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Playoff Buzz: Travel day for Predators-Blackhawks

Nashville far from satisfied, Chicago mulls changes; New York wants to use MSG to its advantage against Canadiens

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 Saturday with four games, including two that went to overtime, one of them going double 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 Saturday. Here is the playoff news for Sunday:

 

7:15 p.m.

It was a travel day for the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators on Sunday, the day after Nashville won 5-0 in Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round series at United Center.

Game 3 is Monday at Bridgestone Arena (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN1, TVA Sports, FS-TN, CSN-CH). The Predators lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.

But the Predators are far from satisfied, even after outscoring the Blackhawks 6-0 in the two games. And there are plenty of reasons to be concerned, says NHL.com correspondent Robby Stanley.

The Predators need look no further back than the first round last season. Nashville won the first two games against the Anaheim Ducks, then lost three of the next four to set up a Game 7, which they won to advance. Plus, the Predators know they face a dangerous team, a veteran team, a team that was the best in the Western Conference this season and has won the Stanley Cup three times in the past six years.

NHL.com Director of Editorial Shawn Roarke was at the airport in Nashville Sunday afternoon for the Predators' welcome-home party, which was a celebration not just of the series lead, but what the Predators mean to the tight-knit, enthusiastic hockey base here.

For the Blackhawks, Sunday was a day of reflection and, to a degree, anger, reports NHL.com correspondent Brian Hedger.

The Blackhawks are not happy with the way they have played and understand their fans are frustrated. Hedger also says Chicago coach Joel Quenneville may be considering a change or two to the lineup for Game 3.

Saturday, in the aftermath of the loss, the Blackhawks core players took the heat for the loss and the hole they are in. Roarke looks at what captain Jonathan Toews, forward Patrick Kane and goalie Corey Crawford had to say.

 

5:18 p.m.
Setting up the night

Two games left on the Sunday schedule, with the Rangers trying to find their home-ice mojo against the Canadiens, and the Sharks hoping for a Jumbo addition to their lineup.

Let's get right to the news of the day:

Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, MSG) -- Home ice hasn't been much of an advantage lately for the Rangers, but the players told NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen that storyline ended when the regular-season did. The Canadiens will go with Alex Galchenyuk at third-line center. Deputy managing editor Brian Compton has the full lineups for both teams and more in his Five Keys for Game 3.

Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCS CA) -- Sharks center Joe Thornton went through his regular day-of-game routine, so there's a chance he plays Sunday, according to staff writer Tim Campbell. Correspondent Eric Gilmore has more news, notes and projected lineups in his Five Keys to Game 3.

 
5:18 p.m. ET
Thornton a possibility for Sharks

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton skated for 10 minutes prior to most of his teammates taking the ice Sunday morning, returning to his normal game-day routine, according to staff writer Tim Campbell.

Thornton has not yet played in the Western Conference First Round series against the Edmonton Oilers but said he wants to take the pregame warmup before Game 3 at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCS CA). The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1.

Thornton's status and the Oilers' desire to cut down on the number of penalties they've taken in the first two games are two of the prominent items in correspondent Eric Gilmore's Five Keys to Game 3, which also includes projected lineups for each team.

 
4:31 p.m.
Penguins-Blue Jackets ready to go for Game 3

Correspondent Craig Merz breaks down the Five Keys to Game 3 for the Blue Jackets and Penguins at Nationwide Arena on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports 2, FS-O, ROOT).

Among them are how the Blue Jackets replace forward Matt Calvert, who has one of their two goals in the series but is suspended for Game 3, and if the Penguins can continue to block shots at the pace they have in the first two games of the series.

There's projected lineups for both teams. You can read the full story right here.

 
3:30 p.m. ET
Vatanen flying with the Ducks

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen traveled with the team to Calgary ahead of Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series on Monday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2, PRIME).

The Ducks took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series without two of their top defensemen, Vatanen and Cam Fowler. Coach Randy Carlyle said Vatanen will be re-assessed Monday and could return to the lineup.

Fowler will begin off-ice workouts while the team is in Calgary.

Correspondent Dan Arritt has the full story here.

 

2 p.m. ET
Will home be a sweet home to Rangers?

The Rangers are happy to be home, but Madison Square Garden hasn't been all that kind to them this season. They lost eight in a row at the Garden from Feb. 21-March 31 (0-5-3) before winning their last two home games before the start of the playoffs. They say their home woes are behind them, that they're not a concern anymore. Do they believe that or is it just lip service? NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen asked those questions and got some interesting answers.

The expectation is that the Rangers and Canadiens will play a long series, but the winner of Game 3 will have a major advantage. Not only will they be up 2-1 in the best-of-7 series, they'll be one win from putting their opponent on the ropes. NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor Brian Compton breaks down the Five Keys to Game 3 and covers all the news, notes and projected lineups.

 

11:29 a.m.
Setting the stage for Sunday

There's four games on the schedule for Sunday, with the lower seeds now getting their chance to host games.

Let's take a look at what's at stake:

Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports) -- The Blues return home looking to take a 3-0 series lead after two one-goal victories at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota. Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson, who had three goals in 69 games during the regular season, has scored in consecutive games for the first time in his two NHL seasons. Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has allowed four goals on 48 shots, but Blues goalie Jake Allen has allowed two on 76.

Click here for complete series coverage

Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets (6 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports 2, FS-O, ROOT) -- The Penguins outscored the Blue Jackets 7-2 to take a 2-0 series lead. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who had one goal and two assists in a 4-1 win in Game 2 on Friday, has 140 points (50 goals, 90 assists) in 126 NHL playoff games, and ranks third among active players in career playoff points behind Jaromir Jagr (201 points in 208 games) and Marian Hossa (149 points in 203 games). The Blue Jackets have scored two goals or fewer in 10 of the past 13 games, counting the last 11 games of the regular season, and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed 19 goals in six straight losses (0-6-0). Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert won't play after being suspended for one game because of a cross check against Penguins forward Tom Kuhnhackl at center ice with 35 seconds remaining in regulation of Game 2.

Click here for complete series coverage

Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, MSG) -- The Rangers and Canadiens enter Madison Square Garden in a 1-1 series tie. The Rangers were 18 seconds from taking a 2-0 series lead before Tomas Plekanec scored with goalie Carey Price pulled for an extra attacker Friday. Alexander Radulov won it for the Canadiens with 1:26 left in overtime. The Canadiens took 58 shots, the most ever allowed by the Rangers in a playoff game. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made an NHL career-high 55 saves.

Click here for complete series coverage

Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCS CA) -- The Oilers got shorthanded goals from Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid, and Cam Talbot made 16 saves in a 2-0 win in Game 2 to even the series. It was the Oilers' first playoff win since Game 6 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final against the Carolina Hurricanes. Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom, who left Game 2 after blocking a Patrick Marleau shot 8:56 into the third period, did not practice Saturday but coach Todd McLellan expects him to be in the lineup.

Click here for complete series coverage

 

9 a.m.
Super Saturday

After a wild Saturday, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are four days and 16 games old. We've already had six games go into overtime, including one that went to double overtime. We've had four shutouts, including two by the same goalie, and of the eight series, four are tied 1-1.

Here's a look at what happened on Saturday.

Ottawa Senators 3, Boston Bruins 2 (OT) -- The Senators trailed 3-1 entering the third period, but rallied to send the game to overtime, setting up Dion Phaneuf's goal at 1:59 to even the series.

Nashville Predators 5, Chicago Blackhawks -- The Blackhawks have yet to score a goal in two games. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for his second straight shutout against the No. 1 seed in the West.

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Washington Capitals 3 (2OT) -- It may not have been as long as the four-overtime Easter Epic that took place in Washington 30 years ago this week, but the Maple Leafs aren't complaining. Kasperi Kapanen scored 11:53 into the second overtime to give Toronto the win and even the series.

Video: TOR@WSH, Gm2: Kapanen tallies winner in double OT

Anaheim Ducks 3, Calgary Flames 2 -- Ryan Getzlaf scored with 4:46 left in the third period to give the Ducks a 2-0 series lead and their 29th straight home win against the Flames.

 

What we learned on Day 4

 

Erik Karlsson is really, really good

OK, everyone probably already knew this one. But the Senators defenseman, who battled injuries at the end of the season before returning for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, clearly hasn't lost a step. His pass to Derick Brassard for the game-tying goal was the stuff of legends, with impressive vision and skating and puck work. So, yeah, if that play is any indication, you don't have to worry about Karlsson.

Video: BOS@OTT, Gm2: Brassard nets Karlsson's nice pass

The Bruins could be in trouble

In each of their past four games, the Boston Bruins have lost a defenseman to injury in the first period: Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, Colin Miller and Adam McQuaid. It's possible one or more of them could be back by Game 3, but otherwise the Bruins will need to make a call-up from Providence of the American Hockey League, likely Tommy Cross. If no one comes back, that would leave Boston with three regular, veteran defensemen in their lineup, and that includes John-Michael Liles, who played 36 games this season. The minutes are wearing down the players, especially Zdeno Chara. But -- and here's looking at the bright side -- thank goodness for Charlie McAvoy.

The Capitals have their hands full

If the Capitals didn't know it before, they know now they're going to be in for a long series after the double-overtime loss. Washington has not been able to shake the young Maple Leafs in the first two games and have been unable to dictate play through most of the first two games. They have led 3:19 total in the first two games. In that way, they are fortunate to be tied 1-1 in the best-of-7 series.

The Maple Leafs defense is thin

Toronto lost Roman Polak in the second period to a season-ending lower-body injury and Nikita Zaitsev is already out because of an upper-body injury. The Maple Leafs played five defensemen and really leaned on four. Jake Gardiner played 40:34, Morgan Rielly 39:56, Matt Hunwick 35:46, Martin Marincin 30:38 and Connor Carrick 18:44. Zaitsev skated on his own Saturday morning. Can he return for Game 3 on Monday? Will the Maple Leafs use Alexey Marchenko?

Pekka Rinne is the man

Rinne did his best to be humble after posting a second straight shutout. He has stopped all 59 shots he has faced in the first two games, but tried afterward to share the accomplishment with his defensemen, praising them for their ability to block shots and keep the shooting lanes clean. He wasn't fooling anybody. Here's coach Peter Laviolette's response when he heard about Rinne's comments: "He's lying, first of all. There were some unbelievable saves, especially in the third period when the game is 3-0. We know we are in a good spot, but the next goal also is a big goal in somebody's building but there were a couple of huge saves in there."

Video: NSH@CHI, Gm2: Rinne robs TVR, sprawls to deny rebound

Blackhawks need to create a traffic jam

After a 1-0 loss to the Predators in Game 1, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville called for more net-front presence from his forwards in Game 2. It didn't materialize. Now the Blackhawks are in a 0-2 hole and they know if the traffic around Rinne does not increase, the series likely will not go long.

Ducks defense stayed strong

The Ducks, already without No. 1 defenseman Cam Fowler in this series, were hit with another serious setback as defenseman Sami Vatanen was a last-minute scratch because of an upper-body injury. Not many teams could survive the loss of two top-four defensemen, but the Ducks managed to will their way through Game 2.

The Flames can't win in Anaheim

Calgary lost at the Ducks for the 29th straight time Saturday (22 in the regular season, seven in the playoffs), and this one was in crushing fashion as Getzlaf's game-winning goal actually was a cross-ice pass Lance Bouma's skate at the top of the right hash marks and went in.

Video: CGY@ANA, Gm2: Getzlaf nets go-ahead PPG off Bouma

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