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National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network

Friday, April 17 (All times Eastern)


( - 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 Stone.

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 victory.

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 Senators.

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.


( - 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 Center.

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 Caps.

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 2003.

"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 extremely well."

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.


( - 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 cushion.

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 Darling.

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 season.

"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 successful."

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.


( - 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 of play.

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 marker.

"I had a lane and the guys did such a good job of getting in (Lack's) way," Russell said.

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. 15, 1989

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 wanted."

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

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