After an impressive victory over the defending champion Warriors, the Rockets are hoping to avoid a letdown against a scrappy Heat team.
Houston (32-12) heads into Monday’s matchup against Miami (27-19) coming off consecutive home wins against Golden State and Minnesota. James Harden will look to continue his return to MVP form after scoring 22 points and dishing out eight assists against the Warriors.
Laine opened the scoring by putting a wrist shot past Lundqvist at 19:05 of the first period. He added on midway through the second period when he snapped off another wrist shot, then scored into an empty net with 34 seconds left.
Laine, the third overall pick of the 2016 draft, scored 36 goals in his rookie season. He leads the NHL in goals since entering the league with 74. Ovechkin and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov each have 73.
Ben Arledge, Insider editor: The Dallas Stars aren’t the same high-octane, all-offense team they were a few years back, but they are still dangerous up front with the likes of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov. More important, their defense is drastically improved. Following the acquisition of goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Marc Methot in the offseason, Dallas sits fourth in the league in goals-against average (2.61). Bishop has played in a Cup final before and knows what it takes to make a deep run. If he gets hot, the Stars won’t be easy to dismiss.
Sean Allen, fantasy writer: The Florida Panthers. They’re coming in hot to the playoffs with Aleksander Barkov finally earning the credit he’s due and Roberto Luongo well-rested because of his injury layoff.
Kaplan: Pittsburgh. Yes, the Penguins’ defense is a bit leaky. But the addition of Derick Brassard gives Pittsburgh unparalleled center depth, and this is still a high-octane team — the Pens have scored less than three goals just once in their past 13 games. Their remaining schedule is quite favorable too; six of their final regular-season 14 games are against teams well out of playoff position. The Flyers only have only two such games.