TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Philadelphia at Detroit (7 p.m. ET)

A win was a win Tuesday over Florida, but Philly didn’t exactly look fantastic against the Panthers. Claude Giroux still doesn’t have a point. Ditto for Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell. If not for Steve Mason, Craig Berube’s head-coaching debut may not have ended so well. As for the Wings, they’ve dropped two straight since opening with a pair of wins, and head coach Mike Babcock was fuming after Thursday’s home loss to Phoenix.

Saturday: Colorado at Washington (7 p.m. ET)

If you haven’t seen the undefeated Avalanche play this season, make an effort to catch this one. Not only does new coach Patrick Roy have his young forwards showing off their speed and skill, the Avs’ goaltenders have combined to allow just three goals in their first four games. Semyon Varlamov should get the start against his old team after Jean-Sebastien Giguere shut out the Bruins on Thursday. On the other side of the ledger, with just one victory in their first four games, the Caps could really use a win here. And if somebody besides Alex Ovechkin would like to score for them, we bet Adam Oates would be most appreciative.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET)

No shortage of star power in this matchup. Not that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have needed to be dominant in the Pens’ first three games. Not with Marc-Andre Fleury providing all his doubters with something to think about. The 28-year-old starter has allowed just three goals in three starts and boasts a save percentage of .963. But Tampa Bay is playing pretty well, too. The Lightning blew away the Panthers, 7-2, on Thursday, with Steven Stamkos notching a hat trick.

Saturday: NY Rangers at St. Louis (8 p.m. ET)

If only to see if the Rangers can pull out of their death spiral against one of the best teams in the NHL. Alain Vigneault’s club has lost two straight shockers, 9-2 to San Jose and 6-0 to Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Blues are a perfect 3-0-0, including Wednesday’s 3-2 last-minute win over the defending champs from Chicago. Good luck, Martin Biron.

Sunday: Ottawa at Anaheim (8 p.m. ET)

Bobby Ryan returns to The Pond. That should be interesting. But more importantly, it’s Throwback Night! The Ducks will be celebrating their 20th anniversary season by wearing their retro purple jerseys and inviting old members of the original 1993-94 team to partake in festivities throughout the game. We hear Bob Corkum will be shot out of a cannon in the second intermission.

Predators survive Blues’ big late push to win Game 1

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The Nashville Predators’ 4-3 Game 1 win against the St. Louis Blues makes it difficult to use “perfect.”

You could get away with using that word, mind you, as the Predators followed up their surprising sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks by going up 1-0 against the Blues in St. Louis. Still, the ride was so bumpy in the third period, it’s probably wiser to focus on the fact that Nashville is unbeaten.

Because, yikes, that third period was a roller coaster for Nashville.

via Natural Stat Trick

P.K. Subban scored a goal and two assists in the first 40 minutes to help the Predators bring a 3-1 lead into the final frame. The Blues absolutely dominated play in the third, however, briefly tying the game as they put immense pressure on Pekka Rinne & Co.

Ultimately, the Predators received a game-winner from an unlikely source in Vernon Fiddler, gaining a 1-0 series edge.

Even so, few will talk about “mystique” after that shaky finish.

For one thing, both Rinne and Jake Allen allowed goals that they’d like to forget. Also, both squads experienced lopsided periods; Nashville dominated shots in the second (15-8) while the Blues almost doubled-up the Preds in the third (11-6).

Nashville also seems likely to play without rising rookie Kevin Fiala, who was hospitalized after an absolutely horrifying crash into the boards.

It was a weird and often wild – sometimes nasty – contest, with the Predators ultimately coming out on top. There’s plenty of intrigue heading into Game 2, which airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)

WATCH LIVE: Second round begins with Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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Update: With both games likely to run simultaneously, note that Ducks fans can watch on NBCSN in the Anaheim market while the game is also available via streaming links below.

In addition to that, Ducks – Oilers is slated to begin on NHL Network.

This tweet explains it in additional detail.

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The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Wednesday, and the NBC Sports Group has you covered with wall-to-wall coverage.

We start with a battle of the hottest goalies in the postseason so far as Jake Allen and the Blues host Pekka Rinne and the Predators. The duo of Game 1’s wraps up when Connor McDavid and the Oilers take on Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks.

Here’s what you need to know:

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks 

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online)

Video: Austin Watson takes a shot at Vladimir Tarasenko

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The St. Louis Blues and their fans showed class in how they reacted to Kevin Fiala‘s very, very scary injury during Game 1.

Still, these are two physical Central Division rivals, so you expect to see some nastiness here and there between the Blues and Nashville Predators.

One moment that will likely divide onlookers came when Predators tough guy Austin Watson got a shot in on Vladimir Tarasenko, at least briefly hurting the world-class sniper.

It’s unlikely to be a big deal since Tarasenko seems to be OK, but there may be some debate here. On one hand, there are those who believe Watson got away with a cheap shot; on the other, some seem to imply that there was some embellishment. Maybe it’s even a combination of the two?

Either way, the Predators enter the third period up 3-1, so St. Louis will likely ask Tarasenko to focus on getting revenge by scoring goals.

Blues just have no answer for P.K. Subban right now

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In the first round, P.K. Subban was dominant against the Chicago Blackhawks, but mainly if you look at “fancy stats.” There’s nothing wrong with two assists in that sweep, but those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers.

You don’t need to dig deep to see his impact on Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues. A mere glance at the box score – or a chance to see his blistering shot – and you’ll realize that the Nashville Predators defenseman has been a nightmare for Jake Allen & Co. so far on Wednesday.

Subban seemingly scored his first postseason goal with the Predators to make it 1-0, but Colin Wilson was actually credited with the tally.

No bother there. Subban gave the Predators a crucial lift shortly after player resumed following Kevin Fiala‘s horrifying injury, getting that first Predators playoff goal with another booming shot.

Subban managed to draw a slashing penalty on Scottie Upshall and also sent another huge shot to set up a James Neal goal. There’s no mistaking that P.K. has played a huge role in Nashville going up 3-1 so far; the Blues need to find some answers, and fast.