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NHL playoff predictions

The+San+Jose+Sharks+Matt+Nieto%2C+right%2C+sneaks+the+puck+past+Los+Angeles+Kings+goalie+Jonathan+Quick+for+a+second-period+goal+during+Game+5+of+the+Western+Conference+quarterfinals+at+Staples+Center+in+Los+Angeles+on+Friday%2C+April+22%2C+2016.+%28Robert+Gauthier%2FLos+Angeles+Times%2FTNS%29
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The San Jose Sharks’ Matt Nieto, right, sneaks the puck past Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for a second-period goal during Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday, April 22, 2016. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

With the first round of the NHL playoffs complete, and the defending champs already eliminated, we take a look at each of the second round matchups and predict the winners.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders (Islanders currently lead the series 1-0)

Next Game: April 30, Game 2: Islanders at Lightning, 2 p.m.

My Prediction: Islanders in six.

With Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos out with an injury, and Islanders center John Tavares showing his superstar ability, the Islanders will have just enough to defeat the Lightning. While the Lightning have more experience in the playoffs, injuries and an irreliable goalie will knock Tampa Bay out of the playoffs, preventing them from winning their second Stanley Cup in team history.

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Next Game: April 28, Game 1: Penguins at Capitals, 7 p.m.

My Prediction: Capitals in five.

The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin is having an MVP-type season and has stayed hot throughout the first round of the playoffs, and looks to stay hot for the rest of the season. Washington goaltender Braden Holtby is one of the best goalies in the league right now, and had two shutouts in the first round, including a shutout in the series-clinching game six against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues

Next Game: April 29, Game 1: Blues at Stars, 7 p.m.

My Prediction: Blues in seven.

Although the Stars have an all-star type lineup, including Anthony Niemi, Patrick Sharp, and Jamie Benn, they struggled against the Minnesota Wild and barely escaped with the win. Although the Blues struggled in their first round series versus the Blackhawks, almost squandering a 3-1 lead, they showed that they are able to bear down and get a win when facing elimination.

The St. Louis Blues' Alexander Steen, right, reacts after teammate Alex Pietrangelo, not pictured, scored past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford in the first period during Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Saturday, April 23, 2016, at the United Center in Chicago. The Blackhawks won, 6-3, to even the series. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)
The St. Louis Blues’ Alexander Steen, right, reacts after teammate Alex Pietrangelo, not pictured, scored past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford in the first period during Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Saturday, April 23, 2016, at the United Center in Chicago. The Blackhawks won, 6-3, to even the series. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

Nashville Predators vs. San Jose Sharks

Next Game: April 29, Game 1: Predators at Sharks, 9:30 p.m.

My Prediction: Sharks in five.

The Sharks are consistently one of the top teams in the Western Conference and have been picked as a Cup contender almost every year for the past decade. With all of this success, they have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their 22 seasons as a franchise. This year, I believe the luck will turn for them and the Sharks will win their very first Stanley Cup, just two years after they blew a 3-0 series lead to the Kings. But this year’s Sharks team is more experienced and led by leading scorer Joe Pavelski.

These are my NHL predictions. Who do you think will advance?

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Brandon Frey, Author

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