Stanley Cup Playoffs takeaways: Bruins bid Chara bittersweet adieu

After the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the first round, the two teams shook hands after a hard-fought series.

The Boston Bruins eliminated the Washington Capitals on Sunday and, like every Stanley Cup Playoffs series, it ended with a handshake line.

Only this particular handshake line pulled on the heart strings more than usual, with Zdeno Chara embracing his former teammates after what was potentially his final NHL game.

Chara hasn’t said one way or another if he plans on attempting a return for the 2021-22 campaign but at age 44 there isn’t much else the future Hall of Famer can accomplish.

Sunday marked Chara’s 200th career playoff game, 150 of which were spent in a Bruins uniform. Only 20 other skaters in NHL history have played 200 post-season games.

“We’ve had so many battles together it was definitely different to play him in a playoff series,” Patrice Bergeron told reporters after the game. “We played against each other all year which kinda helped getting used to it for the playoffs but that being said it’s always different at that time of the year.”

The Bruins decided to move on from Chara last off-season after 14 years and the blueliner mulled retirement before ultimately inking a one-year deal with the Caps.

Chara and the city of Boston will always be connected after he won a Norris Trophy, a Mark Messier Leadership Award and led the team to a Stanley Cup one decade ago.

His influence on the younger Bruins cannot be understated either.

“Emotions were high,” David Pastrnak added. “I can't think him enough for what he's done for me. … He’s been a big part of me growing up as a pro and a person.”

Sudden-death OT? More like sudden-life OT for Preds

That’s two straight games extra time was needed and two straight dramatic home wins for the Nashville Predators over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Preds heating up after 60 minutes is entirely in line with how they’ve performed at Bridgestone Arena this season, too.

Nashville actually won every home game in the regular season that required overtime. Now, is five-on-five playoff OT a completely different animal than the five-minute, three-on-three frame we see in the regular season before games are ultimately settled with a shootout? Big time. Still, the Preds are now 2-0 in playoff home games that require extra time so the results are speaking for themselves.

Game 4 it was Matt Duchene who ended it on a beauty individual effort. Luke Kunin was the Game 5 double-OT hero when he was left wide open in the slot sneaking back into the play after getting a new twig at his team’s bench.

This series being knotted at two games apiece isn’t how most expected it to unfold.

The Hurricanes were roughly three-to-one favourites after all, but it’s not like the underdog Preds were completely written off by prognosticators.

Uh, whoops…

Saros breaks longstanding franchise record…that he set two days prior

Juuse Saros was once again a major reason the Predators got the W, setting a new franchise record for most saves in a playoff game with 58. The previous record was set by, well, Saros in Game 4 when he stopped 52 shots.

The Predators were lucky to still be in the game after the opening 20 minutes with Carolina controlling the puck and the pace of play. The shot attempts were an astounding 38-8 in favour of the Hurricanes after one period but Saros only allowed one goal and it was tied after the first.

Saros became the just second goalie in NHL history to make 50 or more saves in back-to-back playoff games, joining Curtis Joseph who accomplished the feat in 1993 when he was with the Blues.

Saros now leads the playoffs with 171 saves (42.75 saves per game) as the series shifts back to Raleigh for a pivotal Game 5.

No Kadri, no problem for Avs

Nazem Kadri gives the Colorado Avalanche envious depth down the middle, but for reasons the hockey world is well aware of the centre wasn’t available in his usual spot between Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky on Sunday.

Kadri was serving the second of his eight-game suspension for an illegal headshot on St. Louis Blues defenceman Justin Faulk. In the short-term at least, Kadri's teammates have been able to overcome his absence.

Colorado’s top line was simply too much for the Blues. The trio of Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win that completed the sweep and they combined for nine goals and 24 total points in the four-game series.

The Avalanche will face the winner of Vegas-Minnesota (the Golden Knights have a chance to end that series Monday) and that’s where Kadri’s style could be sorely missed.

As it stands currently, Kadri could miss the entire second round. He would be eligible to return for a Game 7 if one is required – that is unless Kadri’s appeal is successful.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Kadri, a repeat offender by league standards, is appealing the latest supplemental discipline he was handed. Gary Bettman will hear the appeal and if Kadri is unsatisfied with the NHL commissioner’s ruling he can appeal the decision again to an independent arbitrator.

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