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Playoff Buzz: Nashville hopes to respond after first loss

Predators host Blues in Game 3 with series even; Oilers can take 3-0 lead against Ducks

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Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. The playoffs continue today with two games. NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news. Here is the playoff news for Sunday:

2:30 p.m.
 

The Anaheim Ducks hope to get their first win of the series agaisnt the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round series at Rogers Place (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). NHL.com Staff Writer Derek Van Diest writes Anaheim needs more from Corey Perry in order to get back into the series.

 

2 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals did not practice Sunday as the Eastern Conference Second Round shifts to the Steel City. The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 2-0 entering Game 3 at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

NHL.com Columnist Nick Cotsonika looks at the Capitals who need to improve most, including goaltender Braden Holtby, who got pulled in Game 2 but will start Game 3.

NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti looks at Penguins forward Phil Kessel, who scored twice in Game 2 and continues to be a difference-maker in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

One of Kessel's goals in Game 2 was sparked by a blocked shot. As NHL.com Correspondent Wes Crosby explains, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will not ask his players to avoid blocking shots, even though blocked shots led to injuries to forward Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Ron Hainsey in Game 2.

 

12:30 p.m.

Game 3 between the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN) could be decided on special teams. The Predators were 2-for-3 with the man-advantage in a Game 1 win and the Blues were 1-for-5 in a Game 2 win. Nashville (2-0) looks to stay unbeaten on home ice in the playoffs and St. Louis hopes to stay undefeated on the road (3-0).

 

9:16 a.m.

Here are some things we learned on Day 18 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Predators aim to rebound from first playoff loss

The series has shifted to Nashville with the Nashville Predators attempting to bounce back from their first loss of the playoffs, one that tied their series with the St. Louis Blues 1-1 ahead of Game 3 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). The Predators have yet to be in this position before but they will rely on the strengths identified in their five-game winning streak in an effort to start a new one, reports NHL.com correspondent Robby Stanley.

One of those strengths has been the play of defenseman Ryan Ellis, who has emerged into a star after the departure of Shea Weber and Seth Jones to create some space on the right side of the Predators defense, writes LNH.com Senior Managing Editor Arpon Basu.

The Blues evened the series in Game 2, but have lost home-ice advantage in the series. But that's not a problem because the Blues have been strong on the road for nearly two months, writes NHL.com Correspondent Louie Korac.

-- Arpon Basu

 

Senators take 2-0 series lead to New York for Game 3

Well, that was a wild one.

After an afternoon game that turned into an early evening game as it headed into a second overtime, the Ottawa Senators left Canadian Tire Centre with a 6-5 win in Game 2 and a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the New York Rangers. 

Game 3 is at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

But before the Senators and Rangers can move on, there is much to unpack from Game 2, starting with hometown hero Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the Gatineau native who scored four goals, including the last three of the game. He scored to bring the Senators within one, scored to tie the game with 1:02 left in the third period and again at 2:54 of double overtime, and he had his teammates overflowing with praise for him and for his game.

Even when the Senators were down, even when they were not playing particularly well, they never panicked. That's what they've done all season, and it was not time to change anything in this game. They remained calm. They won the game.

The Rangers, meanwhile, are left with regrets. They came in as the favored team and head back to New York in a 2-0 hole after being up by two goals multiple times Saturday. That's a tough spot to be in for a team that wants to continue on to the Eastern Conference Final, writes NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen.

-- Amalie Benjamin

 

Sidney Crosby remains at the top of his game

Crosby, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year, is playing at an MVP level again. He turned both games in the second period in this series, scoring twice in 52 seconds in Game 1 to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-0 lead and setting up back-to-back goals in Game 2 to give them a 3-1 lead. He's ripping shots, pulling pucks between his legs on the rush, whipping passes and even dropping to both knees to block shots.

 

The Capitals need Braden Holtby to elevate his play

After being outplayed by Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Second Round and being pulled in Game 2, Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby knows he needs to rebound in Game 3 at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) for the Capitals to climb out of their 2-0 series hole. 

Holtby, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and a finalist again this season, has allowed six goals on 35 shots in the series for a 3.67 goals-against average and .829 save percentage. He gave up three goals 14 shots in Game 2 before being replaced by Philipp Grubauer to begin the third period.

-- Tom Gulitti

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