Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round matchups set

With the NHL season wrapping up Sunday, all the matchups for the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting Wednesday are now set.

The Tampa Bay Lightning earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and will open their first-round series against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

Thursday will also see the Nashville Predators, the top seed in the Western Conference, begin their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final with the opening of their series against the Colorado Avalanche.

While the Predators, who lost the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh last year, were a perfect 4-0-0 against the Avs this season, the Lighting struggled this season against the Devils, losing all three games against New Jersey.

Wednesday’s start to the playoffs sees the expansion Vegas Golden Knights make their playoff debut as the top team in the Pacific Division against the top wild card team in the Los Angeles Kings. The two teams tied the season series at two games apiece.

The other first-rounder series getting underway on Wednesday will pit the Minnesota Wild against the Winnipeg Jets and the Philadelphia Flyers against the two-time defending champion Penguins.

Thursday’s Game 1s will include the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Boston Bruins, the Columbus Blue Jackets versus the Metropolitan Division champion Washington Capitals and the San Jose Sharks versus the Anaheim Ducks.

Potential Game 7s for the first round are scheduled for April 23-25.