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Playoff Buzz: Penguins can move on

Pittsburgh aims to eliminate Capitals; Blues desperate heading into Game 6 against Predators

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Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. The playoffs continue on Saturday with two games. NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news, including the site of the two games. Here is the playoff news for Saturday:

6:50 p.m. 

The Nashville Predators get a second chance to eliminate the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports), and as NHL.com Correspondent Robby Stanley explains, the Predators are desperate to avoid a return trip to St. Louis and are approaching it as if it were Game 7.

If the Blues want to extend their season by at least one more game, it would help if their power play started to produce. They have the worst power play in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, and some of the Blues shared their ideas for how to improve it with NHL.com Correspondent Louie Korac.

One encouraging sign for St. Louis was the play of center Patrik Berglund in Game 5 on a line with Dmitrij Jaskin and Vladimir Sobotka. After a slow start to the series, Berglund has come alive, as LNH.com Senior Managing Editor Arpon Basu explains.

Blues forward Alexander Steen is a critical player, but he missed Game 5 because of a lower-body injury. He traveled to Nashville and his status is one of Stanley's 5 keys for Game 6.

 

2:30 p.m.
Crosby a game-time decision

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby will be a game-time decision for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports) after passing his baseline concussion test on Friday. Crosby did not participate in the Penguins' optional morning skate at Verizon Center, but went through his usual game-day routine and could play for the first time since he was injured by a crosscheck to the head from Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen in Game 3 on Monday.

NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika has all the latest news on Crosby and right wing Conor Sheary , who also passed his baseline concussion test after being injured Monday. The Penguins lead 3-1 in the best-of-7 series and are hoping to finish off the Capitals in Game 5 and advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the second consecutive season.

The Capitals are expected to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen again and won't make any lineup changes. Left wing Alex Ovechkin was on the third line with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson during the morning skate after practicing in that spot on Friday. Coach Barry Trotz has talked about double-shifting Ovechkin, so expect to see him playing in multiple combinations.

NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti writes about the Capitals' mental approach, which some players acknowledge has been too tight in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

11:30 a.m.
Penguins look to advance to Eastern Conference Final

The defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Final. They enter Game 5 against the Washington Capitals with a 3-1 lead in their second-round series, including two wins at Verizon Center.

In the other Game 5 on Saturday, the Ottawa Senators return home to play the New York Rangers. That best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 after the Rangers won twice in New York.

Here's a look at the playoff schedule Saturday:

New York Rangers at Ottawa Senators (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) - The Senators will be glad to be back at Canadian Tire Centre, in front of their own fans, after back-to-back 4-1 losses at Madison Square Garden got the Rangers even. The Senators were dominated in each of the two losses in New York and didn't use defenseman Erik Karlsson in the third period of Game 4 on Thursday, but coach Guy Boucher said Karlsson is expected to play. Karlsson's status is one of the five keys to the game, NHL.com Chris Stevenson writes. Staff writer Amalie Benjamin reports that despite the back-to-back losses, the Senators are confident entering Game 5. Senior writer Dan Rosen says the Rangers will stick with the same game plan that worked well in Games 3 and 4.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports) - The Penguins have a chance to put away the Capitals following a 3-2 victory in Game 4 that came without center Sidney Crosby, who was sidelined with a concussion. NHL.com Columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika writes that though Crosby practiced Friday, four days after sustaining a concussion, neither he nor the Penguins will rush the return process. Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin skated on the third line at practice on Friday, and staff writer Tom Gulitti reports Washington hopes changing some line combinations will spark its offense, which has scored nine goals in the four games.

 

9:35 a.m.

The Anaheim Ducks staged a historic rally to defeat the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round on Friday and move within one win of the conference final. Corey Perry scored at 6:57 of double overtime to win it for the Ducks, who trailed by three goals with 3:20 left in the third period. The Ducks lead the best-of-7 series 3-2. 

Also, the St. Louis Blues, who lost in the conference final last season, kept their hopes of getting there this year alive with a Game 5 win against the Nashville Predators. Nashville leads the best-of-7 series 3-2. 
Here's a look at what happened Friday:

 

St. Louis Blues 2, Nashville Predators 1

Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin, playing in his first game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scored at 5:43 of the second period, and Jaden Schwartz scored 25 seconds into the third to give St. Louis the win at Scottrade Center. Jaskin was playing in place of Alexander Steen, who skated in warmups but was scratched. Jake Allen made 21 saves for the Blues, who must win Sunday in Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena to avoid elimination.

Video: Blues win Game 5 to extend series against Predators

 

Anaheim Ducks 4, Edmonton Oilers 3

At Honda Center, the Ducks became the first team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to rally a three-goal deficit in the final 3:30 of regulation to force overtime. Ryan Getzlaf made it 3-1 with 3:16 left and Cam Fowler scored 35 seconds later to make it 3-2. Rickard Rakell's goal off a scramble sent the game to overtime, and Perry won it.

The Ducks, who outshot the Oilers 64-38, will attempt to win the series Sunday at Rogers Place.

Video: Perry caps off Game 5 comeback with 2OT winner

Here are some things we learned on Day 24 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: 

 
Blues find new level 

St. Louis stepped up its play in Game 5, dominating defensively for the first time in the Western Conference Second Round. The Blues limited Nashville to 22 shots, the fewest the Predators have managed in this series and the fewest St. Louis has allowed this postseason. The Blues also blocked 25 shots and were credited with 31 hits, leaving the Predators asking hard questions of themselves for the first time in the series.


 
Predators need more from top guns 

If the Predators want to finish off the Blues and advance to the conference final for the first time since entering the NHL in 1998, they need to be better in Game 6. Specifically, their first line needs to be better. The trio of center Ryan Johansen, left wing Filip Forsberg and right wing Viktor Arvidsson has three points in this series. Forsberg scored a power-play goal in Game 1 and had a primary assist in Game 3. Johansen had a primary assist in Game 1. They combined for 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in Nashville's four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.

 

Ducks overcome adversity again 

Anaheim won Game 4 in overtime after overcoming an early two-goal deficit. But that was nothing compared to the Ducks' comeback in Game 5, when they scored three goals in the final 3:16 of the third period, then won on Perry's goal at 6:57 of the second overtime. Their defense corps has had its share of injuries, and their power play (0-for-4 on Friday) is clearly missing forward Patrick Eaves, who is out with a lower-body injury. Despite that, the Ducks are one win away from reaching the Western Conference Final.

 

Oilers have to respond 

Momentum appears to be building against them, but the Oilers always seem to have a response. They lost 7-0 to the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round but responded with back-to-back victories to win the series. After losing Games 3 and 4 at home to the Ducks to fall into a 2-2 tie in the best-of-7 series, the Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game 5 at Honda Center on Friday. They gave up that lead in the final 3:16 of the third period but steadied themselves during overtime, creating several chances to win the game. The Oilers eventually lost on Perry's goal and trail the series 3-2, but afterward they were already talking about their response for Game 6 on Sunday, saying they intend to force a Game 7 in Anaheim on Wednesday.

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