Playoffs tonight: What do they do for an encore in Game 5?

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After a thrilling Game 4, the Bruins and Blackhawks are back in Chicago to see what they can do to top the excitement from Wednesday night.

Game 5: Chicago Blackhawks host Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET — NBC/Live Extra)
Series tied 2-2

Game 4 left all of us feeling giddy about what a fun up-and-down game that was. At the end of the night, Bruins fans were left feeling bummed out after seeing Chicago win it in overtime 6-5, but it’s set things up so the end of the series is a best-of-three and winning tonight is of the utmost concern.

For the Bruins, coach Claude Julien insists they don’t panic in big moments and considering how they’ve handled being down in big games already, you have to believe them. That said, a small change could be on the way to their lineup tonight with Carl Soderberg getting a spin on the fourth line at practice yesterday. If he slots in, Kaspars Daugavins could be the odd man out.

Making a small move like that could help a little bit, but after losing Game 4, Bruins players insisted that tightening up their defense and eliminating turnovers would do them a world of good.

For Chicago, you’d like to think they’ve got momentum on their side after such a thrilling victory, but the questions about Corey Crawford’s glove hand will persist. They’ll have some other things to work through in tonight’s Game 5 as well.

For one, Nick Leddy was buried on the bench in Game 4 for poor play but figures to get back out there tonight. As for Marian Hossa, he didn’t practice yesterday but that’s not an indication that he’s hurt again and expects to be back at it tonight.

One thing to watch for: How Jonathan Toews and Zdeno Chara battle each other. While you have to expect Joel Quenneville to do his part to keep his captain away from their captain, Toews didn’t shy away from engaging Chara.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty says it’s a mistake for Toews to “poke the bear” but Chara was on the ice for five goals against on Wednesday. Maybe just poke him a little then?

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.