NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: Caps slide while Knights rise

Michelle Martinelli
NBC Sports Washington

It's not impossible for the Washington Capitals to climb out of the 0-2 hole they dug themselves, but it's not looking good. 

After winning 12 of their last 15 regular-season games going into the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Caps squandered their home-ice advantage in their first two postseason games. They lost the leads and eventually the contests in overtime, twice, and are now headed to Columbus for Game 3 and Game 4.

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Despite the 0-2 deficit, Alex Ovechkin promised the Caps won't get swept and that the series will return to Washington all tied up, but that's obviously easier said than done. 

The Caps-Blue Jackets Game 3 is set for Tuesday, while Game 4 is Thursday. If the Caps are looking to turn around their luck in the playoffs, they need to start now before they truly risk getting swept. 

Around the Metropolitan Division, it looked like the Pittsburgh Penguins would cruise to victory against the Philadelphia Flyers after beating them easily, 7-0, in Game 1. However, the Flyers proved they're not going away quietly and stormed back to take Game 2, 5-1. But the Pens won by the same score in Game 3 - leaving Wednesday's Game 4 as a potentially huge turning point if Pittsburgh can lock up another road win.

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No. 1 in the Atlantic Division, it's not surprising that the Tampa Bay Lightning have a 2-0 series lead over the New Jersey Devils. To their credit, the Devils held on for 5-2 and 5-3 losses on the road, but they'll have a chance to tie it all up when they return for two home games. Game 3 of the series is Monday, and Game 4 is Wednesday.

As for the rest of the Atlantic, the Boston Bruins look poised to take the series - if not sweep it - against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dominating in the first two games, the Bruins won 5-1 and 7-3. David Pastrnak is on fire, scoring four goals with five assists in the first two games. Game 3 is Monday, while Game 4 is Thursday back in Toronto.

In the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators are doing everything they were expected to. They're up 2-zip in the series over the Colorado Avalanche, and even though they're headed to Denver for the next two games, the Preds are looking strong. One of the many reasons they're staying at the top of our NHL power rankings.

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On the other side of the Central Division, the Minnesota Wild put up a solid 6-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3, but we think there's a pretty good chance the Jets hold onto their 2-1 series lead for the win.

In the Pacific Division, the San Jose Sharks are putting on a little bit of a show against the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were slightly favored, but the Sharks have a 2-0 lead in the series and will play the next two games in San Jose - giving them a chance to sweep at home.

And last but most certainly not least are the Vegas Golden Knights against the Los Angeles Kings. The Knights have been showstoppers all season while defying typical expectations for an expansion team. But they're fast and fun to watch, and they have a 3-zip lead over the Kings.

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