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2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs were the playoff tournament of the National Hockey League (NHL). The playoffs began on May 15, 2021, and ended with the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals, where the Tampa Bay Lightning won their second-straight Stanley Cup over the Montreal Canadiens in five games on July 7, 2021. The playoffs were scheduled to begin a few days after the 2020–21 regular season but began four days prior to the end of the regular season after the Vancouver Canucks had eleven games postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The league returned to the traditional 16 team playoff format with all series being a best-of-seven, after using a 24 team format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the cross-border travel restrictions imposed by the Government of Canada, the league temporarily realigned this season into four divisions with no conferences. Consequently, the first two rounds of the playoffs featured intradivisional matchups with the higher-seeded teams receiving home-ice advantage in those rounds.

In the Stanley Cup Semifinals, the top remaining team based on regular season record will face the lowest-remaining team, and the two remaining teams will face each other in the other series with the second-best remaining team earns home-ice advantage; both semifinal winners will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Colorado Avalanche made the playoffs as the Presidents’ Trophy winners with the most points (i.e. best record) during the regular season. The Pittsburgh Penguins increased their postseason appearance streak to 15 seasons, the longest active streak. For the second year in a row since 1996 and third time overall, all California-based teams, the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks, missed the playoffs.

For the first time since 1966, every team that qualified for the playoffs was also in the previous year’s postseason. With all of the Canadian-based NHL teams in one division, the format for this season ensured that there would be a second-round series between two Canadian-based teams for the first time since 2002.

For the first time since 1992, three of the previous year’s semifinalists, the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights, returned to the round for a second consecutive season.

Stanley Cup Final

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens

This will be the fourth playoff meeting between these two teams with Tampa Bay winning two of the three previous series. They last met in the 2015 Eastern Conference Second Round, which Tampa Bay won in six games. This will be their second consecutive Final appearance and fourth overall. They won last year’s Final against the Dallas Stars in six games.

Montreal will be appearing in their 35th Stanley Cup Final. They are the most recent Canadian-based team to win the Stanley Cup, doing so in 1993 (their most recent appearance) against the Los Angeles Kings, winning in five games. They are also the first Canadian team since the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 to be represented in the Final. This will be the first Final since 2009 to feature two teams in the same time zone. These teams did not play each other during this year’s regular season.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
June 28Montreal CanadiensTampa Bay Lightning1-5Yanni Gourde
June 30Montreal CanadiensTampa Bay Lightning1-3Blake Coleman
July 2Tampa Bay LightningMontreal Canadiens6-3Tyler Johnson
July 5Tampa Bay LightningMontreal Canadiens2-3 OTJosh Anderson
July 7Montreal CanadiensTampa Bay Lightning0-1Ross Colton

Lightning won the series 4-1 and their second-straight Stanley Cup

Conn Smythe Trophy: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Deeper Dive

Stanley Cup Semifinals

(1) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens

Montreal will be making their eighth Semifinals/Conference Finals appearance. Their most recent appearance was in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, which the New York Rangers won in six games. This will be Vegas’ second consecutive appearance and third within their four seasons of play. Vegas lost last year’s Semifinal/Conference Final in five games to the Dallas Stars.

These teams did not play each other during this year’s regular season.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
June 14Montreal CanadiensVegas Golden Knights1-4Alec Martinez
June 16Montreal CanadiensVegas Golden Knights3-2Paul Byron
June 18Vegas Golden KnightsMontreal Canadiens2-3 OTJosh Anderson
June 20Vegas Golden KnightsMontreal Canadiens2-1 OTNicolas Roy
June 22Montreal CanadiensVegas Golden Knights4-1Eric Staal
June 24Vegas Golden KnightsMontreal Canadiens2-3 OTArtturi Lehkonen

Canadiens won series 4-2

Deeper Dive

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (3) New York Islanders

This will be the second consecutive postseason match-up and the fourth overall playoff meeting between these two teams; with Tampa Bay winning all three previous series. Each team is making their second consecutive Semifinals/Conference Finals appearance.

Tampa Bay is making their seventh overall appearance in the Semifinals/Conference Finals; while New York is making their eighth appearance in this round since the league began using a 16-team or greater playoff format in 1980. Tampa Bay won the previous year’s Eastern Conference Final match-up in six games. This will also be the first Semifinal/Conference Final since 2014 to feature the same two teams against each other in consecutive seasons. These teams did not play each other during this year’s regular season.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
June 13New York IslandersTampa Bay Lightning2-1Ryan Pulock
June 15New York IslandersTampa Bay Lightning2-4Jan Rutta
June 17Tampa Bay LightningNew York Islanders2-1Brayden Point
June 19Tampa Bay LightningNew York Islanders2-3Matt Martin
June 21New York IslandersTampa Bay Lightning0-8Steven Stamkos
June 23Tampa Bay LightningNew York Islanders2-3 OTAnthony Beauvillier
June 25New York IslandersTampa Bay Lightning0-1Yanni Gourde

Lightning won series 4-3

Deeper Dive

Scotia North Division Second Round

(3) Winnipeg Jets vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens

This is the first playoff meeting between these two teams. This is also the first Stanley Cup playoff meeting between these two cities since 1908, when the Montreal Wanderers retained the Stanley Cup by defeating the Winnipeg Maple Leafs. Winnipeg won six of nine games in this year’s regular season series. This will be the first second round series between two Canadian-based NHL teams since 2002.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
June 2Montreal CanadiensWinnipeg Jets5-3Brendan Gallagher
June 4Montreal CanadiensWinnipeg Jets1-0Tyler Toffoli
June 6Winnipeg JetsMontreal Canadiens1-5Arturri Lehkonen
June 7Winnipeg JetsMontreal Canadiens2-3 OTTyler Toffoli

Canadiens won series 4-0

Deeper Dive

Discover Central Division Second Round

(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning

This will be the first playoff meeting between these two teams. These teams split their eight-game regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 30Tampa Bay LightningCarolina Hurricanes2-1Barclay Goodrow
June 1Tampa Bay LightningCarolina Hurricanes2-1Anthony Cirelli
June 3Carolina HurricanesTampa Bay Lightning3-2 OTJordan Staal
June 5Carolina HurricanesTampa Bay Lightning4-6Steven Stamkos
June 8Tampa Bay LightningCarolina Hurricanes2-0Brayden Point

Lightning won series 4-1

Deeper Dive

MassMutual East Division Second Round

(3) Boston Bruins vs. (4) New York Islanders

This will be the third playoff meeting between these two teams with New York winning both previous series. They last met in the 1983 Prince of Wales Conference Final, which New York won in six games. New York won five of eight games in this year’s regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 29New York IslandersBoston Bruins2-5Charlie McAvoy
May 31New York IslandersBoston Bruins4-3 OTCasey Cizikas
June 3Boston BruinsNew York Islanders2-1 OTBrad Marchand
June 5Boston BruinsNew York Islanders1-4Mathew Barzal
June 7New York IslandersBoston Bruins5-4Brock Nelson
June 9Boston BruinsNew York Islanders2-6Kyle Palmieri

Islanders won series 4-2

Deeper Dive

Honda West Division Second Round

(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (2) Vegas Golden Knights

This will be the first playoff series between these two teams. Vegas won their round-robin game between these two teams in last year’s Stanley Cup Qualifiers 4–3. These teams split their eight-game regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 30Vegas Golden KnightsColorado Avalanche1-7Gabriel Landeskog
June 2Vegas Golden KnightsColorado Avalanche2-3 OTMikko Rantanen
June 4Colorado AvalancheVegas Golden Knights2-3Max Pacioretty
June 6Colorado AvalancheVegas Golden Knights1-5Max Pacioretty
June 8Vegas Golden KnightsColorado Avalanche3-2 OTMark Stone
June 10Colorado AvalancheVegas Golden Knights3-6Alex Pietrangelo

Golden Knights won series 4-2

Deeper Dive

Discover Central Division First Round

(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (4) Nashville Predators

The Carolina Hurricanes finished first in the Central Division earning 80 points. Nashville finished as the fourth seed in the Central Division, earning 64 points. This is the first playoff meeting between these two teams. Carolina won six of eight games in this year’s regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 17Nashville PredatorsCarolina Hurricanes5-2Jordan Staal
May 19Nashville PredatorsCarolina Hurricanes0-3Sebastian Aho
May 21Carolina HurricanesNashville Predators4-5 2OTMatt Duchene
May 23Carolina HurricanesNashville Predators3-4 2OTLuke Kunin
May 25Nashville PredatorsCarolina Hurricanes2-3 OTJordan Staal
May 27Carolina HurricanesNashville Predators4-3 OTSebastian Aho

Hurricanes won series 4-2

Deeper Dive

(2) Florida Panthers vs. (3) Tampa Bay Lightning

The Florida Panthers finished second in the Central Division with 79 points. The Tampa Bay Lightning earned 75 points to finish third in the Central Division. This is the first playoff meeting between these two rivals. Florida won five of eight games in this year’s regular season series. This will also be the first postseason match-up between two Florida-based professional sports teams since the National Football League’s 1999 AFC Divisional Playoffs where the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Miami Dolphins 62–7.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 16Florida PanthersTampa Bay Lightning4-5Brayden Point
May 18Florida PanthersTampa Bay Lightning1-3Ondrej Palat
May 20Tampa Bay LightningFlorida Panthers5-6 OTRyan Lomberg
May 22Tampa Bay LightningFlorida Panthers6-2Ondrej Palat
May 24Florida PanthersTampa Bay Lightning4-1Mason Marchment
May 26Tampa Bay LightningFlorida Panthers4-0Patrick Maroon

Lightning won series 4-2

Deeper Dive

MassMutual East Division First Round

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) New York Islanders

The Pittsburgh Penguins finished first in the East Division earning 77 points, winning the tiebreaker against Washington with 34 ROWs. The New York Islanders earned 71 points to finish fourth in the East Division. This is the sixth playoff meeting between these two teams, with New York winning four of the five previous series. They last met in the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round, which New York won in a four-game sweep. Pittsburgh won six of eight games in this year’s regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 16New York IslandersPittsburgh Penguins4-3 OTKyle Palmieri
May 18New York IslandersPittsburgh Penguins1-2Jeff Carter
May 20Pittsburgh PenguinsNew York Islanders5-4Brandon Tanev
May 22Pittsburgh PenguinsNew York Islanders1-4Ryan Pulock
May 24New York IslandersPittsburgh Penguins3-2 2OTJosh Bailey
May 26Pittsburgh PenguinsNew York Islanders3-5Ryan Pulock

Islanders won series 4-2

Deeper Dive

(2) Washington Capitals vs. (3) Boston Bruins

The Washington Capitals finished second in the East Division with 77 points, losing the tiebreaker against Pittsburgh with 33 ROWs. The Boston Bruins earned 73 points to finish third in the East Division. This is the fourth playoff series between these two teams, with Washington winning two of the three previous series. They last met in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, which Washington won in seven games, the first time in Stanley Cup playoff history where all seven games were decided by one goal. Washington won their round-robin game between these two teams in last year’s Stanley Cup Qualifiers 2–1. These teams split their eight-game regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 15Boston BruinsWashington Capitals2-3 OTNic Dowd
May 17Boston BruinsWashington Capitals4-3 OTBrad Marchand
May 19Washington CapitalsBoston Bruins2-3 2OTCraig Smith
May 21Washington CapitalsBoston Bruins1-4David Pastrnak
May 23Boston BruinsWashington Capitals3-1Patrice Bergeron

Bruins won series 4-1

Deeper Dive

Scotia North Division First Round

(1) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (4) Montreal Canadiens

This is the sixteenth playoff meeting between these two rivals, with Montreal winning eight of the fifteen previous series. They last met in the 1979 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals, which Montreal won in a four-game sweep. Toronto won seven of ten games in this year’s regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 20Montreal CanadiensToronto Maple Leafs2-1Paul Byron
May 22Montreal CanadiensToronto Maple Leafs1-5Auston Matthews
May 24Toronto Maple LeafsMontreal Canadiens2-1Morgan Rielly
May 25Toronto Maple LeafsMontreal Canadiens4-0William Nylander
May 27Montreal CanadiensToronto Maple Leafs4-3 OTNick Suzuki
May 29Toronto Maple LeafsMontreal Canadiens2-3 OTJesperi Kotkaniemi
May 31Montreal CanadiensToronto Maple Leafs3-1Corey Perry

Canadiens won series 4-3

Deeper Dive

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs. (3) Winnipeg Jets

This is the first playoff meeting between these two teams, however it is also the seventh NHL playoff series between teams from these cities. Edmonton won all six meetings between the Oilers and the original Winnipeg Jets (now the Arizona Coyotes) with the last such matchup being the 1990 Smythe Division Semifinals. Edmonton won seven of nine games in this year’s regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 19Winnipeg JetsEdmonton Oilers4-1Dominic Toninato
May 21Winnipeg JetsEdmonton Oilers1-0 OTPaul Stastny
May 23Edmonton OilersWinnipeg Jets4-5 OTNikolaj Ehlers
May 24Edmonton OilersWinnipeg Jets3-4 3OTKyle Connor

Jets won series 4-0

Deeper Dive

Honda West Division First Round

(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (4) St. Louis Blues

The Colorado Avalanche finished first in the West Division earning 82 points, winning the tiebreaker against Vegas with 35 ROWs. The St. Louis Blues earned 63 points to finish fourth in the West Division. This is the second playoff meeting between these two teams, who previously met in the 2001 Western Conference Finals, in which Colorado won 4 games to 1. Colorado won five of eight games in this year’s regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 17St. Louis BluesColorado Avalanche1-4Nathan MacKinnon
May 19St. Louis BluesColorado Avalanche3-6Nathan MacKinnon
May 21Colorado AvalancheSt. Louis Blues5-1Alex Newhook
May 23Colorado AvalancheSt. Louis Blues5-2Mikko Rantanen

Avalanche won series 4-0

Deeper Dive

(2) Vegas Golden Knights vs. (3) Minnesota Wild

The Vegas Golden Knights finished second in the West Division with 82 points, losing the tiebreaker against Colorado with 30 RWs. The Minnesota Wild earned 75 points to finish third in the West Division. This is the first playoff meeting between these two teams. Minnesota won five of eight games in this year’s regular season series.

DateRoad TeamHome TeamScore/RecapGWG
May 16Minnesota WildVegas Golden Knights1-0 OTJoel Eriksson Ek
May 18Minnesota WildVegas Golden Knights1-3Alex Tuch
May 20Vegas Golden KnightsMinnesota Wild5-2Reilly Smith
May 22Vegas Golden KnightsMinnesota Wild4-0Nicolas Roy
May 24Minnesota WildVegas Golden Knights4-2Jordan Greenway
May 26Vegas Golden KnightsMinnesota Wild0-3Ryan Hartman
May 28Minnesota WildVegas Golden Knights2-6Max Pacioretty

Golden Knights won series 4-3

Deeper Dive


* if necessary

TBD – To Be Determined

GWG – Game Winning Goal

Sources