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Washington Capitals Preview 

After a slow start in their opening round-robin contest Monday, the Washington Capitals will look to improve following a 3-2 shootout defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning.  

The Capitals, entering a Thursday matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers, have one point in the battle for seeding among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. Washington’s Richard Panik and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scored a goal in the second period Monday after the Lightning took a 2-0 lead.  

Defenseman John Carlson, the team’s top scorer in the regular season with 75 points (15 goals, 60 assists), did not play against Tampa Bay after sustaining an undisclosed injury in an exhibition game, but he was on the ice at practice Wednesday. Braden Holtby will again start in goal. 

Philadelphia Flyers Preview 

Philadelphia goalie Brian Elliott will start the Flyers’ Thursday round-robin matchup against the Washington Capitals, a game after 21-year-old Carter Hart became the youngest Philadelphia Flyers goalie to win a playoff contest.  

Hart made 34 saves as the Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Sunday to earn two points after one round-robin contest. Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson, Philippe Myers and Scott Laughton all scored goals.  

Philadelphia went 3-0-1 in the regular season against the Capitals, capturing the final three meetings — with Elliott in goal for the last two. Travis Konecny recorded three goals and one assists this season against Washington, and Sean Couturier logged two goals and two assists in those contests.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Preview 

The Tampa Bay Lightning (1-0-0, two points) look to bolster their bid for a better seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs on Wednesday when they face the Boston Bruins (0-1-0, zero points) in Toronto as part of the round-robin tournament.  

Reigning Hart Trophy recipient Nikita Kucherov scored his 30th career postseason goal before converting in the shootout in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory over Washington on Monday. Kucherov capped the scoring in a 5-3 victory over the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins on March 7, giving the Lightning victories in three of the four regular-season meetings.  

Reigning Vezina Trophy recipient Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 129 of 139 shots while playing in all four contests versus Boston. 

Boston Bruins Preview 

The Boston Bruins (0-1-0, zero points) aim to have Tuukka Rask between the pipes on Wednesday when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning (1-0-0, two points) in Toronto as part of the Eastern Conference round-robin tournament.  

The former Vezina Trophy recipient missed the team’s 4-1 setback to Philadelphia on Sunday with what he described as a cough. Coach Bruce Cassidy implored his Presidents’ Trophy-winning team to show more urgency after it surrendered three goals in the second period versus the Flyers. The Bruins’ vaunted top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined for eight shots on goal and a minus-7 rating on Sunday.  

Conversely, Bergeron (two goals, one assist), Marchand (one goal, four assists) and Pastrnak (three goals, two assists) fared quite well in four regular-season meetings with the Lightning. 

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Colorado Avalanche Preview 

The Colorado Avalanche (1-0-0, two points) aim to ride the momentum of a last-second victory in their latest contest into Wednesday’s clash against the Dallas Stars in a Western Conference round-robin game in Edmonton.  

Nazem Kadri’s power-play goal with one-tenth of a second remaining in the third period powered Colorado to a stunning 2-1 win over St. Louis on Sunday. Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon notched an assist on Kadri’s goal and had three points (one goal, two assists) in the four-game season series versus Dallas.  

Goaltender Pavel Francouz, who posted a 21-7-4 record in 34 appearances (31 starts) this season, is expected to get the nod on Wednesday. Philipp Grubauer stared Sunday and stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced. 

Dallas Stars Preview 

The Dallas Stars (0-1-0, zero points) look to rebound from yielding four goals in the third period of their last contest when they take the ice on Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche in a Western Conference round-robin game in Edmonton.  

Ben Bishop had a tough time in Dallas’ 5-3 setback to Vegas on Monday, but the 6-foot-7 goaltender stood tall by turning aside 118 of 123 shots to win all three of his encounters with Colorado this season. The Stars will need more from their top line of Tyler Seguin, captain Jamie Benn and Denis Gurianov, which didn’t register a shot on goal against the Golden Knights.  

Gurianov netted two of his team-leading 20 goals versus the Avalanche this season while Seguin added two of his club-best 50 points in the series. 

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Pittsburgh Penguins Preview 

Captain Sidney Crosby bids to continue his sterling play on Wednesday when the fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins play Game 3 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series against the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens in Toronto.  

The two-time Hart Trophy recipient scored in his second consecutive contest Monday during the Penguins’ series-tying, 3-1 win, boosting his postseason point total to 188 (68 goals, 120 assists) — tying him with Hall of Famers Joe Sakic and Doug Gilmour for eighth place on the NHL’s all-time playoff points list.  

The Penguins have struggled to ignite their power play in the series (1-for-12), but their eighth-ranked penalty kill has thwarted all five short-handed situations. 

Montreal Canadiens Preview 

The 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens aim to locate some offense to support Carey Price on Wednesday when they play Game 3 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series against the fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto.  

The former Hart and Vezina Trophy recipient has done his part in the series, turning aside 74 of 78 shots to garner the upstart Canadiens a split of the first two contests. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who recorded just six goals and eight points in 36 games in 2019-20, scored in both Montreal’s 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 and 3-1 setback in Game 2 on Monday.  

The Canadiens are 0-for-5 with the man advantage in the series after posting the third-ranked power play on the road in the regular season. 

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Edmonton Oilers Preview 

Superstar captain Connor McDavid looks to continue his torrid play on Wednesday when the fifth-seeded Oilers play Game 3 of their best-of-five Western Conference qualifying series against the 12th-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in Edmonton.  

McDavid collected a goal and two assists in the Oilers’ 6-4 setback in Game 1 before recording a hat trick in a 6-3 romp on Monday. Fellow former top overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has matched McDavid with back-to-back three-point performances to begin the series.  

Hart Trophy finalist Leon Draisaitl was held off the scoresheet in Game 2 after erupting for 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in four contests (three regular-season contests plus Game 1 of series) versus the Blackhawks. 

Chicago Blackhawks Preview 

The 12th-seeded Chicago Blackhawks bid for a fast start on Wednesday they play Game 3 of their best-of-five Western Conference qualifying series against the fifth-seeded Oilers in Edmonton.  

The Blackhawks have trailed right out of the gate in both contests thus far in the set, including an early two-goal deficit on Monday that led to a series-tying, 6-3 setback. Former Hart Trophy recipient Patrick Kane collected a goal and an assist in Game 2 to boost his point total to seven (three goals, four assists) in five meetings with the Oilers in 2019-20.  

Chicago’s 28th-ranked power play followed a 3-for-6 performance in the series opener by mustering just six shots in four fruitless opportunities with the man advantage in Game 2.

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Carolina Hurricanes Preview 

The sixth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes look to bring out the brooms on Tuesday night when they play Game 3 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series against the 11th-seeded New York Rangers in Toronto.  

The Hurricanes followed a 3-2 win in the series opener on Saturday with a 4-1 victory two days later, highlighted by Andrei Svechnikov recording the franchise’s first postseason hat trick. The second-year star also became the eighth different player in NHL history to notch a hat trick in the playoffs before the age of 21.  

Sebastian Aho, who led the team in goals (38) and points (66) during the regular season, scored and set up a goal in the postseason opener before collecting three assists on Monday. 

New York Rangers Preview 

The 11th-seeded New York Rangers bid to stave off elimination on Tuesday night when they play Game 3 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series against the sixth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto.  

The odds clearly are not in the favor of the Rangers, as teams that face a 2-0 deficit in an NHL best-of-five postseason set have won the series just once in 56 opportunities. Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin scored a power-play goal in New York’s 4-1 loss on Monday afternoon, marking his 28th point (10 goals, 18 assists) in 29 career playoff games.  

The man-advantage tally was a welcome sight for the Rangers, who mustered just eight shots over seven fruitless power-play chances in a 3-2 loss in Game 1 on Saturday. 

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Florida Panthers Preview 

The 10th-seeded Florida Panthers bid to unleash their sixth-ranked offense on Tuesday afternoon when they play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference qualifying series against the seventh-seeded New York Islanders in Toronto.  

The Panthers mustered little on offense Saturday during a 2-1 loss in the series opener, save for Jonathan Huberdeau’s goal early in the third period. Huberdeau, 27, led the team in assists (55) and points (78) during the regular season. Florida’s 10th-ranked power play (21.3 percent) failed on its lone opportunity in Saturday’s contest.  

Two-time Vezina Trophy recipient Sergei Bobrovsky kept Florida within earshot by making 26 saves in Game 1 before falling to 11-19 all-time in his postseason career. 

New York Islanders Preview 

The seventh-seeded New York Islanders look to maintain their defensive intensity on Tuesday afternoon when they play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference qualifying series against the 10th-seeded Florida Panthers in Toronto.  

Johnny Boychuk certainly would aid the Islanders in their cause, but the veteran defenseman’s is considered doubtful for Tuesday after he was on the receiving end of a hit to the head by Florida’s Mike Matheson in New York’s 2-1 win on Saturday.  

Anthony Beauvillier, who was held off the scoresheet in all three games of the season series, made the Panthers pay by netting what proved to be the game-winning goal on a second-period power play in the playoff opener. 

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Columbus Blue Jackets Preview 

The ninth-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets look to keep the eighth-seeded Maple Leafs under wraps on Tuesday when they play Game 2 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series in Toronto.  

Joonas Korpisalo became the 14th goaltender in NHL history — 10th in the modern era (since 1943-44) — to record a shutout in his postseason debut after turning aside all 28 shots he faced in Columbus’ 2-0 win on Sunday. Cam Atkinson scored at 1:05 of the third period, his franchise-leading eighth postseason goal.  

The tally was a welcome sight for the 31-year-old Atkinson, who scored just 12 times during an injury-riddled season after tying a franchise record with 41 goals in 2018-19. 

Toronto Maple Leafs Preview 

The eighth-seeded Maple Leafs aim to ignite their second-ranked offense on Tuesday when they play Game 2 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series against the ninth-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets in Toronto.  

The Maple Leafs, who dropped a 2-0 decision in the series opener on Sunday, were shut out just once in 70 games during the regular season. Auston Matthews (career-best 47 goals this season) logged a team-high 24:38 of ice time and registered a game-high six shots on goal, including one that required a spectacular glove save by Joonas Korpisalo late in the second period.  

Frederik Anderson turned aside 33 of 34 shots in the opener for Toronto, which is bidding to advance past the first round for the first time since 2004. 

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Montreal Canadiens Preview 

The 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens bid to push the fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins to the brink on Monday when they play Game 2 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series in Toronto.  

Former Hart and Vezina Trophy recipient Carey Price turned aside 39 shots before defenseman Jeff Petry scored 13:57 into overtime of Montreal’s 3-2 win on Saturday. Nick Suzuki, whose 13 goals ranked fifth among all rookies in 2019-20, joined Jesperi Kotkaniemi in finding the net in their respective NHL playoff debuts on Saturday. 

Postseason success is not a foreign concept for Suzuki, however, as the 20-year-old pumped in 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 24 games for the Guelph Storm en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 Ontario Hockey League playoffs. 

Pittsburgh Penguins Preview 

The fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins aim to snap a seven-game playoff losing streak on Monday when they face the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference qualifying series. The Penguins’ potent power play converted on just 1 of 7 opportunities and did not score on a 92-second 5-on-3 advantage in the third period. 

Superstar Sidney Crosby scored his 67th career postseason goal in the opener to move into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Jake Guentzel set up Crosby’s goal midway into the second period to highlight his return from shoulder surgery in December. Bryan Rust also tallied to pick up where he left off after leading the Penguins with 27 goals in the regular season. 

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Chicago Blackhawks Preview 

Dominik Kubalik looks to follow up his record-setting performance when the 12th-seeded Chicago Blackhawks face the fifth-seeded Oilers on Monday in Game 2 of their best-of-five Western Conference qualifying series in Edmonton.  

The Calder Trophy finalist became the first player in NHL history to record five points in his playoff debut after collecting two goals and three assists in Chicago’s 6-4 victory on Saturday afternoon. Captain Jonathan Toews added two goals and an assist in the opener to match the same totals he accumulated against the Oilers in the team’s three-game regular-season set.  

The Blackhawks’ 28th-ranked power play provided an unexpected spark with three goals in the opener. 

Edmonton Oilers Preview 

The fifth-seeded Oilers aim for a better start out of the gate when they take the ice Monday for Game 2 of their Western Conference qualifying series against the 12th-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in Edmonton.  

While captain Connor McDavid ignited his three-point performance with a goal 2:34 into the contest, the Oilers found themselves back on their heels after surrendering four goals in a span of 7:06 in the first period en route to a 6-4 setback on Saturday.  

Edmonton’s top-ranked power play was as good as advertised with Hart Trophy finalist Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins joining McDavid by scoring with the man advantage. The Oilers’ second-ranked penalty kill, however, was singed for three goals in the series opener as well. 

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St. Louis Blues Preview

The reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues tangle with the Colorado Avalanche in Edmonton on Sunday to begin a round-robin tournament to determine seeding in the Western Conference.  

The Blues will welcome the return of Vladimir Tarasenko, a five-time 30-goal scorer who will be playing in his first game action since he underwent shoulder surgery in late October. Tarasenko likely will add another dimension to St. Louis’ third-ranked power play (24.3 percent) and provide another option for Conn Smythe Trophy recipient and former Avalanche player Ryan O’Reilly, who led the team in assists (49) and points (61).  

David Perron, who tied Brayden Schenn for the team lead with 25 goals, scored five times and added an assist to help the Blues split a four-game season series with the Avalanche.

Colorado Avalanche Preview 

The Colorado Avalanche brace for the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Sunday when they begin a round-robin tournament in Edmonton to determine seeding in the Western Conference.  

Nathan MacKinnon (35 goals, 58 assists), who is a finalist for both the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award, erupted for eight points (three goals, five assists) to help the Avalanche split a four-game season series with the Blues.  

Defenseman Cale Makar recorded 38 assists and 19 power-play points, totals that trail only fellow Calder Trophy finalist Quinn Hughes (Vancouver) among rookies. Colorado boasts the NHL’s fourth-ranked goals per game average (3.37) and the West’s best goal differential (plus-46).

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New York Rangers Preview 

The 11th-seeded New York Rangers look to regain their footing on Monday afternoon in Game 2 of their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series against the sixth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto.  

The Rangers stumbled out of the gate in a 3-2 setback on Saturday afternoon after outscoring the Hurricanes by a 17-9 margin en route to winning all four regular-season meetings. Mika Zibanejad, who collected seven points (four goals, three assists) in the season series, scored on Saturday to mark his seventh straight game with a goal and 13th in his last 14 outings.  

New York needs more out of its power play, however, as it mustered just eight total shots on seven fruitless opportunities in Game 1.

Carolina Hurricanes Preview 

Sebastian Aho aims to continue his postseason success on Monday afternoon when the sixth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference qualifying series against the 11th-seeded New York Rangers in Toronto.  

Aho, who joined defenseman Jaccob Slavin by scoring and setting up a goal in Carolina’s 3-2 win on Saturday, has recorded 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 16 postseason games. Only Eric Staal (20), Kevin Dineen (16), Cory Stillman (16) and John Anderson (16) have scored more points in a 16-game span in franchise playoff history. 

Martin Necas made the most of his first career postseason appearance by netting the game-winning goal in the third period. 

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Philadelphia Flyers Preview 

The Philadelphia Flyers look turn up the heat once again on Sunday when they face the Boston Bruins to begin a round-robin tournament in Toronto to determine seeding in the Eastern Conference.  

The Flyers posted a sizzling 18-4-1 record in a 23-game stretch before a 2-0 setback to Boston on March 10 marked both teams’ last contest prior to the NHL pausing the season. Travis Konecny (team-leading 24 goals, 61 points) collected one goal and two assists to help Philadelphia win the first two outings of the three-game season series with the Bruins.  

All eyes will be on Carter Hart. The 21-year-old is 4-10-1 with a 3.81 goals-against average and .857 save percentage in away games this season.

Boston Bruins Preview 

The Boston Bruins bid to shake off the rust following a 4 1/2-month absence on Sunday when they face off against the Philadelphia Flyers to begin a round-robin tournament in Toronto to determine seeding in the Eastern Conference.  

David Pastrnak, who tied Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals (48), picked up where he left off Thursday by scoring in Boston’s 4-1 exhibition loss to Columbus. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins boast the East’s top power play (25.2 percent) and penalty kill (84.2).  

Former Vezina Trophy recipient Tuukka Rask (NHL-best 2.12 goals-against average) will get the nod on Sunday looking to repeat the feat of his sterling 36-save performance in the Bruins’ 2-0 victory over Philadelphia on March 10. 

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