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Quick Strikes: Syracuse Crunch to play Rochester Americans in first round of Calder Cup Playoffs

Also, Brayden Point is God.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates as he scores a goal against the New Jersey Devils ring the first period of game two of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 2-0 series lead on the New Jersey Devils with a commanding 5-3 win. For the first 50 minutes of the contest, it wasn’t close. [Raw Charge]

The scoreboard and shot clock signify a much closer game, however, that doesn’t tell the real story of this game. New Jersey struggled to handle the aggression and speed that Tampa Bay was throwing at them for the first two periods. The first ten minutes of the third was rather even, but New Jersey wasn’t generating much pressure at that point.

The Devils did not, and still do not, have an answer for the Lightning’s offense.

Alex Killorn scored a crucial goal late in game one on a 3-on-2 break for the Lightning. JustinG. breaks down the video and exactly how he, Anthony Cirelli, and Yanni Gourde accomplished this. [Raw Charge]

They would have been able to attack a loose puck from three angles - Cirelli in front of the net, Gourde (completely unmarked) to the goaltender’s right and Killorn, who has better position after the shot than Muller, to Kincaid’s left.

The Lightning work on rushes like that in practice so that everyone knows exactly what their role is, and against the Devils, it worked to perfection.

We learned a lot about both sides in the win last night. This team is dominant when it wants to be, special teams is key, and the Devils have a lot going for them. [NHL dot com]

After scoring late in the second period, New Jersey controlled much of the action in the third period. The Devils racked up 19 shots over the final 20 minutes, more than the Lightning have ever allowed in a period in their playoff history.

That the Bolts only let in one goal in the third is a testament to the play of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 41-of-44 shots in a masterful performance to improve to 6-5 all-time in the postseason.

Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi were both forced to leave game two with injuries. Cooper didn’t have any updates in the post-game, says he’s sorry. [Tampa Bay Times]

Callahan was checked by Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen late in the second period — he took a shot to his right shoulder and went down on the ice, going immediately to the bench and down the tunnel to the locker room. Callahan missed five games in March with a right shoulder injury, after missing three weeks in December.

It’s rare you see a picture where everyone in it is royalty.

The Prospects

In their final game of the regular season, the Syracuse Crunch honoured the Humboldt Broncos by wearing jerseys with “HUMBOLDT” across the nameplate. [CNY Central]

CNY Central Sports Director Niko Tamurian spoke with Crunch rookie goalie Connor Ingram on Friday, a former member of the Humboldt Broncos team, who lost friends to the deadly accident.

”Yeah, it hasn’t been in easy for sure,” Ingram said. “It’s a thing in hockey that all of us do -- spend so many hours in the bus. We take it for granted. It just so happened to hit closer to home for me. It hasn’t been easy since that day.”

“Saturday night’s jerseys will be auctioned off with the proceeds going towards STARS Air Ambulance, which used three aircrafts to transport four patients to area hospitals following the tragic bus accident in Saskatchewan.”

Tonight, we are all Humboldt.

A post shared by Syracuse Crunch (@syracusecrunch) on

In the game itself, the Syracuse Crunch lost 4-2 to the Rochester Americans. [Auburn Pub]

Looking to rest many of their regulars since they already clinched home ice in the first round, the Crunch had a lineup with 11 players who spent time in the ECHL this season and two more who joined the team after the conclusion of their junior seasons.

Alexander Volkov scored twice and Olivier Mantha made 39 saves in his AHL debut, but Syracuse fell to Rochester, 4-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

Now that the regular season is done. Time for the playoffs! The Crunch will play the same Rochester Americans in a best of five — the first round is a five-game series not a seven-game series — starting Friday April 20th. [Syracuse]

That was assured when Rochester locked up third place Saturday night. The Crunch finished second in the division. The series will be played in a best-of-five format. The winner of that series will meet the winner of a semifinal pairing between Toronto and Utica in the North Division finals.

And the Team Awards go to...

The Game

The Boston Bruins destroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period and didn’t look back. [Pension Plan Puppets]

It’s all of them. It’s not just the fourth line or that defenceman you hate who are spun in circles by a good offensive cycle. They all are. They aren’t the Islanders. But they aren’t good either.

The Leafs out-Corsied the Bruins 17-9, but the high-danger chances were 4-1 for Boston. If you want to blame the goalie, do that. But the team played spectacularly badly as a group in the defensive zone. Scoring changes were more even, but the Leafs were not shooting from where the Leafs can score from.

The Colorado Avalanche came close, but the Nashville Predators were just too much in this game that only had 37:51 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey. [Mile High Hockey]

The Colorado Avalanche give the Nashville Predators a run for their money but ultimately fall 5-4 in regulation, falling down 0-2 in this seven-game series. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Tyson Barrie and company jumped out to an early lead and and never went away, even when the Predators were throwing their very best at them.

The San Jose Sharks head home with a 2-0 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks after a close 3-2 win on Saturday night. [Fear the Fin]

At the start of the second, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle switched up the lines to try and get his team going. It didn’t help. Just over a minute into the game and Tomas Hertl put the Sharks up 3-1. Hertl took a touch pass from Mikkel Boedker at the middle of the ice and skated into the Ducks’ zone. Number 48 dangled around defenseman Montour and then lifted the puck past Gibson.

Highlight of the Night: How can it not be Brayden Point’s first playoff goal?