We saw a pair of dramatic finishes on the first night of the second round as both Western Conference series got underway Wednesday and there’s a strong chance Game 2 in each of these evenly matched series will come down to the wire again.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on Friday.
vs. Game 2
8 p.m. ET, CBC
The St. Louis Blues overcame a two-goal deficit in the third and beat Pekka Rinne three times — something that took the Chicago Blackhawks four games to do — but it wasn’t enough to take Game 1. The Nashville Predators didn’t win more than four straight at any point the regular season yet they’ve won five in a row in the post-season.
P.K. Subban was on his A-game against the Blues, picking up three points, after a relatively quiet first round.
“There’s just guys who thrive in the playoffs,” Subban’s teammate Ryan Ellis told reporters Thursday. “He just rises to the occasion and seems to do whatever it takes, and at this time of the year, it’s win at all costs, do whatever it takes to win.”
Blues forwards will need to make a concerted effort to take away space when Subban is hovering in the offensive zone.
The Preds will be without a key piece in Kevin Fiala. The forward suffered a broken left femur after crashing into the boards.
vs. Game 2
10:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet
The Anaheim Ducks had won seven straight playoff games when scoring three or more goals prior to Wednesday. If you look at the history books, Edmonton Oilers fans should get a boost of confidence after taking Game 1.
The Ducks will have to pay more attention to Leon Draisaitl after the 2014 third-overall pick had three assists and added an empty-netter in the series opener.
Patrick Maroon, who assisted on Adam Larsson’s two goals, believes Draisaitl is already one of the best passers in the league in his sophomore season.
“Leon is a guy that everyone kind of forgets about in what kind of player he is and how good he really is,” Maroon said. “We’re happy to have him on our team, but he’s been doing it all year. Not just against Anaheim, he’s been doing it all year.”
Draisaitl has more points against the Ducks than any other team in his NHL career (13 points in 12 regular-season contests). Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle knows his team needs to play Draisaitl harder while still keeping an eye on Connor McDavid and the other talented Edmonton forwards.
“I just think we’re allowing him too much freedom in the games we’ve played him,” Carlyle said. “He’s having too much fun. I don’t know how I can put it any simpler.”