Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals (A: +200, H: -240, O/U: 5)
Capitals lead series 3-1
The Washington Capitals look to squeeze a little more juice out of their potent power play in Game 5 on Friday as they attempt to advance to the second round with a victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. Washington was a blistering 8-for-17 with the man advantage en route to winning the first three contests before failing on both opportunities as Philadelphia staved off elimination with Wednesday’s 2-1 triumph.
“That was one of the reasons that we won the game,” Flyers goaltender and former Capital Michal Neuvirth told NHL.com after making 31 saves in his first action of the series. “That was our goal. And we didn’t take any stupid penalties. Just a great team effort for 60 minutes. That’s the way we’ve got to play.” Rookie Shayne Gostisbehere ended Philadelphia’s 0-for-13 stretch on the power play and fellow defenseman Andrew MacDonald also scored versus Braden Holtby, who has yielded only four tallies on 118 shots for a .966 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against average. “Even with the loss, I think we still have a little momentum coming into the next game,” said forward T.J. Oshie, who scored for the first time in the series on Wednesday and extended his playoff point streak to a career-high three games (one goal, three assists).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, CSN Philadelphia, CSN-DC (Washington)
ABOUT THE FLYERS (42-30-14, 47-39 ATS, 33-32 O/U): After spending the bulk of the season preaching about the bigger picture, coach Dave Hakstol has narrowed the scope quite a bit with Philadelphia having zero margin for error. “We came here (Wednesday) to win a hockey game,” Hakstol told reporters. “Now we’ve got to go on the road and to their building, we got to win a hockey game. It’s pretty simple. We get one more and then we’ll worry about the next one.” Forward Wayne Simmonds and captain Claude Giroux have the opportunity to “worry about the next one” after the former notched two assists and the latter set up a tally on Wednesday for their first points of the series.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (59-19-8, 40-46 ATS, 34-35 O/U): Rugged Tom Wilson told the Washington Post that he expects to be in the lineup for Game 5 after being left a bit glassy-eyed in the late stages of Wednesday’s contest following a solid hit from Philadelphia defenseman Brandon Manning. “It was a hard hit,” Wilson told the newspaper on Thursday. “I feel good today, the usual. Nowadays, you’ve got to be extra careful, so (head athletic trainer Greg Smith) just said, ‘Go back, and get checked out.’ But I feel good and should be good to go.” The status of Brooks Orpik (upper body) is unclear as coach Barry Trotz admitted that he doesn’t know if the defenseman will participate in the morning skate prior to Game 5.
* Flyers are 12-3 in their last 15 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Capitals are 4-1 in their last 5 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Under is 4-1-2 in Flyers last 7 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Under is 4-1-1 in Capitals last 6 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Home team is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.
New York Islanders at Florida Panthers (A: +140, H: -160, O/U: 5)
Series tied 2-2
After failing to push the Florida Panthers to the brink of elimination, the New York Islanders could find themselves in that very same predicament if they are unable to solve their Game 5 woes. The Islanders look to snap an 11-game skid in the fifth contest of a playoff series on Friday when the first-round set returns to the Sunshine State.
Captain John Tavares scored a power-play goal on Wednesday for his career-high seventh point of the series, but New York mustered little else against Roberto Luongo and dropped a 2-1 decision to deadlock the series at two victories apiece. “You are not going to win many games when you score one goal and the same guys score,” coach Jack Capuano said of the first line (Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen), which has accounted for six of the team’s 11 goals. “We didn’t create much. We got one line creating all of our offense right now.” Reilly Smith carried Florida in the first three contests with four goals and as many assists before being held off the scoresheet in Game 4.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CNBC, SN, TVAS2, MSG-Plus (New York), SUN (Florida)
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (47-29-10, 36-50 ATS, 36-42 O/U): Ryan Pulock did not travel with the team to Florida, with Capuano telling Newsday that the rookie defenseman is likely out for the remainder of the series with an undisclosed injury. “It’s a big loss. He’s a young guy who was playing real well, he had a couple points, a big goal (in Game 3),” Capuano said on Thursday. “It’s a little more adversity we’ll have to battle back from.” Fellow rookie Adam Pelech or veterans Marek Zidlicky or Brian Strait are candidates to replace Pulock, who was involved in a collision with Panthers forward Garrett Wilson with 7:40 remaining in the third period.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (49-27-10, 43-43 ATS, 35-33 O/U): Veteran Jaromir Jagr wasn’t too interested in becoming the fifth player in NHL history to reach the 200-point plateau in the playoffs. “To be honest with you: Do you remember who scored goals 10 years ago? I don’t,” the 44-year-old Jagr told reporters after he notched his first point of the series with an assist on Teddy Purcell’s goal Wednesday. “It’s everything about the Cup. Who cares who scored?” If you’re keeping score, Jagr has just one goal in his last 37 playoffs games – albeit with 18 assists.
* Islanders are 5-0 in their last 5 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
* Panthers are 5-1 in their last 6 Friday games.
* Over is 5-0 in Islanders last 5 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
* Over is 7-0-1 in Panthers last 8 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
* Over is 14-4-4 in the last 22 meetings.
Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars (A: +170, H: -200, O/U: 5)
Stars lead series 3-1
The Dallas Stars are in command of their Western Conference first-round series and can close out the visiting Minnesota Wild on Friday night when the teams square off in Game 5. The top-seeded Stars earned a split on the road with a hard-fought 3-2 victory in Game 4 to push the Wild to the brink of elimination.
Dallas won the first two games at American Airlines Center and is buoyed by the prospect of a series-clinching victory in front of the home fans. “It’s going to be exciting for us as players to play in front of them,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “I’m sure it’s going to be exciting for them, and hopefully we can close it out.” Minnesota has shown the ability to play with Dallas since a 4-0 drubbing in the series opener, dropping a pair of one-goal decisions sandwiched around a 5-3 victory in Game 3. “Hey, I like the way we’re playing,” Wild coach John Torchetti said. “We just have to find a way to get back home. That’s the bottom line.”
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, Sportsnet 360, TVAS, FSN North/FSN Wisconsin (Minnesota), FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE WILD (39-36-11, 42-44 ATS, 30-37 O/U): Minnesota was among the league’s worst penalty-killing units during the regular season, but has limited Dallas’ No. 4-ranked power play to one goal in 13 chances through three games before the Stars converted on both opportunities in Game 4. “They feed a lot off their power play, and tonight was a good example of it,” Wild forward Jason Pominville said. “When you lose the special-teams battle, you’re usually not going to win the game. That’s what happened.” Pominville has scored three times in the past two games after going 13 contests without a tally.
ABOUT THE STARS (53-24-9, 42-44 ATS, 46-38 O/U): Dallas coach Lindy Ruff opted to go with Antti Niemi after Kari Lehtonen started the first three games and the veteran netminder, who backstopped Chicago to a Stanley Cup title in 2010, came through with 28 saves. “That’s a luxury that we’ve had all year,” said Stars forward Jason Spezza, who scored the game-winning goal after assisting on the tying tally in Game 4. “You’re starting to see the benefits of having fresh goalies all the time.” Defenseman Kris Russell had a pair of assists after sitting out Game 3 due to illness.
* Wild are 1-8 in their last 9 overall.
* Stars are 7-1 in their last 8 vs. Central.
* Under is 3-0-2 in Wild last 5 Friday games.
* Under is 6-1 in Stars last 7 games following a win.
* Wild are 4-23 in the last 27 meetings in Dallas.
San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings (A: +115, H: -135, O/U: 5)
Sharks lead series 3-1
The San Jose Sharks look to continue their season-long success on the road and finish off the Los Angeles Kings when the Pacific Division rivals meet at Staples Center on Friday for Game 5 of their first-round series, which has featured nothing but one-goal decisions. San Jose posted a league-best 28-10-3 record away from home during the regular season, setting a franchise record for road wins, and carried its impressive play into the playoffs by posting a pair of victories in Los Angeles to take a 2-0 series lead.
After being kept off the scoresheet in a Game 3 overtime loss, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski tallied on Wednesday, giving him four goals and an assist in the matchup after he recorded 10 points (four tallies) in the five-game regular-season series. Los Angeles fell behind 3-0 in Game 4 and came up short in its comeback attempt but now is on the verge of elimination – a situation it faced in its last postseason meeting with San Jose in 2014. The Kings need to tighten up on the penalty kill in Game 5, as they surrendered three power-play goals on Wednesday after being a perfect 5-for-5 in the previous contest. “Our penalty kill wasn’t near good enough tonight, and special teams were obviously the huge difference,” Los Angeles defenseman Luke Schenn told reporters. “They got three power-play goals, and we obviously didn’t get any. Special teams needs to improve, for sure, if we’re going to climb back into it.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, TVA, CSN California (San Jose), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE SHARKS (49-30-7, 40-46 ATS, 43-35 O/U): Joe Thornton notched an assist Wednesday for his 103rd career postseason point, tying him with Gilbert Perreault and John Bucyk for 84th place on the all-time list. The 33-year-old center also pulled even with Jacques Lemaire for 40th in NHL playoff history at 78 assists. San Jose will be motivated to end the series on Friday, as it will be the 19th consecutive postseason game in which Los Angeles is its opponent.
ABOUT THE KINGS (49-31-6, 30-56 ATS, 29-34 O/U): Schenn was a catalyst in Los Angeles’ comeback attempt on Wednesday, assisting on Trevor Lewis’ goal before scoring one of his own for his first career two-point performance in the playoffs. Marian Gaborik received the lowest amount of ice time (13 minutes, 48 seconds) in the three games since returning from his knee injury on Wednesday but helped set up Schenn’s goal for his first point of the postseason. The Kings have won two of the 13 postseason series in which they’ve trailed 3-1 – rallying past the Sharks in 2014 after overcoming the deficit in 1989 against Edmonton.
* Sharks are 12-3 in their last 15 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Kings are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. Western Conference.
* Under is 8-1-1 in Sharks last 10 road games.
* Under is 4-1-1 in Kings last 6 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Sharks are 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Los Angeles.
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