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NHL Playoffs 2019: Dates, Live-Stream Schedule and Stanley Cup Bracket

Jake RillCorrespondent IIApril 8, 2019

Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) scores on Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask (40) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, April 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The NHL postseason begins on Wednesday, with 10 of the 16 teams beginning their quest to try to win the Stanley Cup.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Presidents' Trophy for accumulating the most regular-season points, are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They open the playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

In the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames are the No. 1 seed and will have home-ice advantage on their side of the bracket. They play the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night in the last first-round series to get started.

The playoffs open with five games on Wednesday night, then three more series begin on Thursday night. Depending on how long each best-of-seven series goes, first-round games could still be taking place as late as April 24.

      

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

NHL @NHL

The chase is on. #StanleyCup https://t.co/ha3bIbSyGT

First-Round Schedule (All Times ET)

*If necessary

Games can be live-streamed on NBC Sports Live

Wednesday, April 10

Game 1: Columbus at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m., USA Network

Game 1: Pittsburgh at N.Y. Islanders, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 1: St. Louis at Winnipeg, 8 p.m., NHL Network

Game 1: Dallas at Nashville, 9:30 p.m., USA Network

Game 1: Vegas at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

        

Thursday, April 11

Game 1: Toronto at Boston, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 1: Carolina at Washington, 7:30 p.m., USA Network

Game 1: Colorado at Calgary, 10 p.m., NBC Sports Network

         

Friday, April 12

Game 2: Columbus at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m., CNBC

Game 2: Pittsburgh at N.Y. Islanders, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 2: St. Louis at Winnipeg, 9:30 p.m., CNBC

Game 2: Vegas at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

     

Saturday, April 13

Game 2: Carolina at Washington, 3 p.m., NBC

Game 2: Dallas at Nashville, 6 p.m., CNBC

Game 2: Toronto at Boston, 8 p.m., NBC

Game 2: Colorado at Calgary, 10:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

     

Sunday, April 14

Game 3: N.Y. Islanders at Pittsburgh, 12 p.m., NBC

Game 3: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 3: Winnipeg at St. Louis, 7:30 p.m., CNBC

Game 3: San Jose at Vegas, 10 p.m., NBC Sports Network

     

Monday, April 15

Game 3: Boston at Toronto, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 3: Washington at Carolina, 7 p.m., CNBC

Game 3: Nashville at Dallas, 9:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 3: Calgary at Colorado, 10 p.m., CNBC

     

Tuesday, April 16

Game 4: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 7 p.m., CNBC

Game 4: N.Y. Islanders at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 4: Winnipeg at St. Louis, 9:30 p.m., CNBC

Game 4: San Jose at Vegas, 10:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

     

Wednesday, April 17

Game 4: Boston at Toronto, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Game 4: Nashville at Dallas, 8 p.m., USA Network

Game 4: Calgary at Colorado, 10 p.m., NBC Sports Network

     

Thursday, April 18

Game 4: Washington at Carolina, 7 p.m.

Game 5: Vegas at San Jose, TBD*

Game 5: St. Louis at Winnipeg, TBD*

Game 5: Pittsburgh at N.Y. Islanders, TBD*

     

Friday, April 19

Game 5: Columbus at Tampa Bay, TBD*

Game 5: Toronto at Boston, TBD*

Game 5: Colorado at Calgary, TBD*

     

Saturday, April 20

Game 5: Carolina at Washington, TBD*

Game 5: Dallas at Nashville, TBD*

Game 6: Winnipeg at St. Louis, TBD*

Game 6: N.Y. Islanders at Pittsburgh, TBD*

    

Sunday, April 21

Game 6: Tampa Bay at Columbus, TBD*

Game 6: Boston at Toronto, TBD*

Game 6: San Jose at Vegas, TBD*

Game 6: Calgary at Colorado, TBD*

    

Monday, April 22

Game 6: Washington at Carolina, TBD*

Game 6: Nashville at Dallas, TBD*

Game 7: St. Louis at Winnipeg, TBD*

Game 7: Pittsburgh at N.Y. Islanders, TBD*

    

Tuesday, April 23

Game 7: Columbus at Tampa Bay, TBD*

Game 7: Toronto at Boston, TBD*

Game 7: Vegas at San Jose, TBD*

Game 7: Colorado at Calgary, TBD*

    

Wednesday, April 24

Game 7: Carolina at Washington, TBD*

Game 7: Dallas at Nashville, TBD*

          

Dominant Lightning Look to Keep Rolling

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Tampa Bay hasn't just been the best team in hockey this season, it's been the best team by far.

The Lightning led the NHL in points (128), wins (62), goals scored (325) and goal differential (plus-103). And they had only 16 regulation losses.

Now, the question is whether Tampa Bay can keep playing this well in the playoffs. The Lightning last won the Stanley Cup in 2004, but they've made it to at least the Eastern Conference finals in three of the previous four seasons.

Tampa Bay should make another deep run in the playoffs. But in order to make its first trip to the Stanley Cup finals since 2015, it will need to get past the defending champion Washington Capitals, who the Lightning lost to in seven games in last year's Eastern Conference finals.

With a team that features the NHL's regular-season points leader (Nikita Kucherov, 128 points) and two other prolific scorers (Steven Stamkos, 98; Brayden Point, 92), Tampa Bay will be difficult to beat.

      

Can Capitals Repeat?

Nick Wass/Associated Press

Before last season, Washington had experienced regular-season success but could never carry that over into the playoffs.

That changed in 2018 when the Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in team history. Before that, the only time Washington had even made the Stanley Cup finals was 1998.

Now, the Caps are looking to win back-to-back championships after the Pittsburgh Penguins won two straight Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

Under first-year coach Todd Reirden, Washington has had another strong regular season. The Capitals notched 104 points to finish first in the Metropolitan Division. Plus, veteran star Alex Ovechkin led the NHL with 51 goals.

      

Carolina Back in Playoffs

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

For the first time since 2009, Carolina is in the playoffs. That was the longest active postseason drought in the NHL before the Hurricanes secured the No. 1 wild card in the Eastern Conference this season.

Although Carolina hadn't made the playoffs in 10 years, it's been successful in its past trips to the postseason. Since the franchise relocated to North Carolina for the 1997-98 season, the Hurricanes have won nine playoff series, which included winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

However, Carolina may have a difficult path to get back there this season. The Hurricanes open the playoffs with a series against the defending champion Capitals. If they get past Washington, then they would also likely have to later take down the Lightning, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

It's a great accomplishment that Carolina is back in the playoffs, but it may not last long.   

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