The NHL playoffs came out swinging in the opening round, treating fans to three seven-game series in sports' most exhilarating postseason.
Round 2 has a lot to live up to in order to keep the momentum rolling.
So far, so good.
Three of the initial five conference semifinal matchups needed overtime to settle the score.
The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens kicked things off with double-overtime, with Montreal taking Game 1 before Boston gained its revenge with a five-goal onslaught to claim Game 2.
Only four teams can advance another step further to the Stanley Cup. Let's take a look at all the second round has to offer.
|2014 NHL Playoffs Round 2 Schedule|
|1||Canadiens at Bruins||May 1||Canadiens 4 Bruins 3||Canadiens 1-0|
|2||Canadiens at Bruins||May 3||Bruins 5 Canadiens 3||Series tied 1-1|
|3||Bruins at Canadiens||May 6||7 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Bruins at Canadiens||May 8||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5*||Canadiens at Bruins||May 10||TBD||CBC|
|6*||Bruins at Canadiens||May 12||TBD||CBC|
|7*||Canadiens at Bruins||May 14||TBD||CBC|
|1||Rangers at Penguins||May 2||Rangers 3 Penguins 2||Rangers 1-0|
|2||Rangers at Penguins||May 4||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Penguins at Rangers||May 5||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Penguins at Rangers||May 7||7:30 p.m.||NBCSN|
|5*||Rangers at Penguins||May 9||TBD||CBC|
|6*||Penguins at Rangers||May 11||TBD||CBC|
|7*||Rangers at Penguins||May 13||TBD||CBC|
|1||Wild at Blackhawks||May 2||Blackhawks 5 Wild 2||Blackhawks 1-0|
|2||Wild at Blackhawks||May 4||3 p.m.||NBC|
|3||Blackhawks at Wild||May 6||9 p.m.||CNBC|
|4||Blackhawks at Wild||May 9||TBD||TSN|
|5*||Wild at Blackhawks||May 11||TBD||TSN|
|6*||Blackhawks at Wild||May 13||TBD||TBN|
|7*||Wild at Blackhawks||May 15||TBD||TBN|
|1||Kings at Ducks||May 3||Kings 3 Ducks 2||Kings 1-0|
|2||Kings at Ducks||May 5||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|3||Ducks at Kings||May 8||10 p.m.||NBCSN|
|4||Ducks at Kings||May 10||TBD||TSN|
|5*||Kings at Ducks||May 12||TBD||TBN|
|6*||Ducks at Kings||May 14||TBD||TBN|
|7*||Kings at Ducks||May 16||TBD||TBN|
|NHL.com, *= if necessary|
Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
When tasked to name sports' greatest rivalries, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Duke vs. North Carolina and Celtics vs. Lakers are among the usual suspects.
How about the Bruins and Canadiens?
These two squads have pages of history stored in the record books.
This marks the 34th time Boston and Montreal will meet in the postseason, leading Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin to refer to it as "probably the best rivalry in all of sports" to The Globe and Mail's Roy MacGregor.
They're off to a heated start after splitting the first two games in Boston. The Bruins nearly lost Game 2 before turning the engine on for four goals during an explosive, possible series-saving third period.
That's the Boston we've grown accustomed to seeing: the one that led the East with 3.1 goals scored per game and a plus-84 scoring differential during its 54-win season.
Montreal needs a heroic performance from goalie Carey Price to combat Boston's high-powered offense.
Shutting the Bruins down three times in the next five games is a tall order that he won't be able to fill.
Prediction: Bruins in 6
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
With Henrik Lundqvist shielding the net, defense is a strong suit for the Rangers who ranked fourth with 2.3 goals allowed per game and third with an 85.3 penalty kill percentage.
Scoring, however, is another story.
Although they mustered up three four-goal efforts against Philadelphia, they played inconsistently throughout the seven-game series.
Their leading scorer, Rick Nash, has yet to earn a goal this postseason.
In his series preview, Sports Illustrated's Brian Cazeneuve stated the importance of Nash bursting out of his slump.
Rick Nash will have to get untracked at some point. The Rangers’ ace forward, a two-time 40-goal scorer, has one in his last 13 games, and none so far in the playoffs. He’s also been held scoreless in his last four outings. Though he does many other things well and can break down a defense when he gets in on New York’s forecheck, the Rangers will need offensive input from him if they expect to keep up with Pittsburgh’s big guns.
It's a battle of strength against strength, as Pittsburgh thrives off its sensational offense led by Sidney Crosby. The Penguins are especially potent on the power play, where they make opposing squads pay with an NHL-best 23.4 percent success rate.
Despite Pittsburgh's scoring edge, New York holds a considering advantage at goalie.
Look for New York to put up just enough points to prevail in another seven-game series on Lundqvist's shoulders.
Prediction: Rangers in 7
Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings
The Kings escaped a bizarre first round, overcoming a 3-0 deficit to derail the San Jose Sharks. They'll have a much tougher go, however, in this one.
In a shocking sight, the NHL's season leaders in goals allowed coughed up 17 scores during the first three games of their opening-round tilt against San Jose.
They then outscored the Sharks 18-5 in the ensuing four matches.
Neither one tells the proper story of this team—a defensively stout squad with little offensive fire-power.
The Kings ranked 26th in goals scored and 27th in power play percentage—a major problem going up against one of the NHL's best offenses.
Los Angeles won an evenly contested Game 1 with an overtime goal from Marian Gaborik, but its first-round adventures prove that the first game is far from a do-or-die scenario in the NHL.
The Ducks prove too much to handle over the next six games, skating their way past Jonathan Quick in a tough second-round draw.
Prediction: Ducks in 7
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild
Minnesota produced the biggest first-round stunner by upending the Colorado Avalanche in seven games. The upset knocked off the Central Division champions while giving Chicago home-ice advantage during the second round.
That's a welcome surprise for the Blackhawks, who went 27-7-7 at the United Center this season before winning all three of their first-round home games against the St. Louis Blues.
They also over-matched the Wild in Game 1, notching a 5-2 victory with a pair of goals from both Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell.
The Wild suffered a big blow when goalie Darcy Kuemper left Game 7 against Colorado, forcing them to turn to Ilya Bryzgalov in Game 1. Kuemper snatched the starting role this season and notched a .915 save percentage through 26 games.
While Bryzgalov is an experienced alternative, he has allowed 20 goals in his last five starts.
Against a Chicago team loaded with scoring options, that won't do.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 5
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