to get Carolina netminder Alex Nedeljkovic off balance just enough to score at 4:06 of the second.
"They're both two big-time players that made big-time plays," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of the sequence.
The Lightning nearly pushed that lead to 2-0 with captain Steven Stamkos scoring a buzzer-beating goal, but a review determined the puck didn't cross the goal line in time. But Colton made up for it at 9:04 of the third for the 2-0 lead.
The Hurricanes just couldn't do the same.
"He made some big saves, timely saves," Carolina captain Jordan Staal said of Vasilevskiy. "Good goaltenders do that. He did a good job of not letting us get some momentum and get the crowd into it."
Next up for Tampa Bay in the NHL semifinals is the winner of the series between the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins. The Islanders lead that best-of-seven series 3-2 and can close it out Wednesday at home.
The Lightning defeated both of those teams last year in the playoff bubble, en route to the title.
It was a frustrating finish for the Hurricanes, who were in the playoffs for the third straight season after a nine-season drought. They won the Central Division title for their first division crown since winning the Cup in 2006, and were in the Presidents' Trophy race until the final week of the season.
Carolina, with depth on defense and youth up front, appears to be in a position to contend for a title but continues to struggle in the postseason. Last year, the Hurricanes lost to the Bruins in the first round.
"There's a next step we've got to find," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That's what's left."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Arbitrator upholds 8-game suspension for Colorado Avalanche's Nazem Kadri
Nazem Kadri's eight-game suspension has been upheld by a neutral arbitrator, the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Tuesday.
The Colorado Avalanche center is eligible to return for a potential Game 7 of the second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights. The series is tied 2-2, with Game 5 on Tuesday in Denver.
Kadri, whom the NHL called "a player with a substantial disciplinary record" in its initial ruling, was suspended in the first round after delivering a "high, forceful check" to St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk's head on May 21. Kadri, 30, has been suspended six times, including three times in the playoffs.
Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the suspension, leaving the decision to a neutral arbitrator, Shyam Das. In his decision Tuesday, Das wrote that the NHL was correct to suspend Kadri.
Das has been a labor arbitrator since the 1970s and previously worked with MLB. He has ruled in the NHLPA's favor in the past. In 2018, Das was the neutral arbitrator who decided to reduce Capitals forward Tom Wilson's suspension from 20 to 14 games for a preseason hit on Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.
In his original Zoom hearing, Kadri argued that he was trying to deliver a body check. The NHL Department of Player Safety, however, determined that the head was the main point of contract for Kadri's hit. Faulk did not play in the remainder of the series for the Blues, and his teammates were outraged by the play.
"The guy can't control himself," Blues center Brayden Schenn said at the time. "In the playoffs, he's a repeat offender. Bad hits. Greasy hits. He had a guy in a vulnerable position, and he picked nothing but the head."
Kadri's previous two playoff suspensions came when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto traded Kadri after the second infraction -- he got suspended the balance of the first round in 2019, which turned out to be five games, for cross-checking.
Kadri had 32 points in 56 games this season for Colorado, which won the Presidents' Trophy.
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