The Carolina Hurricanes are bruised and battered. They’re also two wins away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals. Plus, the Colorado Avalanche got even with the San Jose Sharks — but not without some controversy.
Here’s what happened in the NHL Sunday night (check out replays of every playoff game on ESPN+) and what to watch for Monday night in today’s edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:
About last night …
Game 2: Carolina Hurricanes 2, New York Islanders 1 (Hurricanes lead series 2-0) The Hurricanes have personified the “next man up” philosophy through these playoffs, but this was ridiculous. Already down forwards Andrei Svechnikov (concussion protocol), Micheal Ferland (upper body) and Jordan Martinook (lower body), Carolina lost defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body) 32 seconds into the first period and then lost starting goalie (and playoff hero) Petr Mrazek about 6½ minutes into the second period, after he stopped nine of 10 shots.
Next man up: Curtis McElhinney came on in goal and turned away all 17 shots he faced. Meanwhile, Warren Foegele and Nino Niederreiter scored 48 seconds apart in the third period to give the Hurricanes the 2-0 series lead.
Game 2: Colorado Avalanche 4, San Jose Sharks 3 (series tied 1-1) So is this the template for the Avalanche? Struggle in a Game 1 loss on the road, rebound with a great effort in Game 2 to even the series? It happened against Calgary in the first round, and it happened on Sunday against San Jose. “We’ll take that. We’ll win the next three. That’d be great,” said defenseman Tyson Barrie with a laugh. “This was a little bit different than the Calgary one, but it’s nice to be able to know that if you’re down in the series, you can come back.”
The Avs answered an Evander Kane goal in the first period with tallies by Gabriel Landeskog and Barrie in the second, and then a big goal from Matt Nieto in the third. Nathan MacKinnon‘s empty-netter ended up being the winner after Brent Burns‘ second goal — on the power play, with an extra skater — made it a one-goal game with 11 seconds left.
Matt Nieto scores his third goal of the postseason to help lead the Avalanche to a Game 2 victory over the Sharks and even the series at 1-1.
1. Curtis McElhinney, G, Carolina Hurricanes. Anyone who paid attention to the Hurricanes this season knows that McElhinney had the stuff to step in and win Game 2. From Dec. 31 through the end of the season, he went 13-6-1 for Carolina. Yet this was only his third career playoff appearance, and he certainly made it count with 17 saves in injury relief of Mrazek as the Canes took a 2-0 series lead.
2. Tyson Barrie, D, Colorado Avalanche. Just a huge effort from Colorado’s top puck-moving defenseman (pending Cale Makar‘s official breakout). His shot was tipped home by Landeskog for the Avs’ first goal. Then Barrie scored his first goal of the playoffs just over eight minutes later for the 2-1 lead. He had the secondary assist on their third goal of the game. He was on the ice for the Sharks’ second goal, but otherwise played well throughout.
– x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 29, 2019
3. Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks. Burns had two goals and an assist in Game 2, including a late power-play goal that made things interesting. It should be noted, however, that he was on the ice for two of the Avalanche’s non-empty-net goals.
Play of the Night
Just a gorgeous deflection here from Niederreiter to give Carolina a lead it wouldn’t surrender. Niederreiter was drafted fifth overall by the Islanders in 2010, and was traded to Minnesota for Cal Clutterbuck in 2013. The Wild traded him to Carolina for Victor Rask in January.
Dud of the Night
Bednar, on non-icing call: “Exact same as the icing the other night. Karlsson had inside track on [Nieto], they’re in a race. They blow it down because Karlsson had inside path. [Mikko’s] got inside path on Vlasic. 2 similar plays, guy on inside got the call.” (HT @wyshynski)>pic.twitter.com/x5oQc7EtJv – Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 29, 2019
The Sharks on that icing call. Whether or not the linesmen blew the call — and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is waiting for his apology — San Jose coach Peter DeBoer probably had the best take on Barrie’s goal: “Whether or not I thought it was doesn’t matter. Our players did. They let up. They relaxed for a minute and it obviously wasn’t. So the lesson in that was don’t assume anything in the playoffs. Play, and make sure.”
On the schedule
On the one hand, Jordan Binnington had a .929 save percentage in three wins at Winnipeg in the first round. On the other hand, he had one good win (21 saves, .955 save percentage) and one not-so-great loss (four goals allowed on 24 shots) in Dallas this season.
Social post of the day
You think the locals are fired up about this Carolina Hurricanes run?
“This was the horseshoe-up-the-a– game for us.” — Anonymous Carolina player to Arthur Staple of The Athletic on Game 2.