Rangers overcome penalty parade, beat Canadiens in OT

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Montreal Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski enjoyed some great moments in Game 4, including stopping Martin St. Louis with a beautiful glove save. His efforts fell short when his teammates hung him out to dry, however, including when St. Louis scored the 3-2 overtime winner.

All three of the Rangers goals came without a defenseman in front of their forwards. Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard connected on breakaways while Hagelin found St. Louis all alone for that decisive tally. Many expected Montreal to lean on goaltending as an excuse if this series started to slip away; instead, Tokarski has been brilliant in the past two games.

With this Game 4 victory, the Rangers take a 3-1 series lead to Montreal.

Penalties galore

The Rangers found themselves in the penalty box early and often in Game 4. Through regulation, six of their seven penalties were taken in their offensive zone. Remarkably, that trend continued in overtime as Benoit Pouliot was whistled for holding the stick just 30 seconds into OT.

The Canadiens didn’t do much with their PP opportunities for much of the night, although P.K. Subban probably silenced some critics with another big goal:

Subban logged a robust 33:16 minutes of ice time in Game 4, but he couldn’t will the Habs to a 2-2 series tie.

The Madison Square Garden crowd was agitated at times on Sunday, which isn’t too surprising considering the fact that the Canadiens received eight power-play opportunities to three for New York.

Still, when you consider Carl Hagelin’s shorthanded goal, the Rangers have to at least feel good about their penalty kill. Teams don’t usually take more than twice as many penalties than they draw and come out even:

Expect plenty of discussion about officiating, embellishment and self-inflicted penalties, whether those debates take place in the comments or in post-game quotes.

An interesting goalie battle

Both goalies enjoyed some great moments, with Henrik Lundqvist robbing Brian Gionta:

Lundqvist might want one of those goals back, but he stopped 27 out of 29 shots to grab his 41st playoff win (tying the Rangers’ franchise record with Mike Richter). While the star power was on New York’s side, Tokarski acquitted himself quite nicely tonight, as you can see from the time that he bested St. Louis:

For all that’s been made about the Rangers’ advantage in net with Carey Price injured, you can make a legitimate argument that Tokarski has been just as good – if not better – than Lundqvist. Regardless, Lundqvist and the Rangers came out on top tonight and now sit one victory away from an appearance in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

Predators survive Blues’ big late push to win Game 1

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The Nashville Predators’ 4-3 Game 1 win against the St. Louis Blues makes it difficult to use “perfect.”

You could get away with using that word, mind you, as the Predators followed up their surprising sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks by going up 1-0 against the Blues in St. Louis. Still, the ride was so bumpy in the third period, it’s probably wiser to focus on the fact that Nashville is unbeaten.

Because, yikes, that third period was a roller coaster for Nashville.

via Natural Stat Trick

P.K. Subban scored a goal and two assists in the first 40 minutes to help the Predators bring a 3-1 lead into the final frame. The Blues absolutely dominated play in the third, however, briefly tying the game as they put immense pressure on Pekka Rinne & Co.

Ultimately, the Predators received a game-winner from an unlikely source in Vernon Fiddler, gaining a 1-0 series edge.

Even so, few will talk about “mystique” after that shaky finish.

For one thing, both Rinne and Jake Allen allowed goals that they’d like to forget. Also, both squads experienced lopsided periods; Nashville dominated shots in the second (15-8) while the Blues almost doubled-up the Preds in the third (11-6).

Nashville also seems likely to play without rising rookie Kevin Fiala, who was hospitalized after an absolutely horrifying crash into the boards.

It was a weird and often wild – sometimes nasty – contest, with the Predators ultimately coming out on top. There’s plenty of intrigue heading into Game 2, which airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)

WATCH LIVE: Second round begins with Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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Update: With both games likely to run simultaneously, note that Ducks fans can watch on NBCSN in the Anaheim market while the game is also available via streaming links below.

In addition to that, Ducks – Oilers is slated to begin on NHL Network.

This tweet explains it in additional detail.

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The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Wednesday, and the NBC Sports Group has you covered with wall-to-wall coverage.

We start with a battle of the hottest goalies in the postseason so far as Jake Allen and the Blues host Pekka Rinne and the Predators. The duo of Game 1’s wraps up when Connor McDavid and the Oilers take on Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks.

Here’s what you need to know:

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks 

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online)

Video: Austin Watson takes a shot at Vladimir Tarasenko

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The St. Louis Blues and their fans showed class in how they reacted to Kevin Fiala‘s very, very scary injury during Game 1.

Still, these are two physical Central Division rivals, so you expect to see some nastiness here and there between the Blues and Nashville Predators.

One moment that will likely divide onlookers came when Predators tough guy Austin Watson got a shot in on Vladimir Tarasenko, at least briefly hurting the world-class sniper.

It’s unlikely to be a big deal since Tarasenko seems to be OK, but there may be some debate here. On one hand, there are those who believe Watson got away with a cheap shot; on the other, some seem to imply that there was some embellishment. Maybe it’s even a combination of the two?

Either way, the Predators enter the third period up 3-1, so St. Louis will likely ask Tarasenko to focus on getting revenge by scoring goals.

Blues just have no answer for P.K. Subban right now

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In the first round, P.K. Subban was dominant against the Chicago Blackhawks, but mainly if you look at “fancy stats.” There’s nothing wrong with two assists in that sweep, but those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers.

You don’t need to dig deep to see his impact on Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues. A mere glance at the box score – or a chance to see his blistering shot – and you’ll realize that the Nashville Predators defenseman has been a nightmare for Jake Allen & Co. so far on Wednesday.

Subban seemingly scored his first postseason goal with the Predators to make it 1-0, but Colin Wilson was actually credited with the tally.

No bother there. Subban gave the Predators a crucial lift shortly after player resumed following Kevin Fiala‘s horrifying injury, getting that first Predators playoff goal with another booming shot.

Subban managed to draw a slashing penalty on Scottie Upshall and also sent another huge shot to set up a James Neal goal. There’s no mistaking that P.K. has played a huge role in Nashville going up 3-1 so far; the Blues need to find some answers, and fast.