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.
Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Washington Capitals 1 (Series tied 2-2)
Jake Guentzel was doing Jake Guentzel things again Thursday night, with a two-goal performance that evened the series for the Penguins in a 3-1 win against the Capitals in Pittsburgh.
After a scoreless first, the NHL’s leading playoff goal-scorer broke the seal halfway through the second period for a 1-0 Penguins lead. Guentzel soon found himself on the score sheet again with a tripping penalty, allowing T.J. Oshie to capitalize on the ensuing power play. Not to be outdone, Oshie then found himself in the penalty box, leading to Evgeni Malkin’s eventual game-winning power play goal. Malkin’s goal was drama-filled as the verdict awaited both video review and a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference.
Washington’s comeback was thwarted late in the third when, after Braden Holtby left the ice for an extra attacker, the Caps tried to even things up with seven skaters, which is frowned upon. While short-handed, Guentzel scored his second of the night into the empty net, while simultaneously behind the play a fight broke out between Oshie and Kris Letang after Oshie launched a hit on Letang.
Missing Tom Wilson, who was serving game one of a three-game suspension, the Capitals’ top line never got going. Alex Ovechkin was not credited with a shot on goal. Neither was Sidney Crosby, and according to at least one stats site, that represents the first time in their history that Ovechkin and Crosby have faced each other with neither player recording a shot on goal.
The series returns to the nation’s capital Saturday. - Jamie Kellner
Nashville Predators 2, Winnipeg Jets 1 (Series tied 2-2)
Hockey is a game of bounces, and on Thursday night, the Jets just couldn’t get enough of those bounce to go their way and saw their second-round series knotted up as a result thanks to a desperate performance from the Predators.
Compared to the other games in this series, Game 4 was tight-checking. This was a battle of two teams who were grounded and fighting hard for each and every chance they got. This was a true playoff atmosphere through and through, and goals from Ryan Hartman and P.K. Subban were enough for the road team. A late goal from Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine made things interesting and a last-second narrow miss by Mark Schiefele almost sent things into overtime, but that was just one of the several bounces that the Jets fell on the wrong side of. That, coupled with a fantastic performance from Pekka Rinne and a tight, hardworking effort from the top of Nashville’s lineup to the bottom, factored into the 2-1 final score.
The two teams will get a much-needed day off on Friday before squaring off in Nashville for Game 5 on Saturday. So far, this series has lived up to all the expectations. The next few games will feature two incredible hockey teams playing at their most desperate - playoff hockey at its best. - Brett Finger
Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins (TBL leads 2-1)
7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Home Sweet Home: The Bruins took the first game in enemy territory, then the Lightning did the same. This is the most pivotal game by far for the Bruins as they get one more in front of their home fans tonight. If they lose, they face having to win three straight games against the Lightning with two of those games being played in Florida.
- Lighting the Lamp: The Bruins are struggling on offense. It’s easy to point the finger at the top line scorers, but the other three lines are doing next to nothing in the offensive zone, particularly the third line. With most defensive pressure focused on nullifying the superstars, the Bruins scoring depth needs to come alive. Scoring three goals in two games is never going to cut it in a playoff series, especially not against Tampa Bay. It’s time for the middle six to step up and give Patrice Bergeron some help.
- Lightning Striking Twice: The Lightning have been exceptional, particularly with puck possession. They’ve done a great job of shutting down Boston’s goal scoring and have overcome a (mostly) locked in Tuukka Rask. A second win tonight in Boston would put them in the drivers seat for the series, giving them an almost insurmountable 3-1 lead as they travel home to Tampa. The Bolts have been the better team this series; let’s see if they can continue that tonight.
San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights (Series tied 2-2)
10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Licking Their Wounds: Vegas took a shot from San Jose in Game 2 as they dropped a contest for the first time in these playoffs, but Game 4 was an entirely different kind of loss. The Golden Knights were outsmarted, outworked and outplayed, and for the first time, their frustrations showed on the ice. The good news for them is their chance to rebound once more comes at their Las Vegas fortress, T-Mobile Arena. It’s a safe bet the Knights will be raring to regain their series lead and get the awful taste of Game 4 out of their mouths.
- Cagey Cage Match: Neither netminder has been able to take control of the series for more than a game, with Martin Jones’ impressive Game 4 shutout looming over what was a bit of a dud for Marc-Andre Fleury. The brief history of the series dictates that it is now Fleury’s turn to shut the door, but don’t be surprised if Jones carries over his confidence from Wednesday night’s victory. Game 5 could end up bucking the trend of the first four games and feature a goaltending duel between two of the best in the postseason.
- Winner Take All? With the series knotted at two wins apiece, the winner of Game 5 will boast a stranglehold in the best-of-7. According to NHL.com, Game 5 winners hold a 202-54 record in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And while this one has been quite the see-saw affair, the winner of tonight’s contest will ride high into Game 6 with confidence that there won’t be a Game 7. - Peter Dewar