NHL Playoff Bracket 2021: Game Times, TV Schedule and Friday Live-Stream Guide

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMay 21, 2021

NHL Playoff Bracket 2021: Game Times, TV Schedule and Friday Live-Stream Guide

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Since the Stanley Cup playoffs began Saturday, there have been seven games go to overtime, including three featuring the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals (one of which went to double OT). The most recent OT game came Thursday night, when the Florida Panthers edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5.

    In other words, the NHL postseason is off to a thrilling start. And that's likely to continue Friday, when there are four first-round matchups on the schedule. For several teams already facing deficits, these are close to must-win games if they hope to avoid being swept.

    Here's everything you need to know about Friday's Stanley Cup playoff action.

Friday Schedule

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Game 4 (BOS leads 2-1): No. 2 Washington Capitals at No. 3 Boston Bruins, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

    Game 3 (CAR leads 2-0): No. 1 Carolina Hurricanes at No. 4 Nashville Predators, 7 p.m. ET, USA Network

    Game 2 (WPG leads 1-0): No. 3 Winnipeg Jets at No. 2 Edmonton Oilers, 9 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

    Game 3 (COL leads 2-0): No. 1 Colorado Avalanche at No. 4 St. Louis Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET, USA Network

    Games can be streamed live on the NBC Sports app.

Can Capitals Bounce Back to Even Series in Boston?

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Through the first three games of their opening-round series, the Bruins and Capitals have contested competitive games. Each one has gone to overtime, with Boston winning the most recent 3-2 in double overtime Wednesday.

    After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the series, Washington has lost back-to-back games. And as it looks to tie things up in Friday's Game 4 in Boston, another close matchup could be on the horizon.

    "I would imagine that the next game is probably going to be the same type of game," Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said, per Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press. "You hope at the end of the night your number on the scoreboard is bigger than the opponent's."

    The Caps won't want to be down 3-1 when they head home for Game 5. At that point, they would need to win three consecutive games to take the series.

    One thing to keep an eye on for Washington will be its goaltending. Ilya Samsonov returned in Game 3 and played well, stopping 40 of 43 shots on his playoff debut. However, his gaffe led to Craig Smith's game-winner in double OT. Vitek Vanecek was injured in the Caps' Game 1 win, while veteran Craig Anderson remains another option in the net.

Avalanche, Hurricanes Looking to Take 3-0 Leads

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes are both off to dominant starts this postseason. And come Friday night, each team could be one win away from advancing to the second round.

    Colorado has opened its series against St. Louis by handily winning the first two games. The Avs won 4-1 in Game 1 and notched a 6-3 victory in Game 2. But both of those contests were on their home ice, so the Blues will be hosting Games 3 and 4 while looking to get back into the series.

    Carolina also hasn't been challenged in its series against Nashville. The Hurricanes outscored the Predators 8-2 while winning the series' first two games on home ice. As the series shifts to Nashville, Carolina will be looking to keep that momentum going by continuing its strong defensive play.

    There's a good chance that the Avalanche and Hurricanes will take 3-0 leads and move closer to a first-round sweep. They are two of the top teams in the NHL and are both strong contenders to win the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, the Blues and Predators were less impressive during the regular season while edging other teams for the final playoff berths in their divisions.

    Don't be surprised if Colorado and Carolina keep rolling in their respective Game 3 matchups.

Oilers Aim to Avoid Going on Road 0-2

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    Nick Didlick/Associated Press

    The two first-round series featuring North Division teams were the last ones to get started because the division was the last one to complete the regular season because of COVID-19-related postponements. That layoff appeared to have not helped the Edmonton Oilers, who dropped Game 1 of their series against the Winnipeg Jets at home Wednesday.

    Edmonton took a 1-0 lead in the second period, but it allowed four unanswered goals over the final half-hour of the contest. Now, the Oilers will be looking to even the series at home Friday before traveling to Winnipeg for Games 3 and 4.

    During the regular season, the Oilers went 7-2-0 against the Jets. But things are always different in the postseason.

    "You get into playoffs, everything's ramped up a little more, the physicality is ramped up a little more," Edmonton forward James Neal said, per NHL.com's Tim Campbell.

    If the Oilers want to earn a bounce-back win, they may have to be more physical. Perhaps that will lead to Edmonton tying the series at one as it looks to advance to the second round for the first time since 2017.