3 Stars of the Night: May 22

It’s the most, wonderful time, of the yearrrrrrrr! Who doesn’t love playoff hockey right? This is what we wait all season for, this is why most of us became fans of the game, as the postseason captivates us year after year after year. My personal favorite part is the dying minutes of a one-goal game when everything is a scramble, bodies are diving everywhere, pucks are zipping around the zone and the intensity is as high as can be. Until we get to overtime that is, when it become full-on, tighten your butt cheeks, gasp and cringe with every shot end-to-end action (WITH NO COMMERCIALS!!).

Who will hoist the 2016 Stanley Cup?


With the team I cover out of the playoffs (again), I relish the opportunity to write a little out of character and enjoy the playoffs as a fan of the game, and pick my three stars of each night like our friends over at Yahoo!/Puck Daddy blog do throughout the season. You can find player standings at the bottom of each post with three points for being the no. 1 star, two for no. 2 and one for no. 3 and on some nights we’ll have an honorable mention.

May 22, 2016

#3) Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay: assist

Not only did he have the OT GWG for a few seconds until we realized his shot went in off of Johnson’s backside, but he also quietly led Tampa in shots on goal (5). Garrison also helped steady the back end of the Lightning in Game 5, as Victor Hedman had a rare off-night on the blue line. Garrison was also part of an overtime win on the road in Rd. 2, beating the Islanders with a clap bomb from long distance.

#2) Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay: 2 goals, assist

Kucherov is heating up again and that spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for the Penguins going forward — he now has seven points (2g-5a) over the past three games. He’s moved back atop the Conn Smythe Trophy race in my mind as he has been a vital part of his team’s postseason success, without their captain and best player in Steven Stamkos.  This was Kucherov’s third game this postseason where he had two goals and an assist; he is now second in the points race behind San Jose’s Logan Couture with 19 points (11g-8a) in 15 games.

#1) Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay: OT GWG, assist

We all love #ButtFumble (sorry NY Jets fans) and now we have #ButtGoal as undrafted Tyler Johnson got credit for the overtime-winning goal when Garrison’s shot skittered past Marc-Andre Fleury and into the net off of TJ’s bum 53 seconds into overtime. He also was a major player on Kucherov’s third period tying goal, as the two worked magic reminiscent of last season’s playoff run and also their days with the Syracuse Crunch. Johnson now has 17 points this postseason, and unlike Pittsburgh’s top players, he and Tampa’s top skaters have been their best players. He was involved and engaged all night – four penalty minutes, four hits, four shots on goal.


3-Stars Standings:

Joe Pavelski (SJ): 13

Brian Elliott (StL): 11

Nikita Kucherov (TB): 9

Braden Holtby (Wash): 8

Victor Hedman (TB): 8

Troy Brouwer (StL): 8

Tyler Johnson (TB): 8

Phil Kessel (Pitt): 7

David Backes (StL): 6

Martin Jones (SJ): 6

Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5

John Tavares (NYI): 5

Pekka Rinne (Nash): 5

Matt Murray (Pitt): 5

Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 5

Ben Bishop (TB): 5

Carl Hagelin (Pitt): 5

Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB): 5

Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 4

Nick Bonino (Pitt): 4

Kris Letang (Pitt): 4