THREE HARD LAPS
* It was a clean sweep for the home teams on Wednesday as the Islanders, Lightning and Wild each claimed wins in front of a combined 23,592 fans. New York and Tampa Bay each advanced to the Second Round, while Minnesota forced Game 7.
* The first Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be played Friday at 9 p.m. ET in Las Vegas when the Golden Knights host the Wild (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS).
* Two more series are on the line tonight as the Maple Leafs look to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in more than 17 years, while the Hurricanes eye a spot in the Second Round for the second time in three seasons.
ISLANDERS CLINCH SERIES AT NASSAU FOR FIRST TIME IN 28 YEARS
Playing in front of an increased capacity of 9,000 fans, Anthony Beauvillier (1-2—3) and Brock Nelson (2-1—3) helped the Islanders tie the game three times en route to clinching a series at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the first time since 1993. New York set up a Second Round matchup with Boston, the third all-time playoff series between the clubs and first in nearly 40 years.
* New York held the advantage during its eight-game regular-season series in 2020-21 and also has won each of the two previous playoff series between the clubs – each en route to a championship. In their first postseason series, the Islanders eliminated the Bruins in Game 5 of the 1980 Quarterfinals and followed that up with a six-game victory in the 1983 Conference Finals when Mike Bossy became the first player in NHL history to score four game-winning goals in one series.
DEFENDING CHAMPION LIGHTNING AWAIT OPPONENT IN SECOND ROUND
After posting his first career shutout in Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup-clinching victory in September, Andrei Vasilevskiy was perfect yet again in a series-clinching win, this time in front of a home crowd of 10,092 as the Lightning claimed the first Sunshine State showdown. Tampa Bay will face yet another first-time opponent in the next round, as they await the winner of the Carolina-Nashville series.
* Vasilevskiy became the second goaltender in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup with a shutout and then clinch his next series with a shutout. Georges Vezina is the only other to achieve the feat, doing so before the Stanley Cup was competed for solely by NHL teams (1924 SCF vs. Calgary Tigers, 1925 NHLSF vs. Toronto St. Patricks).
TALBOT SHUTOUT SETS UP FIRST GAME 7 OF 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
Cam Talbot posted the first home shutout in Wild history in a game in which the club faced elimination as Minnesota defeated Vegas to force the first Game 7 of this postseason, Friday at 9 p.m. ET in Las Vegas (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS).
* This marks the third time that Minnesota has forced Game 7 after facing a 3-1 series deficit – they advanced in each of the two prior instances (2003 CQF vs. COL, 2003 CSF vs. VAN) – and third time that Vegas will contest a winner-take-all showdown after leading 3-1 (W in 2020 R2 vs. VAN, L in 2019 R1 at SJS).
* Talbot joined Devan Dubnyk as the second Wild goaltender to post a shutout in any game when facing elimination – Dubnyk did so in St. Louis in Game 4 of the 2017 First Round.
LIGHTNING, ISLANDERS RECORDS FALL AS FIRST ROUND WRAPS
* Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov notched two assists to boost his totals to 3-8—11 (6 GP), establishing a franchise record for points in a playoff series – besting his own mark of 10 set in the 2018 First Round and equaled in the 2020 Conference Finals.
* Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock scored the game winner – just 13 seconds after another New York tally – to become the fifth defenseman in franchise history to net a series-clinching goal.
* Islanders rookie Ilya Sorokin (34 saves) became the 10th goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first four career playoff appearances. He is the first to do so with New York.
MAPLE LEAFS, HURRICANES AIM TO ADVANCE TO THE SECOND ROUND TONIGHT
A series victory 17 years in the making could come to fruition tonight in Toronto, while in Nashville the Hurricanes will aim to punch their ticket to the Second Round for the second time in three years.
* The Maple Leafs last claimed a series-clinching victory on April 20, 2004 at Air Canada Centre when they earned a 4-1 win against the Senators in Game 7 of the Conference Quarterfinals. Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice in that game, including the clinching goal, and Ed Belfour made 36 saves to claim the victory. Only one player from that game remains in the NHL: Zdeno Chara notched one assist over 24:21 of ice time for the Senators (at age 27).
* ICYMI: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, who was injured in Game 1, announced a donation to his foundation in recognition of the support he has received in the past week.
* The Hurricanes aim to advance to the Second Round, while the Predators will look to continue the series trend of home success as the clubs clash for Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena. A Nashville victory would give the home team a win in each of the first six games of the series – something that has happened five times in the last 10 postseasons: Hurricanes-Capitals (2019 R1; 6 GP), Sharks-Predators (2016 R2; 7 GP), Wild-Avalanche (2014 R1; 6 GP), Kings-Sharks (2013 CSF; 7 GP) and Rangers-Capitals (2013 CQF; 6 GP).