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Five things to know about the NHL playoffs

Vancouver Canucks' Dakota Joshua, back right, jumps in front of Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros, back left, while Ryan McDonagh watches as the puck sails wide of the net during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Sunday, April 21, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) Vancouver Canucks' Dakota Joshua, back right, jumps in front of Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros, back left, while Ryan McDonagh watches as the puck sails wide of the net during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Sunday, April 21, 2024. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
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The Edmonton Oilers say they expect no surprises from the familiar Los Angeles Kings when their first-round NHL playoff series opens tonight in the Alberta capital.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, trailing the Boston Bruins 1-0 in their best-of-seven series, say they expect to right the ship tonight in Game 2 after a 5-1 whipping on Saturday at TD Garden.

The Dallas Stars, who finished first overall in the Western Conference, will host the defending Stanley Cup champion -- and suddenly healthy -- Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 tonight. And the Carolina Hurricanes will look to take a 2-0 series lead when they host the New York Islanders.

Here are five things to know about the NHL playoffs:

No pain, no gain

Coach Rick Tocchet told reporters that his Vancouver Canucks must learn to "embrace the pain" to thrive in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

Maybe that's why television viewers saw Tylenol ads flashed on the ice at Rogers Arena while Tocchet's Canucks trailed the Nashville Predators 2-1 in the third period last night, before erupting for three goals and a 4-2 Game 1 victory that featured tough hits, superb saves and a return of Towel Power made famous by late Canucks' bench boss Roger Neilson.

Dakota Joshua, the punishing forward expected to provide some additional muscle in Vancouver's playoff drive, dished out some big hits, but he scored twice and added an assist to make the Predators' loss even more painful.

Joshua said to win the ultimate playoff prize players needed to "go through some stuff" and welcomed all the pain his rivals could offer.

A Kane reaction

Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding the playing status of Evander Kane as the Edmonton Oilers prepare to host the Los Angeles Kings tonight in their first-round, playoff series opener.

Kane, who had 24 goals and 20 assists in 77 games this season, is coming off a sport hernia injury that forced him to sit out the final two games of the regular season. He said yesterday the injury has been "flaring up all year" and believed rest would help before the playoff grind begins.

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch figured Kane will play, but the bench boss said he'd monitor his early minutes to determine if he's effective.

Shooting stars impress

Florida Panthers' coach Paul Maurice, naturally thrilled his team beat the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in yesterday's playoff opener, was impressed with the superb goaltending for both teams.

His netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky, made 17 saves, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves. One of the Panthers' goals was scored into an empty net.

Maurice said there were stretches of grind with "so many dangerous shooters who have all the shots," making it extra challenging for the guys in net to see or stop the puck.

Bruins take notes

Jake DeBrusk had a regular season he'd like to forget. His first playoff game, however, was one to remember.

In the final year of his contract, DeBrusk only scored 19 goals after notching 27 a year before. His supporters suggested a good playoff run could erase all the concerns.

Bingo. In Sunday's 5-1 win over the visiting Maple Leafs, DeBrusk was a star, He had two goals, an assist and five hits.

His teammates pointed out that Leafs' star Auston Matthews had a brutal night in the faceoff circle, losing 13 of 18 draws, and a quiet night -- zero points -- on the scoresheet. Pavel Zacha of the Bruins won 10 of 13 faceoffs.

Jet Nets a fast 20

Mark Scheifele's first-period goal last night in the Winnipeg Jets' 7-6 win against the visiting Colorado Avalanche was his 20th career playoff goal, scored in his 38th game.

Only three active players have reached that mark in fewer games. Alex Ovechkin did it in 26 games, Jake Guentzel in 32 and Connor McDavid in 36 games.

Speaking of offence, last night's result in the Manitoba capital marked the first time since 1985 that an opening game of a first-round playoff series had the two teams combine for 13 goals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2024.

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