TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

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Saturday: Detroit at Dallas (8 p.m. ET)

At the risk of making Red Wings fans any more nervous than they already are, get a load of this upcoming schedule:

source:

Detroit probably deserved better in the Winter Classic, given the Wings outshot the Leafs, 43-26, and only came away with a point. But this team needs some wins if it wants to maintain its current spot in the top eight of the Eastern Conference. If the Wings were still in the West, they’d be on the outside looking in.

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

The Blue Jackets are one of the teams that has Detroit in its sights. They got a good win Thursday in Phoenix, shutting out the Coyotes 2-0, with the winning goal coming from Nathan Horton in his first game with the club. “You can tell we’re a good team when we play hard,” Horton said. The Jackets have certainly been trending in the right direction in terms of their possession stats. While the Blues will be tough to beat in St. Louis, Columbus has a relatively easy schedule the rest of the month. Time to put the foot on the gas.

Saturday: Washington at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET)

Where would the Capitals be without the shootout? The answer is: in pretty big trouble. After 41 games, Washington has just 12 regulation/overtime wins. Only five teams in the entire NHL have fewer than that. Yet thanks in large part to the Caps’ eight wins in the 12 times they’ve been to the skills competition, they hold down second spot in the Metropolitan Division. And you wonder why there’s a growing movement to cut down on the number of shootouts. The NHL’s standings don’t accurately reflect the quality of the Caps, and that’s a problem.

Saturday: Vancouver at Los Angeles (10 p.m. ET)

Here’s Kings coach Darryl Sutter on the goaltending his team got Thursday from Martin Jones in a 5-0 loss to the Blues: “You’ve got to make some saves. I mean, that’s how you break losing streaks, that’s how you have winning streaks.” That comment came just days after Sutter called out Ben Scrivens for a goal he allowed in Dallas. So yeah, Sutter’s not too happy with his goalies right now. But with all due respect, maybe it’s time for the scorers to bail out the netminders? The Kings have lost five straight in regulation, with the offense scoring just six goals combined.

Sunday: San Jose at Chicago (8 p.m. ET)

On NBCSN. Streaming live, too. It was interesting that Sharks coach Todd McLellan called out his team so aggressively after losing 6-3 Tuesday in Anaheim, because the loss came on the heels of a four-game winning streak. “We’re not getting drilled and the season’s not running away on us, but I want us to be good every night,” he said. “We’ve got some guys right now that’s it’s been going on for a little while.” The Sharks proceeded to dominate Edmonton Thursday, beating the poor Oilers, 5-1.

Keep an eye on Oilers’ Slepyshev (the Ducks certainly should)

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The breaks and breakaways frequently went the Edmonton Oilers’ way as they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of their first-round series. Those results have been more of a mixed bag for Edmonton against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 tonight, though.

Anton Slepyshev is a great example of those ups and downs.

In Game 6 against the Sharks, Slepyshev used his speed to score a breakaway tally that ended up being the game-winner. (See here for those friendly breakaways.)

Slepyshev’s been burning the Ducks with his speed on Wednesday, but the Oilers have been burned in the process. For one thing, John Gibson turned aside this big chance shortly after Ryan Getzlaf gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead:

Later on in that same second period, Slepyshev got a step on the Ducks defense again. This time, he didn’t just fail to score; he took a goalie interference penalty for bumping Gibson.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being among those hitting posts, it might feel like it’s all against the Oilers this time around, but crossbars/postsanother theme from Edmonton’s Game 6 win vs. San Jose – have more or less balanced out.

And, one break really went Edmonton’s way: a Ducks defender broke his stick on the Oilers’ 5-on-3 opportunity, opening the door for a crucial Mark Letestu goal:

The end result is a 1-1 tie, but give the Oilers credit for not getting rattled. If Slepyshev can keep up his efforts, his speed could be a factor in a series that looks like it could be a real tug-o-war.

Jake Allen takes blame for Predators’ game-winner vs. Blues

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Let’s be honest: the St. Louis Blues owe a lot to Jake Allen‘s work against the Minnesota Wild in that first-round series.

He probably bought himself a significant amount of goodwill for that outstanding work, but Allen isn’t resting on his laurels. He admitted that “a little mistake by me cost” the Blues the 4-3 decision against the Predators, leaving St. Louis down 1-0 to Nashville.

The goal in question was Vernon Fiddler‘s unlikely 4-3 tally, which came after an unsuccessful poke check attempt by Allen:

Now, to be fair, that wasn’t even the only failed poke check that turned into a goal, as Pekka Rinne also got beat after making such an attempt:

Then again, Allen is wise to score points with teammates for taking the blame. As far as his team, head coach Mike Yeo believes that it was the second period that really made the difference.

Regardless, Allen and the Blues hope to carry over the momentum from their third-period dominance in Game 1 to Game 2 to tie the series 1-1.

That contest 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.)

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)