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NHL Playoff Bracket 2018: Latest Dates, TV Schedule for Stanley Cup Bracket

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2018

The Caps and Alex Ovechkin will try to take a 3-1 stranglehold in their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Caps and Alex Ovechkin will try to take a 3-1 stranglehold in their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.Associated Press

The Washington Capitals fired a shot in Game 3 when Alex Ovechkin scored the winning goal with slightly more than a minute to play, allowing Washington to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

However, winning one game at the PPG Paints Arena is one thing; winning a second consecutive game at the home of the champions is quite another, especially after the NHL meted out justice to Tom Wilson Tuesday night.

NHL Player Safety @NHLPlayerSafety

Washington’s Tom Wilson suspended three games for an illegal check to the head on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese. https://t.co/rrZ8Hp3XkE

Wilson, who delivered a head-high hit that broke the jaw of Pittsburgh's Zach Aston-Reese, was suspended for three games by the league. That should give Pittsburgh an advantage when the two teams meet Thursday night.

Wilson plays on Washington's top line with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and while he has some talent, he is a wrecking ball of a player who competes on the edge.

Washington head coach Barry Trotz defended Wilson, but that didn't carry much weight with the league. The 24-year-old was deemed a repeat offender because he was suspended on two other occasions during the preseason.

"I felt it was body on body," Trotz said, per Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post. "Tom's a bigger player, by three or four inches and about 20 pounds. It was a collision. They hit, and to me it looked body on body. He doesn't leave his feet."

The Penguins will have to make the most of Wilson's absence. The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions have been on their heels for a large portion of the series because the Caps have been able to open the scoring in each game.

If the Penguins can break out in this game, they should have an excellent chance to square the series at 2-2.

Faceoff is at 7 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised by NBCSN.

Here's a look at the upcoming Stanley Cup playoff and television scheduleHere's a link to the full Stanley Cup bracket.

Hockey Central @HockeyCentraI

Yeah so Dustin Byfuglien is the hulk.. https://t.co/0otQx18OGO

While the Nashville Predators won the Presidents' Trophy this season and have designs on getting back to the Stanley Cup Final, they find themselves in a 2-1 hole against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets overcame a 3-0 deficit in Game 3 to earn a 7-4 victory in front of their roaring fans at Bell MTS Place.

The Jets came out charging in the second period, and Paul Stastny, Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba scored in the first 5:29 to tie the score. Byfuglien scored again in the final minute of the middle frame, allowing Winnipeg to take a 4-3 lead into the final period.

Nashville soon tied the score on a goal by Filip Forsberg, but Blake Wheeler responded with two goals. Brandon Tanev added another to clinch the victory.

Nashville was hurt badly by four third-period penalties, and Preds captain Roman Josi said his team must play with more discipline when the two teams meet Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. ET in a game that will be broadcast by NBCSN.

"There's a lot on the line, and you can't have your frustration get in the way of that," Josi said, per Scott Billeck of NHL.com. "Like I said, their power play is extremely dangerous. You just can't do it. You've just got to stay calm. There's a lot of emotions on both sides, you've just got to be smart about it."

If the Predators can avoid those penalties, head coach Peter Laviolette has one of the deepest and most dangerous teams in the league, and they are capable of tying the series.

Nashville also needs goaltender Pekka Rinne to play up to his standards and keep the Jets from lighting up the scoreboard. Rinne has a 3.08 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage this postseason, and that's not good enough for a team with championship aspirations.

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