Every night during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’ll give you Three Things To Track for each game that night.
Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (MTL leads 2-1)
7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- 3-1 or 2-2? It's a pivotal fourth game tonight in this series between the Canadiens and the Rangers tonight in Manhattan as the Blueshirts look to even the series. We'll be going back to Montreal for game five, but tonight's result will be huge for setting the tone for the rest of the series. The Rangers need to find a way to win on home ice, where they've lost their last six home playoff games, or else they'll be facing elimination on Thursday in front of a raucous Bell Centre crowd.
- Can Montreal Continue to Dominate Possession? The Canadiens have absolutely rolled the Rangers in this series when it comes to controlling the puck. Montreal's 5-on-5 corsi share in this series sits at 55.6%, which is second among all playoff teams. Further, the Habs have been dominating in terms of shot quality too, as their expected goals share is even better at 61.4%. This comes as no surprise from New York's end, as the Rangers have struggled in these regards all season, but it's imperative that they improve their play in front of Henrik Lundqvist.
- Is a Price Shutout Looming? Carey Price has been fantastic in this series, posting save percentages of .967, .921, and .952 sequentially in the first three games. He's yet to pitch a shutout, though. One has to assume that may be coming soon. With the Rangers mustering just four goals in their last six playoff games at MSG, tonight may be the perfect storm for Price to come through with a blanking that would put this series nearly out of reach. -Kyle Morton
Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets (PIT leads 3-0)
7:30 p.m. ET, CNBC
- Hockey players are tough. They're also crazy: 19-year-old rookie Zach Werenski had already established himself as a core player for the Blue Jackets with a Calder-worthy performance during the regular season. In Game 3, he evolved into legendary status after stopping a Phil Kessel shot at point blank range with his face, returning to the ice in the third period until swelling forced his right eye shut, and posting a selfie of his mangled mug after the game. Unfortunately, that was the end of his playoff performance, after it was revealed he suffered a facial fracture. Head coach John Tortorella called Werenski “inspirational” and “probably our best player”, and the Jackets’ challenge to overcome a 3-0 deficit gets exponentially tougher with him out of the lineup.
- Jake is great: Jake Guentzel has appeared seemingly out of nowhere to become a hero for the Penguins. Drafted 77th overall in 2013, 11 spots after a defenseman named Brett Pesce, the rookie forward had a great regular season, scoring 33 points (16g, 17a) in 40 regular season games. Dating back to March 31, Guentzel has 13 points (9g, 4a) in eight games, including back-to-back game-winning goals.
- Don't get the brooms out just yet: If anyone knows what's possible when trailing 0-3 in a series, it's Columbus forward Scott Hartnell. His Flyers overcame a 3-0 series deficit and a 3-0 hole in Game 7 to defeat the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in 2010. The last time the Penguins swept a series was...eh, never mind, let's not go there. The Blue Jackets proved in Game 3 that they could start on time and dominate early. Now if they can weather the inevitable pushback from the Penguins, they may live to see another day. -Jamie Kellner
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks (EDM leads 2-1)
10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Solving the Talbot Puzzle: Cam Talbot has been unbeatable this series, allowing just three goals on 83 shots. In addition, the Oilers have blocked another 58 shots through three games. If the Sharks are going to find a way to the next round, they will have to find a way to get a few pucks past Talbot starting tonight. On the other hand, Edmonton will strive to continue playing the kind of defense they have been in front of their hot goaltender, including continuing to be especially good on the penalty kill. Despite leading all playoff teams in times shorthanded with 14, the Oilers have allowed just one power play goal.
- Sharks stars need to shine: When Marc-Edouard Vlasic is your leading point producer through three games, you are probably in trouble offensively. Not to say that Vlasic isn't a good player, but Logan Couture, Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau have combined for zero points for the Sharks through three games. Burns and Couture both averaged over a point per game last season in 24 playoff games.
- Pivotal Game 4: Tonight is a huge game between the two teams which will push the series one way or another. The Sharks have been teetering over the last couple months with their consistency, and if they lose tonight to go down 3-1, it will be a task to win three games in a row with two of those coming on he road. The Oilers appear to be playing some of their best hockey of the season defensively, even if they haven't lit the house on fire offensively in this series. If they can put together another win tonight, they will feel good about their chances in three elimination games, with two coming in front of their home crowd. -Kevin LeBlanc