The second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs continues Friday with a pair of post-season rematches on the schedule.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens get it started in Game 1 at the Bell Centre, where the Bolts have recently dominated the Habs, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. You can watch the action on NBCSN and stream online via NBC Sports Live Extra.
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Up next will be Game 1 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild, who clashed last year in the second round of the post-season. Tonight’s game goes at the United Center in Chicago, beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET. You can watch on NBCSN and stream online via NBC Sports Live Extra.
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They weren’t happy after a Game 3 shutout loss to the Minnesota Wild. But the St. Louis Blues emphatically bounced back on Wednesday.
The series is now tied 2-2, heading back to St. Louis for Game 5 on Friday. The Blues were dominant against the Wild in Game 4, coming away with a 6-1 victory after a great start in the first period. The offensive outburst might garner most of the attention, especially when Vladimir Tarasenko scores a goal like this and goalie Devan Dubnyk gets chased from the game.
“Our scoring is a direct reflection of our checking. When we check, we score,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, as per NHL.com.
“It looks like we’ve joined the tournament now and we’re dialed in. We’ve got home-ice back, we’re dialed into our game, we’re going to be hard to play against when we’re dialed in this. Not fun to play against.”
The Wild couldn’t regroup after a slow start.
Minnesota cut the St. Louis lead to two goals early in the second period, as Jared Spurgeon converted on the power play, but any momentum gained from that was didn’t last long.
“It didn’t have the feel of the type of game that we were going to come back,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.
“We weren’t on it from the start, and it got worse. Normally, I think we start well but we stay with our game very strongly as far as whether we’re ahead [or] whether we’re behind, and tonight we broke that, that’s for sure.”
The playoffs are over for the Winnipeg Jets, and now the list of who was playing injured is starting to reveal itself after a brutally physical series with the Anaheim Ducks.
That list, according to reports following a Game 4 loss to the Ducks that eliminated the Jets from the first round, includes team captain Andrew Ladd.
According to Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press and citing head coach Paul Maurice, Ladd had an injury that would’ve otherwise kept him out of the lineup for a month, but he played through it.
“I’ve never ever questioned his willingness, grit, determination,” said Maurice of Ladd, as per the club’s Twitter account.
The list extends beyond just Ladd, however.
The Winnipeg Jets might look back on this series with the Anaheim Ducks and see a number of missed opportunities that proved costly.
The Jets held third-period leads in each of the first three games, and couldn’t hold on. The Ducks led the league in third-period comebacks during the regular season, and continued that trend in this series.
On Wednesday, the Ducks silenced the Jets with a 5-2 win in Winnipeg. The Ducks are off to the second round after completing the sweep.
“Every time we gained an inch, they came back with two. It was just one of those things. It was an even series,” said Blake Wheeler, as per Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun.
As the final seconds ticked down, the fans, clad in white, stood to salute their team. Their team saluted the fans following the handshake. It’s been 19 years since a Stanley Cup playoff game took place in that city and Jets fans were loud from start to finish during Games 3 and 4.
A force in Game 3, Ryan Kesler showed up in similar fashion in the clincher, scoring twice in the third period, including the winner less than seven minutes into the third period.
The Jets made a game of it.
As the fans stood up, trying to give their team a push, Mark Stuart scored on a point shot right off a faceoff to get Winnipeg within a goal and with more than nine minutes left to find the equalizer.
But Kesler finished it off, killing any chance of a comeback with his second of the period.
There were plenty of questions and concerns surrounding the St. Louis Blues early in this post-season, trailing the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in their first-round playoff series.
Perhaps the Blues provided some answers as to what they are capable of this post-season, as they crushed the Wild by a final score of 6-1 to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2 on Wednesday.
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong for the Wild, which found itself down three goals just after the halfway mark of the first period. It started with Ryan Reaves, recording his first career playoff goal and point to get the Blues on the board, and continued with an absolutely stunning goal from Vladimir Tarasenko in the second period and Wild puck stopper Devan Dubnyk getting shaken up and then eventually pulled after allowing six goals.
The Blues entered this game in potential danger of going back to St. Louis facing elimination, and the possibility of another first-round playoff exit.
The scenario prompted St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Jeff Gordon to write about how Wednesday’s meeting with the Wild was “one of those statement games” for the Blues.