Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins (-210, 5.5)
Bruins lead best-of-seven series 3-1.
With 10 points in four games, David Krejci has the Boston Bruins on the cusp of qualifying for the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The fourth-seeded Bruins can finish their Eastern Conference first-round series on Friday when they host the fifth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs for Game 5. Boston holds a 3-1 advantage in the series after denying Toronto in two chances to win its first home playoff contest in nine years, defeating the Maple Leafs 5-2 in Game 3 and 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday. Krejci recorded his second career playoff hat trick in Game 4, capping it with the overtime winner for his third three-point effort in the series.
Toronto outshot the Bruins in both games at Air Canada Centre after stealing Game 2 in Boston 4-2, but could not translate that momentum into a home victory. The Maple Leafs power play, which had scored in each of the first three contests, went silent in Game 4, finishing 0-for-4. Toronto’s penalty kill, which was 8-for-9 before Wednesday, allowed two goals on five opportunities in the overtime loss. James Reimer cannot be blamed for the Maple Leafs’ losses, but the netminder has allowed four goals in each of the team’s three losses. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 45 saves in each of the last two games, looking much more confident after struggling in Game 2.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NHL Network (U.S.), NESN
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS: Defenseman Mark Fraser, who left Wednesday’s game after blocking a Milan Lucic slap shot with his face in overtime, underwent surgery to repair a broken bone on Thursday and is resting at home. “[Fraser]’s done a great job all year for us physically, playing big minutes,” Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf told reporters, “he’s just a great teammate. It was a scary situation but we’re glad he’s doing OK.” Blue-liner John-Michael Liles, a healthy scratch since Game 1, will likely take Fraser’s spot in the lineup. After a frustrating regular season, defenseman Jake Gardiner is flourishing in the playoffs with four points in three games. Gardiner played 12 games during the season and registered just four assists, but he has a point in each postseason game he’s played. Gardiner is tied with Joffrey Lupul for the team scoring lead.
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Krejci’s scoring line with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic has been Boston’s primary offensive weapon throughout the series. Horton (three goals, three assists) and Lucic (six assists) are tied for second in team scoring behind Krejci. Captain Zdeno Chara had a breakout game offensively on Wednesday, assisting on all four goals to vault into fourth on the team with five points. No other Bruins player has more than two. Despite firing a team-high 18 shots, Tyler Seguin has yet to record a point in the series. Patrice Bergeron, second on the team with 16 shots, scored on a power play in Game 4 for his first tally since March 27. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk leads the team with 20 hits and 18 blocked shots, while also contributing two goals after only scoring once in 44 regular-season contests. Both of Boychuk’s goals were in Boston.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Maple Leafs’ last four overall.
* Over is 4-0-1 in Bruins’ last five overall.
* Maple Leafs are 1-6 in the last seven meetings in Boston.
* Over is 6-1 in Maple Leafs’ last seven Friday games.
1. Toronto is 2-12-1 in its last 15 games in Boston.
2. Krejci, who led the Bruins with 23 points during their 2011 Stanley Cup championship run, has 57 points in 63 career playoff games.
3. Maple Leafs LW Clarke MacArthur scored his first career playoff goal on Wednesday after being a healthy scratch for Games 2 and 3.
New York Rangers at Washington Capitals (-136, 5)
Best-of-seven series tied 2-2.
The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals have held serve at home over the first four games of their Eastern Conference first-round series. After dropping a pair of contests at Madison Square Garden, Washington will look to regain the advantage when the teams reconvene for Game 5 at the Verizon Center on Friday. Defenseman Dan Girardi scored on the power play to snap a tie 59 seconds into the third period and Carl Hagelin collected a goal and two assists in New York's 4-3 victory on Wednesday.
Returning to the nation's capital means that Washington will gain the advantage of having the last change - meaning coach Adam Oates can shuffle superstar Alex Ovechkin on the ice for favorable matchups. The three-time Maurice Richard winner has been limited to just three shots and held off the scoresheet in the last two games. By comparison, Ovechkin registered 12 in the first two contests - scoring a power-play goal in Game 1 and setting up defenseman Mike Green's overtime winner in Game 2.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports, TSN, RDS2
ABOUT THE RANGERS: Rick Nash came to Broadway hoping to make his mark in the postseason. Through four games, the top-line forward has a team-leading 17 shots and an assist on Derek Stepan's winning goal in Game 3 to show for his efforts. "It'll come," Nash said optimistically. Coach John Tortorella said he wasn't worried when asked about Nash. "Not at all. He's not built that way," Tortorella said. "... It hasn't gone for him, but there's no chance that will happen with him (getting down on himself). In the short time I've been with him, I just can't see that ever happening. He's too much of a pro."
ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Ovechkin, who netted a league-best 32 goals, joined Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay Lightning stud Martin St. Louis as finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award. The honor is presented to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the NHL Players' Association. Braden Holby will relish his return to Washington. The netminder stopped 59 of 60 shots in winning the first two games before yielding four goals in both contests in New York.
* Capitals are 9-1 in their last 10 home games.
* Under is 4-0 in Capitals’ last four home games.
* Under is 8-2-7 in the last 17 meetings.
* Rangers are 1-4 in the last five meetings in Washington.
1. Washington RW Martin Erat has been ruled out of Friday's tilt with an upper-body injury. The team recalled RWs Joey Crabb and 2012 first-round pick Tom
Wilson from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
2. After going 0-for-7 on the power play in Games 1 and 2, New York has scored with the man advantage in each of the last two contests.
3. Washington owns a less-than-stellar 10-20 mark in Game 5 of a postseason series.
Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings (-123, 5)
Anaheim leads series 3-2.
The seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings attempt to stave off elimination Friday, when they host Game 6 of their Western Conference first-round series with the Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks. Detroit extended its streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 22 campaigns on the last day of the lockout-shortened regular season and was even in the series after four games thanks to a pair of overtime victories. But the Red Wings were unable to accomplish the feat a third time on Wednesday, losing 3-2 in the extra session in Anaheim to fall within one loss of being knocked out in the first round for the second straight year.
Nick Bonino was the hero for the Ducks in Game 5 as he scored his second game-winning goal of the series just 1:54 into overtime. Bonino, who is tied with captain Ryan Getzlaf for the team lead in tallies with three, also netted the winner in Game 3. Second-seeded Anaheim is one victory away from advancing to the second round for the first time since 2009. Should they move on, the Ducks will face the winner of the first-round matchup between the fourth-seeded St. Louis Blues and fifth-seeded Los Angeles Kings.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN2, RDSI, KDOC (Anaheim), FSN (Detroit)
ABOUT THE DUCKS: Jonas Hiller posted his 10th career postseason victory Wednesday, giving him sole possession of second place on the franchise list. He had been tied for the spot with Ilya Bryzgalov. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is Anaheim's all-time leader with 33 playoff wins. Coach Bruce Boudreau believes Corey Perry will contribute offensively once he learns to relax. Perry has recorded just one assist over the first five games of the series. "It's one of those things with scorers - if he gets one, I don't think he'll stop," Boudreau said. "He's probably gripping his stick too tight."
ABOUT THE RED WINGS: Justin Abdelkader will return to the lineup Friday after serving his two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman in Game 3. The left wing registered one goal in the first three games of the series. Despite playing in the third period on Wednesday, Dan Cleary will be evaluated Friday morning before coach Mike Babcock determines whether or not the right wing will play in Game 6. Cleary was helped off the ice Wednesday after being boarded by Anaheim's Daniel Winnik late in the second period. "My whole left side was sore - shoulder, hand, ribs, neck, head," Cleary said after Game 5. "I didn't see him coming at all."
* Under is 3-1-2 in the last six meetings.
* Under is 20-8-3 in the last 31 meetings in Detroit.
* Home team is 38-16-1 in the last 55 meetings.
* Ducks are 9-32-1 in the last 42 meetings in Detroit.
1. Bonino is two goals away from matching his total in 27 regular-season games.
2. Detroit has been outscored 9-3 in the third period.
3. Ds Lydman and Luca Sbisa are the only members of the Ducks who have appeared in a game but have not recorded a point in the series.
St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings (-149, 4.5)
Los Angeles leads series 3-2.
The Los Angeles Kings can move one step closer to repeating as Stanley Cup champions with a home victory over the fourth-seeded St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of their Western Conference first-round series on Friday. Fifth-seeded Los Angeles dropped the first two games in St. Louis by identical 2-1 scores but evened the series with a pair of triumphs at Staples Center. The Kings claimed Game 5 after defenseman Slava Voynov scored during a 3-on-1 rush eight minutes into overtime on Wednesday.
It was the second game-winning goal of the series for Voynov, who also netted the lone tally in Game 3. Jeff Carter scored twice in Game 5 as Los Angeles became the first road team to post a victory in the series. St. Louis got the game to overtime with 44.1 seconds remaining in the third period as defenseman Alex Pietrangelo fired the puck past screened goaltender Jonathan Quick. It marked the third time in the series a tying or winning goal was scored in the final minute of regulation. Los Angeles' Justin Williams tallied with 32 seconds left to forge a tie in Game 1 and Blues defenseman Barret Jackman scored with 51 seconds to go two days later to snap a 1-1 deadlock.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE BLUES: St. Louis entered having won all 10 playoff series in which it held a 2-0 lead. But recent history is not on the Blues' side as the club has lost seven consecutive elimination games and is 0-6-1 in its last seven visits to Staples Center. Despite those dubious streaks, the Blues have not given up hope. "We're still positive," Jackman said. "We still feel like we have a very good team that can easily skate with L.A. We have to continue to wear them down."
ABOUT THE KINGS: Los Angeles has every reason to feel confident heading into Game 6. After scoring just once in each of the first three games, the Kings have totaled seven goals in the last two contests. Coach Darryl Sutter, however, knows his team cannot afford to be overconfident. "You've got to win four games," he said. "That's what it's about. ... It's not easy just because you have a lead in the series and you're supposed to close it out. Who says you're supposed to close it out? It's not that easy."
* Home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Under is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings.
* Blues are 3-13 in the last 16 meetings.
* Blues are 0-7 in the last seven meetings in Los Angeles.
1. All five games of the series have been decided by one goal.
2. Los Angeles enters with a nine-game home winning streak. It has not fallen at Staples Center since suffering back-to-back shutout losses to Dallas and Vancouver on March 21 and 23.
3. St. Louis has won Game 6 only seven times in 18 attempts when down 3-2 in a playoff series.