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Playoff Buzz: Home teams face pressure Friday

Canadiens, Wild, Oilers look to bounce back, even series

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. NHL.com writers covering each of the eight series will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news from the rinks, right up to puck drop. Here is the playoff news for Friday:

 
4:38 p.m.

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton took part in the morning skate at Rogers Place and will be a game-time decision for Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, CSN-CA).

Thornton missed the final three games of the regular season and Game 1 on Wednesday because of a knee injury. The veteran center said he tested his knee more extensively at practice. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said the decision for Thornton to return to the lineup will not be affected by where the Sharks stand in the series.

 

4:23 p.m.

Injury news dominated the off-day conversation in Ottawa.

Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said center David Krejci is highly doubtful for Game 2 against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). Krejci did not practice with the team Friday. Colin Miller (lower body), who was injured and could not finish Game 1, is also unlikely to play Saturday. In his place, the Bruins would likely use Joe Morrow, who has not played in the NHL since Jan. 22.

As for the Senators, the injury question surrounded defenseman Marc Methot (finger) and his availability for Game 2. It appears he's closer to a return, but it's not assured. Senators coach Guy Boucher was cagey when asked about Methot's availability, saying the defenseman was ready to go for Game 1.

 

4:22 p.m.

The need to be better was the theme Friday at the United Center as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators each reported for practice a day after the Predators opened the Western Conference First Round with a 1-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday.

Game 2 is set for Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2).

The Chicago Blackhawks, who have won the Stanley Cup three times since 2010, are too experienced to panic. "We have been in every situation," coach Joel Quenneville said Friday.

But, that doesn't mean Chicago, the top seed in the West, is going to stand pat. As NHL.com correspondent Brian Hedger reports, the Blackhawks are thinking about making changes to two or three of their forward lines. Most of the changes involve the redeployment of first-year players Nick Schmaltz, John Hayden and Ryan Hartman.

The Predators, who recorded the first road shutout in their postseason history, know that they will face a much better Chicago team in Game 2. They know they will have to raise their game as well. One thing they do not want to do is play as much in their defensive zone as they did in Game 1.

One area that was pleasing, though, was the play of their first line, especially forward Viktor Arvidsson, who scored the game-winning goal. There is a temptation to call Arvidsson, who scored 31 goals in his first season exclusively in the NHL, an overnight sensation, but as NHL.com Director of Editorial Shawn P. Roarke writes, that would be an injustice and oversimplification.

 

1:40 p.m.

The Washington Capitals held an optional practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Friday after a 3-2 overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Thursday. Capitals forward Tom Wilson, the Game 1 overtime hero, was one of seven players on the ice with fellow forwards Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky and Paul Carey, defensemen Nate Schmidt and Taylor Chorney and backup goalie Philipp Grubauer.

After the Capitals started slow and had to overcome a 2-0 deficit on Thursday, coach Barry Trotz said he believes they have "another level" they'll need to play at in Game 2 on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC).

"What happens now after Game 1 is they're going to make some adjustments," Trotz said. "They came in with a game plan. We're going to make some adjustments. That's what we did this morning. They're going to do the same thing and it's going to be a little bit of a tennis match here."

 

1:18 p.m.

The Columbus Blue Jackets know they need to score to win. Hey, doesn't every team?

The Blue Jackets didn't score enough in Game 1 on Wednesday, losing 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They think they know why they didn't score, but coach John Tortorella seems caught in a difficult position going into Game 2 on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2, ROOT, FS-O). Senior Writer Dan Rosen wrote about Tortorella's strategy to ignite the Blue Jackets offense.

There are many different factors that will determine if the Blue Jackets can even the series before it shifts back to Columbus or if the Penguins can take a 2-0 lead into Ohio's capital city. NHL.com Correspondent Wes Crosby has his 5 keys to the game and the projected lineups.

The Penguins also plan to honor late former Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney before Game 2. Rooney died Thursday. He was 84. Rosen has the info on the Penguins' plans.

 

1 p.m.

The Toronto Maple Leafs met at Verizon Center on Friday, but only the scratches skated after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Thursday.

Coach Mike Babcock was less pleased with the Maple Leafs' performance after further review.

"Last night after the game, I thought we were pretty good, and then when I watched the game, I didn't think we were near as good as we were capable of being, not near as quick," Babcock said. "Didn't think we skated as we could have in the second half of the game. I thought a number of our guys can elevate their game for sure."

Game 2 is at Verizon Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC).

Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev (upper body) did not skate and is expected to remain out.

 

Friday Four

There are four games on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Friday. The New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks are each hoping to take a 2-0 series lead on the road. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the only home team to win Game 1 on Wednesday, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Here's a look at the playoff schedule for Friday:

New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, TVA Sports, MSG) -- The Rangers have won four of their previous five playoff series after winning Game 1 on the road, dating back to the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 31 saves in a 2-0 win in Game 1 on Wednesday, is 3-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in four career playoff games at Bell Centre.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2, ROOT, FS-O) -- Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 31 saves filling in for Matt Murray (lower-body injury) in a 3-1 win on Wednesday, will start Game 2. Fleury has played 101 playoff games, tying Tom Barrasso for the most in franchise history. He needs two more postseason wins to tie Barrasso (54 wins) on the Penguins all-time list. 

For more on the series, check out this story by NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen on Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who've had to put their friendship on hold.

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, FS-N, FS-MW) -- Goaltender Jake Allen made a career-high 51 saves in a 2-1 overtime win in Game 1; it's the fourth-most saves in Blues playoff history. "He was unbelievable," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "Save after save, he was making it look easy out there. It was unbelievable for us to watch and us to be part of." Allen will need to put together another strong effort for the Blues to take a 2-0 series lead back to St. Louis.

San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers (10:30 ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCS CA) -- San Jose again will look to limit Oilers captain and Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid. He had two shots, five attempts and one assist (on the power play) in Game 1 but didn't have much of an impact in 21:22 of ice time. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones did stop McDavid on a breakaway in the second period. 

The Sharks have 14 players from the team that lost to the Penguins in six games during the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, and will look to take advantage of that experience, as referenced in this story by NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell. San Jose outshot (34-9) and outscored (3-0) Edmonton during the last two periods and overtime of the series opener.

 

Capital gains

The Washington Capitals' overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs highlighted a three-game night Thursday. Here's a look at what happened:

 

Washington Capitals 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (OT)

Capitals forward Tom Wilson made his first career playoff goal count, beating Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen with a wrist shot 5:15 into overtime to give Washington the win.

 

Nashville Predators 1, Chicago Blackhawks 0

Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne made 29 saves and forward Viktor Arvidsson scored at 7:52 of the first period to give the Predators the win at United Center. It's the first road shutout in the playoffs in Nashville history and the first time the Blackhawks were shut out at home in a playoff game since 2012.

 

Anaheim Ducks 3, Calgary Flames 2

Center Ryan Getzlaf scored one goal and assisted on another for Anaheim, which defeated Calgary at home for the 28th straight time.

Video: Silfverberg, Gibson help Ducks to Game 1 win

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Game 1 is Justin time

Capitals forward Justin Williams, who earned the nickname "Mr. Game 7" for his seven goals, 14 points and 7-0 record in Game 7s, can also be "Mr. Game 1." After Washington fell behind Toronto 2-0 in the first period, he was the player who spoke up and helped calm things down on the bench and during the first intermission. He also scored twice, the fourth multiple-goal playoff game of his career, to pull the Capitals even at 2-2.

Maple Leafs are unafraid

Earlier this week, Toronto's 19-year-old rookie Auston Matthews wondered why the media were making such a big deal about the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "What's there to be afraid of?" he said. "It's just hockey." The Maple Leafs looked unafraid against Washington, the Presidents' Trophy winners, generating odd-man rushes, taking a 2-0 lead and putting a scare into the crowd. Now they have to get a win.

Rinne a man of his word

Ever since the Predators clinched a berth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Rinne has said he is ready to embrace the opportunity before him, but also understanding that he will have to be one of Nashville's best players if the Predators are going to go deep. He did that Thursday, stopping all 29 shots he faced in a 1-0 road victory against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Video: NSH@CHI, Gm1: Rinne denies Anisimov's quick wrister

Youth wasn't served

The Chicago Blackhawks' much-talked-about youth movement up front was not as ready for prime time as many believed. Chicago's young forwards struggled. Nick Schmaltz was benched at times and was demoted to the fourth line. He finished with 10:44 of ice time and was on the ice for the Predators' goal by Viktor Arvidsson. Ryan Hartman had one shot on goal and one giveaway in 14:57. John Hayden played 5:39 and didn't have a shot on goal.

Calgary still can't win in Anaheim

The Flames have lost 22 straight regular-season and six straight Stanley Cup Playoff games in Anaheim. Calgary has not won in Anaheim since Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 25, 2006.

Getzlaf loves the postseason

Anaheim's captain scored his 100th career playoff point with a power-play goal in the first period. He also assisted on Rickard Rakell's second-period goal for the 31st multipoint playoff game of his career.

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