Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Panthers, Lightning begin their first series

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There are three playoff games scheduled for Sunday and there was one game Saturday.

 
On Tap

There are three games on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Sunday:

New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins (Noon ET; NBC, SN, TVAS): The Islanders and Penguins play each other in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. New York swept Pittsburgh in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round in 2019. The Penguins earned the No. 1 seed in the MassMutual East Division, going 13-3-1 in their final 17 games. The Islanders slipped down the stretch, going 3-4-3 in their last 10, to finish fourth. The Penguins were 6-2-0 against the Islanders this season, winning each of the four games played in Pittsburgh, and forward Bryan Rust scored five goals in the eight games. The Islanders were 2-4-2.

Minnesota Wild at Vegas Golden Knights (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS): This is the first playoff matchup between the Golden Knights and Wild. Minnesota was 5-1-2 against Vegas this season and has the best regular-season record (11-2-3) against it since Vegas joined the NHL for the 2017-18 season. Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov led NHL rookies with 27 goals and 51 points and scored six goals in eight games against the Golden Knights. Only nine players have scored more postseason points since 2019 than Vegas forward Mark Stone, who has scored 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 27 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVAS, BSFL, BSSUN): The Panthers host Game 1 against the Lightning in the first playoff matchup between the Florida rivals. The defending Cup champion Lightning expect to have forwards Nikita Kucherov and captain Steven Stamkos available for the start of the best-of-7 series. Kucherov missed the entire regular season following hip surgery; Stamkos hasn’t played since April 8, when he sustained a lower-body injury. The Panthers, who won their final six regular-season games and 11 of the last 14 (11-2-1) were 5-2-1 in the season series between these two; the Lightning were 3-5-0.

 
What we learned

Here are some takeaways from Day 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Bruins need more from top line

Even when the Bruins are able to get the depth scoring they need, including goals from forwards Jake DeBrusk and Nick Ritchie, they still rely heavily on their top offensive talent. As coach Bruce Cassidy said after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round series, the Bruins need more from their best players, especially the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, who combined for one assist (by Pastrnak) and seven shots on goal (six by Pastrnak).

Anderson’s overtime success against Bruins

Craig Anderson might have the Bruins’ number in overtime. By stopping 21 of the 22 shots he faced Saturday, including two in overtime, after replacing the injured Vitek Vanecek in the first period, the Capitals goalie improved to 4-1 against the Bruins in overtime playoff games. That includes winning three of four games that reached overtime when he helped the Ottawa Senators defeat the Bruins in six games in the 2017 Eastern Conference First Round.

 
About Last Night

There was one game on the schedule Saturday:

Washington Capitals 3, Boston Bruins 2 (OT): Nic Dowd tipped T.J. Oshie‘s shot from just inside the blue line at 4:41 of overtime to give the Capitals the Game 1 win at home. Washington goalie Craig Anderson made 21 saves after relieving starter Vitek Vanecek at 13:10 of the first period. Vanecek sustained a lower-body injury when Boston’s Jake DeBrusk scored to tie the game 1-1. Oshie (two assists) and forward Tom Wilson (one goal, one assist) each scored two points for Washington, which will host Game 2 on Monday.

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