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.
(M2) Pittsburgh Penguins at (M1) Washington Capitals
7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Can the Capitals Get Over the Hump? The Caps have not made it out of the second round in the Alex Ovechkin era. Since 2005 the Caps have been eliminated three times by the Pittsburgh Penguins, including in each of the previous two seasons, but will this year be different? The Caps come into the series looking more resilient than they have in previous years. Throughout their first-round matchup, they had plenty of chances to choke and lose, but they didn’t. They came back from being down 0-2 heading into their first away game of the series - but then they won in double overtime in Game 3, and won again in overtime (after blowing a third period lead) in Game 5. This team has refused to quit.
- Penguins Dealing with Injuries: The Penguins were looking like they were going to be able to get out of the first round in five games and have time to rest. However, the Philadelphia Flyers pushed the series to six games, which led to more physical hockey that came at a cost. In Game 6, Claude Giroux laid into Carl Hagelin who left the game shortly after with an upper-body injury. He joins Evgeni Malkin, who was injured in game five and missed game six, on the injury list for the Penguins. Both players are expected to miss Game 1, but have traveled with the team and could make a return in Game 2.
- Goaltending...again: Any series in the playoffs hinges on one-goal games. The Caps and Pens over the past two seasons exemplify this. Eight of the 13 playoff games played between these two have been decided by one goal, four of which went into overtime. With Matt Murray having a little bit of a shaky season, and Braden Holtby’s history with the Penguins, the outcome will come down to which goalie plays the most consistent. Holtby looked great in the first round posting a .933 sv% in five games played, while Murray had a lower .911 sv% against the Flyers. - Zeke Lukow
(P3) San Jose Sharks at (P2) Vegas Golden Knights
10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Broom Squad: Vegas and San Jose both managed four-game sweeps in the first round, so confidence won’t be lacking in Game 1, but it will be fascinating to see how each team responds to its first taste of adversity. The Kings gave Vegas a rough ride at times, but ultimately posed little threat, while the Sharks coasted past the Ducks without batting an eye. If one side fails to start on time, it could find itself in unfamiliar territory having to dig out of a hole.
- Flower Power: Marc-Andre Fleury went full renaissance mode in the first round, allowing just three goals in Vegas’ four games. LA certainly bears some fault in its failure, but Fleury’s phenomenal performances fueled the Golden Knights’ surge to the second round. The netminder made highlight-reel save after save to keep Vegas from dropping behind in scoreless contests, and held the Kings at bay when the Knights held leads by slim margins. The skaters in front of him will once again be looking to feed off of Fleury’s confidence as they welcome a new challenge against the Sharks.
- Veteran Presence: No, I’m not doubting Vegas. But there remains something to be said for having been there before, and the Sharks’ trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 gave them plenty to look back on as they climb the mountain once more. Fatigue shouldn’t be a problem for either team, but should the Sharks get a game or two advantage, they may be able to overwhelm the young Golden Knights. Conversely, if Vegas starts hot on home ice, the Sharks have the firepower and the savvy to get back into the series. - Peter Dewar