Five things to know about the NHL playoffs

With apologies to NHL betting guru Cabbie Richards for trespassing on his territory, the odds of the Edmonton Oilers moving to the Stanley Cup final appear slim and none – and slim just left town.

With apologies to NHL betting guru Cabbie Richards for trespassing on his territory, the odds of the Edmonton Oilers moving to the Stanley Cup final appear slim and none – and slim just left town.

Of the 202 teams that trailed 3-0 in an NHL series only four came back. Sure, if you’re a fan of Canadian actor Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, you’re telling us there’s still a chance. But beat these Colorado Avalanche four straight, including twice in Denver? Those are bigger pipe dreams than the Keystone XL project.

The Oilers will look to stay alive tonight so they can hear Colorado fans sing All the Small Things at least one more time. The Tampa Bay Lightning, with Ondrej (The Giant) Palat playing hero, can sleep easier knowing they’re back in their series with dreams of a Cup three-peat still intact.

Here are five things to know heading into tonight’s NHL action:

LIGHTNING STRIKE IN THIRD WAS KEY

The New York Rangers came incredibly close to taking a stranglehold in the Eastern Conference final on Sunday, but the Lightning scored twice in the final period and found a way to thrive in a 3-2 game featuring power-play fireworks.

“I wouldn’t say we let it get away because they played really well,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “But we could’ve stolen it tonight and been up 3-0.”

Blueshirts ‘defenceman Adam Fox said the rash of penalties didn’t help the Rangers’ game plan.

“We have a real good power play, but as you can see, so do they,” said Fox. “I think we’re a skill-and-speed team and we play better when the game is flowing and we can play five -on-five.

“Obviously, lost a little momentum at the start of the third (after Steven Stamkos tied the game for Tampa Bay), and just couldn’t get it back.”

RANGER REMAINS OFFENSIVE DANGER

The Rangers’ momentum may have cooled in Sunday’s Game 3 loss, but Artemi Panarin continues to stay hot. The forward, known as the Bread Man in New York, registered his third multi-point game of the playoffs with two assists.

He now has seven points in his last eight games. In the regular season and playoffs combined, Panarin has 111 points, the ninth most in a single season by a Ranger.

COMPHER GETS HOTTER AT RIGHT TIME

After cruising through the first nine games of the NHL playoffs without a goal, JT Compher of the Colorado Avalanche is now making an impression on the scoresheet.

With his game winner in Game 3, Compher has five goals in his last four games and is tied with teammate Mikko Rantanen for the most among all players in the Western Conference final with three. Compher also became the ninth different Colorado player to score a game-winning goal this post-season.

His offense becomes even more important with the loss of point-producing forward Nazem Kadri, who was hit from behind by the Oilers’ Evander Kane in Game 3 and later ruled out for the remainder of the series with an injury. Kane will miss tonight’s game as he was suspended for a game on Sunday by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

HYMAN NOT READY FOR GOODBYE

Some see the cup half full, while others see it half empty. And unless you’re a devoted Oilers’ optimist you see one slipping away.

Not so fast, insisted Edmonton forward Zach Hyman.

“Everybody’s counting us out, so there’s no pressure on our end. All the pressure flips to Colorado. They’re expected to win now. For us, it’s just about getting one and then go from there,” Hyman said Sunday.

“It’s hockey – you’re not knocked out until you’re knocked out. You’ve got to continue to plant that seed of doubt. It starts with one win.”

BANGED UP, BUT AVS STILL ROLLING

Colorado coach Jared Bednar was asked if the loss of Kadri would hurt his squad tonight and going forward in the playoffs. He said there was a time when the Avalanche would lose sleep about untimely setbacks, but believes they’re now better equipped to handle adversity.

“The depth that we added at the (trade) deadline really helped us,” said Bednar, whose team acquired the likes of Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Josh Manson in March.

“Those guys have all come in and made impacts.”

The Avalanche are also playing without top-4 defenceman Samuel Girard and their starting goalie Darcy Kuemper, but the replacements show no signs of quit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2022

Gord Kurenoff, The Canadian Press

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