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Road warriors having their way in playoffs

by John Kreiser /
After a one-night interruption, the road-ice advantage in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs was back in evidence on Monday night.

Home teams won three of four games on Sunday. But the guys in the white sweaters were in charge again on Monday, winning all three games to give visitors 14 wins in the 22 games played so far. Home teams have won exactly one game in each of the eight series.

Contrast that to the regular season, when home teams were 687-399-144, a winning percentage of .551.

Road teams appear to be on their way to winning more than half of the first-round games for the third year in a row. Home teams haven't been over .500 in the first round since going 24-20 in 2008-09.

Wrong kind of streak -- The Ottawa Senators' 1-0 loss to the Rangers on Monday extended their home playoff skid to seven games -- they haven't won at Scotiabank Place since beating Anaheim in Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. The drought includes Game 4 against Anaheim, a 3-2 loss, as well as two losses to Pittsburgh in 2008 and three more to the Penguins in 2010 before the Game 3 loss to the Rangers.

The Senators are the fifth team in NHL history to lose seven consecutive playoff games at home. They'll try to avoid a record-setting eighth in a row on Wednesday night.

Monday's game was the first home shutout loss in the playoffs for the Senators since they lost 2-0 to Toronto in Game 3 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was their first 1-0 home playoff loss since losing in overtime to the Leafs in their 2001 postseason opener.

The Senators are hoping captain Daniel Alfredsson will be back for Game 4 after missing Monday's game with a concussion. It was just the third time in Ottawa's 112 playoff games that Alfredsson has had to sit out; the Senators have lost all three and been outscored 10-3 in those games.

Working hard for the shutout -- Henrik Lundqvist's fourth career playoff shutout was the toughest of his career.

Lundqvist stopped 39 shots on Monday in the Rangers' 1-0 victory at Ottawa in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series -- the most shots he's had to stop in any of his four postseason shutouts. His shutouts have gotten progressively tougher -- he's gone from 21 saves in a 7-0 victory against Atlanta in 2007 to 29 in a 2-0 victory against Pittsburgh a year later to 35 in a 1-0 win against Washington in 2009.

Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 2-1-0
GAA: 1.66 | SVP: 0.951
Winning Game 3 should be a good sign for New York's hopes of moving on -- the Rangers are 13-5 all-time in series when they lead 2-1. However, the last time they had a 2-1 lead was in 2009, when they won two of the first three (and three of the first four) games against Washington, only to lose the series in seven games.

Every 25 years or so -- Monday marked the NHL debut of Chris Kreider, who played for the New York Rangers against Ottawa just nine days after helping Boston College beat Ferris State in the NCAA championship game.

Because BC's season lasted until the final night of the NHL's regular season, the Rangers were unable to give Kreider a chance to get his feet wet before the playoffs. By playing his first NHL game in the postseason, he became the first player to make his NHL debut in the playoffs after winning an NCAA title since 1987, when Tony Hrkac played a key role in North Dakota's championship run before joining the St. Louis Blues for three Stanley Cup games.

Third time's the charm -- There's something about Game 3 that's been bringing out the best in the Boston Bruins during the past couple of years. The Bruins won their seventh consecutive Game 3 on Monday night when they edged the Washington Capitals 4-3 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

The B's have won every Game 3 since dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to Carolina in the third game of their first-round series in 2009, and nine of 10 since losing to Montreal in 2004. Despite the run of success, the Bruins are still 51-55 all-time in the third game of playoff series.

Power surge -- Perhaps the most unexpected number coming from Monday's action is the fact that the St. Louis' power play went 3-for-4 in the Blues' 4-3 win at San Jose in Game 3.

Why so unexpected? Mostly because St. Louis' power play was nothing special during the regular season. In fact, the Blues' 16.7 percentage (45-for-270) was just 19th in the NHL -- and St. Louis didn't score three power-play goals in any of its 82 regular-season games.

The Blues hadn't had three power-play goals in a playoff game since they did it in a 6-0 win at Vancouver on April 10, 2003. Perhaps coincidentally, they had lost eight straight road playoff games since then before winning on Monday.

But St. Louis did have success against the Sharks with the extra man during the regular season. The Blues scored five times in 19 attempts against the NHL's 29th-ranked penalty kill on the way to sweeping the four-game season series.
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