Pittsburgh Penguins - Columbus Blue Jackets
Even though Pittsburgh won out in Game 1 applying a physical dump and chase approach did pay early dividends for Columbus, and not overstepping the mark with their aggression is key to their success in this series.
A shorthanded goal from Derek McKenzie provided brief elation, however the Jackets committing successive penalties lost them the game. The Penguins struck twice in the space of a minute to even the score early in the second and took over from there.
Matching Sidney Crosby up against Brandon Dubinsky worked a treat for Todd Richards at even strength at least, now the task is to maintain that whilst also formulating a plan to deal with Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter's lines too.
It's shaping up to be an interesting goalie duel between Sergei Bobrovsky and Marc-Andre Fleury who both played well despite some nerves, we still got an open game as expected though and taking on the overs remains a solid option this evening.
Emotions will be tempered down for this one after the frantic opener which should help the road side stay out of the box. Way out at 2.70 including overtime, the value is right to take Columbus even the series.
Colorado Avalanche - Minnesota Wild
Paul Stastny tied the game in the final 15 seconds and scored the overtime winner to be Colorado's hero on Thursday night, with many predicting an upset in this series I think it was absolutely vital for the Avalanche to not relinquish their home advantage almost instantly.
Minnesota's domination of the second period allowed them to build a lead but the Avs were the better, faster team either side of the middle frame and got their rewards eventually. Exploiting time against weak checking lines is clearly something Mike Yeo has identified and the Wild did make that count, Patrick Roy encourages them to make their presences known but there is a lack of skating and defensive ability there as you'd expect.
If Colorado struggled there then the likes of Stastny as well as Ryan O'Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon definitely won the battles between the premier units ending as big pluses on the night.
The Wild missed a big trick when not closing out Game 1, so back a buoyant Avalanche to go 2-0 up in the series at 2.15.
Best Bet: Columbus Blue Jackets to win including overtime at 2.70.