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2011 NHL Playoffs: First Round Update, 4/18


Western Conference

Nashville Predators 4, Anaheim Ducks 3 -- Pekka Rinne once again outplayed his Anaheim counterpart Ray Emery and the Predators took advantage of the absence of top Ducks forward Bobby Ryan (who has been suspended for two games due to an illegal hit). Nashville is finding enough offense -- deadline acquisition Mike Fisher has been invaluable with three goals in the series -- and their dominant play at the blue line is swinging this series in their favor.

Nashville leads the series, 2-1.

Vancouver Canucks 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 -- For the second straight game, the Blackhawks gave their best effort. For the second straight game, it simply wasn't good enough to beat a Vancouver team that is on a mission. Canucks forward Daniel Sedin added another goal (his third in two games) and Mikael Samuelsson scored broke the tie early in the third period. With the victory, the reigning champion Blackhawks have been pushed to the brink.

Vancouver leads the series, 3-0.

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers 3, Washington Capitals 2 -- As expected, the Rangers put in a winning performance behind their homecrowd faithful at Madison Square Garden. With the game tied late in the third -- and the Rangers facing a potentially devastating 3-0 hole-- Brandon Dubinskey scored an unassisted goal with 1:39 left in the period to give the Rangers the victory and hope in a series that has been tight the entire way.

Washington leads the series, 2-1.

Games To Watch Tonight

Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres, 7:00 p.m. EDT, on Versus --The Flyers barely avoided a glaring hole in this series and still have yet to figure out goaltender Ryan Miller. They have questions of their own in net, as rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled in the first period of their last game in favor of veteran Brian Boucher. Will Boucher start in net for the Flyers, or do they trust the kid to save their season?

Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. EDT --The Canadiens dominated the first two games of this series in Boston, forcing the Bruins out of their defensive shell and into an up-tempo style of play that does not favor their current offensive talent level. Now that the series has shifted back to Montreal, the Canadiens can bury their historic rivals with another strong game from goalie Carey Price, who has been a revelation in this series and has outplayed his counterpart Tim Thomas, the likely Vezina Trophy winner.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. EDT -- After a surprising start to the series, the Lighting offense has reemerged as a force. The Penguins need a superior defensive effort to stop the two-headed monster of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis as the series moves to Florida. Marc-Andre Fleury needs to steal another game to give Pittsburgh some momentum.

Detroit Red Wings at Phoenix Coyotes, 10:30 p.m. EDT, on Versus -- The final game of the evening could also be the final hockey game in Glendale for the Coyotes. Faced with elimination, and facing a 3-0 deficit against a superior Red Wings team, this could be the final act of professional hockey in Arizona.