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Stanley Cup Daily 4/20: Silencing the Cannons

Road teams went 2-for-2 on Thursday, and tonight three home teams have a chance to book their second round spot - two of whom could face each other.

Washington Capitals v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Four Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Each day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Canes Country recaps the night before, previews the games for that night, and gives you game times and broadcast information.

Thursday’s Recaps

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Bruins 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 1 (BOS leads 3-1)

No Bergeron, no problem. Without their All-Star center on Thursday night, the Boston Bruins went into Air Canada Centre and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs by a final tally of 3-1. Toronto now has their backs against the wall, and they’ll have to go on the road - in an arena wherein they’ve been outscored 12-4 in this first round series - in game five in order to force a game six back on home ice.

The Leafs had a huge opportunity handed to them last night - a chance to tie a series that, just a few days ago, looked as if it was over before even started. Instead, though, a veteran Bruins club made the best of a bad situation. Just 28 seconds into the opening frame, Torey Krug beat Frederik Andersen on a surprise shot from the top of the left circle and, just like that, the home team found themselves in a familiar spot - behind on the scoreboard. Trade deadline acquisition Tomas Plekanec found a way to beat Tuukka Rask just seven minutes later, but Toronto was then unable to respond to goals in the second and third period from Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, respectively.

After a disappointing game four for Auston Matthews and company, game five on Saturday could very well mark the end of what was an ultra promising year for the up-and-coming Leafs. They’ll need a big response from their dormant offense and, lucky for them, Nazem Kadri will be back from suspension to help the cause. That’s where their good luck will end, however, as Patrice Bergeron (currently listed as day-to-day) could return to the Boston lineup and reform the best line in hockey on Saturday night. - Brett Finger

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 1 (Series tied 2-2)

The Blue Jackets came home with a 2-0 series lead, but as promised by captain Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals have battled back. With the road team winning games one through three, the Caps looked to game four to keep up the trend.

The Caps were able to jump out to a quick two-goal lead in the first period with goals from Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie in the first half of the period. They extended their lead to three goals with a goal from Ovechkin just three minutes into the second period. Columbus tried to make it a game with a Boone Jenner goal 13 minutes into the second stanza, but the writing was on the wall, the Caps going into lockdown mode and stifling any attempt at a Jackets offensive attack.

The Caps dominated the game throughout, similar to what we saw in the first three games, but without the momentary lapses in judgment. The Blue Jackets were outshot 33-24 and only had one period where they outshot shot the Caps. In the third period, their nine shots bested the Caps who only had eight in the final stanza. In the first two periods, they were outshot 25-15.

The series, which has been the closest of any in the first round, is now headed back to Washington. Will the Caps be able to take a stranglehold on the series, or will it be more of the same with the Jackets coming back to Columbus and a shot at clinching on home ice? - Zeke Lukow

Friday’s Previews

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins (PIT leads 3-1)

7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN

  1. Closing Time? Pittsburgh has the chance to wrap up the series and move on to the face the winner of the Capitals/Blue Jackets series. With that series tied at two apiece, wrapping up tonight could mean a few days of rest for a squad that is already back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions. That could spell disaster for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
  2. Sid The Kid & Super Mario: Sidney Crosby now has the most postseason points in franchise history, surpassing Mario Lemieux’s previous record. An interesting article from ESPN came out debating whether Crosby has surpassed Super Mario. In my opinion, Crosby is scary close to being up near Lemieux’s legendary status and maybe one more Cup or a few hundred points would make Sid the Kid the greatest in franchise history. Crosby has five goals and four assists through the first four games of this series.
  3. Where Art Thou, Giroux? As stated in the series preview for this match-up, Claude Giroux had just one assist in six games during Philadelphia’s last playoff appearance. He has just one assist in this series as well. He’s got to be better in Game 5 if the Flyers wish to stave off elimination. - Justin Lape

Minnesota Wild v Winnipeg Jets - Game Two

Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets (WPG leads 3-1)

7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network

  1. Plugging holes: Both teams will be inserting players into their lineup due to either injury or suspension tonight. Minnesota will have to juggle lines for the second game without Zach Parise, and forward Kyle Rau is expected to make his NHL playoff debut for the club. Meanwhile, Winnipeg's back-end will be without Tyler Myers for the second straight game, as well as Josh Morrissey who is serving a one game suspension because of a crosscheck to Eric Staal’s neck. Rookie Sami Niku is expected to slot in for the Jets on the third pairing.
  2. Hellebuyck’s response: Connor Hellebuyck has been a main focus this series. A young goalie who had tremendous regular season success faced questions about his ability to handle playoff pressure. After winning the first two games, but not being truly tested, he was chased from the crease in Game 3 after allowing six goals. He responded in Game 4 with a shutout and now can clinch on home ice for Winnipeg’s first playoff series win in franchise history.
  3. Been there, done that: The Wild are not new to being down in the first round. Its become a common trend for a club that has a lot of regular season success but not very much in the postseason. They will have to rally from being down 3-1 in the series, something the franchise has done twice, both times in 2003. That year, the eventual Western Conference finalists rallied from 3-1 series deficits in back to back series against the Avalanche and Canucks. They will have to bring everything in order to return the series to their home ice and keep their hopes alive. - Liam Goff

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators (NSH leads 3-1)

9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

  1. Lessons Learned: The Avalanche found out on Wednesday just how unforgiving the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be. Down 3-0 against the Predators after the second period, the Avs battled back and cut the lead to one, but Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne and the Preds’ defense took over from there. Colorado was held to just two shots on goal in the final nine minutes of the game. For a team that has gotten this far through offensive skill, it was a rude awakening to the defense-first mindset that prevails more often than not in the postseason.
  2. Hamburgled: For his first playoff appearance since 2015, Andrew Hammond certainly acquitted himself well after relieving the injured Jonathan Bernier midway through the game. However, he faces a tall order tonight, going on the road with playoff survival at stake. Nashville’s big guns, led by Filip Forsberg, put 16 goals past Bernier through four games, and another effort like that will likely spell the end of the road for Colorado no matter who’s in net.
  3. Looking Forward: The Predators certainly wouldn’t mind a lengthy break before facing their next opponent. They got one last year after sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round and it propelled them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. A sweep is out of the question this time around, but a five-game relatively easy dispatch of the Avalanche will do them no harm, especially considering the carnage that’s been the calling card of the Winnipeg/Minnesota series thus far. The Preds would like nothing more than an easy win tonight while watching the Jets and Wild beat each other senseless for a couple more games, at least. - Brian LeBlanc