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Playoff Buzz: Blues, Ducks aim to even series

St. Louis, Anaheim will try to bounce back after losing Game 1 at home @NHLdotcom

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


4:07 p.m.
Anaheim shorthanded on defense

Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (lower body) will not play in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Coach Randy Carlyle said Bieksa will be out until later in the series after sustaining the injury early in Game 1. Bieksa was limited to 7:03 in Anaheim's 5-3 loss to the Oilers.

The Ducks have been using a hard match of center Ryan Kesler against NHL regular-season scoring champion Connor McDavid. McDavid had an assist in Game 1 and has five points (two goals, three assists) in seven playoff games. Oilers right wing Leon Draisaitl leads Edmonton in playoff points (seven) after four in Game 1.

The Ducks and Oilers each talked about having better discipline in the series. The Oilers went 2-for-5 on the power play in Game 1, and the Ducks were 1-for-3.

In other news, Wayne Gretzky is enjoying playoff hockey again. The NHL's all-time leading scorer and vice chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group is traveling with the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and loving it. Edmonton coach Todd McLellan expressed gratitude Friday for having Gretzky around the team during the postseason.


4:05 p.m.
Goalies own spotlight in Senators-Rangers series

Goaltending was the central theme Friday - whether regarding Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators or the aborted dreams of defenseman Erik Karlsson.

In the traditional goaltending matchup between Lundqvist and Anderson, it's clear Lundqvist is always going to be the bigger name and more sublime talent, but that doesn't mean Anderson should get lost in the shuffle. Anderson stopped 34 of 35 shots faced in Game 1 to help the Senators to a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Second Round. It's not easy to match up against "King Henrik," but Anderson did enough in Game 1 to get the win.

Karlsson, meanwhile, started a storm of questions about his brief tenure as a goaltender with a photograph posted to his Instagram account. It seems clear that everyone, including Karlsson, is happy he ended up transitioning to defense. Senior Writer Dan Rosen says the Rangers need more from some key players, including Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Derek Stepan. Stepan admitted he hasn't been nearly good enough.

Game 2 is set for Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports 2).


3:55 p.m.
Capitals must adjust quickly

The Washington Capitals held an optional practice Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to regroup after a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Thursday. Coach Barry Trotz said the Capitals have to clean up some things before Game 2 at Verizon Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We can be better in a few areas," Trotz said. "We're going to correct those and we're going to be better [Saturday]. That's the positive. The things that can control, we can do better and we intend to do that."

Defenseman Karl Alzner, who has missed the past five games with an upper-body injury, was among 11 Capitals players to skate Friday. Alzner said he expects to know more Saturday about his Game 2 status.

The Penguins held a full practice at Verizon Center on Friday and left wing Carl Hagelin moved another step closer to returning from a lower-body injury that has sidelined him since March 10. Hagelin was cleared for full contact in practice, and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said the left wing will be a game-time decision for Game 2.

Correspondent Katie Brown has the full story on Hagelin's health.

Blocking shots was a significant factor for the Penguins in their Game 1 win. They blocked 29 shots, and defenseman Ian Cole had eight blocks to equal Washington's total. Nick Cotsonika has more on Cole's shot blocking and importance to the Penguins defense.

Tom Gulitti writes about the competitive friendship between Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and Penguins center Nick Bonino, who have cut off communication during the series. When they do talk again, Bonino's game-winning goal in Game 1, which came partially at Shattenkirk's expense, will likely come up.


3:14 p.m.
Blues need right mindset in Game 2

There will be a skill deficiency in the Nashville Predators lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Forward Kevin Fiala (fractured femur) has been ruled out for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Predators coach Peter Laviolette has several options at his disposal to replace him, outlined by correspondent Robby Stanley

The Blues will need to either improve their special teams or avoid them altogether if they hope to tie the series. That is one of correspondent Louie Korac's 5 keys to Game 2. Senior Managing Editor Arpon Basu explores how the Blues need to approach Game 2 from a mental standpoint so they are not overcome by fear but also not too loose.


11:35 a.m.
Blues, Ducks try to get even

The St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks will try to bounce back in Game 2 of their respective Western Conference Second Round series on Friday after losing the series openers at home.

Here's a quick look at the matchups:

Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) - The Predators are the only team in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs that hasn't lost a game. Nashville won 4-3 at Scottrade Center on Wednesday after sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. As senior managing editors Arpon Basu notes, the Predators are finally living up to expectations after a difficult regular season. The Blues dug a hole for themselves in Game 1 because they were unable to stop Nashville's power play, which went 2-for-3. correspondent Louie Korac writes that the Blues were not impressed with their own special-teams play; St. Louis outshot Nashville 29-19 at 5-on-5 but was outshot 13-1 with the extra man.

Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim Ducks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) - The Ducks will try to rebound after a poor third period in Game 1 resulted in their first regulation loss in 19 games. The game was tied 1-1 after two periods, but the Oilers scored four times in the third for a 5-3 win. Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who led the NHL in scoring during the regular season, has been limited to five points (two goals, three assists) in seven playoff games, But as staff writer Tim Campbell notes, Edmonton continues to get a boost from some unlikely sources; none of the Oilers' five game-winning playoff goals has been scored by a top-six forward. Anaheim lost despite a goal and an assist from captain Ryan Getzlaf, who's been the Ducks' best player during the playoffs. Staff writer Lisa Dillman writes that Getzlaf has been able to take over games this spring, and that the Ducks need him to continue to be their best player.


10:15 a.m.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators opened their Eastern Conference Second Round series with wins.

Pittsburgh couldn't hold an early two-goal lead, but capitalized on one of its few third-period scoring opportunities to defeat the Washington Capitals 3-2 at Verizon Center.

Ottawa didn't score on 21 first-period shots against the New York Rangers, but got a fluky goal late in the third period to win the opener of their series 2-1 at Canadian Tire Centre.

Here's a look at what happened Thursday:


Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Washington Capitals 2: Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the first 1:04 of the second period to put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0. After goals by Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov got the Capitals even at 2-2, Nick Bonino scored on a breakaway with 7:24 remaining in the third period for the game-winner.

Ottawa Senators 2, New York Rangers 1: Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson scored his first goal of the playoffs on a shot from near the goal line with 4:11 remaining in the third period to break a 1-1 tie. Karlsson's bad-angle shot from the right side went into the net off the head of New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 41 saves.

Here are some things we learned on Day 16 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:


Capitals must slow down Penguins

After starting slowly, the Capitals executed much of their game plan against Pittsburgh. They established their forecheck, pressured the Penguins in their end to generate turnovers and outshot them 35-21. But the Penguins burned Washington with their speed and quick-strike ability. That factored into all three of Pittsburgh's goals, including Bonino's winner. The Capitals had similar problems with the Penguins' speed in losing to them in the second round in six games last season. 

Marc-Andre Fleury is on fire

Marc-Andre Fleury made 49 saves in Game 5, when the Penguins eliminated the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round. After a week off, he made 33 against Washington in Game 1, including four in an 18-second sequence with about three minutes to go. Fleury is 5-1 with a .934 save percentage in the playoffs; that's not bad for a guy who wasn't supposed to play and reclaimed his starting job only after Matt Murray was injured in warmups for Game 1 of the first round.

Anderson is worthy foil for Lundqvist

Craig Anderson of the Senators might not have Lundqvist's name recognition -- or the billboards and endorsements -- but he matched him nearly save-for-save on Thursday. Anderson made 34 saves, allowing a power-play goal to defenseman Ryan McDonagh. It's not easy to match Lundqvist every night, but Anderson can, and that's a crucial ingredient in the Senators' chances to defeat the Rangers in the series.

Video: Karlsson, Anderson lift Sens past Rangers in Game 1

Ryan Dzingel was X-Factor for Ottawa

Forward Ryan Dzingel scored his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal late in the second period to tie the game 1-1, and he was one of the Senators' best players; he had a chance to put Ottawa ahead at 6:18 of the third period but couldn't score on a breakaway. "I thought Zinger had a great game," Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. "I thought in the second period at some point we really needed to play harder, and I think [Dzingel's line] gave us the momentum and they gave us that hard play that we need to have deep in their zone. And I think from that moment on until the end of the game, it really inspired the other lines that I put together." 

Lundqvist brilliant again

Lundqvist is still on top of his game. He was dominant in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens with a 1.70 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in six games. He was superb again Thursday, making 41 saves, including 21 in the first period, an NHL career-high for him in one period in a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Lundqvist's goaltending gave the Rangers the chance they needed to win. They couldn't get it done.

Discipline is key for Rangers

The Rangers need to respect the Senators' power play. They gave Ottawa three opportunities in the first period and another late in the second. The Senators finally capitalized on the fourth opportunity, but they moved the puck well and generated shots and excellent scoring chances on all of their power plays. The Rangers have to stay out of the penalty box, and they must tighten up on the penalty kill in front of Lundqvist.

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