Ryan Kesler, Marian Hossa

Easter (elimination) Sunday? Three teams fight to remain in playoffs today

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The first round is starting to wind down, with the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings already parked in the second. The NHL isn’t taking a breather on this holiday weekend, which means that Sunday provides us with a tantalizing possibility: three teams could move on or three series could go to a decisive Game 7.

To get you ready, we have three previews. As always, all start times are Eastern Standard Time (ET).

Philadelphia @ Buffalo – 3 p.m. (NBC); Sabres lead series 3-2

Even less than an hour from game time, it’s not totally clear if Chris Pronger or Derek Roy will be able to play for their respective teams. It’s been an absolutely fascinating series so far, with every game basically being decided by one goal (not counting empty-netters).

Ryan Miller is strong in elimination games, so the Flyers better get their power play together if they hope to lock this series up at 3-3. All the excuses in the world won’t erase the disappointment of following up an Atlantic Division-winning series with a first round upset, especially since Philly handed that same fate to the New Jersey Devils in 2010.

Anaheim @ Nashville – 6 p.m.; Predators lead series 3-2

Even after Bobby Ryan scored the best goal of the playoffs (so far or will it stand up overall?), the Predators managed to win Game 5 in overtime. This places the Predators on the precipice of personal history: if they win tonight, Nashville will advance to the second round for the first time in franchise history.

Of course, that might end up being easier said than done. The Ducks seem to only get better when their backs are pressed closer to the wall, with their big-time players often coming up huge in crucial spots. It’s unlikely that this milestone will come easily for the Preds.

Vancouver @ Chicago – 7:30 p.m. (Versus); Canucks lead series 3-2

Of all the Game 6 matches today – and in the first round, really – this one is the least probable. The Blackhawks looked downright dead when they were down 3-0, yet they’ve dominated the last two games and will get Brent Seabrook back tonight.

Even though this isn’t a must-win game for the Canucks, it’s an enormous one for Roberto Luongo’s legacy. The team is sticking with him even though Chicago booted him from the Vancouver net in two straight games. Can the team’s $10 million goalie prove why he has been considered one of the world’s best for years or will he justify every joke made about his supposedly fragile psyche? The Canucks have a chance to wipe the slate clean with a Game 6 win or go into a ludicrously high-pressure Game 7. It should be fascinating to see which way this turns. Who would have thought?

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.