Skip to content

Playoffs Tonight: Loaded Penguins take on Islanders

May 1, 2013, 8:06 AM EST

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 30: Jarome Iginla #12 of the Pittsburgh Penguins moves the puck up ice in front of Keith Aucoin #10 of the New York Islanders on March 30, 2013 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

Last night we had two games go into overtime and a third was tied through 40 minutes. Is that the start of a trend of tight games?

There are three more Game 1s tonight and they can all be viewed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

Game 1: The Boston Bruins host the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, CNBC)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have finally ended their seven-season playoffs drought, but what will they do now that they’ve made it? Boston did finish the season with six games in nine days and had a 2-5-2 record in their last nine contests, so perhaps the Leafs can capitalize on those woes and take the series opener.

The big x-factor in this series is Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel. Typically Kessel is their biggest offensive threat, but he has just nine points and a minus-22 rating in 22 career contests against Boston. The Maple Leafs will have a hard time beating Boston if Kessel doesn’t hold his own against his former employers.

It’s also worth noting that Boston had a 3-1-0 record against Toronto in the regular season and were a perfect 6-0-0 versus the Maple Leafs in 2011-12.

Game 1: The Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

The Pittsburgh Penguins might not get Sidney Crosby (broken jaw) back for tonight’s contest, but that still leaves them with forwards James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, and Jarome Iginla. On top of that, they have Chris Kunitz, who might not be a household name, but still had an impressive 22 goals and 52 points in 48 games this season.

So its safe to say that the Pittsburgh Penguins can score goals, but will they be able to stop them? Their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012 was light on defense or goaltending and the Penguins ultimately lost in six matches despite scoring 26 goals. They need to play a more balanced game this time around.

This will also be New York Islanders forward John Tavares‘ playoff debut. The 22-year-old has helped the Islanders turn their franchise around and could cause headaches for the Penguins in this series.

The Vancouver Canucks host the San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

There are lots of veterans on both teams that have been to the playoffs many times before and still haven’t won the Stanley Cup. 32-year-old twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin recently acknowledged that they’re running out of chances and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton, 33, is in the same boat.

The fact that both teams have an aging core also means that as franchises they’re in serious jeopardy of letting their respective windows of opportunity slip away. Every series will be hard fought, but these are two teams that might play with an added level of desperation.

Beyond that, the big source of intrigue heading into this game is the status of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, who is day-to-day with a “body” injury. If he’s unavailable, Roberto Luongo will be asked to bounce back from his 7-2 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Latest Posts
  1. AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons to cease operations at end of season

    Dec 18, 2014, 1:42 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Barons v Lake Erie Monsters Getty Images

    The Oilers’ farm team could be moving west in 2015-16.

  2. Jets lose yet another d-man, rule Stuart out ’til February

    Dec 18, 2014, 1:38 PM EST

    Winnipeg Jets v Buffalo Sabres Winnipeg Jets v Buffalo Sabres

    Joins Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom on the shelf.

  3. PHT interviews Jim Nill, who’s ‘not surprised’ by Stars’ early-season struggles

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:58 PM EST

    Jim Nill AP

    “Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back.”

  4. Hasek, Niedermayer, Reichel highlight IIHF Hall of Fame class

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:13 PM EST

    1998 Winter Olympics In Nagano, Japan Getty Images

    Along with builder Fran Rider, and former Swedish international Maria Rooth.

  5. Preds waive Stalberg

    Dec 18, 2014, 11:59 AM EST

    Viktor Stalberg #25 of the Nashville Predators warms up prior to a game against the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena on October 24, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(October 23, 2013 - Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    Former 20-goal scorer — and Stanley Cup winner — has been a bust in Nashville.

  6. Sestito sounds off, says he ‘hasn’t been given a fair shake’ in Vancouver

    Dec 18, 2014, 11:51 AM EST

    Tom Sestito, Luke Gazdic AP

    “It’s a pretty simple game I play, and if they’re not a fan of it, I’ve got to play somewhere else, I guess.”

  7. Sens loan Lazar to Team Canada for World Juniors

    Dec 18, 2014, 11:36 AM EST

    Colorado Avalanche v Ottawa Senators Colorado Avalanche v Ottawa Senators

    Where he’ll play alongside Rangers forward Anthony Duclair.

  8. Habs demote Andrighetto, who made a strong impression

    Dec 18, 2014, 11:32 AM EST

    Montreal Canadians v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    The 21-year-old had three points in four games.

  9. Penguins clear Fleury, continue to deal with mumps

    Dec 18, 2014, 10:47 AM EST

    Pittsburgh Penguins v Carolina Hurricanes Getty Images

    Thomas Greiss is being isolated in case he also has the ailment.

  10. Beliveau’s family thanks community for ‘heartwarming tributes’

    Dec 18, 2014, 9:49 AM EST

    beliveauandfamily

    “He respected all of you unconditionally.”

  11. Video: Who are the Bruins targeting in trade talks?

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:05 AM EST

    Peter Chiarelli AP

    Chris Stewart is one name, which has been linked to Boston.

  12. Mark Howe on his father’s health: ‘He’s back in the ballgame’

    Dec 18, 2014, 1:40 AM EST

    Antti Niemi Antti Niemi

    He’s even walking under his own power according to the report.

  13. Treliving: ‘We’ve got the right guy steering the boat’

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:45 AM EST

    Brad Treliving AP

    Calgary signed Bob Hartley to a multi-year extension Wednesday.

  14. Video: Is Peter DeBoer’s job on the line in New Jersey?

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:15 AM EST

    50667_panthers_penguins_hockey-peterdeboer

    The Devils have lost five straight.

  15. Video: Lehigh Valley Phantoms score 3 in 21 seconds

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:15 PM EST

    Columbus Blue Jackets v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Jason Akeson was in on the action for the Flyers’ affiliate.

Featured video

Next steps for the Oilers after Eakins

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (4379)
  2. D. Krejci (2953)
  3. C. Crawford (2470)
  4. B. Bishop (2454)
  5. C. Kunitz (2293)
  1. J. Toews (2090)
  2. O. Palat (1989)
  3. C. Perry (1927)
  4. B. Elliott (1746)
  5. T. Oshie (1556)