The 2013 NHL playoffs are proving to be as unpredictable as the lockout-shortened regular season, and Thursday’s action-packed schedule promises even more of the hard-hitting postseason experience.
With three marquee matchups on the docket for Thursday, any true hockey fan would make their way to a couch around 7 p.m. ET and not get about again until it was all over.
Pull up a chair and enjoy all of Thursday’s NHL playoff action.
Full Thursday Schedule
Ottawa at Montreal: 7 p.m. ET on CNBC
NY Islanders at Pittsburgh: 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
Minnesota at Chicago: 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
For full postseason schedule, check out NHL.com.
Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens: 7 p.m. ET on CNBC
Game 5, Senators lead 3-1
The Ottawa Senators used the home-ice advantage in Game 4 to control the tempo of the game and translated that success in both the offensive and defensive zones to a huge overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa has been playing well in every facet of the game thus far in the series, but Montreal has the talent to match up with Senators at every position. Injuries are stacking up for the Canadiens, but star forward Max Pacioretty (zero points this postseason) must step up Thursday if the team wants to keep this series alive.
If Montreal wants to force a Game 6, the team must revert to the hard-hitting, aggressive style that helped the Canadiens win Game 2.
Prediction: Canadiens 2, Senators 1
New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins: 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
Game 5, Series tied 2-2
The New York Islanders were supposed to be swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference by the odds-on favorites and No. 1 seeded Pittsburgh Penguins, but the eighth-seeded outcasts refuse to go quietly into that good night.
Once Pittsburgh makes the right choice and sits goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench and starts Tomas Vokoun for Game 5, the forwards can go back to playing their style without worrying about trying to protect the netminder from making bad mistakes.
If Vokoun is even slightly rusty, though, New York will smell blood in the water.
Prediction: Penguins 3, Islanders 2
Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks: 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
Game 5, Blackhawks lead 3-1
The Minnesota Wild stunned the hockey world when the team stole an overtime win in Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs against the No. 1-seeded Chicago Blackhawks.
If Minnesota doesn’t find instant offensive success in Game 5, the hard-hitting nature and confidence of the deep Chicago roster will have the Wild on their heels just like they were in Game 4 (a 3-0 Blackhawks win).
While most of Chicago’s players have stepped up huge offensively thus far, captain and center Jonathan Toews has yet to amass any points this series, but will look Thursday’s chance to advance to the next round as his coming-out party.
Prediction: Blackhawks 5, Wild 2