A look at the second-round series in the NHL playoffs:
No. 1 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (36-12-0) vs. No. 7 OTTAWA SENATORS (25-17-6)
2013 series record: Pittsburgh 3-0 (one win in shootout).
Playoff History: Pittsburgh 2-1. Last meeting: Pittsburgh 4-2 in 2010 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
How they got here: Pittsburgh defeated No. 8 New York Islanders 4-2. Ottawa defeated No. 2 Montreal 4-1.
PITTSBURGH: It is just the second time ? and first in three seasons ? since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 that the Penguins are in the second round of the playoffs. They have not reached the third round since the championship. ... The Penguins have eliminated the Senators in each of the past two post-season meetings (2008 and 2010). ... Despite struggling to shake the Islanders easily, Pittsburgh posted plenty of impressive offensive numbers. Evgeni Malkin had 2 goals, 11 points, Jarome Iginla had 2 goals, 9 points, and Pascal Dupuis scored 5 goals and had seven points. All three players scored in each game of the series. Sidney Crosby had at least one point in his five games, after sitting out the opener ? netting 3 goals and 9 points. ... Tomas Vokoun stabilized the Penguins when he took over for struggling No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at the start of Game 5 and went 2-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average. He allowed only three goals in the two victories. Fleury was 2-2 with a 3.40 GAA in his four appearances ??? giving up 14 goals and posting a save percentage of just .891.
OTTAWA: While the Senators will try to stay disciplined, they could seek retribution against Matt Cooke, who delivered the shot that partially tore the Achilles tendon of top defenceman Erik Karlsson on Feb. 13. Karlsson sat out 31 games and returned to action shortly before the playoffs. Karlsson had a goal and five assists in the series against Montreal and logged nearly 26 minutes of ice time per game. ... Craig Anderson was the difference in the Senators' first-round win over the Canadiens, turning aside 171 of 180 shots in the five-game series. ... Ottawa outscored Montreal by a whopping 20-9 in the one-sided series ??? with rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Kyle Turris, and Cory Conacher tying with a team-high three goals. Daniel Alfredsson and Karlsson, who had five assists, tied for the team lead with six points. Pageau, Turris and defenceman Marc Methot were next with five points. Turris had a goal in each of the last three games of the series after being dropped to the fourth line in Games 1 and 2.
OUTLOOK: Pittsburgh will be challenged again by another upstart opponent and find a way to reach the conference finals. Penguins in 6.
No. 1 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (36-7-5) vs. No. 7 DETROIT RED WINGS (24-16-8)
2013 series record: Chicago 4-0 (three wins in overtime/shootout).
Playoff History: Chicago 8-7. Last meeting: Detroit 4-1 in 2009 Western Conference finals.
How they got here: Chicago defeated No. 8 Minnesota 4-1. Detroit defeated No. 2 Anaheim 4-3.
CHICAGO: This will be the final intra-conference playoff meeting between the Original Six clubs as Detroit will be shifting to the East next season as part of the NHL's realignment plan. ... The Blackhawks managed to dispatch the overmatched Wild in the first round despite not getting any goals from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews ??? who combined for seven assists. Chicago's offence was paced by Patrick Sharp, who had five goals in five games, and Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell, who had three each. Bickell won Game 1 in overtime. ... Corey Crawford did the rest and handled the goaltending duties alone against the Wild. He posted one shutout in the series and allowed only seven goals on 139 shots for a .950 save percentage and 1.32 goals-against average. Crawford will be counted on heavily as backup Ray Emery is currently sidelined by a lower body injury, but could be close to game-ready soon. ... The Blackhawks outscored the Red Wings 14-5 during their regular-season sweep. ... Chicago went 2-for-10 on the power play against Detroit in the regular season and killed 14 of 15 short-handed situations.
DETROIT: The Red Wings dug out of a 3-2 hole in the first round against Anaheim and advanced with a 3-2 road win in Game 7. ... Jimmy Howard was sharp at the end when he was needed most, making 31 saves in the series clincher. Howard gave up 20 goals to Anaheim on 224 shots for a .911 save percentage, and posted a 2.74 goals-against average. He came through in the Red Wings' first playoff series since longtime defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom retired. Lidstrom had been a Red Wings stalwart since 1991. But Detroit still has key forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk leading the way up front. Zetterberg had three goals and five assists in the first round ????????? giving him 54 career NHL playoff goals ????????? for a team-high eight points. Datsyuk was next with seven points on two goals and five assists. Justin Abdelkader scored a big short-handed goal in Game 7 against Anaheim to put Detroit in front for good. Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Daniel Cleary also provide key offensive depth for the Red Wings, who are also loaded with playoff experience.
OUTLOOK: The Red Wings have plenty of talent and post-season savvy to make this series interesting. They just aren't as strong top to bottom as Chicago, which is considered the best team in the league. Blackhawks in 6.
No. 5 LOS ANGELES KINGS (27-16-5) vs. No. 6 SAN JOSE SHARKS (25-16-7)
2013 series record: Los Angeles 2-1-1.
Playoff History: San Jose 1-0. Last meeting: San Jose 4-2 in 2011 conference quarterfinals.
How they got here: Los Angeles defeated No. 4 St. Louis 4-2. San Jose defeated No. 3 Vancouver 4-0.
LOS ANGELES: The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings were poised to face Southern California rival Anaheim until the Ducks were beaten in Game 7 of the first round by Detroit. So Los Angeles will settle for a matchup with its neighbours to the north in San Jose. ... Los Angeles comes in as a surging team, winning four straight after falling into an 0-2 series hole against St. Louis in the first round. The Kings outscored the Blues 10-6 in winning the final four games of the series, following a pair of 2-1 losses. All six games were decided by one goal, with each team winning once in overtime. ... Six of the past 10 meetings between the Kings and Sharks have been one-goal games. Four of those were decided in overtime. ... The Kings scored only 12 goals in the first round, yet yielded just 10. Mike Richards had a team-high five points without scoring a goal. Jeff Carter led with three goals in the six-game series. Justin Williams, Dustin Penner and Slava Voynov were next with two goals each. Penner scored only two goals in 33 regular-season games this year. ... Jonathan Quick displayed some of the form that made him the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of last year's playoffs by stopping 167 of St. Louis' 177 shots for a .944 save percentage and a 1.58 goals-against average.
SAN JOSE: The Sharks weren't behind after any period in their series with Vancouver. They trailed for only 20 minutes, 38 seconds in the four-game series. ... Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture paced the Sharks' offence in the sweep over Vancouver with eight points each. Pavelski got there with four goals, tying Patrick Marleau for the team lead. Marleau scored the overtime goal that ended the series. Joe Thornton was third with six points, including five assists, and a club-best, plus-3 rating. ... Scott Gomez came back from an injury and played in two games of the series without recording a point. His playoff experience could prove to be an asset if the Sharks keep on winning. Gomez, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with New Jersey, had played in 140 post-season games before this year ??????????????????????????? notching 29 goals and 99 points. ... Antti Niemi allowed only eight goals on 126 Vancouver shots in the four games. He posted a stellar .937 save percentage and equally impressive 1.86 goals-against average. ... San Jose has been without injured forward Martin Havlat since Game 1. Fourth-line forward Adam Burish will be out for the upcoming series.
OUTLOOK: The Kings will test the Sharks much more than the Canucks could, and the defending champions will make a return trip to the Western Conference finals. Kings in 7.