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Playoff Buzz: Ducks look to end Predators' home streak in Game 4

Nashville has won 10 straight playoff games at Bridgestone Arena; Anaheim must match energy

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. Game 4 of the Western Conference Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators is Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news. Here is the playoff news for Thursday:

 

3:30 p.m.
Ducks look to even series in Nashville

The Anaheim Ducks are hoping to end the Nashville Predators' home winning streak and even the Western Conference Final in Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Ducks trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 after allowing two goals in the third period of a 2-1 loss in Game 3 on Tuesday. Anaheim is 4-2 on the road in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and would regain home-ice advantage with a win. The Ducks are confident they can rebound, according to staff writer Tim Campbell.

Video: The NHL Tonight crew previews NSH-ANA for game 4

Correspondent Robby Stanley has projected line combinations and more in his 5 keys to Game 4.

The Predators, who have yet to trail in a series this postseason, are 6-0 at home and have won 10 straight home playoff games dating to last year. It is the longest such playoff streak since the Detroit Red Wings won 10 straight home postseason games from 1997 to 1998.

Columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika reported after the morning skate how right wing Viktor Arvidsson has played a big role in the success of the Predators.

 

1:00 p.m.
Nashville's defense driving its offense

The Nashville Predators lead the NHL with 36 points from defensemen in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, generating a League-high 36.7 percent of their points from the position.

Leading the way are Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, who have each scored 10 points to set a record for most points in a single postseason by a Predators defenseman. They are tied for second among defensemen in scoring behind Erik Karlsson (14) of the Ottawa Senators. P.K. Subban is tied for fourth with eight points (one goal, seven assists) and Mattias Ekholm is tied for seventh with seven points (all assists). 

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm3: Josi buries PPG for late lead

Even third-pair defenseman Yannick Weber, who averages 11:11 of ice time and has no points in 13 games for the Predators, has been driving possession.

[ RELATED: Fantasy picks for Game 4s of ANA-NSH, PIT-OTT ]

Nashville has controlled 56.36 percent of shot attempts when Weber is on the ice, which ranks third among NHL defensemen with at least seven games played in the playoffs.

Game 4 of the Western Conference Final between the Predators and Anaheim Ducks is Thursday at Bridgestone Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Nashville has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

 

11:00 a.m.
Predators look to continue magical run at home

Music City will be loud and proud once again when the Nashville Predators host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Predators are 10-3 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and 6-0 at home. They have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Nashville has a 10-game home winning streak dating to Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference First Round against Anaheim. Nashville won that series in seven games.

As columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika points out, the Predators have been playing with a "dog-on-a-bone mentality" against Anaheim, and it's worked in their favor.

The Ducks need to match the energy level of the Predators in order to have any success in Game 4, according to staff writer Tim Campbell.

Staff writer Lisa Dillman caught up with former St. Louis Blues coach Davis Payne, who explained in his analysis for NHL.com how Anaheim needs to do a better job in the faceoff circle.

 

9:30 a.m.
Senators step up

The Ottawa Senators are underdogs no more.

In one of the most dominating performances of the entire 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Senators, viewed by many as having little chance against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final, scored four goals in the first 12:52 to win Game 3. It was the fourth straight win at Canadian Tire Centre in the postseason for the Senators, who have scored 16 goals in their past three home games. The Senators lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is Friday in Ottawa.

Video: Sens use strong 1st to down Pens in Game 3, 5-1

 

Here is look at what happened Wednesday:

Ottawa Senators 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 1

Mike Hoffman, Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Zack Smith scored in the first period to chase Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Methot, Brassard and Smith scored in a span of 2:18, breaking the previous Senators record of 4:00 for three fastest goals, set in Game 1 of the 2002 Conference Semifinals at the Toronto Maple Leafs. The NHL record for fastest three goals by one team in the postseason is 23 seconds, set by the Maple Leafs in Game 2 of the 1979 Preliminary Round against the Atlanta Flames.

Matt Murray, who helped lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup last season but was injured in warmups before Game 1 of the first round, replaced Fleury and made his first appearance this postseason.

NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti takes a look at where the Penguins go from here in goal.

Staff writer Amalie Benjamin has the story from the Ottawa side.

Here are some things we learned on Day 35 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Blowouts work too

The Senators have gotten this far on the strength one-goal games, winning again and again in tight contests. Ottawa is 8-3 in one-goal games and 6-1 in overtime in this year's playoffs. But the Senators proved they can blow out opponents as well, scoring five goals against the Penguins on Wednesday. The offensive gap between the Senators and the Penguins isn't even all that big anymore, with the Penguins having scored 44 goals in the playoffs and the Senators scoring 41, each in 15 games.

Don't sleep on Marc Methot

The veteran defenseman has been self-deprecating throughout the playoffs about his offensive abilities; he didn't score a goal in 68 regular-season games. But he's been a very useful piece for the Senators as Erik Karlsson's partner, and he's even added a bit of offense. Methot scored his second goal of the playoffs on Wednesday, this one against the team and the player (Sidney Crosby) who had shattered his finger in a game on March 23. As coach Guy Boucher said, "Because Erik gets a lot of attention and some other guys get attention because of their offensive prowess, he's one of those guys that falls under the radar." But Methot wasn't under the radar in Game 3.

Goalie controversy in Pittsburgh?

Fleury or Murray? With Penguins coach Mike Sullivan opting to pull Fleury at 12:52 of the first period of Game 3 after he had given up four goals on nine shots, there's now a question as to who will start Game 4. It could be Fleury, who has started every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or it could be Murray, the now-healthy goalie who took the Penguins to last year's Stanley Cup and who relieved Fleury in the first period. After the game, Sullivan was mum on his plans for Game 4 on Friday.

Penguins could be in trouble

It was widely assumed that the Penguins would roll over the Senators in the Eastern Conference Final, the third consecutive series in which the Senators have been underestimated. But with the Penguins missing several key players with injuries (Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Justin Schultz, though Daley returned for Game 3), that may not be the case. So are the Penguins in trouble with the Senators needing only two more wins to make the Stanley Cup Final? How the Penguins handle their day off -- and their budding question in net -- could answer that question before Game 4.

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