NHL Playoff Bracket 2020: TV, Live-Stream Coverage Schedule for Thursday GamesAugust 20, 2020
After the Vegas Golden Knights became the first team to advance to the second round of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs Tuesday night, three more teams joined them Wednesday.
The Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins were all victorious and join the Golden Knights in awaiting the conclusions of the remaining first-round series.
Another two teams could punch their tickets to the next round Thursday. The No. 6-seeded New York Islanders hold a 3-1 lead over the No. 3-seeded Washington Capitals heading into their Game 5 matchup in the East. In the West, the No. 3-seeded Dallas Stars have a 3-2 advantage against the No. 6-seeded Calgary Flames.
For the Capitals, they still have long odds to advance despite notching their first win of their series in Game 4. The Flames, meanwhile, would force a Game 7 with a win Thursday.
Game 5: No. 6 New York Islanders at No. 5 Washington Capitals, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Game 6: No. 3 Dallas Stars at No. 6 Calgary Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Games can be streamed live at NBC Sports Live.
Can Capitals Build Momentum Toward Comeback?
It's been a tough postseason for Washington, which has lost five of its first six games, falling into a 3-0 hole against New York. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, on Tuesday the Capitals were one loss away from elimination in the first round for the second straight year.
But Washington played its best game of the postseason after going down 2-0 in the first period of Game 4, with Alex Ovechkin's two goals, including a go-ahead score in the third period, helping the Caps extend their season for at least one more game.
"If we're going to play like that, we have a pretty good chance to come back," Ovechkin said, according to NHL.com's Tom Gulitti. "But we're going to take a game at a time, and we get one. It's only one, and we move on to the next one."
Make no mistake about it, though: The Islanders are still in control of this series. They dominated offensively in the latter parts of Games 1 and 2, scoring nine goals across those victories. Then they edged a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 3.
New York has played well throughout the series, and despite a setback in Game 4, it still needs only one more win—and has three chances to get it.
"Now it's up to us to kind of get back to our game and respond the right way," Islanders left winger Matt Martin said, according to NHL.com's Brian Compton. "We've got a chance to do that [Thursday] night, and we still like where we are in this series, and we still have a lot of confidence as a group."
New York is looking to advance past the first round for the second straight season. This year, it already has one postseason series victory, as it defeated the Florida Panthers in four games in the qualifying round.
Are Stars Surging to 1st-Round Victory?
Through the first four games of the Stars-Flames series, the teams alternated wins. Calgary took Games 1 and 3, while Dallas won Games 2 and 4, with the latter being a 5-4 overtime victory.
However, the Stars stopped the Flames from responding in Game 5 with a 2-1 win, having their best defensive showing of the series. It was the first game in which Calgary didn't score at least two goals, and Dallas goaltender Anton Khudobin collected 28 saves. John Klingberg scored the game-winner early in the third period—the only goal over the final two periods.
"It doesn't matter who scores the goals," Klingberg said, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "The big thing is to be up 3-2 in the series."
If the Stars notch a third consecutive victory, they will be heading to the second round for the second straight season. However, they haven't gone further than that since reaching the Western Conference Final in 2008.
For the Flames, they haven't advanced past the first round since 2015. And heading into this season, that was their only postseason series win since reaching the conference final in 2004. In order to end their recent playoff struggles, they need back-to-back wins.
Veteran goaltender Cam Talbot is a big reason why Calgary is 5-4 this postseason, as he has a .934 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average while starting all nine games.
"We feel like he's going to be ready to go," Flames coach Geoff Ward said, according to NHL.com's Aaron Vickers. "That's a good thing for our hockey team. When he's on, he gives our guys a lot of confidence."
It may take a strong performance from Talbot to force a Game 7, but Calgary will also need to have a better offensive showing than it had in Game 5 or it could be leaving the NHL bubble Thursday.