Following the first of three first-round Game 7s on Wednesday night, the NHL’s Eastern Conference second-round bracket was set, with two divisional matchups ready to begin in the next two days.
Boston and Montreal will lead things off Thursday night, but the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to wait a little bit longer to continue their postseason, as their best-of-seven series with the New York Rangers is scheduled start Friday evening at Consol Energy Center.
Here’s the full slate of games, as revealed by the CBC. As always, Games 5, 6 and 7 only will be played if necessary to decide the series:
Game 1: Friday, May 2 at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m.)
Game 2: Sunday, May 4 at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m.)
Game 3: Monday, May 5 at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.)
Game 4: Wednesday, May 7 at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.)
Game 5: Friday, May 9 at Consol Energy Center (TBA)
Game 6: Sunday, May 11 at Madison Square Garden (TBA)
Game 7: Tuesday, May 13 at Consol Energy Center (TBA)
The first thing that stands out is the back-to-back situation that will confront the teams for Games 2 and 3. Madison Square Garden is unavailable May 8-9, forcing the NHL to jam seven game dates into 12 days.
The Rangers just got done playing on consecutive nights, losing Game 6 but winning Game 7 against Philadelphia to advance to the second round. After Game 3 against the Penguins, New York will have played five times in seven days.
As for Pittsburgh, a six-game dismissal of Columbus afforded a couple extra days of rest. The Pens have beaten the Rangers all four times they’ve met in the playoffs, most recently in the 2008 second round. That series went to Pittsburgh in five games, with Marian Hossa memorably scoring in overtime at Mellon Arena to clinch the series.
The Pens went 2-1-1 against the Rangers this season, although they haven’t faced each other since Feb. 7, a 4-3 Rangers shootout win at Consol Energy Center.