After yet another thrilling first round to open the Stanley Cup playoffs, Round 2 is ripe with compelling matchups and star power. 

Among the second-round series, the one that should draw the most attention will feature the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The two rivals haven’t met since 2009 and both teams are at the top of their games with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin still among the league’s very best players.

Meanwhile, the Lightning will be looking to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year. Standing in their way are the Islanders, fresh off a thrilling Game 6 victory which gave them their first playoff series win since 1993. John Tavares of the Islanders and Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning were two of the most dominant scorers in the first round.

The St. Louis Blues, after finally escaping the first round, will be taking on the Dallas Stars in a battle of the top two teams in the meat grinder that was the Central Division this season. The Stars narrowly won the division with a late-season push, earning them home-ice advantage, which will make things interesting for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s aggressive line-matching.

After winning their first Game 7 in franchise history, the Nashville Predators earned a date with the  San Jose Sharks, who managed to get past the rival Los Angeles Kings in just five games. The Sharks had a prolonged break between series, so we'll find out if Nashville's momentem or San Jose's rest helps early on.

See how we did with our first-round predictions here. Now here’s what we’ve got for Round 2:

NHL Playoff Expert Picks
Series Adam Gretz
@AGretz
Chris Peters
@ChrisMPeters
Atlantic Division
(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs.
(WC1) New York Islanders

6 games

7 games
Metropolitan Division
(1) Washington Capitals vs.
(2) Pittsburgh Penguins

7 games

7 games
Central Division
(1) Dallas Stars vs.
(2) St. Louis Blues

6 games

6 games
Pacific Division
(3) San Jose Sharks vs.
(WC1) Nashville Predators

6 games

7 games

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. (USATSI)
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. (USATSI)