National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network|
Friday, April 17
(All times Eastern)
OTTAWA SENATORS (0-1) AT MONTREAL CANADIENS (1-0), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Andrew Hammond and the Ottawa Senators will try to
bounce back from a close loss when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Friday
for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Behind stellar goaltending from Hammond, the Senators finished the regular
season with a 21-3-3 record to claim the first wild card spot in the East.
However, "The Hamburglar" couldn't come through for Ottawa in the opener of
this best-of-seven series, as the Atlantic Division champion Canadiens posted
a 4-3 triumph at the Bell Centre.
Hammond, who went 20-1-2 with a 1.79 goals against average for Ottawa this
season, yielded four goals on 39 shots in Wednesday's loss. He had only
surrendered more than three goals twice in 23 outings during his star-making
turn during the regular season.
Ottawa's goalie hopes to rebound tonight with a better performance in his
second career playoff game.
Montreal, meanwhile, grabbed the 1-0 series lead despite playing without its
leading scorer and the loss of its best defenseman. Top-line winger Max
Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with 37 goals and 67 points this season, was
unable to play because of an upper-body injury, while star blueliner P.K.
Subban was ejected midway through the contest for slashing Ottawa's Mark
Brian Flynn led the way on offense in Pacioretty's absence, posting a goal and
two assists while scoring the game-winning marker late in the second period.
Carey Price, a Hart and Vezina Trophy candidate, stopped 30 shots for the
Lars Eller, Torrey Mitchell and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Habs in a
lively and physical start to the series. Mitchell and Plekanec's scores came
just 15 seconds apart in the second period, marking the fastest two goals in a
playoff game for the franchise since Turner Stevenson and Vincent Damphousse
scored 10 seconds apart against Buffalo on May 8, 1998
The most controversial moment of Game 1 came midway through the second period
when Subban was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his slash
on Stone. The penalty came at the 8:23 mark, only 15 seconds after Montreal
grabbed a 2-1 lead on Plekanec's tally. Ottawa's Kyle Turris also was whistled
for roughing at 8:23.
"I agree it was a slashing penalty. On our standpoint, I don't agree it
deserved five minutes," said Montreal coach Michel Therrien.
Ottawa coach Dave Cameron obviously wasn't pleased about the play and believed
Subban should face further discipline with a suspension. He will not get his
wish, however, as Subban was not suspended and will play in Friday's contest.
"I think it's quite simple: It's a vicious slash on an unprotected part of the
body," said Cameron.
Turris evened the score with a power-play marker at 2-2 shortly after exiting
the penalty box, but Montreal regained the lead with a short-handed tally from
Eller at 11:42 of the second period. Mika Zibanejad added another power-play
goal for Ottawa at the 12:36 mark, but Flynn would put the Habs ahead for good
with an even strength goal with 2:43 left in the wild middle period.
Fittingly, a skirmish broke out between the players on the ice at the end of
the game. The Senators wound up getting 26 of their 30 penalty minutes in the
game for their actions after the final horn sounded.
"You're fighting for your life now," said Clarke MacArthur, who was at the
center of the game-ending conflict. "It's about keeping them in check. There's
going to be dirty stuff that goes on in the games. Sometimes you've got to
just take it, and when you get a chance to hand it back out, you do that too.
It's fun hockey to be in. It's just too bad we let one slip tonight."
Erik Karlsson and Patrick Wiercioch both had two assists for the Sens, who
could be without Stone after he suffered a microfracture of his right wrist
following the slash from Subban. Stone, who tied for the NHL rookie lead in
points this season with 64, left briefly after the incident but did return to
the game. His status for Game 2 and the rest of this series is unknown.
Pacioretty is also questionable for Game 2. He hasn't played since suffering
what is rumored to be a concussion on April 5.
This marks the second playoff meeting between the Habs and Sens. Ottawa won
the previous postseason encounter in quick fashion, taking the 2013 conference
quarterfinals matchup in five games. Montreal was a heavily-favored No. 2 seed
heading into that series before getting knocked off by the seventh-seeded
The venue will change from Montreal to Ottawa following tonight's contest.
Game 3 is set for Sunday with the fourth meeting scheduled for Wednesday night
in Canada's capital city.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS (1-0) AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS (0-1), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals hope to avoid falling in an 0-2
hole on home ice when they battle the New York Islanders on Friday in Game 2
of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Islanders grabbed the early lead in this best-of-seven series between
Metropolitan Division rivals, taking a 4-1 decision Wednesday at the Verizon
Washington aims to bounce back from the lackluster effort and even the series
before the venue changes to Long Island for Games 3 and 4. The third meeting
is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum, a building the Islanders
are leaving behind after this season as they pick up stakes and move to the
Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Of course, the Isles would love to leave Long Island on a high note. The club
hasn't won a playoff series since the 1993 postseason, when it began a run to
the conference finals with an opening-round win over the Capitals. New York
won that series in six games and this season's encounter marks the first
playoff meeting between the clubs since that matchup over two decades ago.
The Capitals, meanwhile, are hoping to get past the conference quarterfinals
for the first time since 2012. They lost to the New York Rangers in the
opening round two years ago before missing the postseason in 2014.
Washington's star forward Alex Ovechkin, of course, has never made it past the
second round and neither has head coach Barry Trotz, who was the longtime
bench boss in Nashville before getting let go last season and joining the
Jaroslav Halak stopped 24 shots and Brock Nelson picked up his first two
career playoff goals to help the Isles subdue the Capitals in Game 1.
Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist while Ryan Strome provided the other
tally for the Islanders, who posted their first win in a playoff opener since
"Our guys played hard," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. "When you play
against elite players, you want to be smart and controlled. All of them played
The score was tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes, but Strome put the visitors ahead
for good less than four minutes into the second period. Strome became the
first Islander to record a game-winning goal in his playoff debut since Clark
Gillies in 1975
Bailey added to the lead later in the second and Nelson sealed the victory
with his second tally of the game by scoring into an empty net.
Marcus Johansson supplied the lone offense for the Capitals, while Braden
Holtby surrendered three goals on 26 shots in defeat.
"I do not think we were skating the way we need to against a team that can
skate pretty good," Trotz said. "We weren't as sharp as we need to be. We need
to be a lot sharper. That goes right through the whole lineup. From our top
guys to our role players, there were not too many sharp guys."
Washington will shoot for a better effort tonight and does own a 9-6 record
all-time in Game 2 when dropping the opening test of the series.
The Isles won the opener despite playing without defenseman Travis Hamonic,
who led the blue line in average ice time during the regular season. Hamonic
has missed two straight games dating back to the final tilt of the regular
season and is questionable for Game 2 with a lower-body injury.
The Caps and Isles each won two games during four meetings in 2014-15 and
three of the contests went beyond regulation.
New York has won five of its six all-time playoff series against Washington.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (1-0) AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS (0-1), 9:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Nashville Predators got the start they wanted in
Game 1 of their playoff series against Chicago, but enter Friday's second
meeting down a game after a memorable comeback by the Blackhawks.
The Predators attempt to put a 4-3 double-overtime loss in the opener of this
best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series behind them tonight, as
they hope to bounce back before falling into an 0-2 hole at Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville came out flying on Wednesday and grabbed a 3-0 lead while
outshooting Chicago 12-6 in the first period. Colin Wilson opened the scoring
at the 6:07 mark and added his second marker, a power-play tally with 27
seconds left in the opening period to stake the home team to a three-goal
Viktor Stalberg also scored in between Wilson's goals, but the Preds wouldn't
hit the net again after their strong first period.
Chicago pulled goaltender Corey Crawford after a rough opening period and the
team responded to the move, getting all three goals back by the end of 40
minutes. The game would remain tied at 3-3 until Duncan Keith scored the
winner on a shot from the point at 7:49 of the second overtime period.
Keith's tally was Chicago's 42nd shot of the contest and 15th beyond
regulation, and wouldn't have occurred if not for the heroics of Scott
Inserted after starter Crawford allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first
period, Darling withstood a 42-shot barrage and failed to crack during his NHL
playoff debut, making 17 saves in the first extra session and following up
with six more stops until Keith ended the contest.
Darling became the first rookie Blackhawks netminder to win his playoff bow
since Ed Belfour against Minnesota on Apr. 6, 1990, a 5-3 victory.
"This is just another thing that I never would have told you would have
happened. But it did," said Darling, who spent last year in the ECHL and began
this season with Rockford of the AHL.
Despite the terrific relief performance, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville
announced Thursday that Crawford would be back as the starter for Game 2.
"He's been our strength all year long," Quenneville said of the decision to go
back to Crawford. "Look forward to him getting back in the net (Friday)."
Crawford backstopped the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup title in the spring of
2013 and this season posted a record of 32-20-5 with a 2.27 goals-against
average and a .924 save percentage in 57 starts.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews each recorded a goal in
the second-period onslaught for the Blackhawks. Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane
each contributed two assists in the victory. Kane returned to action for first
time since Feb. 24 due to a broken collarbone
Nashville's Pekka Rinne yielded three scores on 11 shots in the second period
to let Chicago back in the contest, but finished with 38 saves in defeat. The
goalie didn't get a good look at Keith's OT winner, as Toews was engaged with
Preds defenseman Anton Volchenkov in front of the net to provide a screen.
Head coach Peter Laviolette, who led Carolina to a Stanley Cup title in 2006,
was making his Predators playoff debut. Laviolette is only the second bench
boss in franchise history after taking over for Barry Trotz following last
"I thought our guys played hard tonight. There's a stretch in the second
period there where we lost our way," Laviolette said. "I think we did a good
job of getting back on the train that we needed to be on in order to be
Nashville's Mike Fisher left with a lower-body injury in the second period and
the centerman is questionable for Game 2. If Fisher is unable to go on Friday
he will be replaced in the lineup by either Mike Santorelli or Kevin Fiala.
Preds defenseman Cody Franson sat out the opener with an upper-body injury and
is considered day-to-day. Volchenkov replaced Franson for Game 1.
The Blackhawks went 3-1-0 versus the Predators this season, winning twice
beyond regulation, but Wednesday's game was the first encounter between the
clubs since Dec. 29.
Chicago and Nashville have met once previously in the postseason, a 2010
conference quarterfinal series that Chicago won in six games. The 'Hawks won
the Stanley Cup that season, beating the Laviolette-coached Philadelphia
Flyers in the Finals.
Game 3 of this series is scheduled for Sunday at Chicago's United Center.
CALGARY FLAMES (1-0) AT VANCOUVER CANUCKS (0-1), 10 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Calgary Flames were known for their strong third
periods during the regular season and they made use of that skill to grab an
early lead over the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Calgary hopes to build off the comeback victory and take a 2-0 advantage in
the best-of-seven series when it visits the Canucks for Friday's Game 2 battle
at Rogers Arena.
The Flames tied the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most third-period goals scored
this season with 99 while only allowing 68 tallies in the final 20 minutes of
regulation. Calgary won 10 regular-season games when trailing after 40 minutes
In Game 1 on Wednesday, Calgary found itself down 1-0 heading into the third
period, but by the end of the stanza the club was on top 2-1. David Jones tied
the contest just under eight minutes into the final period and Kris Russell
delivered the victory by notching his first career playoff goal with only 29.6
seconds remaining in regulation.
With time winding down, Russell accepted a pass from Dennis Wideman across the
blue line, moved in from the left point and sent a low slapper around a diving
defender and through traffic past a screened Eddie Lack for the deciding
"I had a lane and the guys did such a good job of getting in (Lack's) way,"
Russell's goal was the latest game-winning marker in a period in Flames'
playoff history, breaking the previous record set by Joel Otto at 19:21 of
overtime in Game 7 of the Smythe Division semifinals against Vancouver on Apr.
Jonas Hiller was solid in net, making 29 saves in Calgary's first playoff
appearance since 2009.
"It feels like nothing rattles us," Flames head coach Bob Hartley said. "In
the third period, we could feel it on the bench ... As soon as Jones scored, I
felt that we had another gear."
Rookie Bo Horvat provided Vancouver's lone tally, scoring at 12:08 of the
second period. Lack, starting in place of veteran Ryan Miller, stopped 28
shots in the Canucks' return to the postseason after last year's absence.
"We made a couple choices that weren't great," Canucks head coach Willie
Desjardins said. "We didn't generate as much in the last 10 minutes as we
Desjardins did not indicate whether Lack would get the start again over
Miller, who missed over a month of action with a knee injury before getting
shelled for five goals in Vancouver's regular-season finale against Edmonton.
Calgary played Game 1 without forward Lance Bouma, who sat out with an upper-
body injury. Bouma is not expected to play tonight.
The Canucks and Flames split four meetings during the regular season, with
Vancouver winning one of its games in overtime.
This series marks the seventh postseason encounter between the clubs, but the
first since the 2004 conference quarterfinals, won in seven games by Calgary.
The Flames have won four of the six prior playoff encounters.
Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday night in Calgary.
04/17 10:52:29 ET