With two powerhouses already out, this weekend might prove to be even more exciting and unpredictable than what we’ve seen so far in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.
Few picked the Columbus Blue Jackets to come out of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only did they win the franchise’s first playoffs series to make it to the second round, but they also swept the Presidents’ Trophy winners to get there.
The Lightning became the first team in the expansion era to lose in the first round after winning the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Blue Jackets aren’t the only surprise as the Tavares-less New York Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of two of the last three Stanley Cups.
The Calgary Flames, who ranked first in the Western Conference heading into the playoffs, are down 3-1 in their series against the Colorado Avalanche. The will try to stave off elimination in Game 5 on Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Should the Flames be eliminated, it will the first time in NHL history that the top seeds from both conferences are ousted in the first round.
The Weekend Ahead:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins
The series is tied at 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for Friday night at the TD Garden. The Leafs had a chance to make the series 3-1 on Wednesday but Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists in a 6-4 Bruins victory. Auston Matthews scored twice and leads the Leafs with four points.
Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars
The Predators and Stars series is also tied at 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Saturday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. After a disappointing Game 3 loss, the Stars stormed back for a four-goal first period in Game 4, tying a franchise record, en route to a 5-1 victory at American Airlines Center. The Stars are hoping to defeat last season’s Cup finalists for their first series victory since 2016.
St. Louis Blues vs. Winnipeg Jets
The Blues have a chance to eliminate the Jets on Saturday night. They’re bringing a 3-2 series lead home to Enterprise Center thanks to valiant effort in Game 5 on Thursday. The Jets carried a 2-0 lead from the first to the third period when the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz scored three unanswered goals for the 3-2 win. Game 6 is on Saturday night.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals
The Carolina Hurricanes evened up their best-of-seven series against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night with a hard-fought 2-1 win in Game 4. The all-important Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday night at Washington’s Capital One Arena. The home team has won every game in the series so far.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks staved off elimination on Thursday night with a 5-2 home victory in Game 5. With a 3-2 series lead, the Golden Knights will have a second chance at a series victory in Game 6 on Sunday at T-Mobile Arena. Game 7 is scheduled for Tuesday, Apr. 23 at SAP Center if the Sharks can hold on long enough.