WCHA playoffs, first-round best-of-three series vs. Minnesota State Mankato at Ridder Arena

6 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday (if necessary).

All games streamed on B1G+

Rachel Blount's preview:

Opening bell: The No. 4 Gophers (25-7-2, 19-7-2 WCHA) won the WCHA tournament title last year, and a win in this weekend's first-round series would give them the chance to pursue another crown next weekend at their home rink. They enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed, with two losses in their past 12 games. The fortunes of No. 6 seed Minnesota State Mankato (12-23, 6-22) have gone in the opposite direction; the Mavericks were swept by St. Thomas last weekend and have won only two of their past 13. MSU Mankato is 0-4 against the Gophers this season, but the four games were decided by a total of five goals. The Gophers' power play will be key during the postseason; it leads the nation with a 38% success rate, and the team is 19-2-2 when it scores with the advantage.

Watch her: Gophers forward Abbey Murphy, who was named second-team All-WCHA on Thursday, has been stellar all season, with a Division I-best 31 goals. Seven of those are game-winners, demonstrating her ability to deliver when her team needs it most. Last year, she had five goals, including two winners, in postseason play.

Forecast: MSU Mankato has never beaten the Gophers in a postseason game, but the Mavericks kept it tight in all four matchups this season, including a 2-1 overtime loss in their last meeting Jan. 27. Expect the Gophers to take the series, but don't expect it to be easy.