Stanley Cup Playoffs Review June 3, 2021
CANADIENS YOUTH PROPELS CLUB TO SERIES-OPENING WIN AT BELL MTS PLACE
Fresh off their club’s Game 7 win in Toronto, 20-year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi opened the scoring and 21-year-old Nick Suzuki netted a highlight-reel goal as Montreal withstood Winnipeg’s third-period comeback attempt to take Game 1, 5-3 in its Second Round series.
Kotkaniemi, with three goals in his past four games, boosted his career totals in the postseason to 8-0—8 in 17 contests. Only one Canadiens player has scored more playoff goals before their 21st birthday than the third-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Wednesday’s contest marked the Canadiens’ first playoff win against the Jets/Thrashers. Montreal has now earned a postseason win against 23 different NHL franchises (active and defunct), a feat only four other franchises have also accomplished: NY Rangers (24), Chicago (24), Detroit (24) and Toronto (23).
After it erased a 3-1 series deficit against Toronto, Montreal has strung together four straight wins in a single postseason for just the fourth time in 30 years. The others: 1993 (11 GP & 4 GP) and 2014 (5 GP). Their 11-game win streak during the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs also stands as the longest such run in franchise history.
The Canadiens own an all-time series record of 63-11 when leading 1-0 in a best-of-seven (.851), including a 1-0 mark in 2021. It marks the third-highest such win percentage in NHL history behind the Oilers (.875; 21-3) and Ducks (.867; 13-2).
ICYMI: The Jets and Canadiens wore special helmet decals to pay tribute to the 215 children in Kamloops, B.C., and to show support for all Indigenous communities.
RANTANEN SCORES OT WINNER AS AVALANCHE WIN SIXTH STRAIGHT GAME
The Golden Knights scored two game-tying goals, but Mikko Rantanen found the back of the net 2:07 into overtime as the Avalanche extended their postseason-opening win streak to six games and handed Vegas its first-ever 2-0 series deficit.
Rantanen has made a habit of finding the score sheet during the postseason, doing so in each of his last 16 contests dating to Game 3 of the 2020 First Round. Only five different players in NHL history have recorded a longer point streak that spanned multiple playoff years.
Rantanen boosted his totals in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs to 3-7—10 (6 GP) and joined teammates Nathan MacKinnon (8-5—13 in 6 GP) and Gabriel Landeskog (4-7—11 in 6 GP) with double-digit point totals. The Avalanche are the first team with at least three players with 10-plus points through six games of a playoff year since the Senators in 2006 (Martin Havlat, Dany Heatley & Jason Spezza).
Colorado, just the third Presidents’ Trophy winners (since 1985-86) to record a postseason-opening win streak of six-plus games, became the eighth team in the last 30 years to begin a playoff year with six or more straight victories. Only two teams over that span extended their streak to seven contests: Pittsburgh (2008) and NY Rangers (1994).
The Avalanche’s recent string of success includes a stretch of 11 straight wins dating back to the regular season (since May 7), 13 consecutive home wins since March 29 and 21 consecutive home games with at least a point since March 10.
PIVOTAL GAME 3s HIGHLIGHT TONIGHT’S ACTION
A pair of Game 3s will take center stage during the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight with the Bruins and Islanders both looking for a series edge, while the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning look to push the Discover Central’s top-seeded team to the brink of elimination.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (39-24 in 66 GP) has allowed one or fewer goals in each of his last three games and stopped 31 shots in Game 2 to earn his 39th career playoff win. With a victory tonight, the 2020-21 Vezina Trophy finalist can require the eighth-fewest games in NHL history to reach 40 career playoff wins. The only active goaltender to do it in fewer: Marc-Andre Fleury (40-25 in 65 GP).
Anthony Beauvillier (4-5—9 in 8 GP) has found the score sheet in seven of eight playoff games for the Islanders during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and sits tied with Jean-Gabriel Pageau (2-7—9 in 8 GP) for the team lead in points. Beauvillier can become the first Islanders player to record a playoff point streak of seven or more games since Mike Bossy (11-5—16 in 9 GP), Bryan Trottier (2-11—13 in 8 GP) and Denis Potvin (3-9—12 in 8 GP) all did so in 1982.
Kaprizov, Nedeljkovic and Robertson Voted Calder Trophy Finalists
Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson are the three finalists for the 2020‑21 Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Calder Trophy after the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winners of the 2021 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone will be revealed during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Final, with exact dates, format and times to be announced.
Following are the finalists for the Calder Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild
Kaprizov topped all NHL rookies and Wild skaters in goals (27) and points (51), helping Minnesota reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons. Only three other rookies since 1993-94 have led a team in points during the regular season, while also helping them qualify for the postseason: Auston Matthews (2016-17 with Toronto), Filip Forsberg (2014-15 with Nashville) and Trent Hunter (2003-04 with NY Islanders). Kaprizov also led all rookies in shots on goal (157), topped rookie forwards in average ice time (18:18) and ranked second in assists (24). Despite the shortened season he set several rookie franchise records, including goals, assists, points and power-play goals (8). The 24-year-old Novokuznetsk, Russia, native is looking to become the first Calder Trophy winner in franchise history and already is assured of being the highest-finishing Calder candidate for the Wild, ahead of teammate Jonas Brodin’s fourth-place ranking in 2013.
Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Carolina Hurricanes
Nedeljkovic, who began the season on Carolina’s taxi squad, made his season debut in the Hurricanes’ 10th game of the season and went on to backstop the club to the Discover NHL Central Division title, posting a 15-5-3 record, 1.90 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and three shutouts in 23 appearances. The 25-year-old Parma, Ohio, native led all NHL goaltenders in goals-against average and save percentage (MIN: 15 GP), also the best single-season marks by a rookie in franchise history. The .932 save percentage marked the best by an NHL rookie with at least 20 appearances since the statistic was introduced in 1955-56. He posted a seven-game streak without a regulation loss from March 1-25 (6-0-1) and a season-best eight-game stretch from April 8 – May 3 (7-0-1). Nedeljkovic is vying to become the second Calder Trophy winner from the Hurricanes since the franchise moved to Carolina in 1997-98, joining Jeff Skinner (2011).
Jason Robertson, LW, Dallas Stars
Robertson was a major contributor to a Stars offense that was missing high-scoring forwards Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov for most of the season due to injury. The Stars’ 2nd-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft ranked second on Dallas and among all NHL rookies in scoring with 17-28–45 in 51 games. He led all NHL rookies in assists (28), plus-minus (tie, +13) and even-strength points (16-23–39) and ranked second in goals (tie, 17) and shots on goal (127). His season was highlighted by a nine-game point streak from April 13-27 (4-9–13), the longest by any NHL rookie since a 10-game streak by Arizona’s Clayton Keller in 2017-18. The 21-year-old Arcadia, Calif., native is seeking to become the first Stars player to capture the Calder Trophy since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993-94 and will be the highest-finishing Calder candidate for Dallas, ahead of teammate Miro Heiskanen’s fourth-place ranking in 2019.
From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, NHL President Frank Calder purchased a trophy each year to be given permanently to the League’s outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the NHL presented the Calder Memorial Trophy in his memory.