Cam Tucker

That didn’t take long: Flames goalie Elliott given the hook early in first period

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It appears Brian Elliott was on a short leash. A very short leash.

The Flames goalie was given the hook just 5:38 into the first period of Game 4 after allowing a (very) soft opening goal to Patrick Eaves of the Anaheim Ducks. Chad Johnson entered the game to replace Elliott.

The Flames need a win to stave off elimination and a first-round sweep to the Ducks.

After blowing a three-goal lead that resulted in a devastating overtime loss in Game 3, the Flames had a horrible start in Game 4.

With Johnson into the game, Ducks’ forward Nate Thompson increased Anaheim’s lead just 1:08 later, silencing the home crowd in Calgary.

Blues will be without Paul Stastny for Game 4, as they look to sweep Wild

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On Tuesday, Paul Stastny returned to practise, providing a sense of optimism that he could possibly return to the St. Louis Blues lineup as they looked to sweep the Wild.

However, the official word from Blues coach Mike Yeo hours before Game 4 was that the 31-year-old center will not play tonight.

Stastny hasn’t played since March 21 because of a lower-body injury, yet he still had 18 goals and 40 points in 66 regular season games.

Watch Blues vs. Wild: Game 4 at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBC Sports app

The way this series has evolved over the last week has been one of the bigger surprises of the playoffs so far. The Blues lead the series 3-0 and have held the Wild to a total of just three goals, thanks in large part to the spectacular play of goalie Jake Allen. He’s currently sporting a save percentage of .974.

That has been the ‘X-factor’ for the Blues in this series, which they can close out tonight.

“We’re not fools. We know what’s at stake here,” Yeo told reporters. “We’re focused on our opponent, on expecting a very, very strong game from them, the same way they have every other game.”

Trotz: ‘I don’t think there’s any doubt,’ as Capitals fall behind underdog Leafs

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After back-to-back losses against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals are facing questions pertaining to past playoff failures.

The young and talented Maple Leafs, who didn’t clinch the second wild card spot until the final weekend of the season, have taken a 2-1 series lead on the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals, after an overtime victory on Monday.

Not only did the Maple Leafs win, but they erased a two-goal deficit and got stronger as the game continued, particularly in the third period when on two different, lengthy occasions, they held the Capitals without a shot attempt.

Watch Capitals vs. Maple Leafs: Game 4 on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBC Sports app)

William Nylander had a plus-18 Corsi For rating at even strength, while Auston Matthews was a plus-12 in that category. Both scored their first career playoff goals. They weren’t the only Toronto players with lofty possession numbers. Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner also dominated in this aspect, with Rielly had a pair of assists.

They now hold the advantage over a team favored to win it all this year, after previous playoff disappointments that followed highly successful regular seasons. The history, at least right now, cannot be ignored.

“Until we change the narrative, that’s going to be the question,” Matt Niskanen told the Washington Post. “It’s up to us to change it. You can’t talk about it. You just have to go and do it.”

This loss hinged on a failed five-on-three power play opportunity for the Capitals and a successful power play from the Maple Leafs, with Tyler Bozak scoring the winner, in overtime.

All three games in this series have gone beyond regulation, but this goes beyond the Maple Leafs simply making life miserable for the Capitals.

“It’s not over yet,” said Alex Ovechkin.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” added coach Barry Trotz. “It’s the first team to four [wins]. We’ve got some room here.

“I think, for the most part, we’re in a better place to handle that. We want to create some new ground, just like the Leafs are trying to do. They’re trying to break through. We’ve got to break through. Our resolve’s being tested.”

Ducks roar back to defeat Flames in OT, take 3-0 series lead

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Four games on the Monday playoff schedule, and all four went to overtime.

For the Calgary Flames, this was a devastating turn of events.

The Flames had built a three-goal lead on the strength of a red-hot power play that helped chase Anaheim Ducks starter John Gibson from the crease midway through the second period of Game 3 on Monday.

Stream Ducks vs. Flames: Game 4 on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, USA)

But, on this night at least, no lead in the NHL seemed to be safe, and the Ducks came roaring back for a 5-4 overtime victory, with Corey Perry scoring the winner. Jonathan Bernier, who took over in net from Gibson, stopped all 16 shots he faced for the win.

Ducks defenseman Shea Theodore scored with 49 seconds remaining in the second period, cutting into the Flames lead heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation.

The Flames’ lead evaporated for good within a span of about four and a half minutes in the third period. Nate Thompson and Theodore scored, tying the game and sending it to overtime.

Again, this game had a controversial call following a video review. Thompson’s goal came off a deflection in front, in which his stick appeared at first to be above the crossbar.

Here’s an explanation from the NHL:

At 11:14 of the third period in the Ducks/Flames game, video review confirmed that Nate Thompson’s stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he deflected the puck into the Calgary net. According to Rule 38.4 (vi) “The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick in relation to the crossbar. If the puck makes contact with the portion of the stick that is at or below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed”. Good goal Anaheim. 

The Flames are now on the brink of elimination, trailing the Ducks 3-0 in the series. Game 4 goes Wednesday in Calgary.

Predators push Blackhawks to brink of elimination with comeback OT win

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The Nashville Predators are one win away from sweeping the top-ranked team in the Western Conference coming into the post-season.

The Predators put the Chicago Blackhawks on the brink of elimination after taking a 3-0 series lead courtesy of a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime victory Monday.

Kevin Fiala, who had minutes before been denied on a marvelous Corey Crawford toe save, scored the winner.

Stream Blackhawks vs. Predators on NBC Sports

This game was not without controversy. And it came at a pivotal moment.

The Predators tied the game late in the third period, but the Blackhawks challenged the goal on possible interference with Crawford. It appeared they had a pretty good case, too.

Here is an explanation from the NHL:

At 14:08 of the third period in the Blackhawks/Predators game, Chicago requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Viktor Arvidsson interfered with Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford prior to Filip Forsberg‘s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred.

Therefore the original call stands – good goal Nashville Predators.

Since the Coach’s Challenge did not result in the original call being overturned, the Chicago Blackhawks forfeit their time-out.

The Blackhawks had been shut out in the first two games of this series, but managed to solve Pekka Rinne during a much better second period in Game 3.

But the Predators were a handful most of the night because of their speed, and they managed to win the game on the 49th registered shot on Crawford.