Lightning HC: Bennett’s hit on Coleman was ‘predatory’

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper called out Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for his check on Blake Coleman in Game 1 on Sunday night.

Cooper said it was a "predatory hit," according to NHL.com's Brian Burns.

Bennett received a two-minute minor for charging on the play, and the penalty marked a significant momentum shift in the game. Brayden Point scored on the ensuing power play to tie the contest in the third period, and then he potted the game-winner just under six minutes later.

Game 2 is set for Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

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Watch: Panthers’ goal waved off due to goalie interference

It didn't take long for the first big swing of momentum in the Battle of Florida.

A Florida Panthers goal was immediately waved off due to goaltender interference early in the first period of Game 1. Panthers forward Sam Bennett appeared to push Andrei Vasilevskiy's left pad with his stick.

Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville didn't challenge the play.

The Tampa Bay Lightning responded right away when Blake Coleman notched a shorthanded tally off the ensuing faceoff.

The first playoff meeting between the in-state rivals is already off to a heated start.

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Report: Tortorella wanted to quit Blue Jackets after 2019-20 season

The Columbus Blue Jackets and former head coach John Tortorella mutually agreed to part ways on Monday, but the bench boss didn't want to coach the team this past season at all.

Tortorella tried to step down last offseason after the Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the Blue Jackets from the playoffs, reports The Athletic's Aaron Portzline.

The two-time Jack Adams Award winner was reading the room, and he thought the club wasn't close to being on the path Tortorella believed the team was progressing toward two years earlier, according to Portzline.

However, the Blue Jackets reportedly wouldn't fire Tortorella. And if he quit, the 62-year-old wouldn't have received his $2.5-million salary for the final year of his contract. He still wouldn't have been paid his full compensation in 2020-21 if Tortorella agreed to accept a different role in the organization.

While the money was a factor in his decision to return, former captain Nick Foligno also convinced Tortorella to stay. Foligno, who was later dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the trade deadline, told him he wanted to "finish what we started," according to Portzline.

The Blue Jackets hired Tortorella during the 2015-16 campaign. He led them through the most successful run in franchise history, with Columbus making the playoffs four straight years. The team pulled off arguably the greatest postseason upset ever, sweeping the heavily favored Lightning in Round 1 in 2019.

The Blue Jackets finished last in the Central Division with 48 points this campaign. Tortorella reportedly informed the organization in late April he was ready to leave. His departure was made official on May 9.

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North Division playoff preview

Anticipation is ramping up north of the border ahead of the first all-Canadian playoff matchups since 2015. The Leafs and Canadiens will meet in the postseason for the first time since 1979, while the last series between the Oilers and Jets happened in 1990.

1. Maple Leafs (-320) vs. 4. Canadiens (+240)

Overall

MAPLE LEAFS STAT CANADIENS
35-14-7 Record 24-21-11
7-2-1 H2H 3-6-1
55.63 (2nd) xGF%* 53.00 (10th)
52.35 (10th) CF%* 54.31 (6th)
56.78 (2nd) HDCF%* 51.88 (12th)
9.41 (4th) SH%* 7.52 (25th)
.922 (8th) SV%* .914 (22nd)
20.0 (16th) PP% 19.2 (18th)
78.5 (23rd) PK% 78.5 (22nd)

*five-on-five

Head-to-head

DATE HOME-AWAY xG* CF%* HDCF* GOALIES
1/13 TOR 5 - MTL 4 OT 3.26 - 3.78 50.09 - 49.91 12 - 13 Andersen - Price
2/10 MTL 2 - TOR 4 2.36 - 3.66 56.73 - 43.27 10 - 11 Price - Andersen
2/13 TOR 1 - MTL 2 2.12 - 1.9 42.05 - 57.95 8 - 8 Andersen - Price
2/20 MTL 3 - TOR 5 2.05 - 2.62 50.31 - 49.69 12 - 9 Price - Andersen
4/7 TOR 3 - MTL 2 2.81 - 2.21 47.9 - 52.1 15 - 7 Campbell - Allen
4/12 MTL 4 - TOR 2 4.23 - 2.54 53.3 - 46.7 16 - 13 Allen - Campbell
4/28 MTL 1 - TOR 4 1.82 - 2.24 48.41 - 51.59 6 - 9 Allen - Campbell
5/3 MTL 3 - TOR 2 OT 2.65 - 2.59 40.04 - 59.96 5 - 9 Allen - Campbell
5/6 TOR 5 - MTL 2 4.16 - 2.42 62.06 - 37.94 16 - 7 Campbell - Primeau
5/8 TOR 3 MTL 2 2.09 - 1.33 48.1 - 51.9 9 - 7 Campbell - Allen

*all strengths

The two Original Six franchises, which claim to hail from the mecca of hockey, will meet for the first time in the postseason in over 40 years, with a lot more than bragging rights up for grabs. The Leafs, aiming to win their first playoff series since 2004, are desperate to avoid another postseason failure, while the Canadiens are out to prove they're the force they resembled early in the season, as opposed to the toothless team that fell backwards into the playoffs.

The Leafs, universally regarded as the best team in the division, dominated the North from start to finish. They had a winning record against every team, sat atop the division in xGF%, and were far and away the most efficient at generating offense at five-on-five. Alex Kerfoot is the only roster player to finish below a 50 xGF% at five-on-five, and he came awfully close (49.93). Each of Toronto's top-six forwards finished above 55%, with Auston Matthews and the returning Zach Hyman surpassing the 60% mark.

Few teams are as good at driving play as the Leafs, who are also among the best at capitalizing on their opportunities, finishing fourth in five-on-five shooting percentage. That tally jumped a full point from last season, which could be in line for regression but is likelier just a product of the team's quality up front.

The only real concerns surrounding Toronto heading into the playoffs are special teams - both units finished in the bottom half of the league - and goaltending. Now goaltending shouldn't necessarily be a concern considering the season Jack Campbell put together - he finished top 16 in both GSAA and GSAx - but the body of work was small, and he's still a relatively unproven commodity who hasn't appeared in an NHL playoff game.

Montreal's season-long numbers pale in comparison to Toronto's, prompting questions as to what sort of chance it stands in this series. To answer that properly, the Canadiens' season has to be broken down in parts: They looked like a juggernaut early, stumbled into a slump prompting a coaching change, and then fell off a cliff trying to navigate a daunting second-half schedule brought on by a COVID-induced pause. As a result, it was very much a tale of two seasons for Montreal.

The team didn't have back-to-back nights off following the late-March pause, playing 25 games in 44 nights over the final six weeks of the season, including five back-to-backs. The Habs were at a rest disadvantage in 19 of those contests, including 13 of their last 15, and each of their last five games against the Leafs - two being their fourth matchup in six nights, two their third in four, and one their fifth in seven.

The overloaded schedule cost Montreal dearly, as it was near the league lead in man-games lost since the start of April, with Brendan Gallagher, Shea Weber, Carey Price, Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, and Paul Byron among those missing significant time. The Canadiens will have a fully healthy lineup for Game 1 for the first time since early in the season, which is essential given how this team needs to play to succeed.

Montreal's strength is its depth, and it needs to play relentless, in-your-face hockey to be successful. The only way to maintain that sort of intensity is to continuously roll four lines. When healthy, that's not a problem for them. The Canadiens like to use their speed in transition and play heavy on the forecheck. When all four lines are rolling, they're capable of getting pucks deep, grinding down low, and wearing teams down. It's exactly the sort of style the Leafs have struggled with in years past, and while this season's team seems to have adapted, we've still yet to see the results in a playoff-type environment.

Montreal played this style in the first half of the season with a bit more of a normal schedule, and the returns were significantly better. Over the first 31 games - up until the COVID-19 pause - the Canadiens were second in the NHL in goal share (59.58%), expected goal share (56.39%), and CF% (56.29%) at five-on-five. Post-pause, they were 30th in goal share (40.79%), 18th in expected goal share (48.89%), and 13th in CF% (51.75%). If they're going to be competitive in this series, they'll have to return to their early-season form and hope the second-half results were indeed an anomaly created by a rash of injuries and monstrous schedule.

If we treat the regular season as two separate entities for Montreal, then we'd have to look to the first four head-to-head meetings between these teams for a more appropriate picture of what we might expect in this series.

Toronto still came out ahead in those meetings with a 3-1-0 record but relied heavily on what was at the time a scorching-hot power play. It has since run dry. The Canadiens outscored the Leafs and controlled 54% of the expected goal share at five-on-five in those games. Now special teams can be streaky, and if Toronto can find a way to replicate that success on the power play - it certainly has the personnel - then this series could be over in a hurry. For Montreal to succeed, it needs to keep Toronto's power play at bay and get back to the strong five-on-five play that's typically carried this team in years past.

Whether that's enough for Montreal to actually win the series remains to be seen, but it's the blueprint for at least keeping it competitive.

For the Leafs, winning Game 1 feels massive. A loss would breathe hope into a Canadiens team in desperate need of some and send panic signals flying across Toronto. The Leafs have dealt with very little adversity this season, and there would be no worse time to start for a team with a massive mental hurdle to clear in this postseason.

Toronto should win this series, but -320 is a steep price to pay. A lot has to go right for Montreal to pull off the upset, so I'm not rushing to bet +240 either. But a healthy and rested Canadiens team will make the Leafs earn it, so I'd rather scoop up a generous price on this series to go the distance.

Pick: Over 6.5 games (+220)

2. Oilers (odds) vs. 3. Jets (odds)

Overall

OILERS STAT JETS
35-18-2 Record 30-23-3
7-2-0 H2H 2-7-0
49.82 (15th) xGF%* 46.79 (23rd)
49.82 (16th) CF%* 48.3 (18th)
49.50 (16th) HDCF%* 44.63 (29th)
8.85 (7th) SH%* 8.60 (9th)
.915 (21st) SV%* .923 (6th)
28.1 (1st) PP% 23.0 (7th)
82.2 (10th) PK% 80.5 (14th)

*five-on-five

Head-to-head

DATE HOME-AWAY xG* CF%* HDCF* GOALIES
1/24 WPG 3 - EDM 4 2.63 - 4.31 45.9 - 54.1 13 - 21 Brossoit - Koskinen
1/26 WPG 6 - EDM 4 3.89 - 2.02 53.3 - 46.7 15 - 9 Hellebuyck - Koskinen
2/15 EDM 6 - WPG 5 3.09 - 2.02 57.28 - 42.72 14 - 6 Koskinen - Hellebuyck
2/17 EDM 2 - WPG 3 3.21 - 2.81 45.99 - 54.01 8 - 8 Smith - Hellebuyck
3/18 EDM 2 - WPG 1 1.41 - 2.05 46.3 - 53.7 3 - 7 Koskinen - Brossoit
3/20 EDM 4 - WPG 2 3.92 - 2.7 54.64 - 45.36 15 - 8 Smith - Hellebuyck
4/17 WPG 0 - EDM 3 1.87 - 3.17 45.5 - 54.5 3 - 18 Hellebuyck - Smith
4/26 WPG 1 - EDM 6 2.22 - 2.32 49.21 - 50.79 12 - 5 Hellebuyck - Smith
4/28 WPG 1 - EDM 3 2.25 - 4.43 44.29 - 55.71 9 - 12 Hellebuyck - Koskinen

*all strengths

Connor McDavid produced arguably the greatest individual season in NHL history, and the surging Oilers will hope it translates to postseason success as they head into a first-round series against a Jets team that lost its way over the season's final month.

Winnipeg doesn't deserve a free pass for losing nine games in regulation over its final 12, but its struggles down the stretch can largely be attributed to Nikolaj Ehlers' absence. Ehlers is overlooked in a division with McDavid and Matthews, but he was having a Hart-caliber season before a shoulder injury kept him out of the team's final nine games.

Ehlers was one of just three Jets players to control over 55% of the expected goal share. He was also the team leader in CF% at five-on-five, and Winnipeg scored an astounding 67.99% of its goals this season when he was on the ice. To put that into perspective, the Oilers scored 68.53% of their goals with McDavid on the ice. Winnipeg needs him back and healthy - he's been a full participant in practice, so it appears to be all systems go - for this to be a competitive series.

The Jets also need Connor Hellebuyck to be at his best. The netminder is a close second on the list of players in this series who can single-handily win their team a game, behind McDavid. The reigning Vezina winner pieced together another excellent campaign, finishing second in the NHL with 13.72 goals saved above expected, but he struggled a great deal against Edmonton.

He posted a miserable 3.96 goals-against average, .877 save percentage, and minus-6.3 GSAx in seven games versus the Oilers. He saved six goals below expected against Edmonton, compared to 20 above expected against the rest of the North Division. He saved at least 1.5 goals above expected in 12 starts this year - not a single one of those was against the Oilers. There's no reason to believe this is anything other than an outlier - he saved nearly four goals above expected in three starts versus Edmonton last season, allowing just three goals at five-on-five.

Improved play from Hellebuyck will go a long way in helping the Jets not get absolutely roasted by McDavid like they did during the regular season because, at the end of the day, these are the two guys who will likely decide this series. McDavid had 22 points on 34 goals scored by the Oilers against the Jets this year, including at least two in all nine games.

Winnipeg simply didn't have an answer for McDavid this season. The Oilers controlled two-thirds of the expected goal share at even strength with McDavid on the ice and scored over 80% of the goals. McDavid is the best player in the world by a comfortable margin, capable of winning any game - or series, for that matter - on his own, and Leon Draisaitl is an elite running mate. Still, what this Edmonton roster has in star power, it lacks in depth.

Not letting McDavid score 2.45 points per game in this series is a must for the Jets, and it puts added pressure on them winning the remainder of the matchups. One of Winnipeg's biggest assets is its depth up front - there's not a weak spot on that top six - and Edmonton is vulnerable when McDavid isn't on the ice. The Oilers probably have the worst bottom-six forward group in the playoffs.

Guys like Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, and Mason Appleton have also had really productive seasons for Winnipeg. They'll have ample opportunity to provide secondary scoring that the Oilers struggle to get - the kind that typically proves vital in the postseason. A strong contribution from the bottom six, coupled with the elevated playoff performances we've come to expect from Winnipeg's stars up front, would make things very interesting in this series.

Edmonton's head-to-head dominance over the Jets this year resulted in an inflated series price, but there's more than meets the eye when you dig into the scheduling. The Oilers had the rest advantage in seven of the nine meetings - the other two were neutral. The Oilers played the Jets with at least four days off in between games on three separate occasions, with Winnipeg having at most one day off. In five of the nine meetings, the Jets came in facing either a back-to-back or three-in-four situation. They also were without Ehlers and Lowry for the last two, both losses.

The teams will be on a level playing field in the playoffs. While the Oilers have the two best skaters in the series, the Jets' significant edge in depth up front, coupled with improved play from Hellebuyck - he can't possibly play any worse than he did in the season series against Edmonton - creates some real value on the underdog at this price.

Pick: Jets (+175)

Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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Fleury becomes 1st NHL goalie ever to play in 15 straight postseasons

Marc-Andre Fleury accomplished an impressive feat just by suiting up as the Vegas Golden Knights' starting goaltender in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

The veteran became the first netminder in NHL history to play in 15 consecutive postseasons. He broke a tie with Hall of Famer Tony Esposito, who did so from 1970-83.

Fleury is competing in his 15th career postseason overall. He's the fifth puck-stopper in league history to achieve that and ranks behind Martin Brodeur (17), Patrick Roy (17), Andy Moog (16), and Jacques Plante (16).

The Golden Knights goalie has reached the playoffs in all four of his campaigns with Vegas. The team reached the conference finals in 2019-20, two seasons after going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in the team's inaugural campaign.

Before joining the Golden Knights, the 36-year-old won the Cup three times in 13 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He qualified for the playoffs in his last 11 years with the club. Matt Murray played a larger role for the Penguins en route to their titles in 2016 and 2017, but Fleury played 24 postseason games in 2009 en route to the championship.

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Maple Leafs’ Campbell to start Game 1 vs. Canadiens

Jack Campbell will start Game 1 of the Toronto Maple Leafs' first-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said Sunday, according to TSN's Kristen Shilton.

It'll be Campbell's debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He's deserving of the opportunity," Keefe said, according to NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger.

Keefe said Campbell's regular-season performance and the club's faith in him factored into the decision.

"Just his results in wins, saves, the confidence he's built for himself and, in (turn), the confidence he's given the team," the Maple Leafs bench boss explained.

Campbell went 17-3-2 with a .921 save percentage in 22 games, all of which were starts. The 29-year-old set Toronto's franchise record with his 10th straight victory April 7, and he won his 11th consecutive contest three days later.

The former backup goalie for both the Maple Leafs and the Los Angeles Kings took over as Toronto's de facto starter after Frederik Andersen suffered an injury. Campbell held on to the job when Andersen struggled upon returning.

Andersen went 13-8-3 with a .895 save percentage and a minus-8.6 goals saved above average while being limited to 24 contests.

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The 7 most riveting Canadian playoff series ever staged

Recently, as the NHL's North Division playoffs neared, theScore recounted the twists and turns of one especially memorable all-Canadian series: the ascendant Edmonton Oilers' defeat of the dynastic Montreal Canadiens in 1981.

The staggering upset confirmed young Wayne Gretzky was a megastar, and it wasn't much of a struggle. The Oilers outscored the Canadiens 15-6 over a three-game sweep. But Canada's NHL playoff history doesn't lack for drama. Canadian teams have faced off 68 times in past postseasons; dozens of these series were rivalry showdowns, plenty more reached Game 7, and eight decided who won the Stanley Cup.

Ahead of puck drop up north, here's a rundown of seven all-Canadian series that enthralled fans, fomented ill will, clinched, boosted, or crushed championship dreams, and combined to feature 17 overtime goals, some of them unforgettable.

Bill Barilko's Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1951. Bruce Bennett Collection / Getty Images

1951 Cup final:
Toronto def. Montreal 4-1

This series ended more quickly than the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs' lone previous Cup clash, the violent six-game affair Toronto won in 1947 after Maurice Richard was suspended a game for stick-swinging. But the '51 edition is unique among NHL finals because every last contest required overtime.

Richard played OT hero in Game 2 for the overmatched Canadiens, who trailed the Leafs by 30 points (95 to 65) in the season standings. This was familiar ground for the "Rocket," a perennial 40-goal scorer when 30 per season was elite. Against the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings in the semis, he broke consecutive deadlocks in the fourth and third overtime periods.

Indeed, Richard found the net in all five games against Toronto, including a beautiful solo effort in which he dangled a backtracking defenseman and Leafs goalie Al Rollins to open the scoring in Game 5. Yet Toronto's depth offset Richard's consistent production amid the Leafs' all-time best run of play. The 1951 Cup victory was Toronto's fourth in five years, fifth in seven years, and sixth in 10.

Three playoff-hardened Leafs forwards - Sid Smith, Ted Kennedy, and Harry Watson - each netted an OT winner to stake Toronto to a big series lead. Tod Sloan's power-play goal tied Game 5 with 32 seconds left in regulation, and teammate Bill Barilko lunged to seal the result 2:53 into the extra frame.

Barilko's backhand goal was his first point of the series and the last of the brawny defenseman's life. Killed at age 24 that summer in a remote float-plane crash, his fate was memorialized in "Fifty Mission Cap," the Tragically Hip song. As the Hip hinted, the Leafs didn't win another Cup until April 1962, two months before Barilko's remains finally were found in the northern Ontario wilderness.

1984 second round:
Edmonton def. Calgary 4-3

Few Canadian postseason matchups have recurred as frequently as the Battle of Alberta. Between 1983 and 1991, the Oilers and Calgary Flames met in five Smythe Division finals or semifinals, and indelible moments abounded: Steve Smith's own goal in '86, Theo Fleury's sliding celebration in '91, Esa Tikkanen's OT snipe that won Edmonton Game 7 of that series.

In 1984, history's best offense, the 446-goal Oilers, faced a pedestrian Flames club that pestered them until midway through Game 7.

Wayne Gretzky (left) and Gordie Howe in 1984. Bettmann / Getty Images

Edmonton won its first Stanley Cup in 1984, predictably following up Gretzky's bananas regular season (87 goals, 205 points). Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri each surpassed 50 goals, and even netminder Grant Fuhr got in on the fun, slinging 14 assists to smash the league record for his position. The Oilers took 15 points from eight meetings with the Flames, the last a 9-2 beatdown in Calgary two weeks before their playoff rendezvous.

Then the juggernaut seemingly forgot how to hold a lead. Up 4-1 in Game 2, Edmonton allowed four straight goals and needed Gretzky to knot the score with 45 seconds left, only for Flames rookie Carey Wilson to pot the winner in overtime. Mark Messier bemoaned the Oilers' vanishing killer instinct. Head coach Glen Sather pinned the loss on the calendar, it being Friday the 13th.

Pushed to the brink via two home defeats, the Flames rebounded for consecutive 5-4 wins. Edmonton erased four Calgary leads in Game 6 (Messier's 4-4 goal off a third-period faceoff was delightfully strange), but Lanny McDonald - tenacity and skill personified - soon scored the first playoff OT goal at Calgary's new Saddledome.

McDonald had a splendid series (six goals, 13 points), but his club slipped in the second period of Game 7, squandering a 4-3 lead as Gretzky's gang tallied four times in 6:43. Two rounds later, Edmonton ended the Islanders' four-Cup dynasty to win the first of five in seven years, substantiating Oilers defenseman Kevin Lowe's analysis of what the Flames achieved, per the Edmonton Sun: "The series may have been the best thing that ever happened to (us)."

1985 second round:
Quebec def. Montreal 4-3

The NHL's old Adams Division served up several Quebecois playoff encounters in the '80s. The one in 1984 is remembered for the Good Friday Massacre, two brawls that bookended the second intermission of Game 6, got 11 players ejected - including the backup goalies, Quebec's Clint Malarchuk and Montreal's Richard Sevigny - and overshadowed the Canadiens' comeback that won them the series.

Safe to say the '85 rematch was hotly anticipated. Separated by three points in the standings, the Habs and Quebec Nordiques staged a proportionally tight battle, scoring 24 goals apiece and trading wins night by night.

Quebec won the odd-numbered games and dominated in overtime, including with Mark Kumpel's Game 1 winner and Dale Hunter's slap shot that closed a madcap, 13-goal Game 3. No one brawled, but the series still was rough, typified by Montreal's Chris Nilan, a protagonist of the Massacre, who amassed double-digit penalty minutes in five games and 79 PIMs overall.

By Game 7, two of Quebec's top scorers, Hunter and Michel Goulet, were hampered by an infected hand and bruised backside, respectively. Montreal's rookie goalie, Steve Penney, made a fine glove save on a breakaway but let in a soft wrister. In the Quebec net, a slapper to the collarbone knocked Mario Gosselin to his back, and Montreal scored twice in 10 minutes to negate a 2-0 deficit.

While his fellow stars slowed, Quebec center Peter Stastny picked up the slack, as was his tendency throughout a 1,239-point NHL career. Two minutes into OT, Stastny won a faceoff to set up a point blast, compelled Penney to bobble the rebound, and banged home the Nordiques' third shot of the sequence.

Sevigny, who'd swapped sides in free agency the previous summer, celebrated on Quebec's bench by standing atop the boards and leaping to the ice. He stuck the landing.

Quebec's Dale Hunter in 1985. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

1989 Cup final:
Calgary def. Montreal 4-2

Most all-Canadian Cup finals - five of eight - set Montreal against Toronto during the Original Six era. The last two have been between Calgary and Montreal in 1986 and 1989.

No margin of victory in the Flames-Canadiens rematch exceeded two goals, befitting their joint rule of the league that season. Calgary's 117 points were most in the NHL in 1989, Montreal finished with 115 points, and no other club exceeded 92. Their defenses were the game's stingiest, and six of the league's top 31 scorers drew into the championship series.

Their collision course produced a marathon Game 3 scrap-fest; referee Kerry Fraser assessed five sets of offsetting minors in overtime alone. The difference was a disputed boarding penalty that the Flames' Mark Hunter took deep in double OT. Ryan Walter scored on a jam play by the crease the moment Hunter exited the box.

"It was total BS," Lanny McDonald told Sportsnet years later about the boarding call.

Lanny McDonald holds the Stanley Cup in 1989. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

The Canadiens' edge was pronounced entering Game 4 at the Montreal Forum, where the home side went 30-6-4 that season. Desperate yet organized, the Flames limited Montreal to 19 mostly harmless shots in a 4-2 victory, and the Habs never led the rest of the series. Much of the credit fell to Joe Mullen, Doug Gilmour, and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Al MacInnis, who combined for eight goals over Calgary's last three wins.

Gilmour was clutch down the stretch in Game 6, and MacInnis' postseason was historic: No defenseman had topped the playoffs in points until he recorded 31. Two more memories resonate, both involving Calgary's 36-year-old co-captain; in his career finale, McDonald scored his first goal in two months off Joe Nieuwendyk's pretty cross-ice feed, and the images of him cradling the Cup later are iconic.

1990 first round:
Edmonton def. Winnipeg 4-3

There are mismatches, and then there's the hurt that the Oilers inflicted in the Manitoba capital when Wayne Gretzky was around. Between 1983 and 1988, the original Winnipeg Jets lost 16 playoff games in a row to Edmonton, spanning blowout defeats in five Smythe Division series.

Demand for a breakthrough remained through 1990 when Gretzky was long settled in Los Angeles and the Jets iced their strongest lineup in several years. They were led by beloved center Dale Hawerchuk and point-per-game playmaker Thomas Steen. Hawerchuk's pair of goals fueled a Game 1 statement win. He scored again in Game 3 at Winnipeg Arena to break a 1-1 tie with 4:30 left.

At the end of Game 4, broadcaster Don Wittman remarked on Hockey Night in Canada that Winnipeg's barn was as loud as any in the NHL. The decibel count peaked in double overtime when 15,572 fans in white shirts went wild for Dave Ellett's greatest feat. The Jets were scoreless on seven power-play tries when Steen won a faceoff back to Ellett, whose cannon from the point on the man advantage put the Jets up three games to one.

Only six 3-1 series leads had been blown to that point in league history. Naturally, the Jets grew the total. They lost a two-goal lead in the back half of Game 5 and couldn't capitalize on their own three-goal comeback in Game 6; Jari Kurri unleashed a backbreaking slap shot from the right faceoff dot for the late winner. Edmonton goalie Bill Ranford, the eventual playoff MVP, shone in Game 7 with 26 saves.

"The Edmonton Oilers know that they could just as easily have been the vanquished as the victors," Wittman intoned on TV during the handshake line. They instead proceeded to clinch the Cup without Gretzky, and Jets 1.0 never won another playoff series.

Esa Tikkanen (left) and Mark Messier celebrate at the end of the 1990 playoffs. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

1994 first round:
Vancouver def. Calgary 4-3

Triumphing in this series was immensely meaningful to the Vancouver Canucks - they wound up surging to Game 7 of the final - and on a personal level to Stan Smyl. The assistant coach was the team's captain in 1989 when he rang the post and was stoned on a breakaway in overtime of a Game 7 loss to Calgary.

Five years later, Smyl's charges made history with sudden-death wins in Games 5, 6, and 7 of a series. Even the 1990 Oilers' high-wire act against Winnipeg hadn't been so delicate.

Calgary outpaced Vancouver by 12 points in the regular-season standings, and by mid-series, the Canucks' massive Game 1 win looked like an outlier. The Flames poured in 15 goals over the next three contests and Mike Vernon made 42 saves in Game 4, matching his total from the '89 Game 7 that haunted Smyl.

Pavel Bure, twice a 60-goal scorer, failed to light the lamp for four games, but soon he and three teammates went down in Canucks lore. Afforded a partial breakaway in OT of Game 5, Geoff Courtnall took advantage, beating Vernon glove-high with a clapper. Prowling the front of the net on an OT power play - the Flames were dinged for too many men - Trevor Linden shoveled home the winner in Game 6.

Vancouver goalie Kirk McLean reserved for Game 7 his best performance (46 saves) and denial, the above kick-stop on Robert Reichel's OT one-timer that was tailor-made to end the series. Instead, that honor fell to Bure, who deked Vernon in the second overtime to avenge the 1989 letdown.

"You don't forget things that happened in the past," Smyl told the Vancouver Province after the series, referring to his missed opportunities five years earlier.

"I knew I'd have to retire and never be able to do anything about it myself, but this is just as sweet. I can honestly say the ghost is risen now. It's gone."

2002 second round:
Toronto def. Ottawa 4-3

Ottawa's competed in six of this century's nine all-Canadian series, including four straight painful Battle of Ontario defeats. This edition was rancorous and dramatic, even though the Leafs' leading scorer, Mats Sundin, missed all of it with a fractured wrist.

Sundin's fellow Swede, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, made his presence felt. He scored and added two assists in Ottawa's opening rout, though he failed to solve Curtis Joseph on eight shots in Game 2. Toronto's netminder stymied 54 attempts all told, and Gary Roberts' wrist shot from a scrambled faceoff finally eluded Patrick Lalime in the third overtime.

Alfredsson netted the winner in Game 3 - the Leafs' plea for goalie interference was ignored - and stole the spotlight in Game 5's signature sequence. The score was 2-2 when Alfredsson hit Darcy Tucker from behind, left him crumpled by the boards, meandered to the net, and went top-shelf to claim the lead with 2:01 left. The restart was delayed five minutes as Toronto fans hurled cups over the glass.

"Full of anger" is how Leafs coach Pat Quinn described himself postgame. Toronto forward Travis Green said the no-call was "a bloody joke."

As it happens, boarding cost the Senators at home in Game 6. They led 2-0 early when Ricard Persson, making his first appearance of the series, was ejected for burying and bloodying Tie Domi. Toronto would score twice on the ensuing major. Alex Mogilny broke a third-period stalemate, and then he recorded two more goals in Game 7, which was all the support Joseph needed in a 19-save shutout.

Persson signed in Germany the next season, while his old club got one last crack at Toronto in 2004. The Leafs again prevailed in seven, marking the franchise's most recent series victory.

Nick Faris is a features writer at theScore.

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