NHL Playoffs 2020: Latest Stanley Cup Odds and Predictions for Thursday GamesAugust 20, 2020
The Dallas Stars and New York Islanders are one win away from joining the group of four teams locked into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
While both teams are at an advantage in their respective series, finishing the best-of-seven competition Thursday could be difficult.
The Washington Capitals kept themselves alive in Game 4 of their series with the Isles thanks to their top stars, and there is a good chance that carries over into Game 5.
Dallas has gotten the best of the Calgary Flames in the past two games, but winning a third in a row could be tough against a team that has not lost three straight contests much this season.
NHL Thursday Schedule
Game 5: Washington vs. New York Islanders (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Game 6: Dallas vs. Calgary (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Stanley Cup Odds
Vegas: +350 (bet $100 to win $350)
Tampa Bay: +500
New York Islanders: +1400
St. Louis: +2500
Washington Stays Alive
The Capitals looked like a rejuvenated side in Game 4 with elimination staring them in the face.
Washington scored the most goals in a single game in its series with the New York Islanders, and three of its top players recorded multi-point performances.
John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov had a hand in each of Washington's three goals, and goaltender Braden Holtby was perfect after the first period.
Members of that quartet played well prior to Game 4, but it wasn't enough to help clinch a victory over the Islanders. Carlson leads the series in points with six, while Ovechkin has five and Kuznetsov has four. Only Mathew Barzal's four points for the Islanders match one of their totals.
The Islanders, who have former Capitals head coach Barry Trotz behind the bench, did not expect Washington to give up easily, as Matt Martin told reporters:
"They weren't going to go away without a fight. They're a good team, we knew that coming into this series. We knew they were going to fight. They outplayed us in the second and probably for the most part in the third yesterday. Now it's up to us to kind of get back to our game and respond the right way. We've got a chance to do that tomorrow night, and we still like where we are in this series and we still have a lot of confidence as a group."
While a heavy dose of pressure from Ovechkin and others in front of net is crucial, the biggest key for Washington could be its defensive performance. The Capitals did not allow a goal in the final 50 minutes of Game 4, and they limited the Islanders to 26 shots on goal.
If they play with a similar efficiency in Game 5, the Caps have a good chance to stay alive and force Game 6.
Calgary's Top Forwards Rebound to Force Game 7
Calgary's offense had a rare off performance in Game 5, as it failed to score multiple goals for the first time in the Edmonton hub.
The Flames did not score after the first period and only received two shots each out of Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan. The trio have three of the top-five shot totals in the series for Calgary, and if their production dries up again, the Flames could be headed for a playoff exit.
They are 6-6 in games following a loss when they score one or zero goals, but most of those came before the calendar flipped to 2020. Calgary has netted multiple goals in all but three games since January 1 and scored seven tallies after losing with little offensive production.
Prior to dropping Games 4 and 5, the Flames lost back-to-back matches on three occasions in 2020, and the last four games in those runs were one-goal defeats.
If Calgary proves it can bounce back behind its top scorers, it could force the first Game 7 of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.