Monday, April 30, 2018

Weekend wrap: Doing the splits

Well, you knew it wouldn’t be easy.

As good as the Winnipeg Jets are, they’re facing the Presidents’ Trophy winners. Coming home up 2–0 in the series was always going to be a tough ask.

Still, they nearly pulled it off. After a strong performance in Game 1 led to a 4–1 win, the Jets went into last night’s second game in Nashville with at least some hope that they wouldn’t need to come back. Those chances took an early hit when Ryan Johansen opened the scoring less than a minute in, but a pair of quick goals put the Jets back in front.

The Predators pushed back in the second, scoring twice to retake the lead. Brandon Tanev and Johansen traded goals within seconds of each other early in the third, and the Predators looked like they might escape with the regulation win. But Mark Scheifele tied the game with a minute left, briefly silencing the Nashville crowd and sending us to overtime.

Sudden death provided the kind of hockey that’s all sorts of fun to watch if you’re neutral and agonizing if you’re not, with the two teams going up and down the ice and trading chances. The first extra period didn’t solve anything, and it took five minutes of a second frame before Kevin Fiala finally ended it.

The result means we make it out of the first weekend of the second round without any teams collecting a second win. The Sharks had tied their series with the Golden Knights with an overtime win of their own on Saturday. And the Capitals evened things with the Penguins on Sunday afternoon, although the win didn’t come without some controversy. Meanwhile the Bruins and Lightning will play their second game tonight, with Boston looking to head home as the only team in the second round to go up 2–0.

That all makes it tough to pick out any favourites, but let’s see what we can do.

Road to the Cup

5. Vegas Golden Knights: We’ll nudge them back into the top five partly on the strength of that impressive Game 1 blowout win, and partly because we’re still not sure which direction that Penguins/Capitals series is headed.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning: You never want to get too silly with the “must win” label early in a series. But with the way the Bruins looked in Game 1, tonight feels pretty close for the Lightning.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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