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NHL Playoffs 2019: Updated Stanley Cup Schedule and Predictions

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2019

Barclay Goodrow scored the series winner in overtime for the Sharks in Game 7 against the Golden Knights.
Barclay Goodrow scored the series winner in overtime for the Sharks in Game 7 against the Golden Knights.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The San Jose Sharks were on life support midway through the third period in the seventh game of their epic first-round NHL playoff series, down 3-0 at home to the Vegas Golden Knights.

It turned at the nine-minute, 13-second mark when Cody Eakin of the Golden Knights took down Joe Pavelski with a cross-check to the head. Pavelski's head hit the ice hard, and Eakin was handed a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct.

The major penalty put the Sharks on the power play, and their previously dormant attack scored four goals during the five-minute advantage. Logan Couture scored two goals, Tomas Hertl had one and Kevin Labanc also scored.

The stunned Golden Knights refused to give in, and Jonathan Marchessault scored with the goalie pulled in the final minute, sending the game into overtime.

The fast-paced extra period featured several good scoring opportunities, but Barclay Goodrow came off the bench for his second shift in the extra session and made a slick shift and tucked the puck behind Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Sharks a remarkable 5-4 victory and a 4-3 series win.

The Sharks move ahead in the playoffs, and they will host the Colorado Avalanche Friday night. The game time for the opener of the series has not been announced by the NHL.

Logan Couture had a look of shock on his face when he was interviewed by NBCSN's Ray Ferraro after Goodrow scored the winner.

"I have never seen a game like this, and I don't think I ever will again," Couture said. "When I go home, I am going to watch it two or three times. It was amazing."

While the Sharks pulled off a remarkable comeback, the Boston Bruins had a much easier time in their Game 7 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bruins dispatched the Maple Leafs in the first round, defeating their Original 6 rivals 5-1 in the seventh game of the series.

Boston jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Joakim Nordstrom and Marcus Johansson, and while the Maple Leafs regained momentum when John Tavares scored in the second period, the Bruins put the game away with three third-period goals.

Sean Kuraly made a deft move early in the third period to get into the Toronto zone and beat goaltender Frederik Andersen with a wicked wrist shot under the bar at the 2:40 mark to restore Boston's two-goal lead. Charlie Coyle and Patrice Bergeron scored empty-net goals to put the finishing touches on the decisive game.

Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots for Boston, and his work in the second period allowed the Bruins to hold on to their lead. 

Head coach Bruce Cassidy gave credit to Rask, who has regularly been criticized by talk-show hosts and fans. 

"Generally speaking, you need your goaltender to hold you in there, and I thought Tuukka was outstanding," Cassidy said, per Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com. "I thought Tuukka was great tonight. He really handled himself well, great composure, got out and played the puck when he needed to, froze it when he needed to.

"I think he was our best player tonight. I thought we had a lot of guys play well, but he was our best player."

The Bruins will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, and that series will begin Thursday night in Boston at 7 p.m. ET. The NHL has not released the rest of the schedule for that series. The Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.

The St. Louis Blues will host the Dallas Stars following that game at 9:30 p.m., and both games will be televised by NBCSN.

The Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals will conclude the first round when they meet Wednesday night in Washington D.C. That series is tied 3-3, and the home teams have won each of the first six games.

The winner of that series will meet the New York Islanders, who swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.

     

Stanley Cup Schedule

Wednesday, April 24

Carolina at Washington, Game 7, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Thursday, April 25

Columbus at Boston, Game 1, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Dallas at St. Louis, Game 1, 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Friday, April 26

Colorado at San Jose, Game 1, Time TBD

       

Wednesday's Stanley Cup Playoff Game

Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL

"They've been outstanding. They've been the consistency to our group and that's why they're our leaders." The Capitals have some question marks heading into Game 7 against the Hurricanes, but Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are not among them: https://t.co/MtTk0cbEMH

Carolina at Washington, Game 7

The defending Stanley Cup champions have been pushed to the limit by the upstart Hurricanes, who are making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2009 postseason.

The Hurricanes bounced back from a 6-0 defeat in Game 5 to square the series with a 5-2 win at home Monday night. However, the Hurricanes are going to have to become the first road team to win a game if they are to seal the upset and advance to the second round.

The Hurricanes have depended on their speed and finesse to make the playoffs and battle the Capitals, and Washington has responded with its own athleticism and hard-hitting style. The Capitals' physical play dominated in their Game 5 victory, and they will undoubtedly try to use that style to gain an edge in Game 7.

Washington head coach Todd Reirden was not thrilled with his team's effort in Game 6, and he is asking more from his charges. 

"I think we needed a little more from all of our players," Reirden said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "For us, with losing a player like (T.J.) Oshie a couple of games ago, we needed everyone's game to be at a higher level. I think we had that in Game 5 at home. We didn't have that tonight from enough people."

Alex Ovechkin (four goals, four assists), Nicklas Backstrom (five goals, three assists) and Tom Wilson (two goals, two assists) have all been productive for the Caps, but Evgeny Kuznetsov has not scored a goal yet, although he has five assists.

Warren Foegele has scored four goals and two assists for the Hurricanes, and he has gotten offensive support from Dougie Hamilton (three goals, three assists) and Jordan Staal (two goals, three assists). 

Prediction: Washington 5, Carolina 3. The Hurricanes have fought impressively and overachieved to force the series to seven games. It stops here, as Ovechkin and Backstrom lead the way at home, and the Capitals survive and advance.

     

Thursday's Schedule

Columbus at Boston, Game 1

Prediction: Columbus 4, Boston 3. Rested Blue Jackets get jump in series over emotionally drained Bruins as Sergei Bobrovsky holds the fort.

Dallas at St. Louis, Game 1

Prediction: St. Louis 4, Dallas 1. Goalie Jordan Binnington shuts down Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, while Vladimir Tarasenko gets it done for Blues.  

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