Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers (A: -150, H: +130, O/U: 5)
Capitals lead series 2-0
The Washington Capitals have benefited from stellar special teams play and a 101-foot goal to win the initial two contests of their first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals look to push their Metropolitan Division rivals to the brink of elimination on Monday when the series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3.
Defenseman John Carlson scored a power-play goal in each contest for the Capitals, who are 3-for-8 with the man advantage and thwarted all eight short-handed situations. Jason Chimera was credited with the game-winning tally in Saturday’s 4-1 victory, albeit with a tip-in from center ice that somehow saw the puck squeeze between the pads of Steve Mason. The humiliating gaffe was so unfathomable that Washington’s Braden Holtby admittedly felt for his fellow goaltender. “I couldn’t even watch the replay of it,” said Holtby, who has looked every bit the front-runner for the Vezina Trophy by stopping 60-of-61 shots in the series. “Even as an opposing team, you want to earn your goals and what-not (instead of) weird bounces like that. I feel for him.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, CSN-DC (Washington), CSN Philadelphia
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (58-16-8, 38-45 ATS, 33-34 O/U): Captain Alex Ovechkin traditionally has tormented the Flyers with his scoring, but the 240-pound Russian has also lowered the boom with his physical play (11 hits). Ovechkin sidelined Sean Couturier for the rest of the series with a crushing hit in Game 1 and deposited Brayden Schenn over the boards and into the laps of his teammates on Saturday, signaling a shift in the momentum of Game 2. “Sometimes you just have to play physical,” Ovechkin told the Washington Post. “If you don’t have an opportunity to do something else, you play physical. You play simple and the other guys are going to follow you.”
ABOUT THE FLYERS (41-29-14, 46-38 ATS, 32-31 O/U): Although held without a point in the first two games, captain Claude Giroux was encouraged by Philadelphia’s 42-23 edge in shots Saturday and expressed optimism that the series shifts to the Wells Fargo Center. “We’ve been playing well at home this year,” Giroux told Philly.com of the Flyers, who posted a 23-10-8 mark in the City of Brotherly Love – including a 2-1 shootout victory over visiting Washington on March 30. Jakub Voracek has scored the lone goal for the Flyers, who were unable to grab their first lead of the series after failing to convert during 67 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play late in the opening period of Game 2.
* Capitals are 11-0 in their last 11 Monday games.
* Home team is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
* Under is 5-0-1 in Capitals last 6 games following a win.
* Under is 3-0-2 in Flyers last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.
Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild (A: -130, H: +110, O/U: 5)
Stars lead series 2-0
The Minnesota Wild already face an uphill climb against the Dallas Stars and it’s becoming even more of a struggle when the bounces are not going their way. The Wild will be hoping to reverse the momentum when the first-round series shifts to Minnesota on Monday night after the Stars won Games 1 and 2 in Dallas.
A stunning goal that ricocheted off the skates of two players and caromed off the back of the head of Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk provided the impetus for the Stars in Saturday’s 2-1 victory – the seven straight defeat overall for Minnesota and sixth in a row in the postseason. “The puck is kicked and somehow they have enough to overturn the ref’s call,” Dubnyk said of the opening goal by Antoine Roussel. “It’s mind-blowing that that’s the outcome of that play in the playoffs.” Minnesota scored its first goal of the series in the third period Saturday night and was buzzing for the equalizer in the waning moments, displaying an offensive spark that it hopes to carry over into Game 3. The Wild will need a huge effort against the top-seeded Stars, who have won 11 of 13 dating to the regular season and outscored Minnesota 6-1 in the first two games.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, Sportsnet, TVAS 2, FSN Southwest (Dallas), FSN North/Wisconsin (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE STARS (52-23-9, 42-42 ATS, 45-38 O/U): While Roussel’s bizarre tally was the main talking point of Game 2, Dallas captain Jamie Benn continued to torment Minnesota by providing the dagger with a third-period goal – his second of the series and ninth point in five meetings with the Wild this season. “Best scorer in the league,” Wild coach John Torchetti told the media after the game. “Can’t be letting him get a breakaway.” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said at Sunday’s practice that Mattias Janmark will return to the lineup Monday while taking a wait-and-see approach on fellow forward Tyler Seguin, who played Saturday after missing 11 games due to an Achilles tendon injury.
ABOUT THE WILD (38-35-11, 40-44 ATS, 29-37 O/U): Minnesota needs to find a way to manufacture more offense during the continued absence of leading goal scorer Zach Parise, who is no closer to returning from a back injury that has sidelined him since the next-to-last game of the regular season, as well as that of 18-goal scorer Thomas Vanek. Captain Mikko Koivu, who topped the team with 56 points during the regular season, is mired in a 10-game goal drought, while forward Mikael Granlund did register a game-high seven shots on goal Saturday after he was shifted from center to wing. “I’ve got to put the puck in the net with those chances,” Granlund said. “That’s the bottom line.”
* Stars are 6-0 in their last 6 vs. Central.
* Wild are 0-7 in their last 7 overall.
* Under is 6-0 in Stars last 6 games following a win.
* Under is 4-0 in Wild last 4 vs. Western Conference.
* Stars are 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.
Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks (A: +100, H: -120, O/U: 5)
Sharks lead series 2-0
The Los Angeles Kings find themselves in an unenviable position in their first-round series against the San Jose Sharks, but it’s nothing they haven’t experienced before. The Kings look to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole versus San Jose for the second time in three years when they visit the Sharks in Game 3 on Monday.
Los Angeles was in that situation in 2014 and went on to become the fourth team in Stanley Cup playoff history to rally from the deficit and win the series, but the club knows how difficult the task was and does not want to be forced to repeat it. “It’s a completely different situation,” Kings center Anze Kopitar told reporters after Saturday’s 2-1 loss. “Our mind set’s got to be to go out there and win the next game and just build off that. That’s where we’re putting in our heads tonight, we’re going to prepare tomorrow and we’re going to go up there and be better.” The fact the Kings dropped the first two contests at home – both one-goal decisions – should come as no surprise as the Sharks recorded a franchise-record 28 victories on the road during the regular season for the second-most in NHL history. San Jose captain Joe Pavelski continues to be a thorn in Los Angeles’ side, recording three goals and an assist over the first two games after registering four tallies and 10 points in five regular-season meetings.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports, CBC, TVA, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), CSN California (San Jose)
ABOUT THE KINGS (48-30-6, 28-56 ATS, 29-33 O/U): Marian Gaborik returned to the lineup Saturday after missing the team’s final 28 regular-season games with a sprained knee and had a solid game, recording four shots in 14 minutes, 32 seconds of ice time en route to being named the Third Star of the Game. “I thought after being off nine weeks, nine and a half weeks, I thought he played really well,” coach Darryl Sutter told reporters. “I thought Gabby was our best winger.” Defenseman Jamie McBain replaced the injured Alec Martinez in the lineup in Game 2 and blocked three shots in 16:14 of ice time in his first career playoff game.
ABOUT THE SHARKS (48-30-6, 40-44 ATS, 43-34 O/U): Joe Thornton notched his first point of the series Saturday as he helped set up Pavelski’s game-opening goal. It was the veteran center’s 77th career postseason assist, tying him with Claude Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Bobby Clarke and Ken Linseman for 41st place on the all-time list. Martin Jones is 5-1-1 against his former team but credits his defensemen for his playoff success. “We’ve done a great job both games keeping them to the outside,” he told reporters. “They’re a team that likes to crash the net and take pucks to the net, and we’ve done a really good job. The other thing is just shot-blocking. Throughout the year, it’s been great.”
* Kings are 1-5 in their last 6 road games.
* Sharks are 11-2 in their last 13 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 6-1-3 in Kings last 10 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
* Over is 5-1 in Sharks last 6 home games.
* Road team is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.