Scorers can't be stopped

Disregard the old saying that it's harder to score in the postseason. Offense surged in 2021-22 to heights unseen in 26 years, and the trendline has kept rising in May.

Teams combined to score 6.28 goals per game during the regular season, the most since the league saw the same average in 1995-96. Through Monday's playoff action, teams have potted 6.56 goals per game - 7.00 exactly when excluding the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars, whose goalie duel is a glaring outlier.

The offensive barrage keeps generating blowouts. Almost half the games played so far have been decided by four goals or more. Twelve of 16 playoff squads have scored five goals in a game, and seven have done so more than once. A flood of empty netters has seen teams that pull the goalie outscored 20-1.

Game 4 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs typified the frenzy. Tampa Bay scored five early goals as it shelled Jack Campbell in its 7-3 win. The other five tallies came late as the Maple Leafs heated up, with the Lightning striking twice on the empty net. Tampa Bay also had eight power plays because Toronto's extracurricular stickwork - slashes, hooks, high sticks - kept getting penalized.

Referees are enforcing a strict standard. They've granted 263 power-play opportunities so far, or 8.22 per game. There were 5.78 man advantages per game during the regular season and 5.49 in the 2021 playoffs. It's telling that Connor McDavid has drawn four penalties after getting zero calls in the past two postseasons; the Edmonton Oilers' power play is one of seven league-wide that's averaging a goal per game or better.

Most series are tied, though only three games have required overtime. The losing goalie impressed in a couple of those outings. Igor Shesterkin stopped 79 pucks to help the New York Rangers push the Pittsburgh Penguins to three extra periods. When Connor Ingram made 49 straight saves in the Nashville Predators' 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, his night to remember was Colorado's only low-scoring game of the first round.

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, meanwhile, became the third player in the salary-cap era to record 10 points in a four-game series. Nathan MacKinnon is up to five goals, as are Jake Guentzel, Evander Kane, Kirill Kaprizov, and David Perron.