Eight teams remain in the second round of National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoff race. Each team is facing fierce competition in the battle to reach the Conference Finals.
In the Western Conference, the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames remain.
The Wild are facing the Blackhawks. As of May 5, the Blackhawks have a 3-0 hold on the series after defeating the Wild by the counts of 4-3, 4-1 and 1-0.
The Blackhawks have controlled the series with leadership from captain Jonathan Toews and alternate captains Keith Duncan and Patrick Sharp. Star player Patrick Kane has also made a huge impact offensively, continuing his strong regular season performance.
In addition, Corey Crawford has been a presence between the pipes, registering 30 saves and a shutout in the most recent contest. Chicago is expected to close out the series in four games. However, the Wild are hoping to stage a comeback and keep their hopes for the Cup alive. In order to do so, Devan Dubnyk will have to have a stellar performance in goal to hold off Chicago’s attack.
The Ducks have been battling it out against the Flames. Presently, Anaheim has a 2-1 lead in the series. In the first game of the series, the Ducks destroyed the Flames with a 6-1 victory. The next game also resulted in a win for the Ducks; the score was 3-0. However, Calgary is beginning to stage a comeback, holding on in the third game to defeat Anaheim in overtime. The Flames will look to captain Mark Giordano, forward Mikael Backlund and star rookie Johnny Gaudreau to help their team get passed net-minder Frederik Andersen and the rest of the Ducks.
The New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens remain in the East.
The Rangers are fighting it out with the Capitals in a great hockey rivalry matchup. The Caps lead the series 2-1, after three close games, all decided by one goal. In the first game of the series, Washington defeated the Rangers with 1.3 seconds remaining in regular time.
The Rangers responded in the second game of the series with a 3-2 win. In the third game, Braden Holtby and the Caps were able to hold off the Rangers in 1-0 shutout. Captain Alex Ovechkin has once again displayed an impressive performance. Ovechkin and the Caps’ attack have proven to be a strong force for the Rangers defensive effort to withstand.
Ranger captain and defenseman Ryan McDonough has played well in the series and has been the defensive foundation for New York along with elite goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers are looking to tie up the series in game four. They will be counting on an attack, comprised of star players like Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis and Kevin Hayes who can capitalize on scoring opportunities and put the puck in the back of the net.
The Lightning are looking to continue their winning streak in the series against the Canadiens. Tampa Bay has been victorious through the first two games of the series, winning the first game in overtime and completely dominating in the second game.
Tampa has been led by its young star player Steve Stamkos in its efforts to score against a good Montreal team with a high-quality goalie in Carey Price. Despite Tampa Bay’s momentum, the Habs are extremely capable of a comeback due to their emotional passion and dependable players, such as Brandon Prust, Max Pacioretty and Price.
These next few days are sure to be thrilling as the eight teams remaining fight for a chance to compete in the Conference Finals.