A look at all four Round Two Stanley Cup Playoff series
With the NHL playoffs rolling right along, there are now just eight teams left with a shot of winning the Stanley Cup. The second round is underway, already offering a few surprises.
The Boston Bruins entered as sizable favorites to win the Cup, but couldn't even get out of the opening round. Things are wide open, which will make the games more dramatic and exciting.
Here is a look at the four second-round pairings and early action.
Stars Lose Opener Despite Pavelski
The Dallas Stars were able to get past the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs, earning them home-ice advantage in the second round. That was because the Seattle Kraken stunned the defending champion Colorado Avalanche in their series.
Seattle is keeping it going, evidenced by four first-period goals Tuesday night in Texas. Despite losing a two-goal lead, the second-season Kraken were 5-4 overtime winners in the opener.
Yanni Gourde scored the game-winner, pushing the Kraken past an historic performance by Joe Pavelski. The Dallas veteran scored all four Stars’ goals Tuesday night, that after missing time in concussion protocol.
Dallas came back to win a game last night 4-2 and even the series, which now moves to Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.
Cats Spoiling the Party
The Florida Panthers, who barely snuck into the playoffs, stunned the record-setting Boston Bruins in the opening round. Boston couldn't close the sale, despite a 3-1 lead in the series.
The Panthers now oppose the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round, and don't appear to be slowing down. Florida went across the border, coming away with a 4-2 win in the series opener and score three unanswered goals to win Game 2 last night.
Winning their first postseason series since 2004 (over the Tampa Bay Lightning in six) didn't prevent the Leafs' several mistakes in the first two games of this series. Florida stole home ice and now holds a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference second round.
Going after the franchise’s first title since 1967, Toronto was the 5-1 (+500) second choice, according to Stanley Cup odds before last night matchup. They are now a +240 dog to even get out of this series.
Oilers and Knights Begin
The Edmonton Oilers took out the Los Angeles Kings in six games. Things may get tougher in the second round. Edmonton will start on the road against the top-seed Vegas Golden Knights.
The Knights had very little trouble disposing of the Winnipeg Jets in five games. Vegas may have the experience and the home-ice advantage against the Oilers, but it is the Albertans who entered as the 5-8 (-160) choice, as per NHL series odds. Vegas is at 7-5 (+140).
While the Oilers’ Connor McDavid led the league in goals (64), assists (89) and points (153) during the regular season, it was running mate Leon Draisaitl pacing the team with 11 points in the opening round. The 2020 Hart Memorial Trophy winner fired four goals on Wednesday night, but it was not enough as the Oilers fell 6-4 to the Knights. Vegas will have to do more to slow down the potent Edmonton attack if they expect to win this series.
Carolina Collides with Jersey
While the Carolina Hurricanes are the top seed in the East, that doesn’t mean their path to the Cup isn’t challenging. Carolina has home-ice advantage as they take on the New Jersey Devils in a scintillating second-round affair.
Carolina finished off the New York Islanders in six difficult games, as Sebastian Aho's seven points led the 'Canes.
Jersey dropped the first two games at home to the New York Rangers, but disposed of its New York City-area rivals in seven. Erik Haula's six points topped the Devils, but it was Jersey’s defensive effort that flipped the script in the series (including a 4-0 whitewash in the last game).
The Hurricanes looked like a top seed on Wednesday night, dominating the Devils in all three zones while crushing New Jersey 5-1. The Devils were called for more penalties than they had shots on goal in the first period and may have been suffering from a hangover after a huge Game 7 win to get to Round 2.
Carolina is priced at just -175 to take the series and are at the top of the NHL futures board with Vegas at +450 to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.