What to Watch for: Leafs, Senators, Flames look to bounce back

The story around Mike Babcock and the Leafs is that they are staying upbeat and pushing a positive message, but they aren’t happy with only moral victories.

Canadian teams finally got in the win column after the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers each rebounded from Game 1 losses to register their first playoff victories of 2017. On Saturday, three more Canadian teams will look to do the same.

Here are a few storylines we’re watching on Saturday.

vs. Game 2

3 p.m. ET, Sportsnet

The Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators opened up the first game of their series at a torrid pace. The two teams combined for 23 shots in the first period while both Tuukka Rask and Craig Anderson stood on their heads trading highlight-reel saves.

The playoff atmosphere inside the Canadian Tire Centre was electrifying on Wednesday, but whether or not we’ll be seeing another fast-paced battle on Saturday depends on one thing: health.

While the Senators dealt with injuries all season, it’s now the Bruins who could be in trouble. Boston started the series missing two components of their blue line in Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo as well as forward David Krejci. They already know Krejci will be out again for Game 2, and defenceman Colin Miller’s chances of hitting the ice do not look good after his knee-on-knee collision with Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki.

In another move, Boston called up 23-yeard-old goaltender Malcolm Subban on an emergency basis on Friday. There is no word yet as to why Subban has been called up as their third goalie.

The Senators, of course, aren’t completely in the clear when it comes to injuries — particularly on their blue line.

Defenceman Marc Methot has been out since the infamous Sidney Crosby slash on March 23, and captain Erik Karlsson could still be feeling the effects of his foot injury.

Methot has been out since the slash but will be a game-time decision on Saturday. Karlsson played in Game 1 after missing the final two games of the regular season, but the 26-year-old Swede was clearly held back from playing like his healthy self. He logged just over 24 minutes on Wednesday, almost three minutes less than he was averaging in the regular season.

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vs. Game 2

7 p.m. ET, CBC

The Toronto Maple Leafs shot out of the gates in Game 1 on Thursday night, earning a 2-0 lead in the first period. And while they managed to keep up the pressure, they fell victim to the Washington Capitals’ poise and experience in the eventual 3-2 overtime loss.

Despite the final outcome, Game 1 proved promising for the young squad as they showed they could keep up with the best team in the league.

“I don’t think Washington’s a naïve team,” Nazem Kadri said on Friday. “They’re smart, they’re well-coached, they’re well-educated. So I don’t think they took us lightly. They understood who they were playing against.

“We’re not discouraged. We’re going to keep coming and that game certainly is not going to intimidate us.”

Their biggest challenge now—and something they struggled with all season—will be learning how to play with the lead.

The Leafs will once again be without defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who continues to recover from an upper-body injury suffered on Sunday.

vs. Game 2

8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet

Chicago is hungry for its first playoff win in 2017.

Just how hungry? Hungry enough that Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin responded with this tweet when someone asked him what was for dinner.

Patrick Kane led the way for the Blackhawks in Game 1 — as he typically does — with six shots, but he was the lone bright spot for Chicago. Jonathan Toews was unable to fire a single puck on net and finished the game with just one hit and a minus-one rating with 20:38 of time on ice.

If the Blackhawks expect to take Game 2, they are going to need to find a way to beat Pekka Rinne and slow down Viktor Arvidsson.

Rinne was perfect in the series opener stopping all 29 shots, and Arvidsson carried his breakout season into the playoffs. The Blackhawks had no solution for the Swedish winger, who was performing at both ends of the ice. He picked up the game-winning goal on one of his four shots while adding two hits, two blocks and a takeaway.

vs. Game 2

10:30 p.m. ET, CBC

The Calgary Flames are set to take another crack at doing something they have failed to achieve after 28 tries: win in Anaheim.

The last time the Flames defeated the Anaheim Ducks in the Ducks’ barn was on April 25, 2006. They came close on Thursday but were edged out 3-2 to put them in a 0-1 hole in their opening series.

If the Flames are hoping to even things up, they are going to have to allow fewer shots on net, get better on the draw and take fewer penalties. In their opening game they were outshot 41-32, won just 36 per cent of faceoffs and took an alarming seven penalties. The Ducks converted on two of those ensuing power plays, including the game-winner.

The main culprit for the Flames’ penalty woes was defenceman Dougie Hamilton. He took three minor penalties, including a very undisciplined slash to Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf in retaliation to a huge (but clean) hit on Mark Giordano.

The Ducks are an average team on the power play, registering an 18.73 power play percentage during the regular season, but if any NHL team gets seven cracks at the man advantage they’re likely to convert on one or two.

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