With two teams already through to Round 2 (Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders) the number of Round 1 games are getting less.
Heading into their Game 5 match up the Colorado Avalanche had the chance to knock out the Calgary Flames and make history, whilst it was all up for grabs in Boston.
How things stood after Game 4:
➜ Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins tied 2-2
➜ Colorado Avalanche lead the Calgary Flames 3-1
When a best-of-7 series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has a series record of 205-55.
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins
The Toronto Maple Leafs scored twice in the third period, holding on for a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 at TD Garden to take a 3-2 series lead.
Auston Matthews scored his fourth goal of the series, all in the past three games, to put Toronto ahead. The Bruins challenged for goaltender interference because of contact between the Leafs’ Zach Hyman and Tuukka Rask, but the goal was upheld.
Kasperi Kapanen scored the visitors’ second, whilst Frederik Andersen made 28 saves for Toronto, who are 19-5 in the best-of-7 series they have led 3-2.
Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau played his 189th NHL playoff game, tying Mark Recchi for 24th place. Meanwhile head coach Mike Babcock got his 90th playoff win, passing Glen Sather and Darryl Sutter for seventh in NHL history.
Boston left it incredibly late to score, with Rask pulled for an extra attacker, David Krejci made it 2-1 with 44 seconds left.
Rask made 25 saves.
Bruins v Leafs – Sunday, April 21 (3pm – NBC)
Colorado Avalanche v Calgary Flames
The Colorado Avalanche advanced to the Western Conference Second Round with a 5-1 Game 5 win over the Calgary Flames, winning their Round 1 series 4-1.
It’s the first time the Avs have advanced past the first round since 2008, when they defeated the Minnesota Wild in six games.
Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson each had two goals and an assist, Gabriel Landeskog also scored, and Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each had three assist for Colorado, who will play the winner of the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights, the latter leads the best-of-7 series 3-2. Phillip Grubauer made 28 saves.
It’s the first time in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history that four players have each had three points in a series-clinching game. Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog combined for 21 points (9g, 12a) in the series.
TJ Brodie scored, and Mike Smith made 27 saves for Calgary, whose best line, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm combined for five points (2g, 3a).
Calgary came close to tightening the scoreline on a number of occasions through Gaudreau, with the forward having a penalty shot stopped by Grubauer, before missing the net on a breakaway at 15:22 of the first period.
The New Jersey native appeared to cut the Flames’ deficit to 3-2, but the play was ruled no goal because of goaltender interference on Sam Bennett. Calgary head coach Bill Peters challenged the decision, but the call was upheld after a video review
With the hosts’ loss, the top two teams entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been eliminated in the opening round for the first time since the NHL expansion of 1967/68. The Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning were swept in the Eastern Conference first Round by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Since 1967/68 when six teams were added to make the league a 12-team competition, there have been a number of playoff formats; division-based, conference-based, and for two season they had the top 16 teams seeded by regular-season points. In none of those instances had the top two teams in each division or conference, or the teams with the two best records, seen elimination in the first round.
Avalanche will play winner of San Jose v Vegas (TBD)
Standings after Game 5:
➜ Toronto lead Boston 3-2
➜ Colorado eliminated Calgary
ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN