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Playoff Buzz: Three more teams can advance

Blues, Rangers, Oilers will move into second round with victories

NHL.com @NHL

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

 

3:45 p.m.
Sharks try to avoid elimination

The San Jose Sharks face an elimination game for the first time in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they host the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of their Western Conference First Round series (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCS-CA).

The Oilers lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 after a 4-3 overtime win at home Thursday.

The Sharks played three elimination games last year, when they went to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since entering the NHL in 1991. They won the first two but lost the third when the Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 6 of the Final.

The Sharks couldn't hold a 3-1 lead on Thursday and were dominated in overtime, but that wasn't a concern for San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. "I'm focused on tonight," Vlasic said. "That happened two days ago. We lost, no matter how we lost. We lost a tight game, a close game we could have won. We're focused on tonight."

Vlasic and defense partner Justin Braun will be seeing plenty of Oilers captain Connor McDavid in Game 6, as they have during the first five games of the series.

"It was a lot of fun," Vlasic said of facing McDavid, who led the NHL in scoring during the regular season. "I love to play. The more I play the better I feel. And I'm playing against one of the best players in the world, so what's not to like?"

The Oilers are one victory away from winning a playoff series for the first time since 2006 and moving into the Western Conference Second Round.

"We know they're going to bring their best so if we want to come out winners tonight, we'd better bring our best," left wing Milan Lucic said. "We learned our lesson, I think, in Game 4 [a 7-0 loss] being comfortable with a series lead. Hopefully we don't have to learn another lesson tonight."

 

2:45 p.m.
No Andrew Shaw for Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens won't have Andrew Shaw available for Game 6 against the New York Rangers on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). Shaw didn't take part in the morning skate and will miss the game with an upper-body injury. LNH.com Senior Managing Editor Arpon Basu reports Shaw was hit by Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi about seven minutes into overtime in Game 5 and took only one shift after that.

Brian Flynn will take Shaw's place and center for left wing Alex Galchenyuk and right wing Paul Byron.
 
The Canadiens also will have two other new faces in the lineup; Forward Michael McCarron will dress in place of Torrey Mitchell, and defenseman Brandon Davidson will play instead of Nathan Beaulieu.

 

Blues, Rangers, Oilers look to advance

The St. Louis Blues will try for their third straight road win against the Minnesota Wild and, in the process, advance to the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The New York Rangers can close out their series against the Montreal Canadiens at home, and the Edmonton Oilers can earn their first playoff series victory since 2006 if they can defeat the San Jose Sharks.

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

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports) - The Blues missed their first chance to eliminate the Wild by losing 2-0 in Game 4 at home on Thursday. It looked as if they'll have some reinforcements for Game 5; NHL.com correspondent Louie Korac reports center Paul Stastny skated with the first line and the power play on Friday and is likely to play for the first time since sustaining a foot injury on March 21. The Wild, who have scored five goals in the first four games of the series, will also get some help: Correspondent Jessi Pierce reports forward Erik Haula is likely to return for Minnesota, which will focus on getting more offensive pressure.

Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) - The Rangers were being booed seven days ago after losing 3-1 in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden. They can expect nothing but cheers when they hit the ice for Game 6 with a chance to close out the series after back-to-back wins, including 3-2 at Montreal on Thursday. LNH.com Senior Managing Editor Arpon Basu notes what seemed to be a small move, putting rookie forward Pavel Buchnevich into the lineup in place of Tanner Glass, has paid big dividends for the Rangers. Senior Writer Dan Rosen says the Canadiens aren't getting production from their top players and need more from forward Max Pacioretty and defenseman Shea Weber .

Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCSCA) - It's win or go home for the Sharks, who made the Stanley Cup Final last year but face elimination in the first round after a 3-1 lead in Game 5 on Thursday turned into a 4-3 overtime loss. Correspondent Derek van Diest reports Sharks coach Peter DeBoer is confident his team will respond. Staff writer Tim Campbell says the Oilers are taking nothing for granted.


9 a.m.

Capitals win, Ovechkin OK

Washington Capitals fans were holding their breath long before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday went to overtime. 

Alex Ovechkin had to be helped off the ice in the first period after taking a hit by Nazem Kadri. But Ovechkin returned to start the second period and the Capitals went on to win in overtime.

In Ottawa, the Boston Bruins kept their season alive with a double-overtime win against the Senators.

Here's a look at what happened on Friday:  

Washington Capitals 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1 (OT) 

Justin Williams scored 1:04 into overtime to give the Capitals a 3-2 series lead. It was Williams' third goal of the series. Washington goalie Braden Holtby, who had allowed a total of eight goals in the previous two games, made 24 saves in the fourth game of the series decided in overtime.   

Boston Bruins 3, Ottawa Senators 2 (2OT)

Rookie forward Sean Kuraly scored two goals, including the winner at 10:19 of the second overtime, to keep the Bruins' season alive. Boston trails 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. 

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 10 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: 

It's hard to keep Ovechkin down 

Washington's captain looked like he was done for the night when he had to be helped off the ice after taking a low hip check from Kadri with 2:28 left in the first period. Ovechkin missed the remainder of the period, but remarkably was back for the start of the second. He made sure everyone knew he was OK by leveling Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner with a hard hit on the opening shift. 

Video: TOR@WSH, Gm5: Ovechkin leaves with injury, returns

Auston Matthews has figured out playoff hockey 

Maybe it took Matthews a couple of games to get used to the intensity and physicality of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Toronto's 19-year-old rookie center demonstrated again that he's a quick study. Matthews has scored goals in each of the past three games, including the Maple Leafs' lone goal in Game 5. He leads Toronto with three goals and is tied for the team lead with four points (three goals, one assist). 

Bruce Cassidy's gut got it right 

Sometimes the best calls are the ones made by gut feeling. Cassidy, hired as Bruins coach on Feb. 7, opted to sit center Ryan Spooner in favor of Kuraly, who had played 10 games in his NHL career (eight regular season, two playoffs) before Friday. The move paid off in a way that Cassidy never could have expected, with Kuraly scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals - the first two goals of his NHL career. 

Senators looked tired 

Now we'll see what the Senators are made of. Ottawa looked to be the more tired and more overmatched team by the time Game 5 reached double overtime. The Senators lead the series 3-2, but they've given Boston an opening, and now it's time to see whether they can immediately shut the door again.

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