Lazar, Hamilton to make series debuts for Flames


The Calgary Flames are hoping an injection of youth can help get them back in their series with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Flames, who trail the Ducks 3-0, are expected to have forwards Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton in the lineup tonight in Calgary. Those two will replace Matt Stajan and Lance Bouma, who will be healthy scratches.

Lazar, 22, played four games for Calgary after getting traded from Ottawa at the deadline. The Flames saw “significant upside” in the former first-round draft pick, and he responded with one goal and two assists in those four games.

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

Lazar and Hamilton are expected to skate on a fourth line with veteran winger Troy Brouwer.

Some pressure now on the defending champs


The Columbus Blue Jackets may be trailing the series 3-1, but they’ve owned the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period.

Last night, for the second straight game, the Jackets jumped out to a two-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes. They went on to win, 5-4.

In Game 3 on Sunday, they held a 3-1 advantage after the first. The difference then was they couldn’t protect it, and the Penguins fought back to take it, 5-4, in overtime.

Stream Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports

Now the series returns to Pittsburgh, where the Pens took Games 1 and 2 despite getting outshot by a combined 28-10 in the first period. If not for Marc-Andre Fleury, the visitors easily could’ve come away with a win or two.

Pittsburgh forward Matt Cullen knows the Pens need a better start in Game 5.

“This is a team, Columbus, that comes out pretty hard,” Cullen said, per the Post-Gazette. “That’s sort of their hallmark. I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job handling that and attempting to dictate that ourselves.”

Granted, the Jackets are still the ones facing elimination, with no margin for error.

But there’s some pressure on the defending champs now. Lose tomorrow at PPG Paints Arena and it’s back to Columbus for Game 6, and wouldn’t that make things interesting.

Colin Miller is ready to go, and the Bruins need a win


Three are still injured, but the Boston Bruins will get one defenseman back tonight, and that’s better than none.

Colin Miller says he’s ready to go for Game 4 against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Miller suffered a lower-body injury in Game 1 on a hit by Mark Borowiecki, who’s since been hurt himself.

The B’s will still be without a trio of regular d-men — Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and Brandon Carlo — tonight. Miller will replace Tommy Cross in the lineup.

Watch Bruins vs. Senators: Game 5 on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET on USA)

It’s a massive game for the Bruins, who don’t want to go back to Ottawa trailing 3-1. A much better start than Monday’s would help. Boston was down 3-0 less than halfway through Game 3, and went on to lose, 4-3, in overtime.

“They really took it to us early on, and it’s tough when you get down,” forward Brad Marchand told reporters. “We were lucky to come back the way we did. But, we gave ourselves a chance, and again, we need to be much better next game.”

Marchand has one goal and no assists in the first three games of the series, with just five shots combined.

“I haven’t been at my best so far,” he admitted, per CSN New England.

The 28-year-old had a career-high 39 goals in the regular season, averaging almost three shots per game.

Penguins say all the right things ahead of potential Columbus sweep


COLUMBUS, Ohio — One more win and the Pittsburgh Penguins sweep their way to the next round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

One more loss for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the best season in franchise history comes to an abrupt end.

The Penguins enter Game 4 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena with a comfortable 3-0 lead. But as much as they would like a sweep, the Penguins know it’s dangerous to bring out the brooms too early.

“I think it’s going to be the toughest game of the series,” Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel said.

Stream Game 4 online here

Pittsburgh knows it will be facing a team fighting for survival in its home rink. Columbus missed a breakthrough opportunity on Sunday night, letting go of a 3-1 lead and losing 5-4 in overtime on Guentzel’s third goal of the game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is taking his usual cautious approach to Game 4 in what so far has been a competitive series despite Pittsburgh’s three wins.

“We haven’t done anything to this point,” Sullivan said. “We haven’t accomplished anything. We’ve got to make sure we approach (Tuesday’s) game just like we approached the first three.

“We’ve got to be ready to play. We’ve got to be ready to win a hockey game. We can’t dwell on the past. We can’t live in the future. We’ve got to stay in the moment.”

The Penguins expect the Blue Jackets’ best shot. And Columbus hopes to give it to them now that its two options are win to send the series back to Pittsburgh or start summer vacation in April.

“There really is no special recipe,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “It’s just do or die right now. We’ve played good hockey. It’s unfortunate we’ve put ourselves in this situation.

“We have a chance to go out and play for all that we need to. I think that might bode well for us where we really have nothing to lose and I think it’s going to allow us to let our game go.

We have a chance to go there and try to make a series of it.”

Foligno and his teammates have to be kicking themselves for letting a win get away on Sunday. After the Blue Jackets roared out to a 3-1 lead after one period, the Penguins seized the momentum in the second and came back to tie, then take the lead in the third and eventually win in overtime.

“It’s the stomping on the throat, as graphic as that may sound, to finish the game,” Foligno said. “Really, that’s what we got away from. In the second period, we let them crawl back. In this series or in the playoffs, when you’re up 3-1, you’ve got to find a way to shut the door and lock it down, and we just didn’t do that.”

The Blue Jackets will welcome back forward Matt Calvert from a one-game suspension, but they will be without standout rookie defenseman Zach Werenski.

Werenski took a puck to the face in the second period on Sunday, left the ice bleeding profusely and then returned for several shifts in the third until he could no longer see well enough to play. The gruesome facial injury will sideline him for the remainder of the playoffs.

That makes the Blue Jackets’ uphill climb even steeper against the defending Stanley Cup champions, but veteran forward Scott Hartnell reminded his teammates Monday that the deficit is not insurmountable.

In 2010, Hartnell played a role in the Philadelphia Flyers’ comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the Boston Bruins to win a first-round series.

“We’re still in this thing,” Hartnell said. “We’ve still got another game to play. I don’t think any of us envisioned this. I thought we deserved a better fate. We’re playing good enough to win. There is a belief in (the locker room). There were good vibes that were positive. We’ll still here and putting on our skates.”

Related: Sedlak to replace Hartnell

Will Buchnevich get his chance tonight?


Head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t commit to giving Pavel Buchnevich his playoff debut, but it does seem likely that the 22-year-old forward will draw into the Rangers’ lineup tonight against Montreal.

Buchnevich practiced with the power play yesterday. New York is 0-for-10 with the man advantage in the series — just one of the reasons the Rangers trail the Canadiens, 2-1.

“Our power play has had quite a few areas where it hasn’t executed so far,” Vigneault said this morning. “When we finished off the season our power play was giving us momentum, and giving us timely goals. I’m very confident that tonight we’re going to turn it around. Pavel there, or Pavel not there, we’ve looked at a couple of areas. We’ve gotta execute, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

Buchnevich was not a particularly big producer on the power play during the regular season, scoring once with two assists in 76:52 of PP ice time. But he’s got the skill and shot to make a difference, assuming he gets the chance.

If Buchnevich does play tonight, it may be on a line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Those three practiced together yesterday, with Tanner Glass taking turns with Buchnevich.

Related: Vigneault vows a better Rangers effort in Game 4