NHL Playoffs, Flyers vs. Canadiens, Game 4 preview: Did Montreal regain its swagger?

Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens, Game 4 (preview)

Flyers lead series 2-1

Live on NBC at 3PM ET

Let there be no doubt which team needed to win Game 3 more in this Flyers-Canadiens series. Shots on goal advantages may not always tell the story – after all, Montreal went into that game 0-8 when they out-shot their opponents, one of those stats that slaps logic in the face. Still, though, you can read a least a little bit into the fact that Philadelphia was behind 28 shots to 13 before Dominic Moore essentially clinched the game with a 3-0 goal with 8:27 left in the second period.

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Could it be that the Montreal Canadiens got back its swagger? It certainly must have been a breath of fresh air to see their goal scoring machine Michael Cammalleri make yet another heads-up play in bumping a Flyers defenseman to clear space for the opening goal. His 13 goals in 17 playoff games is a staggering number. It’s the kind of output left to the Habs of yore.

The question must be: will one of these two goalies steal the show in Game 4? Jaroslav Halak is – no doubt – a difference maker in this year’s playoffs but didn’t have to do as much as usual to claim his first win of the series. Michael Leighton already has two shutouts to his credit, but after allowing five goals in Game 3, he’ll get a visit from the “What have you done for me lately?” mob if he lets in several goals again.

No doubt about it, this game is immensely important for both teams. While the Canadiens fought back from a 3-1 deficit against the Capitals, it’s hard to imagine that they really want to put that much pressure on themselves round after round. For Philadelphia, a win would give them a much-needed margin for error.

Stay tuned for more coverage of this game and please stop by for our Live Chat.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Jim Craig doesn’t regret selling ‘Miracle on Ice’ memorabilia

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    –These parents named their baby girl after Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. (ABC News)

    –The  hockey card that helped inspire a Tragically Hip song. (Puck Junk)

    –The fan who promised to get a tattoo of Gary Bettman if LA and Chicago were eliminated in the first round kept his word. (Bardown)

    –Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Sharks and Blues. (Top)

    –Jim Craig doesn’t regret auctioning off most of his “Miracle on Ice” memorabilia. (Yahoo)

    –A Q & A with former Quebec Nordiques forward Peter Stastny. (ESPN)

    –Former Flyers coach Craig Berube breaks down Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. (NHL)

    Hitch: ‘I see the devastation in our locker room’

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    Despite a late comeback attempt, the 2015-16 season came to an end for the St. Louis Blues, as they lost the Western Conference Final in six games to the San Jose Sharks.

    And with Wednesday’s loss, the off-season will settle upon the Blues. It will be an intriguing one in St. Louis, starting with their head coach Ken Hitchcock. He’s on a one-year deal and he has already outlined that he’s fine with taking short-term contracts. But is an appearance in the conference final enough to solidify his place behind the St. Louis bench for next year?

    The Blues have, according to General Fanager, five pending unrestricted free agent forwards, including Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Steve Ott, and most notably Troy Brouwer and David Backes.

    Backes, 32, is the team’s captain and coming off a 21-goal, 45-point regular season, which is a decline from the numbers — 26 goals and 58 points — he posted the year before. Brouwer, 30, enjoyed the best post-season of his career, with eight goals and 13 points in 20 games, and he could potentially cash in on that this summer.

    However, while there are questions ahead for the Blues, the emotional toll this loss took was clear.

    “I see the devastation in our locker room right now. Guys aren’t even able to speak. I’m more worried about our guys right now, to be honest with you. We got some guys that are pretty shook up right now,” said Hitchcock to reporters.

    “I’m not going to talk to them for a day or two. They need their space with each other. They’ve bonded together here better than any team I’ve coached in the last 10 years. They need their time together. They don’t need me interrupting them right now. We’ll talk at an appropriate time. But right now they need to be with each other.”

     

    Video: So, Joe Thornton is pretty stoked about playing in the Stanley Cup Final

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    ‘Jumbo’ Joe Thornton is off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career. The San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

    And yeah, the 36-year-old Thornton, a veteran of 1,367 regular season games with 1,341 career regular season points, is pretty excited for both himself and his team when it comes to this feat.

    It hasn’t been easy in San Jose. It hasn’t been easy for the franchise, for the fans, for the players, for Thornton or for Patrick Marleau, who is also 36 years old and has played his entire career (1,411 regular season games) in San Jose.

    There have been playoff failures and a regular season disappointment last year. There has been a coaching change and harsh words exchanged between Thornton and management — more specifically, GM Doug Wilson — and an organizational decision to remove the captaincy from Thornton.

    After all that, however, the Sharks are four wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.

    Did we mention Joe Thornton is excited about the final?

    Franchise history: The Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final

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    For the first time in franchise history, the San Jose Sharks are off to the Stanley Cup Final.

    This, after a monumental and historical collapse in the first round to the L.A. Kings two years ago. This, after they failed to make the playoffs a year ago, resulting in a coaching change. There have been other post-season disappointments along the way before that, too.

    Those difficult times may never be forgotten. But the Sharks have rebounded, and it culminated with a 5-2 victory over the visiting St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday. Fans at SAP Center could feel it, too, especially after Joel Ward scored his second goal of the night, giving San Jose a three-goal lead early in the third period.

    The Blues attempted a furious comeback but couldn’t quite complete it.

    The Sharks this year have eliminated the Kings, Nashville Predators and now the Blues in that order. They await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.

     

    The Sharks got off to the perfect start in the series clincher versus St. Louis. Joe Pavelski recorded his 13th goal, which leads all players in this post-season, and the Sharks continued to roll from there.

    Ward increased the lead in the second period and again in the third. His second of the night proved to be the winner. Joonas Donskoi‘s goal, making it 4-0 San Jose before the midway point of the third period, proved critical as the Blues tried to spark a desperation comeback.

    The Blues’ leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko (40 goals, 74 points in the regular season) was held off the score sheet through the first five games of this series, before finally striking for both St. Louis goals in Game 6.