The Chicago Blackhawks will begin their quest to become the first team in 18 years to repeat as Stanley Cup champion Wednesday when they visit the St. Louis Blues (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) in one of the eight First Round series in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Blackhawks are trying to become the first team to repeat since the Detroit Red Wings won in 1997 and again in '98, and to win the Cup for the fourth time in seven seasons. But the Blues, who finished second in the Central Division, four points ahead of the Blackhawks, will have the home-ice advantage.
VIEW FULL FIRST ROUND SCHEDULE
The other two series that begin Wednesday are in the Eastern Conference, and each is a rematch from the first round last year. The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m. ET NBCSN) in a meeting between the second- and third-place teams in the Atlantic Division, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, runners-up in the Metropolitan Division, host the third-place New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET, USA). Last year, the Lightning eliminated the Red Wings in seven games and the Rangers defeated the Penguins in five games.
Video: Rangers take on Penguins in Round 1 of the playoffs
Four more series start Thursday.
In the East, the Atlantic Division-champion Florida Panthers host the New York Islanders (8 p.m. ET, CNBC), who won the first wild card. The Washington Capitals, who finished first in the Metropolitan Division and won the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's best regular-season team, host the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN), who won the second wild card.
In the Western Conference, the Central Division-champion Dallas Stars host the Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m. ET NBCSN), who earned the second wild card, and the Los Angeles Kings play the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET, CNBC) in a battle between the second- and third-place teams in the Pacific Division.
The remaining series begins Friday, when the Anaheim Ducks, who won the Pacific Division by defeating the Capitals 2-0 on the final night of the regular season, host the Nashville Predators (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) who earned the first wild card.
Video: Predators to take on Ducks in Round 1 of the playoffs