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Going into this series it’s important not to focus too far into the past. This will be the first time in the Sharks 25 year history to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that is because the team that has been assembled this past season is a significantly stronger and more confident one than they have had in the past. The Penguins struggled at the beginning of the regular season, but 28 games in Mike Sullivan took over coaching duties and worked to amplify the team’s assets and push a fast pace breathing new life into the Pittsburgh team.

Penguins: Pittsburgh was 15-10-3 when general manager Jim Rutherford decided to replace Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan as coach, and it was the game changer the Penguins needed. Under Johnston the greatest assets of the team were stifled, but with the entrance of Sullivan Pittsburgh was given the freedom to use all the weapons in their arsenal to play a faster more productive game. He has added a calmness on the bench and brought the team together. He pushes the players to embrace their individual skills while playing as a team and pushed a more aggressive and faster pace.

The Penguins have a stacked offensive unit. Crosby scored 36 goals and had 85 points during the regular season, and he and Malkin each have 15 points in the playoffs. Malkin went six games earlier this postseason without a point, but with a five-game point streak (one goal and five assists) he seems to be hitting his stride. It is often forgotten that Crosby and Malkin are not the only offensive weapons that Pittsburgh has in their arsenal.

There was talk that Phil Kessel is the most overrated player in the league, but his play has certainly disputed that as the team has greatly benefited from his acquisition from the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer. Kessel has shown his worth leading Pittsburgh this postseason in scoring with 18 points (nine goals and nine assists) in as many games. The line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel has been dynamite for the Penguins. Bonino has 12 assists in 18 games, and Hagelin has five goals and seven assists, and is one of the fastest skaters in the league.

Conor Sheary has two goals in 17 games, and Patrick Hornqvist has seven goals and four assists. The two have shared much of their time on the ice on a line with Sidney Crosby.

This is Bryan Rust’s first playoffs, but he isn’t showing it as he is playing with the confidence of a more experienced player. He scored each of Pittsburgh’s goals in a 2-1 win in Game 7 against the Lightning. We will likely see Rust alongside Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz. Kunitz has racked up 10 points in 18 games.

Veterans Matt Cullen and Eric Fehr reside on the Penguins fourth line with rookie Tom Kuhnhackl. Cullen has scored is crucial moments and is solid on both ends of the ice.

The Penguins defense has been the thorn in this lion’s paw. Opponents have recognized its weakness battering on its strongest player, Kris Letang, in efforts to neutralize him and leaving the rest of the defensive unit to self-destruct.

Letang is one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL. He is averaging 28:46 of ice time in the playoffs, and has two goals and eight assists in 17 games. But he only had two points in the Eastern Conference Final. It will be crucial that he step up his game in the Final. Brian Dumoulin is Letang’s primary defensive partner. He plays more than 20 minutes per game and is a solid defensive player and a strong skater.

Olli Maatta has he played 19:34 and was plus-2 in Game 7 against Tampa Bay, but has been inconsistent. Maatta will more than likely be paired with Ben Lovejoy who has played more than 20 minutes in each of the past three games.

Justin Schultz played 12:50 in Game 7 against Tampa Bay, and Ian Cole played less than 11 minutes. If the pair gets enough ice time Schultz will have the opportunity to provide the team with extra offense.

Trevor Daley is currently out with a lower-body injury, but could provide a boon to the defensive unit when he returns.

During the regular season the Penguins power play was nothing to brag about, but in the playoffs their power play is converting at 23.4 percent while their penalty kill has a success rate of 83.6 percent in the playoffs, fifth in the NHL.

Matt Murray is 11-4 in the playoffs with a 2.21 GAA and .924 save percentage, and if the Penguins win the Cup he is most likely to be awarded the Conn Smyth Trophy. Murray is a rookie, but Sullivan has faith in him from his time with him at Wilkes-Barr/Scranton. Coaches and teammates alike have commented on the 22 year old’s maturity and calmness throughout the playoffs as being that of a more experience goaltender.

If Murray has difficulties in the Final the Penguins will have the more than able and experienced Marc-Andre Fleury to take over in goal.

Sharks: Patrick Marleau has played 1,411 regular-season games with the Sharks and another 165 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Marleau has 12 points in the playoffs, but has gone six straight games without a goal, and it will be crucial that he find the back of the net in this series. Joe Thornton arrived in 2005 in a trade with the Boston Bruins. Thornton is second in the NHL in assists this postseason with 15. The two veteran forwards will be leaned on heavily for their experience throughout this series.

First year captain, Joe Pavelski, has 13 goals in 18 games this postseason, including four game-winners. He is one of the primary reasons this team has come this far in big part to his leadership on and off the ice. Tomas Hertl has five goals and five assists this postseason, and adds extra size the line with Thornton and Pavelski.

Center Logan Couture is first in the NHL in assists this postseason with 16. He is a creative player and can produce anywhere in the offensive zone, and he contributes greatly on the power play.

San Jose’s second line is made up of Marleau, Couture and Joonas Donskoi, and is a force to be reckoned with. Donskoi had 11 goals in 76 regular-season games, has five goals in the playoffs.

Joel Ward has 11 points in 18 playoff games. He has a familiarity with the Penguins from his days facing them on the Capitals. Centering Ward’s line is Chris Tierney, who had seven goals in 79 regular-season games and has five in the playoffs. On the left wing of this line is Melker Karlsson who plays well at both ends of the ice.

Dainius Zubrus hasn’t produced as much offense as he has in the past, but has contributed on the fourth line alongside Nick Spaling and Tommy Wingels, who leads the Sharks with 58 hits this postseason.

Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is a Norris Trophy contender. Burns had 75 points (27 goals and 48 assists) in the regular season. In post season he is San Jose’s third leading scorer with 20 points (six goals and 14 assists) and is averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time. Burns has great chemistry with his defensive partner, Paul Martin, who is very familiar with Pittsburgh’s team as he played five seasons on the team.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been phenomenal this postseason. Vlasic has the ability to shut down scoring from the top offensive players in the league. He is paired with Justin Braun, who was plus-3 in Game 5 against St. Louis, and played 22:23.

Roman Polak and Brenden Dillon make up the Sharks’ third pair. They add grit and roughness that will plague the Penguins throughout the series.

San Jose’s power play was third in the League at 22.5 percent in the regular season, and now is ranked second in the postseason at 27.0 percent. Their penalty kill has a success rate of 80.4 percent this postseason, seventh in the NHL.

Martin Jones won 37 games during the regular season and going 12-6 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in the playoffs. The team trusts him in the net, and he often sets the tone for the team. Jones will be backed up by James Reimer, who has played 29 minutes in the postseason, all during a 6-3 loss to St. Louis in Game 4 of the conference final.

Prediction: Penguins in 7

Key Matchup-

The obvious matchup to keep your eyes on is between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. I don’t think many people have forgotten the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals where in Game 2 both players had hattricks. They were the first players from opposite teams to do so in a playoff game in 13 years, since Trevor Linden (Vancouver Canucks) and Joe Sakic (Colorado Avalanche) in 1996. It has only happened four times in NHL history, and it hasn’t happened since. Crosby has said “We drove each other in that game.” and Ovechkin has said “That’s two leaders showing up.” about it, and that’s why I for one love when the best players play the best at their best; it pushes the game to a level beyond. Ovechkin had eight goals and 14 points in the series; Crosby had eight goals and 13 points, and the Penguins went on to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

The mindset that these two have isn’t focused on each other, but instead they both have a team focus and a drive to win no matter who their opponents are. They are willing to put everything on the ice for their respective teams to win, and that includes a drive to outplay everyone on the opposing team including each other. These two men may be the most competitive in the league and their intensity is explosive whenever they face each other.

Ovechkin and Crosby have both won the Hart, Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies. Crosby has 938 points in 707 regular-season games. Ovechkin has 525 goals in 839 games. Crosby is all around skilled and consistent in how he plays; while Ovechkin is all about scoring goals and he does it with flare. Crosby has been the stronger player offensively this season, especially after Mike Sullivan took over on December 13th. If we just look at 5-on-5 play for the entire 2015-16 season, Crosby had 18 goals and 51 points in 1,209:47 of ice time, while Ovechkin had 27 goals and 40 points in 1,184:10 of ice time. Ovechkin scored 50 percent more goals while Crosby had more than 150 percent more assists. In terms of primary assists, Crosby is ahead 21-2. The amount of shots Crosby set up bridges the scoring gap between the two players. The Capitals outplayed their opponents 1,222 shot attempts to 1,074 when Ovechkin was on the ice, while the Penguins have a narrow edge of 1,290 to 1,077 with Crosby. Crosby is tied with teammates Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, and the Capitals’ John Carlson, for the playoff lead with five power-play points. Ovechkin has three power-play points. In the regular season Ovechkin and Crosby both had 24 power-play points. The only difference between their power play points is that Ovechkin contributes by scoring, while Crosby sets them up. Ovechkin is the more physical player with 225 hits ranked second on the Capitals in the regular season, behind Tom Wilson’s 253. Crosby had 90 hits, which ranked No. 8 on the Penguins. Crosby has the more established big-game reputation, having won the Stanley Cup in 2009, and the gold medal at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. These are two phenomenal players and it’s difficult to decide who has the edge, but I will give it to Sidney Crosby with his playmaking abilities and skills as an all-around player. But I will also say that I don’t believe he would have that edge if he were still playing under Mike Johnston and not Sullivan. I don’t believe either that this matchup would be taking place if the Penguins were still coached by Johnston.

Pittsburgh Penguins –

There were moments that the Penguins were outshot in Round 1 by the Rangers and that should not be ignored, but in five games, the Penguins averaged more than four goals per game which is the most of any team in the first round, and not an easy task against Henrik Lundqvist. Pittsburgh had five forwards average at least one point per game in its five-game first round series. Crosby led Pittsburgh with eight points (three goals, five assists). After missing Game 1 of the series, Evgeni Malkin returned from recovering from an upper body injury and racked up seven points, including two goals and two assists in Game 4. His first two games weren’t his best, but he picked up the pace in the final two. The Penguins’ third line of Nick Bonino, Phil Kessel, and Carl Hagelin combined for 12 points (four goals, eight assists); while the fourth line of Matt Cullen, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Bryan Rust contributed three points apiece. Patric Hornqvist had five points, including a hattrick in Game 1 against the Rangers, and he is a key component of the Penguins power play with his ability to tip pucks and screen the goalie. Pittsburgh’s star players are a match for those of the Capitals, but a key factor is the team mentality and that the Penguins’ chemistry, skill, and speed that all complement each other.

Pittsburgh scored on eight of 21 power-play opportunities against the New York Rangers in the first round. They scored at least one power-play goal in every game, including two in Game 2 and three in Game 4. The Pens penalty kill was 17-for-19. The Rangers scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal in Game 1, and a late power-play goal in Game 5. The Penguins power play unit will have a challenge against the Capitals whose penalty kill in the first round against the Flyers was 23-for-24.

The Penguins have a healthy and efficient defense with plenty of depth. Kris Letang’s five points led Pittsburgh’s defensemen against New York, and his 51.87 shot attempts percentage, and average of 27:17 of ice time were the highest on the Penguins. Olli Maatta had difficulties being effective early on against New York, but played better as the series progressed and averaged 18:27 of ice time. Trevor Daley averaged 22:41 of ice time, and had three assists in the first round and his partner, Brian Dumoulin who is one of the Penguins’ best skaters. Completing the Pittsburgh defense, Ben Lovejoy and Ian Cole lead the Pittsburgh defensemen in shorthanded time on ice.

Marc-Andre Fleury will not be in the crease in Game 1 as he is still suffering from concussion symptoms. Matt Murray will be the likely choice to start the round. He took over playoff goaltending duty in the final three games against the Rangers after missing the first two with an upper-body injury. He allowed four goals on 89 shots for a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage. He had a 31-save shutout in Game 4, and made 38 saves in a 6-3 win in Game 5. Jeff Zatkoff has also proven himself by making 35 saves in a 5-2 win in Game 1 against the Rangers, and will likely be Murray’s backup in Game 1.

Coaching has been an important facet of why the Penguins are in this position. They were floundering under the guidance of Mike Johnston, and when Mike Sullivan took over the position it truly showed what a difference a coach can make. Sullivan wasn’t a complete stranger to this team as he knew Sheary, Rust, Kuhnhackl, and Murray from their three months together with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. He earned the respect of the whole team by asking them to play a fast paced game which is conducive to their skill and preference, and he seems to have an open dialog with the players allowing for them to thrive rather than be dictated. Under his mentorship the Penguins were 33-16-5 in their final 54 games of the regular season.

Washington Capitals-

The Flyers were expected to be a fairly easy matchup for the Capitals, but Washington’s offensive machine seemed to have some issues during the first round. If it weren’t for Nicklas Backstrom’s Game 6 goal, the Capitals could have been pushed to seven games against the Flyers. Pittsburgh is going to be a more difficult team to beat than Philadelphia, so it will be important that the Caps produce more offensively. The Capitals only allowed six goals against in a six-game series with the spectacular talent of Braden Holtby and the Washington defense holding their ground. One of the Capitals greatest strengths is their power play boasting the fifth best power play in the league during the regular season. The Capitals scored on eight power plays of 27 against the Philadelphia Flyers in Round 1. Ovechkin scored two power-play goals. In Game 5, Ovechkin had eight shots on goal and eight hits. The two-way dominating Nicklas Backstrom had seven points (two goals, five assists). There were moments against the Flyers that Ovechkin and Backstrom couldn’t make anything happen, and the third and fourth lines weren’t helping matters in those moments. It will be crucial that the third and fourth lines start producing more in this series.

John Carlson scored three power-play goals in the first round and led Washington defensemen with six points (five on the power play) and averaged 24:58 of ice time. Matt Niskanen averaged 25:32 on the ice, while Karl Alzner averaged 22:43 minutes. Top penalty-killer, Brooks Orpik, was injured in Game 3 and it’s unclear when or if he’ll make an appearance in the second round.

The Flyers weren’t much of a test for Braden Holtby only scoring six goals in the first round against him. Five were against Holtby and one was into an empty net. The Capitals’ netminder had two shutouts, 2-0 in Game 1 and 1-0 in Game 6. Holtby leads NHL goaltenders remaining in the playoffs with a 0.84 goals-against average and .968 save percentage.

The Washington penalty kill was a key component to their success. Out of 23 tries, the Flyers scored only once on the power play. The Capitals went 5-for-9 on the power play in a 6-1 win in Game 3 and were 8-for-27 with the man-advantage in the series.

Prediction: Penguins in 6

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Read our analysis of the Capitals and the Penguins Round 1 matchups to learn more about these teams.

Key Matchup-

The Penguins have a revitalized Sidney Crosby backed up by the whole Penguins team who seem to have been given new life after Mike Johnston was replaced with Mike Sullivan on the bench. Crosby’s offensive play is back up with the best in the league; while the rough start to the Penguins season has had his defensive shot rates down. The Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi will not be likely to be around at the beginning of the series so the New York team will need to lean on top line center Derek Stepan to keep Crosby in check. Stepan held a similar shot rate percentage to the Pens’ captain and is underrated as a player, but has an opportunity to show his worth and give New York an opportunity at the second round.

Pittsburgh Penguins-

Winning Formula: 

The change of head coach from Mike Johnston to Mike Sullivan mid-season has been a literal game changer for the Penguins team. Since the change was made the Pens have been using their speed to tire out other teams early in the game, the defensive unit has become more adept at moving the puck, and Sidney Crosby looks like a different player since the coaching switch; producing far more than he did earlier in the season on under Johnston. The Pittsburgh team is one of the best possession squads in the Eastern Conference, and when they have the puck they have the ability to put it in the back of the net. Phil Kessel and when healthy Evgeni Malkin can be expected to put up numbers. Kris Letang may also be a key player in this series adding assists, goals, and a defensive edge. It is unclear whether Marc-Andre Fleury will be healthy and in the net at the beginning of the series; if he is he has the experience and ability to stop shots, but if he isn’t the other Penguins goal tending options aren’t to be overlooked. The alternative goaltenders may have less experience, but the skill and talent is aplenty.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  The Penguins have a so much going for them entering this series, but since their 2009 Stanley Cup win they have fallen again and again to rivals and underdogs alike. They have won four total playoff series over the last six years since winning their last Stanley Cup, but have lost seven of their last eight postseason games against the Rangers and were ousted by them each of the last two years.  If we look at what is wrong with the current Pittsburgh team we will find a shockingly unproductive power play despite Crosby, Malkin and Kris Letang’s efforts. Speaking of Malkin; he is currently out with an upper body injury. The Penguins have been winning games without him, but until his return Crosby will have an even bigger target on his back and the team will be missing an essential component to their attack.

NY Rangers-

Winning Formula:  The Rangers have the best shooting percentage in the NHL over this last season and the season before. J.T. Miller, Mats Zuccarello, and Derick Brassard have been productive no matter what line they’ve been on. The addition of Eric Staal will add some desperately needed possession game to the Rangers as he averages a point per game in the playoffs vs. .85 in the regular season. Chris Kreider, and Rick Nash will also find ways to make things difficult on the Pens. Henrik Lundqvist is a playoff goaltender. He stays calm, stops pucks, and will stand on his head for his team if needed.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: The Rangers rank in the bottom 10 on possession, and all other Eastern playoff teams rank high above them in that aspect. When the Rangers went to the 2014 final, they were top 10. They can’t score if they don’t have the puck; it’s as simple as that.

Prediction: Penguins in 7

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  • The Flyers beat the Bruins 5-4. Claude Giroux scored his second power-play goal of the game at 2:09 of overtime to give Philly the win. Giroux one-timed a shot past Tuukka Rask from the left circle with Ryan Spooner off for hooking. Philadelphia overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period. Giroux cut it to 4-3 at 7:48, and Wayne Simmonds tied it at 9:36. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Sam Gagner also scored for the Flyers. Chris Kelly, Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, and Patrice Bergeron scored for Boston.
  • Sabres beat the Maple Leafs in a shootout, 2-1. Evander Kanetied it with 4:29 left with his first goal for Buffalo, and Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout to beat Toronto. Kane pushed a wrist shot past goalie Jonathan Bernier. Chad Johnson made 23 saves to help Buffalo improve to 2-4. P.A. Parenteau scored for Toronto, and Bernier made 34 saves.
  • Jason Spezzascored his fifth goal of the season as the Stars beat the Penguins 4-1. Johnny Oduya and John Klinberg scored their first goals of the season and Mattias Janmark got his third. Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots. Nick Bonino scored for Pittsburgh.
  • The Rangers beat the Coyotes 4-1. Kevin Hayesbroke a tie early in the third period. Chris Kreider, former Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and Rick Nash also scored for New York. Nash’s goal was his 700th career point. Mats Zuccarello added two assists. Henrik Lundqvist contributed with 34 saves. Klas Dahlbeck scored for Arizona.
  • Thomas Vanekbroke a tie in the second period and the Minnesota to beat Columbus 3-2. Zach Parise scored 5:04 in. After Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Dubinsky countered for Columbus, Nino Niederreiter tied it, and Vanek scored the winner with 8:48 left in the second. Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves; while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the Blue Jackets.
  • Blackhawks beat the Panthers 3-2. Patrick Kaneand Brent Seabrook each had a goal and two assists. Artem Anisimov also scored for the Stanley Cup champions, and Corey Crawford made 16 saves. Jaromir Jagr and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida.
  • The Capitals beat the Canucks 3-2 when Alex Ovechkinbroke a tie with 4:55 left. Jay Beagle pulled Washington even at 5:42 of the third, and Ovechkin won it with his fifth goal of the season. Jason Chimera scored in the first for the Capitals, but Radim Vrbata and Henrik Sedin each had a goal and an assist in the second for Vancouver. Braden Holtby made 23 saves for Washington.store2
  • The Devils beat the Senators 5-4 in a shootout. Lee Stempniaktied it with 32 seconds left in regulation, and then contributed the winning goal in the shootout. Adam Henrique pulled New Jersey within a goal with 5:50 to go. Travis Zajac and Jordin Tootoo also scored, and Cory Schneider made 35 saves for the Devils. Chris Neil and Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Mika Zibanejad scored for Ottawa. Andrew Hammond made 28 saves.
  • The Predators beat the Ducks 5-1. Colin Wilsonand Ryan Ellis each had a goal and two assists while Mattias Ekholm and Mike Ribeiro each had a goal and an assist, Eric Nystrom also scored. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Preds. Jiri Sekac had the only Anaheim goal.
  • The Canadiens beat the Sabres 7-2. The Habs Andrei Markovcontributed a goal and four assists. Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise each scored twice, and Max Pacioretty and Torrey Mitchell also scored. Mike Condon made 34 saves, and K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec each had three assists. Matt Moulson and Ryan O’Reilly scored for Buffalo, and Cody Franson had two assists.
  • The Bruins beat the Islanders 5-3. David Pastrnakbroke a tie late in the second period. Brett Connolly, Joonas Kemppainen and Ryan Spooner also scored for Boston. Jonas Gustavsson, started in place of Tuukka Rask, and finished with 23 saves. David Krejci had an empty-netter with 2:25 remaining. Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas and Thomas Hickey scored for the Islanders.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsovhad three goals and two assists to help Washington beat Edmonton 7-4. Kuznetsov opened the scoring on a backhander at 3:05 of the first period, gave Washington a 4-3 lead with another backhander at 6:17 of the second, and completed his first career hat trick with a snap shot on a power play with 3:01 left in the third period. Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams also scored for Washington, and Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves. Rookie star Connor McDavid scored his fifth goal of the season for Edmonton. Benoit Pouliot, Rob Klinkhammer and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored.
  • The Flames beat the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime. Mark Giordanoscored his second goal of the game in overtime. Joe Colborne tied it for the Flames with 1:12 left in the third period. Giordano scored 3:12 into overtime. Jonas Hiller contributed 27 saves for the Flames. Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith scored first-period power-play goals for the Red Wings.
  • The Lightning beat the Jets 4-3 in overtime. Ondrej Palatscored 36 seconds into overtime scoring off a 3-on-1 rush, converting a tap in after a tic-tac-toe play with Steven Stamkos. Victor Hedman. Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov also scored, and Ben Bishop made 33 saves. Nikolaj Ehlers, Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets.
  • Rangers beat the Flames 4-1. Dan Girardiput New York ahead 2-1 with 3:03 left in the second. Girardi was recently demoted to the third defense pairing with Keith Yandle, he snuck down to the right circle and snapped a rebound of Emerson Etem’s shot past Jonas Hiller.. Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Klein and Derick Brassard also contributed goals. Antti Raanta made 22 saves. Jiri Hudler scored the Flames’ only goal.
  • The Jets won 5-4 against the Wild. Drew Staffordscored twice and Blake Wheeler had two assists. Minnesota’s Jason Zucker scored 10 seconds into the game, but then Winnipeg got five consecutive goals. Bryan Little tied it 1:22 into the first, Andrew Ladd scored about 2 minutes later and Nikolaj Ehlersmade it 3-1 Jets (5-2-1) midway through the period. Stafford scored 51 seconds into the second, chasing Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper. Stafford scored again on Devan Dubnyk just under 4 minutes later. Wheeler extended his season-opening point streak to a franchise-record eight games. Michael Hutchinson made 26 saves for Winnipeg. Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine and Zach Parise also scored for Minnesota.
  • The Kings beat the Oilers 3-2. Tanner Pearsonbroke a tie late in the third period with his first goal since breaking his leg last season. Pearson’s power-play goal put the Kings ahead with 3:26 left. He found the rebound from Jake Muzzin’s shot and slapped it past goalie Cam Talbot. Connor McDavid nearly tied it for Edmonton with 5.2 seconds left, but Jonathan Quick sprawled to catch his backhander right at the goal line. A replay review upheld the no-goal call. Taylor Hall tied it for Edmonton on the power play. Hall redirected a pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for his third of the season, and Pearson scored than 3 minutes later. Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter also scored for the Kings. Drew Doughty had two assists. Benoit Pouliot scored in the first period with the help of McDavid.

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  • Steven Stamkos scored his 500th career point with a tiebreaking power-play goal that sent theTampa Bay Lightning to a 6-3 win over the Bruins on Monday afternoon. It was Tampa Bay’s first win in Boston since March 25, 2010. In that same game Loui Eriksson had two power-play goals, and David Krejci also had one for Boston, which opened a season with three straight losses for the first time since 1999.
  • When the Jets met the Islanders John Tavareshad a power-play goal and added two assists, Thomas Greiss made 22 saves and the Islanders got their first win of the season and the first in their new Brooklyn home. The score was 4-2.
  • On Tuesday Tomas Fleischmannfinished an odd-man rush with his first goal of the season early in the third period and the Canadiens beat the Penguins 3-2. Fleischmann scored off a feed from David Desharnais to help Montreal wrap up its season-opening trip at 4-0-0 and drop Pittsburgh to 0-3-0. Max Pacioretty scored twice for the Canadiens, and Carey Price finished with 31 saves. Beau Bennett and Kris Letang scored for Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel had up an assist in his home debut with the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots for the Penguins.
  • The Stars Jason Spezza scored three goals and leading to a 4-2 victory over the Oilers. Edmonton’s golden boy, Connor McDavid scored his first NHL goal in the 2nd evening the score to 2-2. The Stars had 52 shots, their most since Feb. 3, 1990, in a 7-6 loss to Philadelphia. Spezza finished off the hat trick with an empty-net goal. Anders Nilssonmade 48 saves in his first appearance for Edmonton.
  • Against the Capitals Martin Jonesmade 31 saves for his second straight shutout of the season. Matt Nieto, and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist, and Joe Thornton, Mike Brown and Tomas Hertl added goals tallying 5 goals altogether for the Sharks.
  • Against the Devils Roman Josihad a power-play goal in the first period and added a short-handed empty netter in the third. Eric Nystrom also had an empty-net goal for the Predators, off to their best start since 2010-11. Pekka Rinne made 22 saves.
  • Jaromir Jagrassisted on Barkov’s goal for his 1,809th career point and the Panthers beat the Hurricanes 4-1.
  • Jets beat the Rangers 4-1. Brian Little scored twice, Nikolaj Ehlersand Mark Stuart also added to the Jets tally, and Michael Hutchinson made 40 saves.
  • Gustav Nyquistand Kyle Quincey scored and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist for Detroit in their 3-1 win against Tampa Bay.
  • Blue beat Flames 4-3. Colton Paraykoscored his first two NHL goals. The defenseman broke a 2-2 tie on a power play at 4:47 of the second period on a 55-foot wrist shot and scored again with 32 seconds left in the second on another long shot. Troy Brouwer and Scottie Upshall also scored for the Blues. Mason Raymond, Jiri Hudler and David Jones scored for Calgary.
  • Michal Neuvirthstopped 30 shots in his second straight shutout, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Sam Gagner, Claude Giroux and Matt Read scored to lead the Flyers to their 12th straight regular-season home victory over Chicago. The Flyers have not lost to the Blackhawks in Philly during the regular season since Nov. 9, 1996.
  • Senators beat the Blue Jackets 7-3. Bobby Ryanand Mika Zibanejad each had a goal and two assists, Erik Karlsson added a career-high four assists, and Ottawa improved to 3-0-0 on the road for the first time since the start of the 2007-08 season. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist, and Marc Methot, Milan Michalek, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman also scored for the Senators. Ryan Stone had two assists and Craig Anderson made 37 saves. Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus and Ryan Johansen had two assists. The Blue Jackets have dropped their first four games in regulation for the first time in the franchise’s 15-year history.
  • Coyotes beat the Ducks 4-0. Anthony Duclairscored the game’s first two goals en route to his first career hat trick and Mike Smith made 37 saves for his 28th career shutout. Rookie Max Domi had a goal and an assist and Martin Hanzal had three assists.
  • Bruins beat the Avalanche 6-2 avoided its worst start in more than 50 years. Kevan Millerand Jimmy Hayes scored 2:22 apart in the first period, with Tyler Randell, Chris Kelly and Ryan Spooner scoring in the second. Spooner’s goal with 4:28 remaining in the second ended a rough evening for Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 14 of 19 shots before being relieved by Reto Berra. David Krejci added an empty-net goal with 1:29 left. Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell added goals for Colorado.
  • Evgeni Malkinscored his first goal in nearly seven months and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots for his 39th career shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 2-0 on Thursday night. Daniel Sprong picked up the first goal of his career.
  • Islanders beat the Predators 4-3. John Tavaresand Nikolay Kulemin scored in the third period giving Nashville its first loss of the season. Anders Lee and Kyle Okposo scored in the second period to tie the score for the Islanders after they fell behind by two, and Thomas Greiss finished with 44 saves. Tavares and Lee also had an assist and Mikhail Grabovski added two. Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg and James Neal scored for the Predators, who had opened the season 3-0-0. Pekka Rinne had 24 saves.
  • Capitals beat the Blackhawks 4-1. Braden Holtbystopped 26 shots, Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in his return to the Washington lineup. John Carlson, J. Oshie and Matt Niskanen also scored for the Capitals.
  • Stars beat the Lightning 5-3 with goals from Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin,Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin and Jason Demers. Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for the Lightning.
  • Panthers beat the Sabres 3-2.  Jaromir Jagrscored twice in the first period and Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist.  Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for his 403rd career victory, tying him with Grant Fuhr for ninth in all-time wins.
  • Carey Pricemade 25 saves, getting a shutout, and the Canadiens made franchise history by starting a season with a fifth straight win. Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise and Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal.
  • Blues beat the Oliers 4-2. Paul Stastnyand Alexander Steen scored in the third period. Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for the Blues, who beat Edmonton for the eighth straight time. Stastny, Steen and Lehtera also each had an assist, and Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots. Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Hall scored for the Oilers, and Cam Talbot had 25 saves.
  • Joe Pavelskiand Brent Burns scored in a shootout to lift the San Jose Sharks to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. Martin Jones stopped 31 shots. Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks in the opening minute and the goal stood until Adam Henrique ended Jones’ shutout bid with a tying power-play goal. Henrique scored for New Jersey on its first shootout attempt, but Jacob Josefson was stopped on the second and Mike Cammalleri missed the net on the third.
  • Leo Komarovscored two late goals and Toronto beat Columbus to give Mike Babcock his first victory as coach of the Maple Leafs with a score of 6-3. Joffrey Lupul had a goal and an assist, and Jake Gardiner, James van Riemsdyk, and Nazem Kadri also scored to help Toronto. Daniel Winnik added three assists, Morgan Rielly had two, and James Reimer finished with 24 saves. Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist to reach 600 career points, and Boone Jenner and Nick Folignoalso scored for Columbus.
  • Lee Stempniakscored at 3:07 of overtime and the New Jersey Devils finally gave new coach John Hynes a victory with a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday. Adam Henrique, who scored early in the second period, made the cross-ice pass that Stempniak fired past his former teammate Henrik Lundqvist to end the 3-on-3 overtime. Cory Schneider finished with 26 saves for New Jersey. Lundqvist stopped 22 shots.
  • Blues beat the Jets 4-2. Vladimir Tarasenkoscored twice and Brian Elliott made 26 saves. Tarasenko gave the Blues a 3-2 lead on a delayed penalty midway through the third period, firing a shot past goalie Ondrej Pavelec and into the corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season. Scottie Upshall and Carl Gunnarsson also scored for St. Louis. Nikolaj Ehlers and Mathieu Perreault scored for Winnipeg.
  • Tyler Toffoliscored on a breakaway late in the second period to help Los Angeles beat Colorado 2-1. Marian Gaborik also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves. Matt Duchene  gave Colorado their only point.
  • Ducks won 4- 1 against the Wild. Anton Khudobinhad 34 saves.  Cam Fowler, Rickard Rakell, and Mike Santorelli all contributed goals.
  • The Oilers beat the Canucks 2-1 in overtime whenLauri Korpikoski scored on a breakaway. Nail Yakupov scored in regulation and Anders Nilsson stopped 33 shots to benefit the Oilers. Matt Bartkowski scored for the Canucks and Ryan Miller finished with 22 saves.

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Head-to-Head Season Stats
Stats
Rangers
Penguins
Record 3-0-1 1-2-1
Goals 16 7
Shot Attempts 148 186

 

Season Stats
 
Rangers
Penguins
Rank
Stats
Rank
Stats
Shot Attempts For/60 12 54.5 8 55.4
Shot Attempts Against/60 19 53.6 5 48.6
Shot Attempt % 18 50.6 7 53.3
Goals For/60 3 2.68 15 2.26
Goals Against/60 11 2.05 8 2.03
Goal % 3 56.7 10 52.7
Shooting % 3 8.8 18 7.5
Save % 5 93.1 13 92.5
Powerplay 21 16.8 10 19.3
Penalty Kill 6 84.3 3 84.8

Key Matchup-

Sidney Crosby vs. Rick Nash: Both players received heavy criticism for their play in last year’s playoffs. Nash had one of his best regular seasons while Crosby had one of his worst, but don’t let that fool you as they are still very evenly matched. Both had a major impact on their respective teams to get them to the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Penguins-

Winning Formula: The Penguins are top-10 in goals against, power play, penalty kill and 5-on-5 scoring. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin remain two of the NHL’s elite players, and Crosby has gotten better in the second half of the season. Kris Letang has had a phenomenal comeback season. Marc-Andre Fleury was tied for the NHL lead in shutouts, has been solid in the goal, and performed well in last year’s post season where it was offense that held the team back and not goaltending. First-year coach Mike Johnston pushes for a fast paced style, stronger defensive presence, and a focus on possession. Pittsburgh is a team that has everything they need to win, but execution of all those factors is key to them progressing.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  Despite having two of the best players in the world and so much else going for them, Pittsburgh hasn’t reached the final since that win in ’09 and has fallen or struggled against teams inferior on paper. This team has had issues with losing their composure and imploding, but don’t just put the blame on Fleury as last year he was their saving grace keeping the Pens in the playoffs as long as he could. They will need to be mentally tougher to utilize all their skills and talents.

NY Rangers-

Winning Formula: The Rangers have one of the best blueline corps in the NHL. Keith Yandle, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi all play solid games. Cam Talbot was excellent in Henrik Lundqvist’s absence, but The King remains the Rangers’ starter. Lundqvist relies on his reflexes and instincts playing deep in the net, but he’s as good as anyone reading the rush and reading plays. They have a strong penalty kill. Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Martin St-Louis, Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin are all players to watch.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  With all their talent and skill this team is only middle of the pack when it comes to possession keeping that amazing defense very busy. When Nash wasn’t producing during last year’s post season the fans were quick to turn on him and that can wreak havoc on a player’s confidence. Lundqvist is recovering from vascular injury after a puck struck his throat Jan. 31. He missed almost two months of games in the second half of the season.

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