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Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Blue Jackets force game five against Penguins

19 April 2017 07:24

The Columbus Blue Jackets stayed alive against reigning NHL Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to their game-four win.

In Tuesday's do-or-die clash, the Blue Jackets held on to beat the Penguins 5-4 to force a fifth game in the playoffs.

The Blue Jackets were short on confidence after three straight losses, but jumped on the Penguins early and built a 3-0 lead by the second period. Much is made of the little things in hockey, but if nothing else the victory is something to build on if the young Blue Jackets are to mount a comeback. 

Columbus still have a mountain to climb in the best-of-seven series as they trail 3-1 heading into Thursday's game.

The San Jose Sharks emphatically levelled their series against the Edmonton Oilers with a 7-0 humiliation in game four, while the New York Rangers also moved level thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

 

Three stars

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers - The Rangers came a Shea Weber post blast away from potentially a different outcome, but Lundqvist gets credit for this series being tied. The veteran net minder made 23 saves, including several in a Canadiens flurry in the final minute, bringing his playoff save percentage to .944. The Blue Jackets snapped a six-game home playoff losing streak in the process.

William Karlsson, Blue Jackets - Credit Karlsson for keeping Columbus alive for game five. He scored the Blue Jackets' fourth goal and assisted on another. More importantly, the unheralded centreman, not usually known for his faceoff prowess, won 12 of 22 draws and was credited with containing Pittsburgh's red-hot 'Sid and the Kids' line, which registered no points and was minus-two.

Joe Pavelski, Sharks - Last year's playoff goals leader finally got off the snide with two scores and an assist, helping the Sharks to a blowout win in game four. San Jose managed only two goals in the series before Tuesday, so this was sorely needed.

 

Highlight

Cam Talbot's two-game shutout streak ended 15 seconds into game four when Joe Pavelski scored the fastest playoff goal in Sharks franchise history, opening the flood gates.

 

Wednesday's game to watch

Game 4: Capitals at Maple Leafs - One week in and the Maple Leafs have emerged as the best story of the Stanley Cup playoffs, thanks to Auston Matthews and his band of boy wonders. Toronto have proven their worth and are a real threat to push the Presidents' Trophy winners to the brink of elimination in what would be one of the bigger upsets in NHL history. This is a must-win game for the Capitals, who once again straddle the crossroads between choker and contender.

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