As we head into the weekend, this is when the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs really begins to heat up. Get ready with something to watch in each series tonight.
Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Can Boston swing momentum at home?
Every game between Carolina and Boston has been a blowout this season, with the Hurricanes outscoring the Bruins 26-4. in five outings. Insane, really. And it doesn't seem to matter who's in net for Carolina.
For a team with a core like Boston has, that's tough. And the clock is ticking. A third loss would put them in a seemingly insurmountable hole that, given Carolina's injury situation in the crease, shouldn't be so lopsided at this point.
Patrice Bergeron is the only multi-goal scorer on Boston, with Taylor Hall being the only other player to put a puck in the net. Boston's scoring needs to answer in a big way if this series is going to be extended in any way.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Will everything even out again?
So far, both games have been one-sided, with different teams holding the mantle. That will change on Friday.
The Lightning bounced back in a huge way in Game 2, and taking a win on the road before heading home is always good for confidence. Toronto, on the other hand, figured things out late on Wednesday after falling into the penalty trap. Each team has shown its dominance at some point, but that can't last for too long with the talent each team has.
Special teams will very much likely become the story in Game 3, as it has been in the first two games. The club that figures out how to handle that the best could head into Game 4 with a bit of extra breathing room for a series that could go the distance.
Regardless of who wins, let's close the gap a bit and see some more competitive action from both sides.
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
Will Game 3 be more competitive?
Speaking of competitiveness...
This series has lacked the true tightness we were expecting. The Blues won Game 1 4-0 and the Wild took Game 2 6-2, with both contests featuring little drama.
The series shifts to Enterprise Center, and the Blues faithful won't let up in its pursuit to drive the Wild crazy. The Blues, however, will have a beaten blueline with Marco Scandella, Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo also facing injury issues. That alone is tough when you're facing a century-mark point producer in Kirill Kaprizov. And if Marc-Andre Fleury replicates Game 2, the Blues will need to be more creative.
Regardless, everyone would rather Game 3 not have a four-goal spread. This could be the turning point to really spice this series up.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings
Both teams need to tighten down to take advantage
The Oilers had a rocky Game 1 before bouncing back in a big way in Game 2. The big momentum shift was drastic, which, like the Tampa and Toronto series, makes predicting Game 3 a challenge.
The Kings will be back home, and after splitting the series in Edmonton, they're looking to get the home crowd into it and spice things up. The Oilers are the favorites in this series, and the Kings will need spectacular goaltending from Jonathan Quick to take away Edmonton's scoring charge.
Mike Smith rebounded on Wednesday and will need to pull off a similar performance here. Both teams have tons of speed and skill, but it's been funky bounces that have impacted both teams. They need to play a tighter game because the Kings won't let you make too many mistakes without paying for it.
This could very well be the game to watch, or the most lopsided. Regardless, it's worth keeping your eyes on this one.