The Tampa Bay Lightning will face the series winner between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Nashville Predators in the second round of the Stanley Cup.
Carolina, the No.1 seed, can take out the No.4 seed Nashville by winning Game 6 of that best-of-7 series in Nashville on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVAS, BSSO, BSSO).
Tampa Bay is the reigning Stanley Cup champion.
“You’ve probably heard that fourth is the hardest to win in a series, and when you have a chance to make it you don’t want to waste it,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “We had an established plan. But the players… it was 60 minutes of willpower and competition. And to win in this league, that’s what you need. When you make the playoffs, you need them from everyone. The players gave it away. They get all the credit in the world. “
Video: NFCU Mission: Stanley Cup – Lightning
Nikita Kucherov leads the Lightning with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the playoffs, and Victor Hedman (eight passes), Alex Killorn (four goals, four assists) and Steven Stamkos (three goals, five assists) each scored eight. Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 2.64 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage.
The Lightning was 4-3-1 against the Hurricanes in the regular season. Killorn (two goals, three assists) and Hedman (one goal, four assists) led Tampa Bay with five points. Vasilevskiy was 3-3-1 with a GAA of 2.14, save percentage of .933 and a shutout in seven games. Backup Curtis McElhinney made 31 saves in a 3-1 win on February 25.
Martin Necas led Carolina with eight points (three goals, five assists), Facebook Facebook logo Sign up for Facebook to connect with Sebastian Aho scored six points (two goals, four assists), and Dougie Hamilton had five assists against Tampa Bay. Alex Nedeljkovic was 2-1-0 with an GAA of 1.02, a save percentage of 0.962 and a shutout; James Reimer was 1-2-0 with an GAA of 2.71 and a save percentage of 0.892; and Petr Mrazek was 1-0-1 with an GAA of 1.45, a percent stop of 0.956 and a shutout.
The Lightning won six of eight games against the Predators. Brayden Point (three goals, seven assists) and Mikhail Sergachev (10 assists) led Tampa Bay with 10 points. Stamkos has scored nine points (six goals, three assists) in six games, and Yanni Gourde scored five goals. Vasilevskiy is 5-0-0 with a GAA of 1.81, a save percentage of .943 and a shutout, and McElhinney is 1-2-0 with a GAA of 3.73 and a shutout. stop percentage of 0.845.
Viktor Arvidsson (four goals, two assists) and Jarnkrok Street (one goal, five assists) led Nashville with six points apiece against Tampa Bay. Romain Josi scored five points (one goal, four assists). Pekka Rinne was 1-4-0 with a GAA of 2.87 and a savings percentage of 0.915, and Saros Hair was 1-2-0 with a GAA of 4.06 and percent stop of 0.850.
Tampa Bay has never played against Carolina or Nashville in the playoffs.
The Lightning have qualified for the second round for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. Tampa Bay have qualified for the conference finals in four of the past six seasons.