Five things to know about the NHL playoffs
Last year's Stanley Cup runner-up Tampa Bay Lightning extended their stay in the playoffs. Now the reigning champion Colorado Avalanche will have to do the same.
Here are five things to know as we head into Friday's post-season action:
The Lightning put a halt to the Toronto Maple Leafs' shot — for the moment — at advancing to the second round for the first time since 2004 with a 4-2 win on Thursday.
Tampa Bay was facing a 3-1 series deficit entering hostile territory at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena and now head back home for Game 6 on Saturday.
Whether the Lightning could force a Game 7 remains to be seen but their hopes for a fourth straight Stanley Cup final appearance and potential third Cup win in four years is still alive.
CAN THE CHAMPS HOLD ON?
The defending champion Avalanche have their backs against the wall entering Game 6 against the Seattle Kraken.
After going up 2-1 in the first-round series, Colorado finds itself down 3-2 and in need of a big road win Friday to stay alive in the post-season.
Led by Mikko Rantanen (five goals, two assists) and Nathan MacKinnon (three goals, three assists) but without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who is out for the playoffs after missing the regular season due to a knee injury, the Avalanche will have to dig its heels in for a win.
JETS MAKE FIRST-ROUND EXIT
The Winnipeg Jets took a tough fall out of the post-season with a 4-1 Game 5 loss to the Western Conference top seed Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
After taking the opener 5-1, Winnipeg failed to hold off Vegas in the following four games, while losing all-star defenceman Josh Morrissey and leading goal-scorer Mark Scheifele to injuries in the process.
The Jets had a strong start to the regular season but struggled at times in the second half of it. And although it did enough to make the playoffs, Winnipeg could have an interesting off-season ahead.
CAN THE BRUINS AVOID GAME 7?
The Boston Bruins let an opportunity to advance into the second round slip with a late mishap in overtime of Game 5 against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.
Matthew Tkachuk scored the game winner as a result of it and now the teams meet in Florida for Game 6.
With a 3-2 series lead in hand, the Bruins get another crack at putting away the Panthers on Friday.
Whether the Presidents' Trophy winners can get the job done and live up to their billing in the post-season remains to be seen.
HURRICANES LOOK TO FINISH THE DEAL
The Carolina Hurricanes are in a similar situation to that of the Bruins: a top seed trying to avoid a Game 7 against a lower seed.
After taking a 3-1 series lead last Sunday, the second-seeded Hurricanes dropped Game 5 at home to the seventh-seeded New York Islanders on Tuesday. They were down 3-1 entering the third period, pulled within one but failed to get any closer.
Now the teams meet in New York, with the Islanders looking to use home ice to their advantage.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2023.
The Canadian Press