New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning (A: 142, H: -157, O/U: 5)
Islanders lead series 1-0
The Tampa Bay Lightning proved they could come back after losing the first contest of a series twice during last season’s playoffs and must do it again in 2016. The Lightning look to even the series after a 5-3 setback with a sharper performance when they host the New York Islanders for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference second-round battle on Saturday afternoon.
Tampa Bay was sloppy with the puck Wednesday and the Islanders capitalized while becoming the first team to score more than two goals against Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop in his last nine playoff games. “We played into their strengths a little bit too much, especially with turnovers,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman told reporters. “(Bishop) can’t bail us out every night. We know that. We have to make sure that everyone bounces back.” New York captain John Tavares continued his dynamic postseason with a goal and an assist in Game 1 to give him 11 points in seven contests. Goalie Thomas Greiss could be the key going forward after stopping 121 of the 126 shots he faced – 33-of-36 on Wednesday — in the last three games, prompting Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic to tell reporters, “He’s been a wall.”
TV: 3 p.m. ET, NBC, Sportsnet, TVAS
Islanders – Thomas Greiss (W/L: 5-2, GAA: 1.94, SAVE %: .941)
Lightning – Ben Bishop (W/L: 4-2, GAA: 2.20, SAVE %: .931)
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (50-29-10, 37-44 O/U): Forward Shane Prince, who was acquired from Ottawa just before the trade deadline for depth purposes, is proving to be an important pickup after scoring twice in Game 1 – his second and third of the playoffs. “Being able to contribute, it’s huge,” Prince told reporters. “We need everybody to bring their best.” Former first-round pick Ryan Strome, who returned to the lineup to replace fellow forward Josh Bailey (upper body), notched a pair of assists in Game 1 while playing primarily on a line with Prince and center Frans Nielsen.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (50-33-5, 36-41 O/U): Forwards Mike Blunden and Erik Condra, along with defenseman Matt Carle, are day-to-day after missing practice Friday due to injuries while captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and defenseman Anton Stralman (broken fibula) remain out indefinitely. Coach Jon Cooper reunited leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (six goals) with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson on the top line as Valterri Filppula, Alex Killorn and Jonathan Drouin skate on another unit. Brian Boyle could center Ryan Callahan and Cedric Paquette on a checking line Saturday.
* Islanders are 6-1 in their last seven road games.
* Home team is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.
* Over is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Lightning last four versus Metropolitan Division opponents.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals (A: +113, H: -125, O/U: 5)
Capitals lead series 1-0
After overcoming the physical style of one opponent, the Washington Capitals showed they have the wheels to outrace another when they emerged victorious against the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins to open their second-round series. Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington looks to capitalize on the momentum of T.J. Oshie’s hat trick when it hosts Metropolitan Division-rival Pittsburgh in Game 2 on Saturday.
“I think the group has evolved to change their game enough that they still have their identity, (but) they have the ability to adapt to what the game is presenting,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz told the Washington Post. The plodding pace of the first-round series with Philadelphia was cranked up several notches in Game 1 on Thursday, with Oshie’s wraparound goal 9:33 into overtime standing up as the winner despite a lengthy review. Series focal points Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby primarily played a secondary role, as the former set up Oshie’s second goal and was a plus-3 while the latter recorded no points and was a minus-3. Then again, the two superstars could be ready to erupt after making their presence felt with dueling hat tricks in Game 2 of their epic 2009 playoff series – setting the stage for a frantic seven-game set that saw Ovechkin score eight goals and set up six others and Crosby collect eight tallies and five assists.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS
Penguins – Matt Murray (W/L: 3-1, GAA: 1.92, SAVE %: .935)
Capitals – Braden Holtby (W/L: 5-2, GAA: 1.12, SAVE % .960)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (52-27-9, 40-33 O/U): Although rookie Matt Murray thought Oshie’s final tally would be “close enough that it would be inconclusive,” there was no denying the fine pad save he made on Ovechkin’s partial breakaway bid with 3 1/2 minutes to play. “I tried to force him to make the first move,” the 21-year-old Murray said of thwarting the three-time Hart Trophy winner. “It’s no different than with any other player.” Murray yielded four goals on 35 shots, matching the number of tallies he surrendered on 89 shots en route to winning the final three contests to eliminate the New York Rangers in the first round.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (61-20-8, 35-37 O/U): Andre Burakovsky shook off any lingering resentment following his demotion to the third line by continuing to torment the Penguins. “He had that look in his eye,” Trotz told the Washington Post of the 21-year-old Burakovsky, whose Game 1 tally marked not only his first point of the postseason but his third straight goal versus Pittsburgh. “When he starts to feel it, he gets some shots off. He had a couple good looks (on Thursday).”
* Penguins are 0-4 in their last four Conference Semifinals games.
* Capitals are 38-14 in their last 52 games playing on one days rest.
* Under is 9-2-4 in Capitals last 15 Conference Semifinals games.
* Over is 4-1-1 in Penguins last six versus Metropolitan division opponents.