Five things to know about the National Hockey League playoffs

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It’s a hockey fan’s dream with three Game 7s on deck, including competitions involving the Leafs and Flames.

It’s a hockey fan’s dream with three Game 7s on deck, including competitions involving the Leafs and Flames.

Here are five things to know as we head into Saturday’s post-season action:

LEAFS FIGHTING HISTORY BOTH OLD AND NEW

The Toronto Maple Leafs host two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in another Game 7 do-or-die for them.

Toronto’s playoff misery has been well documented. The team hasn’t won a series since 2004 and hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967.

More recently, however, the Leafs have similarly failed in Game 7. Over the past nine seasons, the Leafs have gone to four Game 7s and never emerged victorious.

The weight of history, both old and new, seems to be resting on Toronto’s shoulders heading into Saturday night.

OILERS STARS LOOK TO GET THE JOB

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are two of the best players in the world and they have the individual accolades to back up that claim.

Together they have five Art Ross Trophies, four Ted Lindsay Awards and three Hart Memorials.

Despite their talents, however, the Edmonton Oilers have only won one playoff series with the two superstars on the roster.

On Saturday, they’ll get a chance to rewrite that dodgy part of their history when they face the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 at home.

McDavid and Draisaitl have been productive so far in Edmonton’s first six playoff games, combining for 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) and they’ll likely have to be on Game A again if they want to reach the second round.

FLAMES CANNOT RUN IN LATE GAME

The Calgary Flames fell to the Dallas Stars 4-2 on Friday, setting up Game 7 on Sunday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Trailing 3-2 for much of the third period, when it looked like the Flames wanted an extra forward on the ice with about four minutes left in regulation, Calgary was not in able to get the kind of sustained pressure needed in the offensive zone to comfortably shoot Jacob Markstrom.

The Calgary goaltender was only able to leave the ice less than a minute before the end of the game, but by then it was too late.

The Stars played good positional hockey in their end, denying Calgary easy zone entries late in Friday’s game and as a result, the Flames didn’t even have a chance to send the game to overtime and possibly to end the series.

VERHAEGHE THE HERO AGAIN AS CATS ELIMINATE CAPS

Carter Verhaeghe scored the game-winner just 2:46 into overtime to help the Florida Panthers win their first playoff series since 1996 with a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday.

Verhaeghe, a 26-year-old Toronto native, was productive during the regular season for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers, totaling 55 points – good for the team’s sixth-place finish – but seemed to find some other gear in that first round. series.

He added an assist in Friday’s decisive victory to bring his series total to 14 (seven goals, seven assists) as he became a star on Florida’s top line.

The Panthers are the first Eastern Conference team to advance to the second round. They await the winner of the Toronto-Tampa Bay series.

RANGERS STORM BACK AGAIN, FORCE GAME 7

Trailing 2-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a playoff game, the New York Rangers looked comfortable as they once again erased that deficit to win 5-3 and force a decisive Game 7 Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

This is the second game in a row that Rangers have lost 2-0.

The Penguins were without captain Sidney Crosby, who is struggling with an upper-body injury and without his presence on the ice, Pittsburgh looked faltering as the Blueshirts have returned twice now without him.

Crosby played just six shifts in the second period of Game 5 before being pulled from the game. His departure from that game coincided with the start of New York’s comeback.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 14, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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