Here are previews for tonight’s six games. As always, all start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Florida @ New Jersey
It seems like the Devils just won’t lay down and take their first high draft pick since the days when HBO aired new episodes of “The Larry Sanders Show,” will they? Talk about late to the party. They shouldn’t consult the Panthers for tanking advice, though; Florida specializes in landing in playoff/draft pick purgatory, after all.
Buffalo @ Pittsburgh
Two teams trending up despite missing important centers (Derek Roy for the Sabres, Sidney Crosby for the Penguins) face off in this one. Evgeni Malkin is expected to make his comeback tonight, so it’ll be interesting to see how the talented but struggling pivot fares.
Columbus @ Detroit
Interesting stat: the West’s second ranked Red Wings have a +25 goal differential while the West’s second-to-last team the Blue Jackets have a -25 goal differential. Take a wild guess which team is most likely to win.
Washington @ Tampa Bay
In case you haven’t heard this numerous times already: the Lightning have shut out the Capitals twice in a row right now. Dwayne Roloson hasn’t allowed a goal in nearly 129 minutes against Alex Ovechkin & Co. Tampa Bay owns a five point (and three win) lead over Washington for the Southeast Division lead, as Guy Boucher’s bunch are on a six game winning streak while Bruce Boudreau’s Capitals have lost three in a row.
I agree with Japer’s Rink that it isn’t a must-win game, but considering the cushion the Lightning can build on their epic homestand, it certainly falls in the “would-surely-be-very-nice-to-win” category.
Edmonton @ St. Louis
The good news for the Blues: Andy McDonald is back. The other good news: they’re at home. The bad news: Jaroslav Halak won’t play. The team is called the Blues, though, right? I guess this is to be expected.
Chicago @ Vancouver
Something tells me the Canucks would love nothing less than to make it that much more difficult for their hated rivals to make the playoffs. Something tells me that more than a few stomachs would turn in Vancouver if they drew the Blackhawks in the first round, after all.
You know a playoff series is starting to rev up when teams can’t even peacefully share an ice surface during warm-ups.
The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to draw a red line in the sand between each other before Game 3, with the two sides exchanging a couple bumps and mean looks.
It’s … honestly a pretty amusing spectacle.
You can watch it all in the video above. Perhaps this GIF will fuel a meme or two:
Brian Boyle downplayed the exchange(s):
The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled tough guys Tom Sestito and Steve Oleksy from the AHL on Tuesday.
This move makes a sense for a couple of reasons.
Most clearly, things are getting nasty between the Penguins and Washington Capitals, so Pittsburgh is bringing in a couple of brutes. Each player isn’t shy about piling up penalty minutes, whether that be in the NHL or AHL.
The other reason: with injuries and Kris Letang‘s suspension, Oleksy could provide some depth. Justin Schultz is motivated to prove himself, yet Oleksy provides a little insurance.
Is it the ideal scenario in a big playoff game? Nope, but if brute force ends up being a factor, the Penguins added some muscle.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to take the series lead for the first time against the New York Islanders, who are trying to regain the advantage on home ice at the Barclays Center after a split in Tampa Bay. You can catch Game 3 between these teams on NBCSN (7 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Strome saga continues, will be a healthy scratch for Game 3
Halak practices fully, hoping to be back soon
Artem Anisimov on Tuesday underwent successful surgery on his injured right wrist, the Chicago Blackhawks announced.
“We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks,” said team physician Dr. Michael Terry in a statement.
The news comes eight days after the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round, eliminated in seven games by the St. Louis Blues.
Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in last summer’s blockbuster deal for Brandon Saad, the 27-year-old Anisimov enjoyed the second 20-goal season of his career and fell just two points shy of his previous career best of 44 when he was with the New York Rangers.
He played the bulk of this season on a line with two highly skilled players in Patrick Kane, the league-leader in points with 106, and Artemi Panarin, named as a Calder Trophy finalist on Monday.
In March, Anisimov was named to Russia’s preliminary roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, although the recovery schedule outlined above should allow plenty of time for Anisimov to be physically ready for the tournament when it begins in September.
Related: Three major challenges facing the Chicago Blackhawks, who won’t be champs in 2016