The Detroit Red Wings can draw plenty of positives from the series opener and hope to build off them to avoid a 2-0 hole when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. Detroit rallied to take the lead in the second period, drew five power plays and produced 36 shots on goal in a 3-2 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Wednesday.
“I thought we did a good job in a lot of areas,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told reporters. “I don’t like the result, but from a process standpoint, we did good things. I was happy with most of our guys, but I also think there’s another level.” Detroit will have to find an answer for the line of Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, who combined for three goals and four assists with captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and top-pair defenseman Anton Stralman out indefinitely. “You can’t sulk in it,” Johnson, who suffered an upper-body injury in the final regular-season game, told reporters. “Detroit isn’t doing us any favors. We’ve got to play our game, and guys have to step up like they did (Wednesday).” The Lightning won Game 2 in all four series last season, including the first round against the Red Wings.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, TVAS, FSN Detroit, FSN Florida (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (41-31-11, 31-52 ATS, 31-36 O/U): Detroit still needs to get captain Henrik Zetterberg going after he was held to one shot on goal in Game 1 and has managed one goal in his last 25 games. His linemates Pavel Datsyuk (seven shots) and Justin Abdelkader (goal) each contributed and defenseman Mike Green had the other goal for the Red Wings. Rookie forward Dylan Larkin, who primarily played with Darren Helm and Brad Richards, did not have a shot on goal in his playoff debut.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (47-31-5, 34-49 ATS, 34-39 O/U): Jonathan Drouin, who had asked for a trade before leaving the team and getting suspended for almost two months, played 18:09 in the series opener – second-most among forwards. Drouin had three shots, two hits, two takeaways and teamed with linemates Valtteri Filppula and Ondrej Palat to create several opportunities while helping shut out Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Defenseman Victor Hedman led all players in ice time with 28:56.
* Red Wings are 1-5 in their last 6 road games.
* Lightning are 0-4 in their last 4 games following a win.
* Over is 5-0-4 in Red Wings last 9 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 7-1-1 in Lightning last 9 games following a win.
* Red Wings are 0-4 in the last 4 meetings in Tampa Bay.
No. 7 New York Islanders at No. 2 Florida Panthers (OFF)
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS
ABOUT THE PANTHERS
No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks at No. 3 St. Louis Blues (A:+104, H:-125, O/U: 5)
St. Louis Blues captain David Backes isn’t going to apologize for scoring an aesthetically unappealing goal. After his pinball tally in overtime gave the Blues a series-opening victory, Backes’ Blues look to put the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks in an early hole when the Central Division rivals reconvene in the Gateway City for Game 2 on Friday.
“That’s an ugly goal,” Backes told reporters after his attempted centering feed banked off the skate of Chicago defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and between the pads of Corey Crawford at 9:04 of overtime in the Blues’ 1-0 win on Wednesday. “I specialize in those and rightfully so. … (Our team) put this in perspective. It’s one game, start 0-0 again on Friday and do it all over again.” The Blackhawks will welcome back a familiar face on Friday as reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith returns from his six-game suspension for high sticking Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle on March 29. “You want to be out there helping the guys to try and win the hockey game. That in itself is frustrating especially it being as big a game as it was,” Keith told CSN Chicago. “But I’m excited to get back and play again and try to do everything I can to help get a win.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVAS2, CSN Chicago, FSN-Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (38-33-11, 39-43 ATS, 29-35 O/U): Patrick Kane didn’t appear fazed after Chicago found itself on the receiving end of a physical performance by St. Louis, which enjoyed a lopsided 41-24 edge in hits on Wednesday. “Ninety percent of the games we’ll be outhit because we have the puck,” the NHL’s leader in points (106) told CSN Chicago. “We’ll focus on what we do best.” Kane, who became the first American-born player to win the league scoring title this season, saw his best chance go by the boards on Wednesday when he was denied by Brian Elliott on a 2-on-1 rush early in the second period.
ABOUT THE BLUES (50-23-9, 41-41 ATS, 45-36 O/U): Elliott continued his scintillating play as he followed his 11-1-0 stretch to end the regular season with a 35-save performance in his first playoff start in three years. The 31-year-old denied Jonathan Toews’ bid on a breakaway at 6:58 of the second and thwarted the captain and Kane on solid chances overtime. “I think he’s comfortable in that element now, which, to me, is a big change for Brian,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Because he’s comfortable in this setting now: You see his athleticism come out now. You see his confidence come out now.”
* Blackhawks are 2-10 in their last 12 vs. Central.
* Blues are 7-0 in their last 7 vs. Central.
* Over is 10-2-5 in Blackhawks last 17 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Over is 8-0-1 in Blues last 9 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Blackhawks are 3-9 in the last 12 meetings in St. Louis.
No. 7 Nashville Predators at No. 2 Anaheim Ducks (A:+145, H:-165, O/U: 5)
The Anaheim Ducks did not secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference until the final day of the regular season and, in doing so, avoid a first-round matchup against Pacific Division rivals Los Angeles and San Jose. Nonetheless, Anaheim is bracing for a rugged test when it hosts the Nashville Predators on Friday night in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
The Ducks overcame a ugly start – losing nine of their first 10 games (1-7-2) – before regrouping with a huge stretch run to earn their fourth consecutive Pacific title. Anahaeim lost two of the three matchups to the seventh-seeded Predators, but the teams haven’t played since Nov. 17. “It’s been 60-something games since we played them,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Can we trust anything we see on the tape?” Nashville, which lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago in the first round a year ago, navigated a series of ups and downs before putting together a franchise-record 14-game point streak to earn its ninth postseason berth in 12 seasons.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, FSN Tennessee (Nashville), Prime Ticket (Anaheim)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (41-27-14, 34-48 ATS, 33-33 O/U): Filip Forsberg scored 33 times and James Neal was right behind with 31 tallies, marking the second time in franchise history that Nashville has had a pair of 30-goal scorers, but the Predators also tied for the league lead with 203 points from their defense. “It’s been a big part of who we are all year,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think you need contributions from everybody. But our guys have done a good job back there playing our system and being involved when they can.” Pekka Rinne had the most second-most regulation losses (21) one of of the highest goals-against averages (2.48) in his career, but he’s 12-5-4 lifetime versus Anaheim.
ABOUT THE DUCKS (46-25-11, 34-48 ATS, 32-34 O/U): Reinforcements could be on the way for Anaheim, with forwards Rickard Rakell (appendix) and David Perron (shoulder) and defenseman Kevin Bieksa (upper body) all back at practice and looming as game-time decisions for the series opener. “We’re anxious, excited and ready to get going,” said forward Corey Perry, who led the Ducks for 34 goals. “We’ve had some good practices. Yesterday, there was a lot of skating, but today, we worked on a little bit of what they like to do and what we want to do against it.” Boudreau still has to decide on a starting netminder between the Jennings Trophy-winning tandem of John Gibson and Frederik Anderson, who combined for 43 victories.
* Predators are 0-4 in their last 4 road games.
* Ducks are 6-0 in their last 6 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Under is 4-0-1 in Predators last 5 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
* Under is 5-1-1 in Ducks last 7 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
* Over is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in Anaheim.
* Predators are 1-5 in the last 6 meetings in Anaheim.