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Playoff Buzz: Capitals try to get even against Penguins

Washington looking to win Game 2 at home before series moves to Pittsburgh

NHL.com @NHL

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

 
3:30 p.m.
Penguins, Capitals, ready for Game 2

Left wing Carl Hagelin did not participate in the Pittsburgh Penguins' optional morning skate, but coach Mike Sullivan said he remains a game-time decision to play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). Hagelin has not played since March 10 because of a lower-body injury.

The Capitals will be without defenseman Karl Alzner for the sixth game in a row because of an upper-body injury. But as NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti reports, Washington will make one lineup change, with Paul Carey replacing Brett Connolly, who will be a healthy scratch, at right wing on the fourth line.

One of the key matchups again will be Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov going head-to-head with fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin. Gulitti has the story of Kuznetsov's development into a two-way player and the pride he takes in being entrusted with such difficult assignments.

The Penguins are 5-1 so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite being outshot in five of the six games and having poor possession numbers. Although they've been able to overcome that with their speed and skill offensively, a commitment to blocking shots defensively and the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury, NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika writes about how they'd prefer not to continue playing with fire.

 

11:30 a.m. 
Rangers, Capitals try to get even 

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals need victories in Game 2 of their respective Eastern Conference Second Round series after each lost the opener. 

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

New York Rangers at Ottawa Senators (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports 2) -- The Rangers wasted a terrific goaltending performance by Henrik Lundqvist in Game 1, losing 2-1 on a fluke goal by Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson late in the third period. The Rangers need more from some of their top offensive players, and as NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen reports, center Derek Stepan said Friday he includes himself in that group. As good as Lundqvist was in Game 1, Ottawa's Craig Anderson was the winning goaltender, making 34 saves. NHL.com staff writer Amalie Benjamin writes that Anderson's teammates feel he has beenunderrated for most of his career.


Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) -- The Capitals dug their way out of an early two-goal hole in Game 1, only to see the Penguins win 3-2 on a third-period breakaway goal by center Nick Bonino. He and Washington defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk have been friends since they were freshman teammates at Boston University, but as staff writer Tom Gulitti reports, that friendship is on hold for a couple of weeks. For all of the Penguins' star power, they've become masters of finding the role players to go along with elite talent such as centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. One of those unheralded players is defenseman Ian Cole ; as NHL.com columnist Nick Cotsonika notes, Cole has become more than just a guy who can block shots and play in his own zone; he had the best offensive season of his NHL career and his four playoff assists already are a single-season career high.

 

9:45 a.m.

The Edmonton Oilers are going home with a chance to close out their Western Conference Second Round Series against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Place.

The Oilers got a tremendous performance by goaltender Cam Talbot on Friday and held on to defeat the Anaheim Ducks to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Games 3 and 4 are in Edmonton on Sunday and Wednesday.

The St. Louis Blues evened their series against the Nashville Predators 1-1 by coming back from down a goal twice to win at Scottrade Center.

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm2: Talbot shines with 39 saves in win

 

Here's a look at what happened Friday:

Edmonton Oilers 2, Anaheim Ducks 1

Edmonton got a goal from defenseman Andrej Sekera 1:05 into the game, and forward Patrick Maroon scored a power-play goal at 6:41 of the second period to make it 2-0. Talbot did the rest, making 39 saves and allowing only a power-play goal by forward Jakob Silfverberg late in the second period. The Oilers have won four consecutive games, three on the road, since a 7-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of their first-round series.

 

St. Louis Blues 3, Nashville Predators 2

Forward Vladimir Tarasenko's second goal of the game with 3:51 remaining in the third period broke a 2-2 tie, and the Blues hung on after that, with goaltender Jake Allen making 14 of his 22 saves in the third period. Nashville lost for the first time in this year's playoffs after winning its first five games.

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 17 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

No quit in Blues

St. Louis got off to a roaring start in Game 1 and controlled play through the first half of the first period, but gave up the opening goal. The same thing happened in Game 2, but this time the Blues didn't wilt; they did not get demoralized or allow Nashville to control the play.

Instead, they tied the game before the end of the first period, gave up the lead again early in the third, but tied the game again before Tarasenko's game-winner. 
There is a certain level of mental toughness required to win in the playoffs. The Blues, having not been tested too severely in the first round, showed that on Friday.

Vladimir Tarasenko will not be denied

Tarasenko is the Blues' offensive leader, and he was starting to feel the heat of scoring one goal through the first six games of the playoffs.

But coach Mike Yeo said he got a sense from Tarasenko as early as Thursday things would be different in Game 2, and his teammates felt that determination from him at the morning skate on Friday.

Tarasenko delivered, tying the game late in the first period and scoring the game-winning goal at 16:09 of the third. If that was a sign he's about to hit a hot streak, this series just changed in a big way.

Video: Tarasenko powers Blues in win, Oilers top Ducks

Predators will not go 16-0

Of course, Nashville was going to lose a game eventually.

But after sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks and winning Game 1 against the Blues, there has been no reason in these playoffs for the Predators to have any doubt creep into their minds or their game. Now there is.

How will they respond?

The lineup is a work in progress.

The Game 1 injury that knocked forward Kevin Fiala out of the series forced the Predators to make some adjustments, and they appeared to continue throughout Game 2. Coach Peter Laviolette had to do some more juggling when forward Vernon Fiddler was assessed a game misconduct at 18:28 of the first period for kneeing Blues defenseman Colton Parayko.

Losing a fourth-liner should not force a coach to rework all his lines. Yet it appeared as though the Predators were shuffling combinations the rest of the game, seemingly in an effort to ease center Calle Jarnkrok back into the lineup after he missed Game 1 with an injury.

Laviolette has one practice Saturday to solidify his lines, or else we risk seeing the same shuffling in Game 3 on Sunday. And that would be less than ideal.

Cam Talbot carrying Oilers

Talbot is showing no signs of wear or fatigue after starting an NHL-high 73 games during the regular season. He was excellent again in Game 2 at Honda Center, making 39 saves, and he picked a great night to step up because the Oilers weren't as sharp as they were in their 5-3 victory in Game 1. Talbot has allowed eight goals during Edmonton's four-game playoff winning streak.

Ducks need more from some key players

Anaheim is getting elite play from Silfverberg and center Ryan Getzlaf; each has four goals in the playoffs. What the Ducks aren't getting is offensive contributions from some other key performers. Center Ryan Kesler, center Antoine Vermette and left wing Andrew Cogliano have yet to score a goal in the postseason, and right wing Corey Perry has scored once. That's one of the key reasons Anaheim is in an 0-2 hole against the Oilers.

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