Two of the top teams in the NHL meet on Tuesday with both teams desperate for a win. The Caps are back from the west coast to host the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild (7 p.m., CSN). Here are three bold predictions for the game.
1. Lars Eller will score
Eller is one of many Caps mired by a scoring drought with no goals in his past 14 games. It's no surprise to see that drought stretches back to before Andre Burakovsky suffered the hand injury. The third line has not looked the same without him in the lineup. On Tuesday, however, Eller will finally break that drought if for no other reason than because it is Danish Heritage Night at Verizon Center.
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2. Washington will score three or more goals
Devan Dubnyk will likely win the the Vezina Trophy this season, but he had a rough night on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks. He was pulled less than five minutes into the game after allowing two goals on just two shot. Usually, a goalie of Dubnyk's caliber is given more leash than that and allowed to try to bounce back. Head coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that "It was on him. He didn’t look like he was following the puck well, for want of a better term."
I see Dubnyk responding in one of two ways: He will either come out as good as ever in a true Braden Holtby-like response and completely shutdown the Caps, or he could suffer another rought night. I'm going to go with the latter.
3. Washington will snap the losing streak
I hate predicting winners and losers. This is the first time I have included it as one of my 3 bold predictions all season and it will probably be the last, but I am confident enough in the Caps winning Tuesday I decided to go for it. Yes, they have lost four straight, but Minnesota is having some issues lately as well and their recent record is being propped up by weak competition. Since the start of February, the Wild are only 2-6-1 against teams that are currently in playoff position and 8-1-0 against everyone else. Don't get me wrong, Minnesota is a very good team, but the Caps struggles have been limited to the past week or so. The Wild's issues have been going on for nearly two months and no one has really noticed.
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The St. Louis Blues won a decisive Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks 5-0, pushing the Sharks to the brink of elimination.
The Blues are now one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final since the 1969-70 season, where they lost to the Boston Bruins in a sweep.
St. Louis started the scoring early when Oskar Sundqvist netted his second goal of the series in the first five minutes of the game.
Jaden Schwartz then tallied his first goal of the game off a juicy rebound in front of Martin Jones to start the scoring in the second period. It was Schwartz's 10th goal of the playoffs, which tied him for third all-time in Blues history for goals in the postseason.
Vladimir Tarasenko added to the Blues lead off a penalty shot. He's the first player in Blues franchise history to score a penalty shot goal in the playoffs.
Schwartz then added two more goals in the third period for a hat-trick. The first came on a 5-on-3 power play advantage off a scramble in front of the net, and the second came from a backdoor one-timer pass from Tarasenko.
Schwartz now has 12 goals these playoffs, and it's his second hat-trick of the playoffs.
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington recorded 21 saves for a shutout, and he's the first rookie goalie to accomplish that feat for the Blues.
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The St. Louis Blues' two-goal first period powered them to a win over the San Jose Sharks, and the series is now tied.
The Blues started with a goal 35 seconds into the game. Ivan Barbashev picked off a Brent Burns exit pass and flung it towards the net for the games opening goal.
Barbashev is the second Blues player to score in the first minute of a game these playoffs. Jaden Schwartz is the other player.
Tyler Bozak scored the game-winning goal for the Blues on a power play off a scramble in front of the net.
The Sharks responded when Thomas Hertl poked the puck past the goal line after Jordan Binnington thought he had the puck covered. Hertl now has 10 goals this postseason for the Sharks, and the team now features 10 or more players to score 10+ goals in the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.
Binnington's 29 save performance gave him his 10th win of the playoffs, the most of any Blues goaltender in franchise history.
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