Although the second-round series in the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs just began, the weekend's games are critical for teams on the losing end of Game 1 to rebound.
Pittsburgh Penguins and Vegas Golden Knights triumphed in the opening contests of their respective series on Thursday in two different fashions.
The Penguins came from behind in the third period to defeat the Washington Capitals, while the Golden Knights dominated the San Jose Sharks from start to finish.
Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators open their series in the Western Conference on Friday, while Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning must wait until Saturday to get things going in the Eastern Conference.
NHL Weekend Schedule
Friday, April 27
Game 1: Winnipeg at Nashville (8 p.m., NBCSN)
Saturday, April 28
Game 1: Boston at Tampa Bay (3 p.m., NBC)
Game 2: San Jose at Vegas (8 p.m., NBC)
Sunday, April 29
Game 2: Pittsburgh at Washington (3 p.m., NBC)
Game 2: Winnipeg at Nashville (7 p.m., NBCSN)
All Times ET.
Games can be live-streamed on NBC Sports Live.
Vegas Looking to Continue Dominance
Vegas surprised everyone with its 7-0 curbstomping of San Jose in Thursday's Game 1, in which the Golden Knights scored as many goals as they did in four games in the first round.
As ESPN Stats and Info noted, it was the second-largest shutout in the opening game of a playoff series in NHL history:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Golden Knights beat the Sharks 7-0 in Game 1. That's tied for the 2nd-largest shutout in the opening game of a playoff series in NHL history; the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 10-0 in Game 1 of the 1969 Quarterfinals. Vegas scored a *total* of seven goals in the First Round. https://t.co/x7M2wcC2Fe
While some teams would bask in a blowout victory entering Game 2, the Golden Knights are more than aware Game 1 must be put in the past.
Center Erik Haula commented on the need to keep the same level up for Saturday, per David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
"We feel good about our game. We can't have a letdown next game," Haula said. "We're going to have to play the same way, play hard, play fast and physical and keep doing the right things."
In addition to overwhelming the Sharks offensively, Vegas produced yet another sterling defensive showing, as goalie Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his third shutout of the postseason and second in a row.
Fleury faced at least 30 shots in each of the five playoff games, but he's only let in three tallies against the Los Angeles Kings and the Sharks.
On the other end of the ice, San Jose goalie Martin Jones didn't last 60 minutes, as he was pulled following the fifth Vegas goal.
Jones admitted there were too many mistakes made by the Sharks and that he personally should've played better, per NBC Sports California's Sharks Twitter account:
In order for San Jose to remain competitive heading back home, it must find a way to beat Fleury, preferably early in Game 2 in order to gain some semblance of momentum.
Will Guentzel Continue Incredible Playoff Scoring Run?
Pittsburgh center Jake Guentzel is on a remarkable tear through his first seven playoff games, one we admittedly thought Sidney Crosby was the only player capable of putting together.
With his goal and two assists in the Penguins' come-from-behind victory in Game 1, Guentzel became the 10th different player to record 16 or more points in his first seven playoff games.
Guentzel is the third Penguin to achieve the feat, with Mario Lemieux and Crosby being the other two, per NHL Public Relations:
What makes the 23-year-old's play more astounding is he only had 48 points over 82 games in the regular season.
Guentzel ranked behind Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist in regular-season points, but he's carved out a role for himself as Malkin deals with an injury.
In addition to Guentzel's play, Crosby is doing what we're used to seeing from him, as he has 15 points from seven goals and eight assists.
Once Malkin returns to the lineup, the Penguins could be unstoppable on offense, with a plethora of different outlets to find the back of the net.
Pittsburgh becomes a scarier threat to opponents when you look at the play of goalie Matt Murray, who allowed 11 goals in his last five games.
If Murray thrives against the Capitals, like he did with 32 saves in Game 1, the Penguins could easily take another step forward in their title defense.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.