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Playoff Buzz: Penguins can be first to second round

Pittsburgh will eliminate Blue Jackets with win; Canadiens, Oilers look to build series leads

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. The playoffs continued Monday with four games, all decided in overtime. NHL.com writers covering each of the eight series will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news from the rinks, including the sites of the four games Monday. Here is the playoff news for Tuesday:

 

5:36 p.m.
Tuesday primer

The Pittsburgh Penguins look to sweep their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets when they visit Nationwide Arena for Game 4. The New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks each hope to even their best-of-7 series at 2-2 on home ice.

Through the first six days of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, 11 of the 24 games have gone to overtime. Every series has had at least one game decided in overtime, and 17 of 24 games have been decided by one goal. How's that for parity?

Here's the latest news from the three playoff games set for Tuesday:

Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, MSG) -- There's a chance Rangers rookie forward Pavel Buchnevich, a healthy scratch in the opening three games of the series, could make his postseason debut. Could Buchnevich spark the Rangers' struggling power play? According to NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen, Buchnevich was on the first power-play unit with Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh during practice on Monday. The Rangers went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage in Game 3 and haven't scored in 10 chances in the series. NHL.com deputy managing editor Brian Compton explains how the Canadiens hope to weather the storm on the road in his 5 keys to Game 4.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports 2, FS-O, ROOT) -- Columbus defensemen Markus Nutivaara and Kyle Quincey will replace Scott Harrington and injured Zach Werenski (facial fracture) in a must-win situation. Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert, who returns from a one-game suspension, and Lukas Sedlak will replace forwards Scott Hartnell and Sonny Milano in the lineup. NHL.com correspondent Craig Merz has projected lineups and 5 keys to Game 4. The Penguins, who have a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, look to become the first team to advance into the Second Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blue Jackets will have their work cut out in an attempt to slow down the Penguins' dominant offense, according to NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika.

Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, CSN-CA) -- Oilers coach Todd McLellan said after the optional skate Tuesday that forward Leon Draisaitl may return to right wing on the top line with center Connor McDavid and left wing Patrick Maroon. McLellan moved Draisaitl to center between Zack Kassian and Drake Caggiula midway through Game 3 on Sunday; forward Anton Slepyshev moved to McDavid's line. The Oilers lineup will be confirmed after the warmup. NHL.com Correspondent Eric Gilmore has 5 keys to Game 4. The Sharks look to improve a power play that is converting at 7.1 percent (1-for-14; 15th of 16 playoff teams). "You got to shoot the puck, you got to score the goals. That's been a concern for us all season," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "Our power play hasn't been where it needs to be." The Sharks finished 25th on the power play in the regular season at 16.7 percent. Including the regular season, Edmonton has won five of its past six against San Jose.

 

5:01 p.m.
Bruins get back to work

It was a busy morning for the Boston Bruins. They took to the ice for a full practice, even after playing two consecutive overtime games in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Ottawa Senators and losing four key defensemen recently.

Meanwhile, the Senators took it easy. They stayed off the ice, had a few meetings, and a few were even able to take in the sights of Boston on the day off. Senators coach Guy Boucher admitted that in each of the Stanley Cup Playoffs series he has coached against the Bruins, he hasn't seen much more than the sidewalks, the hotel, and the rinks.

Still, in a series where no lead has been safe, the Senators were remarkably relaxed Tuesday, knowing they had come into Boston and taken back home-ice advantage ahead of Game 4 on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports, NESN).

We'll see if they still feel that way after Game 4.

 

3:34 p.m.
Sharks hope to solve Talbot

The Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks each held an optional morning skate ahead of Game 4 on Tuesday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, CSN-CA).

The Oilers have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Each of the three games has produced plenty of checking and tight play. A total of eight goals have been scored in the series; three have come at 5-on-5, including Zack Kassian's game-winner in the Oilers' 1-0 win in Game 3 on Sunday.

Oilers goalie Cam Talbot has back-to-back shutouts, so the Sharks will be looking to create more traffic and obstacles that might assist their offensive cause. Sharks center Joe Thornton, who returned from injury in Game 3, said he'll be feeling even better for Game 4. He expects the conservative nature of the series to continue.

 

2:01 p.m.
Capitals face series deficit

The Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs held optional practices at MasterCard Centre on Tuesday, with each team recovering from the Maple Leafs' 4-3 overtime victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Monday.

The young, underdog Maple Leafs have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series against the Capitals, the Presidents' Trophy winner in each of the past two seasons, heading into Game 4 at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC).

The Maple Leafs, who have had 10 players make their Stanley Cup Playoff debut in the series, have not been overwhelmed by the big stage yet.

"Everything is sort of new," said Maple Leafs rookie center William Nylander, who scored his first playoff goal in Game 3. "It's the first time in the playoffs, so I don't think anything has been a surprise, just a learning process."

Washington looks to regroup after losing the past two games. Capitals coach Barry Trotz said defenseman Karl Alzner (upper body) will miss his second straight game Wednesday.

Although the Capitals have struggled at times, they say they are confident they can turn the series around and get a win in Game 4.

"We knew we had to come here and win a game, so [Wednesday] is a game that we're going to play our best hockey," Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "Everyone's excited for it. I think we know there's some things we can correct from [Game 3], but we had a lot of moments in that game where we played the right way and we were rewarded for it, so if we can commit to that for the full 60 minutes we're going to be just fine."

 

1:17 p.m.
Buchnevich could crack Rangers lineup

New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault is keeping his lineup decisions private, but there were indications in practice Monday that forward Pavel Buchnevich could make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, MSG).

Why would Vigneault make such a change? NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen breaks it down.

The Canadiens have been winning the special teams battle and basically took the Madison Square Garden crowd out of Game 3 by limiting everything the Rangers wanted to do. Montreal expects a pushback from the Rangers in Game 4 and the Garden crowd to be electric.

NHL.com Staff Writer Brian Compton has projected lineups and more in his 5 keys to Game 4.

 

11:26 a.m.
Blue Jackets making changes

The Columbus Blue Jackets are making lineup changes as they try to avoid elimination against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Defensemen Markus Nutivaara and Kyle Quincey will play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports 2, FS-O, ROOT), replacing Scott Harrington and the injured Zach Werenski (facial fracture).

Forward Matt Calvert will return from a one-game suspension and Lukas Sedlak will play up front, replacing Scott Hartnell and Sonny Milano. Tuesday is Hartnell's 35th birthday.

Facing a 3-0 series deficit after the best season in team history, coach John Tortorella doesn't want the Blue Jackets thinking about the big picture.

"We're not even looking at a 3-0," Tortorella said. "This team has played really well this year and has grown tremendously. I do not want them leaving tonight not enjoying a playoff win, and then we'll talk about what we have to do."

 

11:05 a.m.
Penguins look to advance

The Pittsburgh Penguins could become the first team to advance into the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win at the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series on Tuesday. The Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers are looking to take 3-1 leads in their series.

Here's a look at what's on tap for Tuesday:

Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN, MSG) -- The Canadiens took a 2-1 series lead when Alexander Radulov had a goal and an assist and goalie Carey Price made 20 saves in a 3-1 win in Game 3 on Sunday. The Rangers have lost nine of their past 11 at Madison Square Garden this season (2-6-3) and have been outscored 21-4 in six straight home loses in the Stanley Cup Playoffs dating to Game 2 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final. They're hoping to turn that around in Game 4 at MSG, according to senior writer Dan Rosen.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30 p.m. ET, SN360, TVA Sports 2, CNBC, FS-O, ROOT) -- The Penguins are going for their seventh four-game sweep and first since 2009 against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. The Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in seven games to win the Stanley Cup that year. The Blue Jackets will be without rookie defenseman Zach Werenski for the rest of the playoffs after he cracked his right cheekbone in a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 3 on Sunday. 

Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, NBCSN, NBCSCA) -- Goalie Cam Talbot has had two straight shutouts to give the Oilers a 2-1 series lead. Talbot has not allowed a goal in 120 minutes and, according to staff writer Tim Campbell, has picked up where he left off in the regular season. Sharks center Joe Thornton returned to the lineup for Game 3, his first game since injuring his left knee April 2 against the Vancouver Canucks. He played center on the top line between Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson. Sharks defenseman Brent Burns has been rather quiet in the series with no points and 13 shots on goal and that needs to change, according to correspondent Eric Gilmore.

9:30 a.m.
Four games, four overtime thrillers

After a historic night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, are one loss from elimination.

For the first time since April 10, 1985, and for the third time in NHL history, four playoff games went to overtime on the same night, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

When it was all over, the Blackhawks, a favorite to win the Stanley Cup, trailed the Nashville Predators 3-0 in their Western Conference First Round series. The Anaheim Ducks took a 3-0 series lead against the Calgary Flames on Monday. In the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators each won to take 2-1 series leads.

Not only did all four games go to overtime, each game saw a team rallying after being down by two or more goals. Three of them won, one lost.

Here's a look at what happened Monday:

 

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Washington Capitals 3 (OT) -- Forward Tyler Bozak needed 1:37 of overtime to give the Maple Leafs their first home playoff win since May 12, 2013. Rookie forwards Auston Matthews and William Nylander scored their first NHL postseason goals for the Maple Leafs, who twice rallied from two goals down.

Ottawa Senators 4, Boston Bruins 3 (OT) -- The Senators, who built a 3-0 lead only to see the Bruins tie it, won for the second straight time in overtime, this time on Bobby Ryan's goal at 5:43. Mike Hoffman scored two goals for the Senators.

Nashville Predators 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (OT) -- The Predators trailed 2-0 entering the third period, but Filip Forsberg scored twice to send the game to overtime, where Kevin Fiala won it at 16:44.

Anaheim Ducks 5, Calgary Flames 4 (OT) -- Corey Perry scored 1:30 into overtime to lift the Ducks, who trailed 4-1 in the second period. Shea Theodore had two goals, and Nick Ritchie and Nate Thompson also scored for the Ducks. Jonathan Bernier made 16 saves in relief of John Gibson, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots.

Video: Perry scores OT winner as Ducks rally past Flames

 

What we learned on Day 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Maple Leafs aren't going away

Every time the Capitals have pushed them, the Maple Leafs have pushed back harder. After the Capitals rallied from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 on Thursday, the Maple Leafs answered with 4-3 overtime victories in Game 2 on Saturday (double-overtime) and in Game 3 on Monday. The Capitals led 2-0 by 4:49 into Game 3 and 3-1 in the second period, but the Maple Leafs were undeterred and kept coming back.

 

Capitals have to overcome their past

Down 2-1 in the best-of-7 series, the Capitals are hearing questions about their past Stanley Cup Playoff disappointments again. "Until we change the narrative that's going to be the question," Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. The Capitals have not advanced past the second round since 1998, including a first-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens as Presidents' Trophy winners in 2009-10 and a second-round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. They won the Presidents' Trophy again this season but are in danger of being upset by the younger, less-experienced Maple Leafs.

 

Boston's defense is leaky

There was good news and bad news for the Boston Bruins defense. First, the good. After losing a defenseman to injury in the first period in each of the past four games, they emerged unscathed, at least in terms of injuries. But the defense is running a bit ragged, with ice times up and rookies taking important shifts. Though the overtime game-winner should not be laid at the feet of Tommy Cross -- in his fourth NHL game -- or Joe Morrow, it's telling that that was the defensive pair on the ice on the penalty kill in overtime when Bobby Ryan scored.

 

No lead in Bruins-Senators series is safe

It's clear that the Boston-Ottawa series is going to be a back-and-forth, up-and-down affair. In Game 3 on Monday the Senators took a 3-0 lead, the Bruins scored three straight to tie it, and then the Senators won in overtime. That came after Game 1, when the Senators scored the first goal before giving up two to the Bruins and losing 2-1, and Game 2, when the Bruins led 3-1 entering the third but lost in overtime. The moral? Score early and often. And late and often.

Video: Ryan nets OT winner to give Senators 2-1 series lead

 

Flames are bulletproof no more

The Flames were 33-0-1 when leading after two periods during the regular season. But in a critical moment in their series against the Ducks, they were unable to close the door. They led 4-2 after two periods in Game 3 but managed eight shots on goal in the third, allowed goals to Thompson and Theodore 4:25 apart in the middle of the third and lost 5-4 in overtime.

 

Shea Theodore is coming of age

The bright lights and big stage have brought out the best in the 21-year-old Ducks defenseman, who scored twice against the Flames in Game 3, including the game-tying goal in the third period. He has five points (two goals, three assists) in three games, tied for second-most in the League. Theodore had five shots on goal in 22:19 of ice time in Game 3. Only Hampus Lindholm (24:07) and Kevin Bieksa (22:37) played more for the Ducks.

 

First line a boon for Predators

The Predators' top line has been a force through three games. Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg have given the Chicago Blackhawks fits. Forsberg had two goals in Game 3 and coach Peter Laviolette has no qualms putting that unit out against any of the Blackhawks' lines. The line's combination of speed, skill and physicality has been a nightmare for the Blackhawks, especially because it was deployed so often. Forsberg led the Predators forwards with 25:32 of ice time in Game 3. The three players combined for 11 shots on goals and 20 shot attempts.

 

A tall task for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are in deep, needing to win four straight games to stave off elimination. It's a feat that has been accomplished four times in the history of the League, although the Los Angeles Kings did it to the San Jose Sharks three postseasons ago. Can the veteran Blackhawks, the class of the West this season and the second-best regular-season team, stage a comeback for the ages starting Thursday in Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena? "We're going to have to," coach Joel Quenneville said.

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