05/05/2013 09:51 AM
Sunday, May 5
Sunday's NHL playoff action: What bettors need to know
Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders (+154, 5.5)
Captain Sidney Crosby wasn't shy about expressing concern in regard to his team's play - even though it enjoyed a two-goal lead at the time. That worry proved well-founded as the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins unceremoniously yielded three unanswered goals and suffered a 4-3 setback to the eighth-seeded New York Islanders on Friday. Tied at one game apiece, the Atlantic Division rivals will vie for the advantage in their Eastern Conference first-round series on Sunday afternoon, when they meet for Game 3 in Long Island.
"We want to make sure we bounce back," said Crosby, who scored two goals in his first contest since breaking his jaw on March 30. "We didn't play the game we wanted to. It's just a matter of making sure we're better." New York certainly would like to play better at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders were the lone playoff team to finish with a sub-.500 mark at home (10-11-3).
TV: 12 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN, RDS
ABOUT THE PENGUINS: Marc-Andre Fleury was perfect in Game 1 - but far from it in Game 2. After pulling into a tie with Tom Barrasso for the franchise lead in postseason shutouts, Fleury fell victim to an unfortunate bounce off the end boards - before inadvertently knocking the puck into the net. "It's not normal for the puck to come off the boards like that at Consol (Energy Center), so I've just got to be ready for it when it does and not put it into my own net," Fleury said on Saturday.
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS: Kyle Okposo picked a fine time to drop the gloves for the first time in his career. Okposo lowered the boom on Matt Niskanen, bloodying the Pittsburgh defenseman while igniting his team in the process. "I didn't really think about it," Okposo said of the fight. "You don't go planning those things, but it gave the team a little spark, and that's it." Former Penguin Colin McDonald scored 14 seconds later and Matt Martin forged a 3-3 tie with a goal nearly 5 1/2 minutes later. Okposo capped the uprising with the game-winning tally 12:23 into the third period.
* Over is 3-0-1 in the last 4 meetings in New York.
* Penguins are 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in New York.
* Penguins are 35-16 in the last 51 meetings.
1. Pittsburgh RW James Neal briefly skated with the team in practice on Saturday before leaving the ice. Neal is nursing a lower-body injury.
2. After being held without a shot in his team's series-opening 5-0 loss, Islanders C John Tavares made his presence felt in Game 2. Tavares unleashed a team-high six shots, picked up an assist and won 15-of-24 faceoffs.
3. Pittsburgh is 5-2 all-time in the third game of series under coach Dan Bylsma.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild (+144, 5)
Chicago leads series 2-0.
The Presidents’ Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks are rounding into form after two games of their Western Conference first round series against the eighth-seeded Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks will attempt to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the series when they visit Minnesota on Sunday. Chicago looked much more comfortable in its 5-2 victory in Game 2 than it did in Game 1’s 2-1 overtime triumph, firing 48 shots at Wild netminder Josh Harding on Friday after managing 37 on Tuesday. Patrick Sharp scored twice in Game 2 on feeds from Patrick Kane, who leads the Blackhawks with three points - all assists.
Harding made consecutive starts for the first time in over a year when he got the nod on Friday. Harding was dealing with complications related to his multiple sclerosis for most of the season, leaving Niklas Backstrom to carry starting duties for the Wild. After appearing fatigued in April, Backstrom injured his leg while warming up for Game 1 and is considered day-to-day. Harding has performed admirably in his first two career playoff starts for an outmatched Minnesota team that is 0-for-6 on the power play while allowing a short-handed goal in its first two playoff contests since 2008.
TV: 3 p.m. ET, CBC, NBC, RDS
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS: Michael Frolik also scored twice on Friday - the first two-goal playoff game of his career. Bryan Bickell scored an empty-netter in Game 2, giving him the final goal in each of the first two contests after ending Game 1 in overtime. With Ray Emery suffering from a lower-body injury, Corey Crawford has started both games for Chicago and performed well aside from allowing an early goal on Tuesday and two late ones on Friday. Crawford has never won a playoff series, starting every game in both of the Blackhawks’ first-round exits over the last two seasons, while Emery guided the Ottawa Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup final but has only started five postseason games since. Dave Bolland has missed the first two games of the series with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
ABOUT THE WILD: Defenseman Ryan Suter saw his ice-time drop substantially from the 41:08 he played in Tuesday’s overtime loss, skating 24:36 in Game 2 and finishing minus-2 with two shots, two blocked shots and three hits. Zach Parise led the team with seven shots on Friday but has yet to record a point. Captain Mikko Koivu - also without a point in the first two games - showed his frustration in Game 2, taking three minor penalties and leading the series with eight penalty minutes after recording just 26 in 48 games during the regular season. Defenseman Clayton Stoner missed Friday’s game with an undisclosed injury after assisting on Cal Clutterbuck’s goal in Game 1. Stoner was replaced by Justin Falk, who finished minus-1 in 14:09 time on ice in his first career playoff game. Jason Pominville remains day-to-day with a head injury that has kept him out of the opening two games.
* Blackhawks are 20-6 in their last 26 road games.
* Wild are 1-6 in their last 7 home games.
* Under is 6-0 in Blackhawks last 6 road games.
* Blackhawks are 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
1. Minnesota is 3-5-1 in its last nine home games against Chicago and all three victories came in the shootout. The last time the Wild defeated the Blackhawks in regulation at home was Oct. 27, 2008.
2. Blackhawks captain and 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Toews has been held off the scoresheet in both games thus far. Toews has 50 points in 54 career postseason contests.
3. The Wild’s last home playoff victory was a 3-2 overtime triumph on April 11, 2008 against the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota won its last postseason contest three days later at Colorado by the same margin.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators (-133, 5)
Series tied 1-1.
The Ottawa Senators were the league's best penalty-killing team during the regular season, but the Montreal Canadiens did the better work while shorthanded in Game 2 to deadlock the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series at 1-1. The series shifts to Ottawa for Game 3 on Sunday night, and the Senators will look to ride reclaim the momentum from Montreal, which killed off all four penalties - three in the first period - en route to a 3-1 victory on Friday night.
The Senators were also among the best home teams for much of the season, but they dropped their final three games at Scotiabank Place. Conversely, the Canadiens posted the second-best road mark (15-7-2) in the Eastern Conference. The devastating hit by Ottawa's Eric Gryba on Canadiens center Lars Eller added an edge to the series, and Montreal displayed an added tenacity in Game 2 despite the absences of injured captain Brian Gionta and leading scorer Max Pacioretty. "They played harder than we did for most of the game," Senators coach Paul MacLean acknowledged.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports, CBC, RDS
ABOUT THE CANADIENS: Montreal coach Michel Therrien said prior to the series that he expected goaltender Carey Price to be his team's best player. That certainly was not the case in the series opener, but Price bounced back strong in Game 2 despite losing a tooth when he took a skate to the mask. He did his best work during an Ottawa power play during the second period and was rewarded seconds later when the Canadiens struck for a two-goal edge. "We got a couple more bounces and we buried a couple of opportunities," Price said. "At least I didn't let in any soft goals, so that helps."
ABOUT THE SENATORS: Ottawa was among the league's most offensively challenged teams and ranked 20th on the power play. The Senators have gone 0-for-6 with the extra skater in the series and failed on three first-period chances in Game 2. "We could have used something out of our power play tonight in the first period when we had three opportunities," MacLean said afterward. "I think that was a huge part of the game." Ottawa had been hoping to exploit a Canadiens penalty-killing unit that was wretched down the stretch of the regular season, allowing opponents to convert on 11-of-36 man-advantage chances.
* Canadiens are 1-4 in their last 5 games following a win.
* Under is 34-12-10 in Senators last 56 overall.
* Senators are 6-13 in their last 19 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Home team is 8-1 in the last 9 meetings.
1. The Senators won both matchups in Ottawa this season - 5-1 on Jan. 30 and 2-1 in a shootout on Feb. 25.
2. Gionta and Pacioretty accompanied the team to Ottawa but remain questionable with upper-body injuries.
3. Gryba said Saturday that he was "disappointed" with his two-game suspension and said he has yet to reach out to Eller, who was released from the hospital on Friday.
Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks (-143, 5)
San Jose leads series 2-0.
After seizing the first two games on the road, the San Jose Sharks have to be feeling pretty confident as they return to HP Pavilion. Sixth-seeded San Jose, which posted a 17-2-5 mark at home in the regular season, will look to claim a commanding advantage over the Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks when the teams reconvene for Game 3 on Sunday night. Patrick Marleau scored the tying goal with 56 seconds remaining in the third period before former Canuck Raffi Torres tallied 5:31 into overtime as the Sharks skated to a 3-2 victory over third-seeded Vancouver on Friday.
With six consecutive home postseason losses on their mind, the Canucks are likely thrilled to be leaving British Columbia in their rear-view mirror. They'll need to gain at least a split in their trip to San Jose in order to return home for Game 5 on Thursday. "We deserved better and it didn't fall that way," said Vancouver's Ryan Kesler, who scored twice in the third period. "You've got to win four and there are plenty of games left and we need to go on a winning streak here."
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports, TSN, RDS
ABOUT THE CANUCKS: While goaltender Roberto Luongo often receives scrutiny, captain Henrik and Daniel Sedin are also coming under fire for their lack of production in the first two games. “You win because you’re getting contributions from everybody and, right now, we need that," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "The twins worked hard, but 5-on-5 they need to find the scoresheet, and they know that more than anybody else." The Sedins each received an assist on Kesler's power-play goal for their lone point of the series.
ABOUT THE SHARKS: Torres barely let Friday's winning goal settle in before he began thinking about Sunday's tilt. "They're going to come at us with everything in Game 3," he said. Marleau certainly hasn't been holding back after scoring in both games this series. The veteran has secured at least one point in all seven career playoff games versus Vancouver. Brent Burns notched a pair of assists for the second time in three contests.
* Canucks are 0-4 in their last 4 overall.
* Sharks are 9-1 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 15-5-3 in Canucks last 23 vs. Western Conference.
* Under is 3-0-1 in the last 4 meetings in San Jose.
1. The last time San Jose claimed a 2-0 advantage by winning a pair of road games was 1995. The Sharks were blasted 9-2 by Calgary in Game 3, but regained their composure to outlast the Flames in seven games.
2. Vancouver G Cory Schneider, who has been nursing an undisclosed "body" injury, traveled with the team to San Jose. "On the trip and day-to-day," Vigneault said.
3. San Jose C Tommy Wingels registered a game-high eight hits in just 13:30 of ice time in Game 2. Wingels also matched Burns with five shots on goal.
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