The Winnipeg Jets celebrate a goal in Nashville on Saturday night as they beat the Predators 6-2 to take a 3-2 series lead. The Jets are the last remaining Canadian team in the playoffs and look to advance to the Western Conference final today as game 6 will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Winnipeg (via @NHLJets/Twitter)

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals look to finally get past the Penguins tonight in Pittsburgh

Weekly Stanley Cup playoff notebook:

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning (1) vs. Boston Bruins (2)

Series: Lightning win series 4-1.

After losing 6-2 to Boston in Game 1, Tampa Bay came back to win four straight games. Tampa’s 17 goals in the series came from 11 different players. Forwards Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point led the way with three goals each. The Lightning’s second line of Point, Palat and Tyler Johnson were assigned to shut down the Bruin’s first line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron, who combined for 11 points in Game 1, and six points total in Games 2 to 5. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed seven goals on 109 shots between Games 2 to 5 for a .936 save percentage. A strange moment occurred during Game 4 when Bruin’s forward Marchand licked the face of Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan. The NHL issued a warning to Marchand ordering him to stop licking opponents.

Next Game: TBA

Washington Capitals (1) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (2)

Series: Capitals lead 3-2.

After a 6-2 loss to the Capitals on Saturday, the Penguins face elimination tonight. Pittsburgh is 4-0 when facing possible elimination since losing 2-1 in overtime to the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first round on April 24, 2015. Pittsburgh’s only struggle is their ability to provide depth scoring. Unfortunately, the three-headed monster of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel has not lived up to its usual hype. Jake Guentzel, 23, has proven he is an elite forward, leading the playoffs in points with 21 in 11 games. The Capitals have played the better hockey in the series, as they have four players with more than a point per game in the playoffs. Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is 0-3 against Crosby and the Penguins in playoff series and it is looking like the fourth time is the charm for Ovechkin.

Next Game: Tonight, 4 p.m. in Pittsburgh.

Western Conference

Nashville Predators (1) vs. Winnipeg Jets (2)

Series: Jets lead 3-2.

The NHL’s best team in the regular season will face elimination tonight against the NHL’s second-best team during the regular season. Through five games, Nashville’s defence has allowed 22 goals thanks in part to Winnipeg’s ability to score with three forward lines. Rookie forward Kyle Connor led all rookies in scoring in the regular season with 31 goals, finally potted his first in the post-season in Game 5 as he scored twice and assisted another to earn the game’s first star nod. Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and captain Blake Wheeler have dominated the Predators defence throughout the series, scoring seven goals and 11 assists between the two of them. The Predators need to tighten up on defence as it is almost impossible to win a series as they are giving up an average of 4.4 goals a game against the Jets.

Next Game: Tonight, 6:30 p.m. in Winnipeg.

Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs. San Jose Sharks (3)

Series: Golden Knights win series 4-2.

It is no longer a fluke. The Golden Knights are the real deal after defeating last year’s Western Conference champion, the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury ended the series with his fourth shutout of the post-season and owns a 1.53 GAA and .951 save percentage through 10 playoff games. Forward Reilly Smith is leading Vegas in points and stands 18th overall in the playoffs. It is difficult to score against Vegas as opponents are averaging just 1.7 goals per game. Besides Fleury, it is hard to find a standout player for this Cinderella team, as it seems like the goals come from every part of the lineup and perhaps that’s why they keep winning.

Next Game: TBA

B.C.-born player update:

As the playoffs continue, the number of British Columbian-born players will continue to drop. Heading into the second round there were a total of 12 players remaining in the playoffs that were born in B.C.

This week’s B.C.-born standout has been without a doubt Vancouver’s Ryan Johansen. Despite being down 3-2 in the series against the Winnipeg Jets, Nashville’s first-line centre is second on the team in points in the playoffs with 11 (five goals and six assists) in 11 games. Johansen had two assists in Nashville’s 7-4 loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday. He followed that up with another assist in their 2-1 win on Thursday and he had the Predator’s second goal in their 6-2 loss on Saturday on the penalty kill.

Way-too-early Conn Smythe Trophy watch:

Marc-Andre Fleury: Fleury finished off the series against San Jose with his fourth shutout of the post season. He leads all starting goalies with a 1.53 GAA and a .951 save percentage. He has been a large part of why Vegas will be heading to the Western Conference final in their inaugural season. Fleury is playing exactly like a three-time Stanley Cup champion should and if he continues his stellar play who knows how far Vegas will go.

Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin is clearly tired of losing to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the playoffs and this may be their year, as they have the Penguins on the brink of elimination. Ovechkin has had a point in every game this series but one and has three goals and two assists in the series. He is logging a lot of minutes for the Capitals as a forward with an average of 21:57 a game and does not look to be slowing down.

Jake Guentzel: Guentzel ended his eight-game playoff point streak on Saturday night. Playing on a line with Penguins captain Crosby will help one’s point total, but Guentzel is really playing out of his mind lately. He is leading all skaters in points in the playoffs with 21 (10 goals and 11 assists) in 11 games. A case could be made to give Crosby the Conn Smythe as he trails Guentzel by one point in the post-season scoring race.


@kieranroconnor
kieran.oconnor@bpdigital.ca

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