Game threes are vital for many reasons. If you’ve come in two-up, they’re your chance to leave yourself needing one win from four. If you’ve come in two-down, they’re your chance to get yourselves back into the tie.
If you’ve come in level, well, it’s always nice to have a lead, isn’t it?
Minnesota Wild 1 – 3 St Louis Blues (STL leads 3 – 0)
Minnesota won the corsi game again, but yet again came across an on-fire Jake Allen, whose 40 saves helped the Blues move to within one win of round two.
Colton Parayko gave the Blues the lead early in the first, finishing a 3-on-2 from a lovely feed from Patrik Berglund, and while the Wild had most of the first, they never looked like scoring.
Allen was beaten at the 33 minute mark by Charlie Coyle, but the lead was restored three minutes later, Jaden Schwartz scoring on the power play.
That would prove to be the game winner, as the Wild kept pressuring but couldn’t beat Allen (who know has a .974 save percentage), and Alex Steen scored the insurance goal with a little under 75 seconds remaining into an empty net.
Pittsburgh Penguins 5 – 4 Columbus Blue Jackets (PIT leads 3-0)
The Jackets threw away a 3-1 first period lead to leave themselves needing snookers, as a hat trick from Jake Guentzel left the Pens within one of advancing.
Cam Atkinson gave the Jackets the lead after 11 seconds, as they started with serious intent. Guentzel would get his first of the night three minutes later, but the lead was restored two minutes later as Atkinson stripped a Penguin D to be left all alone in front. That quickly became 3-1, Zach Werenski scoring on the power-play.
That lead would remain until the 26th minute, Brian Rust scoring his first of the night, and soon followed that up with the equaliser, a goal scored while Werenski was down, bleeding on the ice, after being hit in the face with a puck. He would return for the third, but didn’t play overtime.
Guentzel gave the Pens their first lead of the night with nine minutes remaining, but Brandon Dubinsky scored with 4:49 remaining to send the game into overtime. Guentzel was not to be denied being the hero, though, completing his hat trick after 13 minutes of overtime.
Montreal Canadiens 3 – 1 New York Rangers (MTL leads 2 – 1)
A goal and an assist from Alexander Radulov helped the Habs ease to a comfortable win in Madison Square Garden, and the chance to close things out in their own rink in game five.
Artturi Lehkonen opened the scoring with a power play goal at 37:37, with third period goals from Shea Weber (on the power play) and Radulov sealing the game for the Habs at ease.
Brady Skjei got a consolation for the Rangers with a little under three minutes remaining, but they couldn’t make further inroads.
Carey Price made 20 saves, with Henrik Lundqvist making 26.
Edmonton Oilers 1 – 0 San Jose Sharks (EDM leads 2 – 1)
A 23-save shutout from Cam Talbot helped the Oilers sneak a victory in California to give them their first series lead.
Yet again looking bereft of offence, the Sharks must be asking questions of themselves by now, as they continue the slump they suffered in the second half of the regular season – even with Joe Thornton back in the lineup.
Zack Kassian scored his second game-winner of the series, intercepting a pass by David Schlemko and beating Martin Jones.
The fun don’t stop.
Senators @ Bruins (1 – 1)
Faceoff: 7e/4p/Midnight BST
TV: CBNC, Sportsnet, TVAS, NESN
Two games where teams have given up leads and lost. Could we see a third tonight?
Mark Borowiecki went down with an injury in game two, and is expected to be missing. Marc Methot made his return, replacing Freddie Claesson, and Claesson could replace Borowiecki.
The Bruins added Adam McQuaid to their injured list on Saturday, leaving them very short on the back end. Brandon Carlo might not be far away, but it’s still uncertain. David Krejci could return.
What the Sens need to do: Play for 60 minutes
What the Bruins need to do: Play for 60 minutes
Reason to watch: Everybody loves a comeback
Capitals @ Leafs (1 – 1)
Faceoff: 7e/4p/Midnight BST
TV: NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVAS2, CSN-DC, Premier Sports
The Leafs are not playing ball in this one bit. This one was supposed to be the most obvious sweep, but they aren’t interested in that. Instead, we’ve had three overtime periods, and the kids are alright.
Nothing new out of the Caps’ camp. Roman Polak did something awful to his leg on Saturday, and he is out for the season, but Nikita Zaitsev could make his return tonight.
What the Caps need to do: Wake up
What the Leafs need to do: More of the same. Maybe try to finish it in 60 this time.
Reason to watch: Have you not seen the first two games?
Blackhawks @ Predators (0 – 2)
TV: CNBC, Sportsnet One, TVAS, Fox Sports Tennessee, CSN-CH
Who had this has 2-0 Preds? No, seriously. Come on. Stop lying.
Nothing new from either camp. Ryan Hartman escaped punishment for his on-the-floor cross-check to the face, so expect no real changes.
What the Hawks need to do: Something. Anything. Wake up.
What the Preds need to do: Keep going.
Reason to watch: It’s rather funny
Ducks @ Flames (2 – 0)
Faceoff: 10e/7p/3 BST
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2, Prime, Premier Sports
After two very close games where individual mistakes have cost the Flames, they head to Alberta, where it could be a very different story. Maybe.
No new injury concerns from either camp. Chad Johnson was fit enough to be backup for the Flames on Saturday, so that’ll likely continue.
What the Ducks need to do: Keep winding the Flames up
What the Flames need to do: Stop being wound up and play their own game.
Reason to watch: As a fan, it’s not been much fun, but I imagine these have been great to watch as neutrals.