Thursday night will have two teams looking to complete second-round sweeps and advance to their respective conference finals.
At 7 p.m., the Pittsburgh Penguins
look to finish off the New York Rangers
at Madison Square Garden and advance to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001. At 10 p.m., the Detroit Red Wings
seek a berth in their second straight Western Conference Final when they visit the Pepsi Center to quarrel with the Colorado Avalanche
Here’s what to keep an eye out for:
* The Penguins, who are the only team that hasn’t lost a game in the playoffs, have scored an average of four goals per game, which is the best in the League. Pittsburgh, which won its first playoff round since 2001 when it swept the Ottawa Senators
in the first round, has allowed the fewest goals against in the League with just 12 and has a 1.71 GAA – the lowest in the NHL.
* Penguins center Evgeni Malkin
, who is one of three candidates for the Hart Trophy for the NHL’s most valuable player, has the highest points per game average at 1.86 in the playoffs. Malkin, who was a key factor to keeping the Penguins on track when star center Sidney Crosby
was sidelined for 28 games with a high ankle sprain, is tied for the League lead with eight power-play points.
* Pittsburgh right wing Pascal Dupuis
, who had 10 goals and five assists for 15 points in 62 games with the Atlanta Thrashers
, has three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 23 combined regular season and playoff games with the Penguins. Dupuis, who was traded with Marian Hossa
during trade deadline day, is playing alongside Hossa and Crosby.
* Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
, who gave up 15 goals in eight games against the Penguins during the regular season, has yielded 11 goals in the first three games of this series and has not faced more than 31 shots in any game during that span. Lundqvist, who led the League with 10 shutouts in the regular season, has a save percentage less than .900 for two of his last three playoff seasons, including a .894 save percentage this season.
* Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky
, who had three goals and three assists for six points in the Rangers' five-game defeat of the New Jersey Devils
, has no points and a minus-2 rating in three games against the Penguins. Dubinsky, who led Atlantic Division rookies with 40 points during the regular season, has won the most faceoffs of any rookie in the playoffs with 76.
* Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk
, who is tied with linemate Henrik Zetterberg
for the second-most points among Red Wings in the series against Colorado with five, has been a minus player in just two of Detroit’s nine playoff games. Datsyuk, who leads the team and is third in the NHL with 11 takeaways in the playoffs, led the League with 144 takeaways during the regular season – 58 more than any other player in the League.
* Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronvall, who leads NHL defensemen with eight assists, averages the third-most ice time among Detroit players with 22:25 per game. Kronvall, who is in just his second playoff season, has a plus-11 rating in 15 career playoff games, including a plus-8 rating in nine playoff games this season.
* Detroit, which has a perfect 5-0 home playoff record so far, has scored 10 more goals at home than they have given up. However, away from Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings are 2-2 and have scored just one more goal than they have allowed.
* Colorado defenseman Adam Foote
, who was acquired for a first-round selection in this June’s draft from the Columbus Blue Jackets
during trade deadline day, has been a minus player in five of Colorado’s nine playoff games. Foote, who has played the second-most games in franchise history with 163, is playing in his first postseason since 2004.
* Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore
, who didn’t allow more than three goals in any game in Colorado’s six-game defeat of the Minnesota Wild
, has allowed four goals in each of the first three games of this series. Theodore, who won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player in 2002 with the Montreal Canadiens
, has given up two power-play goals in his last two games.
* Colorado, which has scored nine first-period goals, has scored the fewest third-period goals of the teams remaining with six. The Avalanche, who have the worst penalty kill among the eight remaining teams with a 73.9 percent success rate, have allowed five power-play goals in three games against Detroit.