NHL Playoffs: A look and a prediction for each series

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has his team poised for another Stanley Cup run after notching two goals and five assists in five playoff games.
(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

Four of the seven teams that had the best regular-season records were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, as Chicago, Minnesota and Montreal were upset and Columbus (108 points) lost to Pittsburgh (111 points).

There were 18 overtime games among the 42 games, a record for any playoff round. Twenty-eight games were decided by one goal and five more were decided by two goals because of an empty-net score. Eighteen games entered the final five minutes of regulation with the score tied. In 17 games the winning team overcame a deficit of at least one goal. Despite the closeness of games, there were no seven-game series.

The second-round matchups:

Ducks right wingers Jakob Silfverberg has two goals and three points in four playoff games.
Ducks right wingers Jakob Silfverberg has two goals and three points in four playoff games.
(Harry How / Getty Images)


DUCKS 42-23-13, 105 pts

1st Round: def. Calgary, 4-0.

EDMONTON 47-26-9, 103

1st Round: def. San Jose, 4-2.


Power play: Season—Ducks 18.7% (17th); Oilers 22.9% (fifth). Playoffs—Ducks 23.1% (4th); Oilers 12.5% (14th).

Penalty killing: Season—Ducks 84.7% (4th); Oilers 80.7% (17th). Playoffs—Ducks 62.5% (16th); Oilers 80.8% (10th).

Top scorers: Season—Ducks, Ryan Getzlaf 15-58—73; Oilers — Connor McDavid 30-70—100. Playoffs—Ducks, Getzlaf 3-2—5; Oilers, McDavid 2-2—4.

Outlook: The Ducks overcame weak penalty killing and a shaky Game 3 start by goaltender John Gibson to win four close, rugged games from Calgary. Young defensemen Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour played well after injuries took out Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen, and a week of rest probably will allow Fowler to return. The Oilers showed resilience in bouncing back from a 7-0 spanking in Game 4 against defending Western Conference champ San Jose to close that series. The consensus is regular-season scoring champ McDavid hasn’t hit top stride in his first playoff experience. That’s scary. He and Leon Draisaitl (six goals vs. the Ducks this season) will be tough to contain.

Pick: Ducks in seven.


Game 1 Tonight at DUCKS, 7:30

Game 2 Friday at DUCKS, 7:30

Game 3 Sunday at Edmonton, 4


Game 4 May 3 at Edmonton, 7

Game 5 May 5 at DUCKS, TBD*

Game 6 May 7 at Edmonton, TBD*

Game 7 May 10 at DUCKS, TBD*

*if necessary; times p.m. and PDT

Blues goaltender Jake Allen has a .956 save percentage in the playoffs so far.
Blues goaltender Jake Allen has a .956 save percentage in the playoffs so far.
(Billy Hurst / Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS 46-29-7, 99

1st Round: def. Minn., 4-1.


NASHVILLE 41-29-12, 94

1st Round: def. Chicago, 4-0.

Power play: Season—Blues 21.3% (8th); Predators 18.9% (16th). Playoffs—Blues 6.7% (15th); Predators 12.5% (13th).

Penalty killing: Season—Blues 84.8% (3rd); Predators 80.9% (15th). Playoffs—Blues 83.3% (7th); Predators 77.8% (12th).

Top scorers: Season—Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko 39-36—75; Predators, Viktor Arvidsson 31-30—61. Playoffs—Blues, Jaden Schwartz 2-3—5; Predators, Ryan Johansen 1-5—6.

Outlook: Goals should be rare against St. Louis’ Jake Allen (1.47 goals-against average, .956 save percentage) and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (0.70, .976, two shutouts vs. Chicago). Coach Mike Yeo breathed life back into a stodgy Blues team after he replaced Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1. They also got a boost with the return of forward Vladimir Sobotka from Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, but the Predators’ line of Arvidsson, Johansen and Filip Forsberg romped in the first round and the team scoring is balanced. The Predators have a more mobile top four on defense, and that could make the difference for a team that has not advanced past the second round.

Pick: Nashville in six.

Game 1 Tonight at St. Louis, 5

Game 2 Friday at St. Louis, 5

Game 3 Sunday at Nashville, noon

Game 4 Tuesday at Nashville, 6:30

Game 5 May 5 at St. Louis, TBD*

Gm 6 May 7 at Nashville, TBD*

Game 7 May 9 at St. Louis, TBD*

*if necessary; times p.m. and PDT

Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin has gotten two of his three playoff goals on the power play.
Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin has gotten two of his three playoff goals on the power play.
(Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press)



1st Round: def. Toronto, 4-2.


1st Round: def. Columbus, 4-1.

Power play: Season—Capitals 23.1% (4th); Penguins 23.1% (3rd). Playoffs—Capitals 29.4% (3rd); Penguins 33.3% (2nd).

Penalty killing: Season—Capitals 83.8% (7th); Penguins 79.8% (20th). Playoffs—Capitals 83.3% (8th); Penguins 83.3% (6th).

Top scorers: Season—Capitals, Nicklas Backstrom 23-63—86; Penguins, Sidney Crosby 44-45—89. Playoffs—Capitals, T.J. Oshie 3-4—7; Penguins, Evgeni Malkin 2-9—11.

Outlook: A marquee matchup of the NHL’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams and superstars Alex Ovechkin and Crosby. The Penguins have won eight of the teams’ nine playoff series, including a second-round series last spring. The Penguins lost elite defenseman Kris Letang, forward Carl Hagelin and goalie Matt Murray to injuries, but goalie Marc-Andre Fleury responded well, rookie Jake Guentzel has a playoff-leading five goals, and Malkin is the playoff scoring leader. The Capitals’ depth is impressive, and Oshie and Justin Williams (three goals, six points) have a knack for timely goals. The Capitals must tighten up in front of Braden Holtby (2.36, .925).

Pick: Capitals in seven.

Game 1 Thu. at Washington, 4:30

Game 2 Saturday at Washington, 5

Game 3 Monday at Pittsburgh, 4:30

Game 4 May 3 at Pittsburgh, 4:30

Game 5 May 6 at Washington, TBD*

Game 6 May 8 at Pittsburgh, TBD*

Game 7 May 10 at Wash., TBD*

*if necessary; times p.m. and PDT

Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has six assists in six playoff games.
Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has six assists in six playoff games.
(Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

OTTAWA 44-28-10, 98

1st Round: def. Boston, 4-2.

N.Y. RANGERS 48-26-6, 102

1st Round: def. Montreal, 4-2.

Power play: Season—Senators 17.0% (23rd); Rangers 20.2% (11th). Playoffs—Senators 21.7% (6th); Rangers 6.7% (16th).

Penalty killing: Season—Senators 79.7% (22nd); Rangers 79.8% (19th). Playoffs—Senators 81.3% (9th); Rangers 85.0% (5th).

Top scorers: Season—Senators, Erik Karlsson 17-54—71; Rangers, Mats Zuccarello 15-44—59. Playoffs—Senators, Derick Brassard 2-6—8; Rangers, Mika Zibanejad 1-3—4.

Outlook: Here’s an oddity — each team’s top playoff scorer was traded for the other last summer. The Senators went to overtime four times against Boston, but goalie Craig Anderson (1.94, .921) faced an average of only 27.5 shots per game, second-lowest in postseason play. Karlsson averaged a playoff-leading 30:23 ice time per game despite being hampered by two hairline fractures in his heel. Winger Bobby Ryan contributed four goals, two of them game winners. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (1.70, .947) shrugged off an inconsistent season to excel against Montreal. The Rangers have good balance and more scoring depth than the Senators.

Pick: Rangers in six.

Game 1 Thursday at Ottawa, 4

Game 2 Saturday at Ottawa, noon

Game 3 Tuesday at New York, 4

Game 4 May 4 at New York, 4:30

Game 5 May 6 at Ottawa, TBD*

Game 6 May 9 at New York, TBD*

Game 7 May 11 at Ottawa, TBD*

*if necessary; times p.m. and PDT

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen

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