New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning (A: -110, H: -110, O/U: 5)
Series tied 0-0
Captain John Tavares leads the way as the New York Islanders enter the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 1993 on Wednesday when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 1. Tavares scored the tying and winning goals in the series-clinching 2-1 double-overtime victory over Florida on Sunday, finishing with nine points in six games.
“When he plays the right way, it’s contagious for our group,” New York coach Jack Capuano told reporters. “I just think that’s what he’s done since I’ve been here. He’s got great creativity as we know, but he’s a great leader for our hockey club.” The Lightning come in with almost a week of rest after dispatching of Detroit in five games as Nikita Kucherov registered five goals and three assists while Ben Bishop posted a .950 save percentage. Tampa Bay is not expected to get captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) back soon, but top-pair defenseman Anton Stralman (broken fibula) could return by the end of the series. “It’s only going to get harder, and I know our group’s ready for it,” said Tavares, who owns 25 points in 23 career games versus the Lightning. “We’re looking forward to the next challenge.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS
PROBABLE GOALIES: Islanders – T. Greiss (0.928%), Lightning – B. Bishop (0.907%).
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (49-29-10, 37-51 ATS, 36-44 O/U): Kyle Okposo contributed six points, Frans Nielsen (three goals) had four and late-callup Alan Quine had three in the tight series against the Panthers. Jaroslav Halak (groin) has been skating, but the net belongs to Thomas Greiss after he went 23-11-4 in the regular season and more than did his part with a 1.79 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in the first round. Josh Bailey suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 and will likely be replaced by fellow forward Ryan Strome in the lineup.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (50-32-5, 36-51 ATS, 35-41 O/U): Stamkos, who scored a team-high 36 goals this season, practiced with the team for the first time this month on Tuesday but will be on blood thinners for an undetermined amount of time. The Lightning will need others to step up again in the second round, including forwards Tyler Johnson (seven points), Alex Killorn (three goals, two assists) and Jonathan Drouin (four assists). Defenseman Victor Hedman led all Tampa Bay players in ice time at 27:02 per game in the first round and was second behind Kucherov (15) in shots with 14.
* Islanders are 7-0 in their last 7 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
* Lightning are 12-2 in their last 14 Conference Semifinals games.
* Under is 5-1 in Islanders last 6 games playing on 2 days rest.
* Home team is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.
Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks (A: +135, H: -179, O/U: 4.5)
Series tied 3-3
The Anaheim Ducks have been bounced from the playoffs in each of the past three seasons via a Game 7 loss at home, a dubious streak they will try to end when they host the Nashville Predators on Wednesday in a winner-takes-all matchup. The Predators forced the deciding contest with a 3-1 victory on Monday to advance to the first Game 7 in franchise history.
Predictably, the Ducks were not thinking about their past history and their inability to close out an opponent despite holding a 3-2 series lead three years running. “It’s a new team,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters following Monday’s setback. “New time. Every year is different. Every day is different. And we’re looking forward to the game.” So are the Predators, who advanced to Game 7 the hard way, losing three straight after winning the opening two games of the series in California. “We did everything all year to push ourselves to this point,” Nashville forward James Neal said. “Why not win one more game?”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVAS, Sportsnet, FSN Tennessee (Nashville), FSN West (Anaheim)
PROBABLE GOALIES: Predators – P. Rinne (0.907%), Ducks – F. Andersen (0.922%)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (44-30-14, 37-51 ATS, 34-35 O/U): Netminder Pekka Rinne has not enjoyed his best season and the uneven play extended into the playoffs, surrendering 11 goals as Nashville dropped Games 3 through 5, but he was at his best with his team facing elimination and is embracing the prospect of a win-or-go-home matchup. “Just facing Game 7, you know what it means and what’s at stake,” Rinne said. “To be going to Anaheim, they have their home crowd, but I feel like we’ve been playing really well in their building. Just really excited about this one.” Neal, held off the scoresheet since Game 1, scored on goal and set up another Monday.
ABOUT THE DUCKS (49-28-11, 42-46 ATS, 33-36 O/U): Corey Perry topped Anaheim by a wide margin with 34 goals — the sixth time in the past eight seasons he has scored at least 30 times — but he has yet to tally in the series against the Predators, although he has four notched four assists. Perry’s frustration reached its peak with just over 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the third period of Game 6 as he took a pass all alone in the slot, only to have his point-blank tying attempt swallowed up by Rinne. “Those are ones I’ve got to bear down,” Perry said. “I just think I rushed the shot more than anything. Those things are just going like that right now.”
* Predators are 4-1 in their last 5 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
* Ducks are 1-4 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Predators last 4 games following a win.
* Under is 4-0-2 in Ducks last 6 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
Tagged with: feature