The New York Islanders and Vegas Golden Knights can join them with wins on Tuesday night, but the Dallas Stars blew their chance to close out the Colorado Avalanche, who have new life after a 6-3 win.
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All times Eastern
Game 5: No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 7 New York Islanders (NYI leads 3-1) | 7 p.m.
The Islanders can advance to their first conference final since 1993 with a victory. To put that in context: Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green was a 22-year-old forward on that team. But to do so, Barry Trotz will have to avoid history repeating: In 2015, Alain Vigneault's New York Rangers came back from a 3-1 hole to win in seven games against the coach's Washington Capitals. "At the end of the day, probably not a lot of people are going to give us a chance. What we have to do is not focus on the big task, but focus on [Game 5]," Vigneault said. "We've got to find a way."
Game 5: No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 7 Vancouver Canucks (VGS leads 3-1) | 9:45 p.m.
The Canucks face their first "win or go home" game, as the Golden Knights try to close them out. "You can't go into this game gripping your stick too tight. You have to play the game, embrace the moment and everything is going to fall into place. ... The minute you start overthinking things, that's when it goes the opposite way," captain Bo Horvatsaid. Is it possible the Canucks try to shake things up after two losses and give goalie Thatcher Demko the start over playoff hero Jacob Markstrom?
Question of the day: Is the window closed for the Bruins' core?
The reaction from the Bruins' players and coach Bruce Cassidy after their Game 5 elimination was absolutely grim. "It just kind of hit me after the game [that] the core group, a few of us have one or two or three years left. It's just kind of a little sad now," said center David Krejci, 34. "At the same time, I don't regret coming into this bubble and fighting for the Stanley Cup. If I had to do it again, I would."
Brad Marchand, 32, said "you never know how many opportunities you have to win a Cup." Cassidy, getting emotional during his news conference, said, "For me, it's always an honor and a privilege to coach these guys. We're disappointed it didn't go better for us." Patrice Bergeron, 35, said the end of the core's run was "definitely something that crossed my mind. You never want this to happen. We'll see what happens going forward. We obviously wish that everyone's coming back and we have another chance at it."
Defenseman Torey Krug, 29, is a free agent. So is team captain Zdeno Chara, 43. "I haven't made a decision. Obviously, I just finished the game and I'm going to be open-minded," Chara said after the loss.
Read more on the Bruins' offseason decisions.
Bet of the day
Flyers team total under 2.5 goals (-129). The Islanders have allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of their 13 games inside the bubble. That includes three of four games against the Flyers and in both of their previous elimination games this postseason.
About last night ...
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Boston Bruins 2 (2OT) (TB wins 4-1)
The Lightning eliminated the Bruins in double overtime of Game 5, as Victor Hedman scored at 14:10 through a Patrick Maroon screen of Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 45 saves, andOndrej Palat scored in his fourth straight game. The Bruins made it interesting when David Krejci scored the tying goal with 2:33 remaining in the third period, but the regular season's best team was ousted in the conference semifinals. The Lightning played the majority of the game without star Nikita Kucherov, who left at 12:48 of the first period after he took a Chara high stick, played 4:59 in the second period and then didn't appear for the rest of the game. Obviously, that's a situation to monitor as we look ahead to the Eastern Conference finals. Full recap.
Colorado Avalanche 6, Dallas Stars 3 (DAL leads 3-2)
The start of Game 4 was a disaster for the Avalanche. The start of Game 5 was so good for them that they nearly broke a 76-year-old NHL record. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare got the scoring going at 4:37 of the first period against surprise starter Ben Bishop, making his first appearance for Dallas since Aug. 13. Then Andre Burakovsky, Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen scored in a 2:36 span, which was just one second away from a Stanley Cup Playoff record for fastest four goals in a playoff game, set by the Montreal Canadiens in 1944. "We started pretty well. We decided to show the best version of ourselves tonight," Bellemare said. Bishop was chased after giving up four goals on 19 shots. Meanwhile, Avalanche third-string netminder Michael Hutchinson -- making the start in place of the "unfit to play" Pavel Francouz -- made 31 saves to keep Colorado alive. Full recap.
1. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
Hedman's fifth goal of the playoffs sent the Lightning to the Eastern Conference finals. "I didn't see it go in. I just saw everyone celebrating," he said.
2. Michael Hutchinson, G, Colorado Avalanche
Hutchinson stopped 31 shots in the win, including 17 of 18 in the third period. "Since we got him, he's just went about his business," coach Jared Bednar said. "He's a real quiet guy in the locker room. Just a great human being. Talking to him last night, telling him he was going to start, I just wanted him to be relaxed. Go be himself. Have a fun night. Have a good night. He didn't get a lot of work early, but he certainly did as the game went on. We were confident coming in that if we played the way we can play, that Hutch could have a night for us."
3. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Colorado Avalanche
The winger had two goals and an assist in the 6-3 win, including a critical goal late in the second period to answer the Stars' second goal just 33 seconds earlier.
Quote of the day
"I think Bish is the best goalie in the league when he's playing at the top of his game. We have full confidence in him. Our first 10 minutes were an absolute joke. Bish will take the blame, he'll put it on himself, but let's be honest: We were atrocious. In the first 10 minutes. It was 5-0 with four minutes left in the period. This has nothing to do with our goalies. We're wasting our time if we're talking about our goalies. We have the luxury of having these two and we let him down." -- Dallas Stars forward Andrew Cogliano on criticism of Ben Bishop after Game 5.
Social post of the day
The co-owner of the Islanders meets "Flat Barry" Trotz.
Celebration of the day
Kudos to Zach Bogosian for remembering to give Andrei Vasilevskiy some love.
Quest for the Stanley Cup premieres Sept. 2
See the NHL like you've never seen it before as Quest for the Stanley Cup premieres Sept. 2 on ESPN+.
Hedman's goal wins it in double OT for Lightning
Victor Hedman scores the game-winning goal in double overtime to advance the Lightning past the Bruins.
Avalanche score five first-period goals to avoid elimination
The Avalanche get goals from five different players, including Nathan MacKinnon, in the first period as they defeat the Stars 6-3 to force a Game 6.