NHL Playoffs 2018: Updated Schedule, Predictions for Remaining 2nd-Round Series

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2018

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins face an elimination game at home Monday night against the Capitals.
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins face an elimination game at home Monday night against the Capitals.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Two second-round series are in the books in the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, and two more could be finished Monday night.

The Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks were both eliminated Sunday. The Bruins dropped a 3-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning and were eliminated in five games, while the Sharks were blanked 3-0 on home ice and fell to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in six games.

Both the Lightning and Golden Knights could learn who their respective opponents will be in the conference final playoff series Monday night. The Washington Capitals hold a 3-2 advantage over the Pittsburgh Penguins heading into Game 6 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. If the Capitals can come up with the road victory, they will face the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

The Winnipeg Jets hold a 3-2 lead over the Nashville Predators, and if the Jets can win on home ice, they will eliminate this year's Presidents' Trophy winners and advance to the Western Conference Final.

Washington's Jakub Vrana pots the winning goal in Game 5.
Washington's Jakub Vrana pots the winning goal in Game 5.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The Penguins will host the Capitals at 7 p.m. ET, and head coach Mike Sullivan needs his team to find a way to finish stronger than it did in Saturday night's Game 5 6-3 loss. The Penguins held a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes, but the Capitals pressed the attack and tied the score on a goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov and took the lead on a late goal by Jakub Vrana before putting the game away with a pair of empty-net goals.

Sullivan believes the Penguins have the resourcefulness to come back and play their best in an elimination game. He has every reason to have faith in his team since Pittsburgh is the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

"I think it comes down to character and the people we have in this locker room," Sullivan said, per Wes Crosby of NHL.com. "These guys are competitive guys. They know what it takes to win. They're not afraid of challenges and they embrace these types of situations, so we have the utmost confidence in the group that we have. They're a battle-tested group and I know our guys are looking forward to the opportunity to play tomorrow night."

The Penguins have eliminated the Capitals in each of the last two postseasons, so there's every reason Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel can stay alive and square the series at home.

However, the Capitals have shown a resiliency throughout this postseason, and it's clear that they won't go down easily.

     

Stanley Cup Second-Round Schedule (all times ET)

Monday, May 7

Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m., NBCSN. Washington leads series 3-2.

Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN. Winnipeg leads series 3-2

Wednesday, May 9

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN. If necessary.

Thursday, May 10

Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m., NBCSN. If necessary.

The Jets played their strongest game of the series in recording a 6-2 win on Saturday night at Nashville to take a pivotal 3-2 lead in the series.

They have the advantage of playing a potential series closer at home in front of their raucous and adoring fans at the MTS Center.

Winnipeg used a swarming attack led by Kyle Connor to score four goals in the second period. The Jets skated with speed and aggressiveness throughout the middle frame, and they appeared to solve Nashville's defense with precision passing and accurate shooting.

While the Jets were razor sharp in the second period, the Predators seemed to make several mistakes, and the visitors took advantage of all of them.

Predators defenseman P.K. Subban believes his team can gain the reversal in Game 6.

"Every time we made a mistake it ended up in our net," Subban said, per Robby Stanley of NHL.com. "The fact of the matter is, we had to go to Winnipeg anyway. We're going to go there, we're going to win a game, then we're going to come back here. It's that simple."

It certainly sounds simple, but the Jets have lost just one postseason game on home ice, and the Preds are not playing their best hockey. 

Winnipeg has been able to get excellent chances against the Nashville defense, and Pekka Rinne has not been at his best in goal for Nashville. Rinne has a 3.23 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage along with a 6-5 won-lost record.

If he can't come through with a stellar effort Monday night, the Nashville season will almost certainly come to an abrupt halt.   

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