The quest to win the best trophy in sports, and the hardest trophy to win, continues in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The winner of Lord Stanley’s Cup won’t be decided until July, but if you aren’t already watching in May, you are missing out on the best hockey of the season.
No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 4 New York Islanders
Heading into Monday, this series is tied 2-2, and three of the four games have been decided by one goal. The Islanders jumped out to the 1-0 but had dropped two games in a row before getting a charge from rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin to tie the first-round matchup at two. He had 29 saves in the 4-1 victory to go along with 39 saves from his win in Game 1.
The Penguins play the role of -140 home favorites at BetUS sportsbook when the series continues on Monday.
No. 2 Washington Capitals vs. No. 3 Boston Bruins
On Sunday night, the Bruins punched their ticket for the second round with a 3-1 win over the Caps, taking the series in five games. Boston now sits 12 wins away from winning the Cup — a trophy they last won in 2011 when they beat the Canucks in seven games.
The Bruins await the winner of the Penguins and Islanders series. They were 5-3 against Pittsburgh this season and 3-3-2 against New York.
No 1. Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 4 Nashville Predators
As the top seed in the division, the Hurricanes were cruising to a series win, with victories in Game 1 and 2 by scores of 5-2 and 3-0. But Nashville has refused to go quietly into the night, rallying to win Game 3 and 4, with both victories coming in double overtime. The second of those thrillers came on Sunday night when Luke Kunin scored at the 16:10 mark of the second overtime period.
Predators goalies Juuse Saros set a franchise record with 58 saves in the victory.
No. 2 Florida Panthers vs. No. 3 Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning head into Monday’s Game 5 with a chance to close out the series and move on to the second round. They dropped Game 3 in overtime, 6-5, but otherwise have looked like the far superior team, including Saturday’s easy 6-2 win. Tampa Bay’s three wins over Florida have been by a combined seven goals. The defending Stanley Cup Champions are looking to equal the Penguins feat from 2015-16 and 2016-17 and go back-to-back.
No. 1 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 4 Montreal Canadiens
The two series in Canada got off to a later start than the others, and only two games have been played in the Leafs-Canadiens rivalry matchup. Montreal got a short-handed goal late in the third period to win Game 1, but Toronto came roaring back in Game 2 with a 5-1 victory and without captain John Tavares who suffered a concussion in Game 1.
With the series tied 1-1, the two teams will play Game 3 and 4 in Montreal on Monday and Tuesday night. Toronto re-established itself as the series favorite, currently at -230 odds to advance.
No. 2 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 3 Winnipeg Jets
The Jets have a commanding 3-0 series lead in the other Canadian series after winning a second straight overtime game on Sunday night. Winnipeg scored three goals in the third period to tie the score, then walked off winners when Nikolaj Ehlers scored the game-winner in OT. Game 4 is Monday night.
The Oilers’ fate seems predetermined, having to win four straight, but have odds at the sportsbook of +750 should they somehow pull that off.
No. 1 Colorado Avalanche vs. No 4. St. Louis Blues
The Avs finished the regular season as the NHL’s top team, and they completed the first-round sweep of the Blues on Sunday, looking every bit like the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. St. Louis was completely dominated in this series, losing 4-1, 6-3, 5-1, and 5-2.
The Avs now await the winner of Vegas and Minnesota.
No. 2 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 3 Minnesota Wild
Colorado may not have to wait long as the Golden Knights enter Monday’s game with a chance to close out the Wild. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had 35 saves as Vegas shut out Minnesota on Saturday night, 4-0. With three straight wins since dropping a Game 1 overtime thriller, Vegas leads the series 3-1.