National Hockey League
<    May    >
S M T W T F S
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31
 
      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                                Wednesday, May 6
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 MONTREAL CANADIENS (0-2) AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (2-0), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning hope to maintain their perfect
 record against the Montreal Canadiens in 2014-15 when they host Game 3 of the
 Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday.
 
 The Lightning were swept by the Canadiens in the opening round of the 2014
 postseason, but Tampa has won seven straight over the Habs since that four-
 game playoff defeat.
 
 If the Bolts can continue their hot streak against Montreal with another win
 in Game 3 they will get a chance to eliminate the Canadiens tomorrow night
 when the clubs meet again at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
 
 After taking all five games during the regular-season series and outscoring
 Montreal by a 21-8 margin in the process, the Bolts have jumped out to a 2-0
 lead in this best-of-seven series by winning Games 1 and 2 on the road. Tampa
 edged the Canadiens 2-1 in double overtime to kick off the series before
 slamming the Habs by a 6-2 count in Sunday's Game 2.
 
 Tampa Bay used an offensive outburst to end a pair of slumps and cruise past
 Montreal in the second encounter of this series. Steven Stamkos finally scored
 his first goal of the postseason and the Lightning struck with four power-play
 goals in the blowout.
 
 Tampa Bay's man advantage was a meager 0-for-25 before Valtteri Filppula,
 Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman all tallied power-play goals. The
 Lightning's four power-play goals tied a franchise playoff record set on April
 23, 2011 in an 8-2 win over Pittsburgh.
 
 "Our power play was hot," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "You can't
 predict when it is."
 
 Kucherov, who scored the double-OT winner in Game 1, finished with two goals
 on Sunday. The 21-year-old Russian has six points (3G, 3A) in his last four
 contests.
 
 Filppula and Stamkos each provided a goal and two assists, J.T. Brown also
 scored and Ben Bishop made 27 saves in the victory.
 
 Stamkos, who was second in the NHL with 43 goals during the regular season,
 halted an 11-game goal-scoring drought in the playoffs when he broke a 1-1 tie
 by tallying 8:06 into the second period. Prior to Sunday, Tampa's captain
 hadn't scored a postseason marker since hitting the net twice in Game 1 of
 last spring's playoff series against Montreal.
 
 "It's not like Stamkos got the 6-2 goal. It's a 1-1 game and a battle. He gets
 you the 2-1 goal," Cooper said. "That's what you need from your guy. You need
 the big goal and he got it for us."
 
 Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert each lit the lamp for the Canadiens, while Carey
 Price allowed all six goals on 24 shots. Price, a finalist for the Hart and
 Vezina Trophies, last allowed six goals in a playoff game in a 6-1 loss to
 Ottawa on May 5, 2013.
 
 "We had opportunities to change the game early and go up by a couple goals,
 but it didn't happen for us," Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said. "It's just
 tough. This is the postseason. You can't give teams that many opportunities on
 the power play."
 
 Speaking about Montreal's lack of discipline, head coach Michel Therrien said
 it "cost us the game and it's unacceptable."
 
 Montreal forward Brandon Prust finished the game with 31 penalty minutes,
 including a game misconduct. After tripping Bishop behind the Tampa goal,
 Prust fought Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn and engaged referee Brad
 Watson in a war of words. The verbal altercation resulted in Prust being
 ejected from the game.
 
 "That's the ref he is," Prust said of Watson after the game. "He tries to play
 God. He tries to control the game and he did that tonight."
 
 Prust's post-game comments earned him a $5,000 fine from the league. The
 player did apologize for his words after Tuesday's practice.
 
 Canadiens forward David Desharnais missed Game 2 due to the flu, but he could
 be back in the lineup tonight.
 
 Tampa Bay forward Cedric Paquette is questionable for Game 3 after leaving
 Sunday's tilt with an undisclosed injury.
 
 This is the third playoff meeting between these clubs. The Lightning swept the
 Canadiens in the 2004 conference semifinals, while the Canadiens returned the
 favor in the opening round last spring
 
 NEW YORK RANGERS (1-2) AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS (2-1), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers entered the Eastern Conference
 semifinals as a considerable favorite over the Washington Capitals, but in
 Wednesday's Game 4 the Caps will be the team with a chance to take a
 commanding lead in the series.
 
 New York is not only the reigning Eastern Conference champions but also
 entered the 2015 postseason with home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs
 thanks to winning the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy since 1994.
 However, Washington has the upper hand in the best-of-seven set, holding a two
 games to one lead after shutting out the visiting Rangers on Monday.
 
 The Capitals opened this series with a 2-1 win in New York before the Rangers
 bounced back to claim the second encounter by a 3-2 score. The series shifted
 to D.C. for Game 3 and it was another close battle, one that Washington won by
 a 1-0 count.
 
 Braden Holtby was tremendous between the pipes, making 30 saves for his second
 career playoff shutout. His stellar outing gives the Caps a chance to grab a
 3-1 stranglehold on the series before the clubs meet back at Madison Square
 Garden on Friday night. The Rangers, of course, hope to tie it up before
 hosting Game 5.
 
 New York is no stranger to playing close games this time of year, as Monday's
 loss marked the 10th straight time the Rangers were involved in a postseason
 game that was decided by one goal. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the
 stretch of one-goal playoff games is the longest streak in the NHL's modern
 era.
 
 The last time the Blueshirts were involved in a postseason game that was
 decided by more than one goal was in a Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in
 last spring's Stanley Cup Finals. New York went on to lose each of the final
 two games of that five-game battle by one goal to miss out on winning its
 first Cup since 1994.
 
 The only goal in Monday's tilt came 7:31 into the second period when Jay
 Beagle's shot deflected off the skate of Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle and
 into the net. Beagle chased down his own rebound behind the net and had his
 shot from below the goal line hit off Yandle before slipping past Henrik
 Lundqvist.
 
 "I was just trying to create havoc," said Beagle. "I tried to wrap it around
 and I got a little lucky and it went in."
 
 Holtby managed to do the rest for the Capitals. He stopped 11 shots in the
 first, nine in the second and 10 more in the third. Holtby's other postseason
 shutout came against the Rangers on May 4, 2013 in Game 2 of the Eastern
 Conference quarterfinals. New York won that series in seven games.
 
 "I felt good," said Holtby. "I was just trying to do my part and the guys
 played a really good game in front of me."
 
 Lundqvist stopped 21-of-22 shots for the Rangers in his 100th career
 postseason game.
 
 The Rangers were more active in the offensive zone than Washington, but the
 Capitals managed to frustrate Washington by blocking 27 shots. Caps defenseman
 Matt Niskanen led the way with a game-high seven blocked shots.
 
 "Obviously we are disappointed that we didn't get a better result," New York
 head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Their whole team is making defensive plays
 that are making it tough for us to get some of our great opportunities to the
 net."
 
 Although he wasn't alone on Monday night, Rick Nash's lack of goal production
 continued for the Rangers. Nash led New York with 42 goals during the regular
 season but only has one goal in eight games during the playoffs. It's a
 familiar pattern for Nash, who has amassed 378 goals over 862 career regular-
 season games but only six in 49 postseason tilts.
 
 Nash said the Rangers need to make things more difficult on Holtby if they
 want to score more.
 
 "We have to take our net presence up a notch," Nash said. "They're so good at
 boxing out, so we have to outwork them to get on the inside. They're letting
 Holtby see everything, so we have to get in front of him."
 
 Nash isn't the only Rangers winger to struggle this postseason, as Martin St.
 Louis only has two assists through eight games. St. Louis carried the bulk of
 the scoring load for New York during its run to the Cup Finals last spring,
 notching 15 points (8G, 7A) over 25 games.
 
 With Mats Zuccarello out since getting injured in the final game of the first
 round against Pittsburgh, St. Louis has moved to the top line in his place,
 playing right wing alongside Nash and centerman Derick Brassard. Zuccarello is
 not expected to play in this series.
 
 This marks the fourth time in the past five seasons that these clubs are
 getting together in the playoffs and it's the fifth postseason encounter
 between the Blueshirts and Capitals since 2009. New York won the two previous
 encounters in 2012 and '13, taking both series in seven games. The only time
 the clubs haven't faced each other since 2011 was last spring when Washington
 failed to qualify for the playoffs.
 
 All told, the Caps and Rangers have met eight times in the postseason and each
 club has taken four series.
 
 
 
 05/06 10:49:15 ET