Here are previews for today’s six games. As always, start times are determined according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
NY Islanders @ Philadelphia
While the Devils get all the credit for being the hottest team in the Atlantic (to be fair, they are), the Islanders have quietly kept close behind them with only three less points in one more game played. Perhaps the Flyers will help to remind the Isles that they need to go back into tank mode, though.
Dallas @ Detroit
The Brad Richards saga slightly obscures (yet underscores) the desperate situation the team is in, as the Stars are 2-10-1 in their last 13 games. They’ll be the team with the most to lose, but will that be enough against deadly Detroit?
Toronto @ Montreal
To keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Maple Leafs must first solve Carey Price in Montreal. The Habs goalie holds two consecutive home shutouts against Toronto. (Edit: Apparently the Leafs won’t have to bother, because Alex Auld will start instead. Hey, that’s one way to keep Price’s shutout streak alive … )The Canadiens have something to play for too, as they hope to get back into the Northeast Division race against the Bruins.
Chicago @ Nashville
With wins against the Penguins and Blues on Sunday and Monday as well as points in five of their last six games, the Blackhawks placed themselves back into the mix lately. They can keep frog the Predators by beating them in regulation tonight in a game that has big implications for the Western Conference playoff bubble.
St. Louis @ Vancouver
The Blues can’t seem to distinguish themselves as legitimate contenders or serious cellar dwellers, leaving them in a dismal purgatory right now. Then again, the Canucks are likely to push them a little closer to the bottom tonight.
Minnesota @ Los Angeles
Speaking of games that have a big impact on the West bubble like Chicago-Nashville, this game features the fifth-ranked Kings hosting the sixth-ranked Wild. The Kings finally play in Los Angeles again after going 6-1-3 in their 10-game road trip. This is a pretty big game for both teams (and other West teams if it goes into overtime).
The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.
(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)
The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.
It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.
Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.
Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?
The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.
Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).
Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.
That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.
Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.
Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you. stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.
Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.
Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.
You have to love when sports deliver on – if not exceed – the hype.
The second period of Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has been brilliant and nasty, possibly more than many hockey fans dreamed.
It began with the Penguins getting the big edge; Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the span of 52 seconds and Braden Holtby needed to make some tough stops to keep it at 2-0.
MORE: Video of Crosby’s hot start
That put a damper on the great crowd at the Verizon Center for a bit, but the Capitals ended up responding.
Part of that was a physical response, with Dmitry Orlov delivering a big hit on Tom Kuhnhackl and John Carlson absolutely leveling Evgeni Malkin. The narrative got almost too obvious moments later, as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1.
Fleury made a tough stop or two of his own once it was 2-1, so while the pace is picking up, the two goalies seem like they’re alert to the challenge as well.
There was plenty of nastiness with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second, setting the stage for what could be a thrilling third period … and maybe more?
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came roaring out of the gate to start the second period after a 0-0 opening frame against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
Crosby scored two goals in just 52 seconds to give the Penguins a sudden 2-0 lead. One feels some pity for any fans who didn’t get to their seats just to start the frame … though in the likely event that they are Capitals fans, they might have been spared.
To Braden Holtby‘s credit, he made a couple tough saves moments later to keep it 2-0. It’s been a hectic first few minutes of the second after that relatively mundane first 20 minutes, so hang on tight.
Check out video above; you can also watch the pair of goals in the GIF combo below: