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Three Game 3s on Tuesday slate

by Adam Schwartz /

Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars hope to take a commanding 3-0
lead in their Western Conference semifinal series against  Joe Thornton and the Sharks tonight at the American Airlines Center.
A trio of Stanley Cup Playoff series shift their venue Tuesday night as the second round starts to heat up.

At 7 p.m., the New York Rangers look to cut the Pittsburgh Penguins’ series lead in half, while a half-hour later, the Dallas Stars look to take a commanding 3-0 lead at America Airlines Center. At 10 p.m., the Avalanche will seek their third home win in four playoff games against the Detroit Red Wings.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

* Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin, who is one of just seven players to record at least 10 points this playoff season, has six goals and four assists for 10 points in 10 combined regular-season and playoff games against the Rangers this season. Malkin, who had two three-point games against the Ottawa Senators in the first round, leads the team with 11 missed shots, but is second among Penguins with 28 shots on net.

* Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi, who is typically known as a defensive defenseman, has three assists in six playoff games. Scuderi, who had just five assists in 71 regular season games, is tied for second in the League with a plus-6 rating in the playoffs.

* After totaling three goals and three assists for six points and a plus-3 rating in the first round, Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky has no points and a minus-2 rating in the first two games of the second round. Dubinsky, who was second among Eastern Conference rookies during the regular season with 40 points, averaged 14:29 of ice time per game in the regular season, but is averaging 18:04 per game during the playoffs.

* Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival, who leads the team with an average of 24:26 of ice time per game, had three of his four playoff assists in Game 1 against the Penguins. Excluding Game 1 against Pittsburgh, Rozsival has one goal and one assist for two points in seven playoff games this season.

* After recording four goals and four assists for eight points and a plus-2 rating in his first five playoff games, San Jose left wing Ryane Clowe has no points and a minus-4 rating in his last four games. Clowe, whose favorite team growing up was the Montreal Canadiens, has a minus-5 rating in 21 career playoff games.

* Sharks center Torrey Mitchell, who had a faceoff winning percentage of 49.4 in the regular season, is fourth in the League with a 58.8-percent success rate in the playoffs. Mitchell, selected in the fourth round in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, has a minus-5 rating in 10 combined regular-season and playoff games against the Stars.

* Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov returned Sunday for Game 2 against the Sharks and assisted Modano’s game-winning power-play goal after missing the Stars’ last 40 combined regular-season and playoff games with a foot injury and hernia surgery. Zubov, who won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and the Stars in 1999, has been a minus player in just three of 13 playoff seasons.

* Dallas center Mike Modano, who holds franchise playoff records for games played (164), goals (57), assists (84) and points (141), has four goals and four assists for eight points while playing more than 20 minutes in three of Dallas’ eight playoff games.

* Detroit right wing Johan Franzen, who Steve Yzerman nicknamed “Mule,” has multiple points in three of his last four playoff games, including a hat trick Saturday in Game 2 against the Avalanche. Franzen, who had just one assist in four regular season games against Colorado, has six points in the first two games in this series.

* The Red Wings, who have not lost a game at the Joe Louis Arena this playoff season, lost two out of three games in Nashville against the Predators in the last series. Detroit, which had the second-best road record during the regular season at 25-12-4, has just allowed one road power-play goal in the playoffs.

* Colorado defenseman Kurt Sauer, who played at least 23 minutes in the final two games in the first round against the Minnesota Wild, has not played more than 17 minutes in the first two games against Detroit. Sauer, originally selected No. 88 overall by the Avalanche in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, didn’t play for Colorado until being traded back to them by the Anaheim Ducks in 2004.

* After totaling three goals and two assists for five points in his first five games of the playoffs, Colorado left wing Andrew Brunette has no points and a minus-4 rating in his last three games. Brunette, who has been past the second round of the playoffs just once in his career, has scored more than three goals just once in a playoff season.
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