The Final Four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is halfway to being set and could see another team punch its ticket to the conference finals by the end of Saturday night's action.
While it's unknown for now when the Eastern Conference Final will begin, what is certain is that it will open at TD Garden with the Boston Bruins
playing host to the Tampa Bay Lightning
. Two nights after the Lightning completed a sweep of the Capitals, the Bruins did the same against the Flyers with a 5-1 win on home ice, finishing the deal a year after blowing a 3-0 series lead to Philadelphia in an epic collapse.
The San Jose Sharks
also had an opportunity to sweep through their Western Conference Semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings
, but after coming all the way back from a three-goal, first-period deficit, the Sharks fell 4-3 on a Darren Helm
goal with less than two minutes left in regulation. The teams now travel back to California where San Jose will try to complete its second five-game series win against Detroit in as many years when Game 5 takes place Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks
can complete one half of the West bracket with a win against the Nashville Predators
in Game 5 on Saturday night back at Rogers Arena. The first three games of the series were decided by a single goal and Game 4 was headed that way as well until Henrik Sedin
scored into an empty net in the final half-minute. That gave Vancouver a sweep of the two games in Nashville and put the Presidents' Trophy winners in position to clinch a berth in the conference finals for the first time in 17 years.
Here's your daily NHL.com Reading List for a set of quick links to some of the stories you won't want to miss:
Lucic leads way into East finals
Prior to Friday night, you'd have to turn the calendar back to March to find the last time Milan Lucic
scored a goal. Boston's leading scorer during the regular season was feeling frustrated, as Shawn Roarke notes
, but he snapped out of his slump in a big way with a pair of tallies to help the Bruins send the Flyers packing.
Flyers see tables turned
Less than a year ago Philadelphia was celebrating one of the great comebacks in NHL playoff history at Boston's expense. The rematch was dominated by the Bruins, however, and Mike Morreale has reaction
from the Flyers' locker room as to why this year's series was so one-sided.
Forty-one years young
If the Red Wings had lost on Friday, would it have marked defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
's final NHL game? That question can be put off for at least a couple more days and, as Dave Lozo tells us
, Lidstrom's teammates wouldn't be surprised if the Norris Trophy finalist -- who struck for a pair of goals in Game 4 -- continues his career indefinitely.
Sharks show fight
For the second consecutive postseason, the Sharks took a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Red Wings and then lost Game 4 in Detroit. But they didn't get embarrassed as in last year's 7-1 rout, and Ryane Clowe
's three assists were a big reason why. Brian Hedger gathered Clowe's thoughts
after San Jose's narrow defeat.
Canucks seek killer instinct
As Vancouver takes a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 against Nashville, the Canucks hope to put some recently-learned lessons to work. They came within an overtime goal of blowing a 3-0 lead to the Blackhawks in the first round, and as Dhiren Mahiban reports
, the players don't want to let the Predators get any ideas about pulling off their own comeback.
Preds battle injuries up front
Not only did Nashville drop two games on home ice to Vancouver, the Predators lost a forward in each game as Steve Sullivan
and Jerred Smithson
went down with injuries. According to John Manasso
, Smithson's absence likely opens the door for veteran J-P Dumont
to get back in the lineup with the season on the line Saturday.