Home-ice advantage is no longer an edge for the Western Conference teams in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers were two of the four home sides to lose Game 1s in the West bracket.
Dallas and Edmonton need to pick up victories on Wednesday over the Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings, respectively, to avoid the worst-case scenario heading into Game 3.
Both teams were unable to create separation from their opponents on Monday night, and that resulted in overtime losses—or, in Dallas’ case, a double-overtime defeat.
The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes fared better on their home ice in Game 1, and they will try to take commanding two-game leads over the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
Boston and Carolina both thrived on the defensive end, as they gave up one goal each. Two similar performances in Game 2 could set the tone for road victories in Games 3 and 4.
Game 2: New York Islanders at Carolina (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Game 2: Florida at Boston (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Game 2: Minnesota at Dallas (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Game 2: Los Angeles at Edmonton (10 p.m. ET, ESPN)
It is difficult to call Game 2 of a seven-game series a must-win matchup, but there will be an added sense of desperation in Dallas and Edmonton on Wednesday night.
The Stars and Oilers fell at home in Game 1 to start a trend in which all four home sides in the West bracket lost their playoff openers.
Neither side was severely outplayed by the Wild or Kings, which is why they should have hope to level their respective series.
Dallas held the Wild scoreless in the third period and received 45 saves out of Jake Oettinger. Only one of the Stars’ concessions in regulation came from even-strength play.
The Stars need to avoid giving up a goal on the penalty kill, as they did to Kirill Kaprizov in the first period of Game 1, and continue to play solid defense at even strength.
If Oettinger is as strong as he was in the series opener, the Stars may only need two or three goals to beat Minnesota.
Edmonton’s key is to improve its third-period play. The Kings netted three tallies in the final regulation period on Monday.
Los Angeles used a pair of Adrian Kempe goals and a late power-play score from Anze Kopitar to reach overtime in Game 1.
The Oilers need to get out to another early lead and hold it this time to avoid the worst-case scenario.
Edmonton has the potential to bury Los Angeles in the first period behind Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Draisaitl scored twice in Game 1.
An early flurry of goals, led by McDavid, would flip the series momentum in Edmonton’s favor and set it up for road success in southern California.
The two Eastern Conference division champions should follow the same game plans from their Game 1 triumphs.
Boston used 31 saves from Linus Ullmark to hold the Florida offense at bay. The Bruins limited all Panthers players to three shots or fewer.
The Bruins must continue to contain the scoring chances that Matthew Tkachuk, who scored Florida’s lone Game 1 goal, and others have in front of Ullmark’s net.
The Presidents’ Trophy winner did more with less in Game 1, as it scored three goals on 26 shots. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each scored in the ideal start.
Boston does not have to outshoot Florida to win, and if it continues to keep Tkachuk and others under control, it should not face much of a challenge in Game 2.
Carolina rushed out to a two-goal advantage over the Islanders and held its visitors to 26 shots on goal in Game 1.
The Hurricanes could not have asked for a better opening script, and they need to replicate that to keep the Islanders out of the series.
Carolina’s defense has been difficult for the Islanders to break down all season. The Hurricanes held the Isles to three total goals in their last three regular-season contests.
New York’s only win over Carolina this season came on October 28, when it scored six goals inside PNC Arena.
The failure to break down the Hurricanes defense in Game 2 could set the Islanders in a hole they may not be able to get out of on home ice in Games 3 and 4.
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