St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars (A: +100, H: -120, O/U: 5)
Series tied 0-0
The St. Louis Blues finally ended a string of three consecutive exits in the first round of the postseason by dethroning the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in a riveting seven-game series. The reward for the Blues – a second-round matchup against the top-seeded Dallas Stars beginning with Friday night.’s Game 1.
“I don’t know if it’s a milestone. It’s a hump,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters after the franchise’s first Game 7 win since 1999. Dallas had an easier road than the Blues in the opening series, beating the Minnesota Wild in six games to advance to the second round for the first time since 2008. The Stars finished two points in front of St. Louis for the Central Division title and No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but the Blues won four of the five regular-season meetings – with three of the victories coming after regulation. “The games we played them this year were extremely close, so I think at the end, you end up clashing with a team that you fought the hardest with,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff told reporters.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA
PROBABLE GOALIES: Blues – B. Elliott (0.930%), Stars – K. Lehtonen (0.907%).
ABOUT THE BLUES (53-26-10, 39-50 ATS, 35-41 O/U): Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored four times against Chicago after leading St. Louis in goals (40) and points (74) during the regular season, has torched Dallas for eight tallies and five assists in 14 career matchups. Jaden Schwartz was limited to 33 games due to injury, but he has come alive in the playoffs with three goals and four assists during a six-game point streak while rookie Robby Fabbri recorded a goal and an assist against Chicago, setting up former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer’s game-winning goal in the series clincher. “I thought Robby was one of our best players in the series,” Hitchcock told reporters. “He’s really emerged as a top offensive player.”
ABOUT THE STARS (54-24-10, 42-46 ATS, 48-38 O/U): Captain Jamie Benn finished second in scoring this season after leading the NHL in 2014-15 and hasn’t slowed down in the playoffs, netting four goals to go along with six assists while notching at least point in every game against Minnesota. With Tyler Seguin sidelined after re-aggravating an Achilles injury, Jason Spezza continued to pick up the slack following his 33-goal campaign, tallying four times against the Wild and capping his series with a four-point performance. Ruff played both of his goaltenders against Minnesota, but Kari Lehtonen has superior career numbers against this Blues, including a 1-0-1 record with two goals allowed this season.
* Blues are 7-1 in their last 8 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Stars are 7-1 in their last 8 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 3-0-3 in Blues last 6 overall.
* Over is 5-0 in Stars last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
* Blues are 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.
Nashville Predators at San Jose Sharks (A: +145, H: -165, O/U: 5)
Series tied 0-0
The San Jose Sharks dispatched one Pacific Division rival in the opening round of the playoffs and may have been expecting to see another in the second round, but instead they will host the upstart Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday. Nashville became the final team to punch its ticket to the second round with a 2-1 Game 7 victory at Anaheim on Wednesday.
While the Predators had an abrupt turnaround before heading up the California coast, San Jose has been idle since closing out the Los Angeles Kings in five games on April 22. “There’s advantages to both,” Sharks forward Tommy Wingels told reporters. “When you play every other day, you get into a bit of a routine of having a day off and bringing it the next night. So, in that aspect, I think they’ll be ready to go. On the other side of it, we appreciated our rest.” San Jose posted the worst home record (18-20-3) of any playoff team and must contend with an opponent that won three times in Anaheim and beat the Sharks in two of their three matchups during the regular season. “Moving forward, I think we’re a better team already,” Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne told reporters after the first Game 7 win in franchise history.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA
PROBABLE GOALIES: Predators – P. Rinne (0.908%), Ducks – M. Jones (0.917%)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (45-30-14, 38-51 ATS, 34-36 O/U): Rinne had a number of shaky moments during the regular season and was dented for 11 goals as the Ducks won three straight games in their series, but the Finnish netminder was immense in both elimination contests – including a sensational 36-save performance in Game 7. “He was really good,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette told reporters. “If you think that you need four wins to get out, and if you think about the four wins, you could consider him one of the best players on the ice. He was outstanding.” Colin Wilson scored just six times in 64 games during the regular season, but his opening goal in Game 7 gave him seven tallies in his last 13 playoff contests.
ABOUT THE SHARKS (50-30-7, 41-46 ATS, 44-35 O/U): Captain Joe Pavelski topped San Jose with 38 goals during the regular season before scoring five more times against Los Angeles, while defenseman Brent Burns registered a team-high eight points in the opening round after establishing career highs of 27 goals and 48 assists in the regular season. Netminder Martin Jones notched 37 wins in his first full season as a starter but has a rocky history against the Predators, going 0-2-2 with a 3.62 goals-against average and .863 save percentage in four career appearances (three starts). The Sharks’ power play, ranked third in the regular season, converted 5-of-21 chances versus the Kings.
* Predators are 5-1 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
* Sharks are 13-3 in their last 16 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 4-0-1 in Predators last 5 games following a win.
* Under is 5-0 in Sharks last 5 Conference Semifinals games.
* Under is 7-0 in the last 7 meetings in San Jose.