Brian Boyle Carey Price

Get your game notes: Habs at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Montreal Canadiens starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight, the Eastern Conference final shifts to Madison Square Garden with the Rangers looking to take a 3- games-to-none lead over the Canadiens. Only one team in NHL history (1944-45 Red Wings) has ever won a best-of-7 NHL semifinal after dropping the first two games on home ice (16 others have gone on to lose the series, six of them in a sweep). In all, NHL teams have trailed 2-0 in a best-of-7 series a total of 322 times and have come back to win the series on 44 occasions (13.7%); teams have won 18 out of 81 series (22.2%) when losing the first two at home. In the 2014 playoffs, teams trailing 2-0 have come back to win three out of seven series (42.9%). The Rangers are 10-2 all-time in series when they win the first two games.

• The Rangers come into tonight having won their last five games by a combined score of 20-6. The five-game win streak is the team’s longest in the postseason since the Rangers won their first seven games of the 1994 playoffs (vs. NY Islanders and Washington) en route to the club’s first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years.

• Dating to the opening round of the 1996 playoffs, the Rangers have defeated the Canadiens in six straight playoff games, becoming only the fourth team to defeat Montreal in six straight in the postseason. The Canadiens have never lost seven straight playoff games to any team during their 105-year history.

• Since snapping an 0-for-36 stretch with a man-advantage in Game 5 vs. Pittsburgh (Chris Kreider), the Rangers’ power play has caught fire, going 7-for-21 over the past five games. However, New York has not scored a powerplay goal on home ice since Benoit Pouliot’s in Game 2 of the first round vs. Philadelphia, and is 0-for-21 since.

• New York has thrived on the penalty kill as well, killing off all 20 penalties over the last seven games, including a perfect 7-for-7 in the two games against Montreal. At 8.4 penalty minutes per game, the Rangers and Detroit have been the least-penalized teams in the 2014 playoffs. Montreal, meanwhile, has allowed at least one power-play goal in four of its last five games, going 13-for-20 (65.0%) on penalty kills during that span.

• Henrik Lundqvist, who will make his 84th consecutive playoff start for the Rangers tonight, has allowed six goals during his five-game win streak, for a 1.20 GAA and .964 save% during the stretch. Lundqvist’s victory in Game 2 was his league-leading 10th of the 2014 postseason – matching Lundqvist’s career high from 2012 – and 40th of his playoff career (40-43 record); with his next victory, Lundqvist would match Mike Richter (41-33) as the all-time winningest goaltender in Rangers playoff history.

• Montreal goaltender Dustin Tokarski will make his second career playoff start after allowing three goals on 30 shots on Monday, when he became the first goalie to make his playoff debut with a start in the conference final or Stanley Cup Final since the NHL expanded to four playoff rounds in 1975. Tokarski is the third Montreal goaltender to play in this series; each has allowed at least three goals in his lone appearance in the series (Carey Price 4 GA, Peter Budaj 3 GA in Game 1). The 1984 Jets (first round vs. Edmonton) are the only other team to have three goalies allow three-plus goals in a game over the first two games of a playoff series. (Elias Sports Bureau)

• Defenseman P.K. Subban leads the Canadiens with 12 points (4-8=12), but has yet to make the scoresheet in this series, in which he has a minus-3 rating, and has no points in his last four games overall. In Game 2, Subban attempted 18 shots: six were blocked by Rangers skaters, three missed the net and nine were stopped by Lundqvist, matching Subban’s career high for shots on goal in a game (reg. season or playoffs). Subban played 29:40 of Game 2, the second-highest total of his career in a 60-minute game (he played 30:33 on Jan. 18, a 5-3 loss at Toronto).

Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

Lehtonen
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Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.

Dupuis, Jagr, Zuccarello are Masterton Trophy finalists

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 18:  Pascal Dupuis #9 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in action against the New York Rangers during their game at Madison Square Garden on December 18, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis, Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, and the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello have been selected as the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

The Masterton Trophy recognizes “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” In 2015 it went to Devan Dubnyk, who struggled mightily in 2013-14, but dramatically turned his career around the following season and led the Minnesota Wild to the playoffs in the process.

Dupuis attempted to play in the 2015-16 campaign while taking blood thinners, but on Dec. 8 he announced that he would stop playing “because of a medical condition related to blood clots.”

Jagr celebrated his 44th birthday in February, but despite his age he managed to score 27 goals and 66 points in 79 contests this season. With that, he became the oldest player to reach the 60-point mark in a single NHL campaign.

Zuccarello played in 81 games and set career-highs with 26 goals and 61 points this season after suffering a skull fracture and brain contusion during the 2015 playoffs that left him temporarily unable to speak.

Can there be parallels drawn between the 2016 Ducks and 2014 Sharks?

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes the puck up ice on a breakaway with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, center, and Ducks center Nate Thompson, right, trailing on the play during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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The Anaheim Ducks might not have suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of one of their biggest rivals, but they seem to have reached a breaking point when it comes to playoff disappointments.

After firing head coach Bruce Boudreau, GM Bob Murray was highly critical of the team’s core, even noting that at this point he’s not a fan of long-term contracts. That was perhaps a swipe at how he feels Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf‘s eight-year $69 million and $66 million contracts have worked out thus far. Meanwhile Ryan Kesler‘s six-year deal worth roughly $41 million is about to begin.

After San Jose suffered its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they were now becoming a “tomorrow team” and they began a cultural shift that included Joe Thornton losing the captaincy.

There are differences of course between the two situations. One notable one is that the Sharks’ guard was already starting to change hands in 2013-14. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were entering their mid-30s, but Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were on the rise. Anaheim’s core of Getzlaf and Perry is significantly younger, but while Anaheim also has some promising forwards like Jakob Silfverberg, that generation of players doesn’t seem ready to carry the torch for the Ducks.

“We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. … Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, per the Los Angeles Times. “In those [previous] years there’s been a sense of hope. Today, there’s zero feeling like that.”

Perhaps the Anaheim Ducks will find hope by watching the rest of the 2016 playoffs. If the San Jose Sharks continue to succeed, they will be an example of a team that once underachieved, hit a critical low, but then managed to fix that in a relatively short time without a massive turnover in terms of on-ice personnel. While we’re at it, you could make a similar argument for the Washington Capitals.

Maybe Murray will look to those franchises for inspiration as he moves forward.

Capitals, Penguins nearly perfect at stopping third period comebacks

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chase down the puck during the first period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.

The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.

“First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.

Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.

Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.