Stanley Cup Playoff capsules: Tampa Bay eliminates Carolina, advances to semifinals

  • Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) tries to score against Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) while defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) looks on during the third period of Game 5 of an NHL Stanley Cup second round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Andrei Vasilevskiy was at his best again with the Tampa Bay Lightning in position to close out a playoff series.

Throw in a couple of timely goals from Brayden Point and Ross Colton, and the reigning Stanley Cup champions are a step closer to playing for another title.

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Vasilevskiy posted his third straight shutout in a series-clinching victory, helping the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Tuesday night to win the second-round series in five games.

Point’s power-play goal — which followed a huge save from Vasilevskiy — put Tampa Bay up in the second period, then Colton scored in the third. That was more than enough for Vasilevskiy, who finished with 29 saves and stumped the homesteading Hurricanes for the third time in as many series games at PNC Arena.

Tampa Bay is now 5-1 on the road in the playoffs, including taking a 2-0 series lead in the first round against Florida and then claiming all three in this series.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our group,” Point said. “I thought we had a pretty good regular season where we were kind of building to this. … Yeah, it’s just a belief in our group. We’ve got four lines and all the D and great goaltending. So we just feel confident.”

It started with Vasilevskiy, a former Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goaltender and a finalist this year. He allowed just two goals on 70 shots through the first two games to open this series.

Then, after a wild Game 4 in Florida that saw each team score four second-period goals, Vasilevskiy turned away every shot. Among his saves Tuesday was a huge glove stop of a 2-on-1 short-handed chance by Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck.

Point’s goal came moments later on a gorgeous effort. He took a feed from Alex Killorn to his backhand side near the crease, went to his forehand before returning to the backhand to get Carolina netminder Alex Nedeljkovic off balance just enough to score at 4:06 of the second.

“They’re both two big-time players that made big-time plays,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of the sequence.

The Lightning nearly pushed that lead to 2-0 with captain Steven Stamkos scoring a buzzer-beating goal, but a review determined the puck didn’t cross the goal line in time. But Colton made up for it at 9:04 of the third for the 2-0 lead.

The Hurricanes just couldn’t do the same.

“He made some big saves, timely saves,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said of Vasilevskiy. “Good goaltenders do that. He did a good job of not letting us get some momentum and get the crowd into it.”

GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3, AVALANCHE 2, OT

DENVER — Mark Stone scored on a breakaway 50 seconds into overtime as Vegas overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Colorado and take a 3-2 lead in their second-round series.

Game 6 is Thursday at Vegas.

Max Pacioretty corralled the puck after a blocked shot and fed it to Stone, who was off to the races. Stone beat Philipp Grubauer on the glove side to hush what had been a boisterous crowd.

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Alex Tuch scored 1:03 into the third period and Jonathan Marchessault tied it up just 3:04 later. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots.

Brandon Saad scored late in the first and Joonas Donskoi scored in the second for Colorado.

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