Two more teams will advance to the second round of the playoffs Tuesday as the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks host the Vegas Golden Knights in a pair of do-or-die Game 7 matchups.
The Sharks will look to complete a 3-1 series comeback and avenge their six-game defeat at the hands of the Golden Knights last postseason with a huge win on their home ice. For Vegas, it'll be the expansion club's first-ever Game 7.
The Maple Leafs and Bruins have pushed their series to the limit for a third time in as many playoff matchups, with Boston coming out on top in Game 7 in both 2013 and 2018. Toronto will have to dig deep to pull out the victory and capture its first playoff series victory in 15 years.
Special teams battle
If the Maple Leafs are to have any hope of keeping their season alive in front of a raucous Bruins crowd at TD Garden, they'll need to flip the script when it comes to special teams. Since Boston scored on the man advantage nine minutes into the series, the power play has been at the crux of its success through six games.
Boston has converted seven of 16 power-play opportunities (43.8 percent) in the series, including two critical tallies in the first period of Game 6. The Maple Leafs' penalty kill has been glaringly poor, and their inability to respond on power plays of their own has made matters worse. Toronto's man advantage has been held off the scoresheet in four of the six contests, converting just three times.
Mike Babcock's club seems to hold a slight advantage if it can keep the game at even strength. The Leafs have outscored the Bruins 11-8 at five-on-five and own 52.63 percent of high-danger scoring chances thus far.
More from Maple Leafs' top line
The Maple Leafs' top line of Zach Hyman, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner needs to step up offensively. The trio has done a good job on the defensive side of the puck, and Tavares' presence alone has helped allow Auston Matthews enjoy a breakout postseason, but when the lights shine the brightest, Toronto needs its stars to sparkle.
The line combined for 94 goals in the regular season but has managed just four so far against the Bruins, with three of them coming in the opening contest. Tavares, whose 47 goals during the campaign led the team, never went longer than five games without a goal. With his only goal of the series coming in Game 1 ... well, you can do the math.
Leading after 40 minutes
During the regular season, the Leafs posted 36-0-1 record when leading after two periods, and the Bruins went 31-3-3. These defensive trends have continued through six games as neither team has faltered this series when carrying a lead into the third period.
Sharks need the good Martin Jones
Jones' uninspiring regular season was one of the major talking points heading into this series after the netminder posted a 36-19-5 record with a 2.94 goals-against average and .896 save percentage on the campaign. Among the 26 goalies who played at least 45 games, his save percentage ranked second last.
The Sharks have lived and died by their goaltender so far this postseason. Jones failed to play past the first period in two of the losses against the Golden Knights, allowing a combined five goals on 14 shots. While facing a 3-1 series deficit, however, Jones stopped 88 of 91 shots en route to two straight wins, including a 58-save overtime performance in Game 6.
The team that has scored first has won each time. Both squads will need to be ready from the get-go, as that all-important opening tally has been potted within the first 90 seconds in four of the six games.
Stone line can make or break
The Sharks did an excellent job in their previous two victories keeping the Golden Knights' most dangerous line of Mark Stone, Paul Stastny, and Max Pacioretty in check. After terrorizing San Jose with a combined 28 points through the first four contests, the trio was held pointless in Games 5 and 6.
It will be critical for the Sharks to stay out of the penalty box. The Stone line has been just average at five-on-five in the playoffs, posting a Corsi For rating of 51.18.
The veteran trio is packed with playoff experience, too. Stone, Pacioretty, and Stastny have suited up for a combined 155 postseason contests, including six Game 7s.
(Advanced stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick)