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2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Night 9 Previews, Open Thread, How to Watch

The Penguins get another crack at a ticket to the second round, and could the Preds sweep the Blackhawks?

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Every night during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’ll give you Three Things To Track for each game that night.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins (PIT leads 3-1)
7:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: The Blue Jackets got a bit of it Tuesday in just their third post-season win - and first ever in regulation - in team history. Expectations were high coming off their record-setting regular season, then plummeted when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the first three playoff games and pushed them to the brink of elimination. Missing one of their best defensemen, and with still-shaky goaltending, they were able to dig in to win Game 4 thanks to five goals from five different players in a 5-4 win. Music in the locker room, and a boost of confidence in front of their home crowd, have given the Blue Jackets momentum to carry into tonight's game.
  2. Walk the line: After suffering through a few penalties of aggression and a suspension, the Blue Jackets did a better job of playing between the whistles and targeting their physical play in a more productive manner in Game 4. They went from hitting everything in sight (51 hits) in Game 1 to a more controlled 27 hits in Game 4, and as a result, they spent more time controlling play and giving themselves better opportunities. The Penguins can capitalize on power plays, might as well not give them an unnecessary advantage.
  3. Desperado, why don't you come to your senses? The fourth win is the hardest. The Blue Jackets played with desperation in Game 4 but the Penguins didn't and it cost them a sweep. No one in Pittsburgh wants to see this series go back to Nationwide Arena. Expect this veteran team to pick up the intensity to close things out tonight in front of their home crowd and give themselves a bit of well-needed rest and recovery before the next round. -Jamie Kellner

Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers - Game Four Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens (Series tied 2-2)
7:00 p.m. ET, USA Network

  1. A Pivotal Goaltending Duel: Game 5 between the Canadiens and the Rangers will obviously be crucial in determining the winner of the series. (#BREAKING) It feels like tonight's game will come down to goaltending. In this series, we were promised a clash of elite goaltenders, and we've gotten exactly that. Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price have put up save percentages of .944 and .942 in this series, respectively. Whoever comes closer to those numbers tonight is likely to win their team a big game.
  2. Whither Max Pacioretty? The Montreal captain has been bordering on invisible in this series. He has just one assist as his only point in the four games so far. However, his 19 shots in the first four games suggest a turnaround may be coming in a hurry. Alexander Radulov has carried the load offensively for this team, as his six points are double Montreal's next leading scorer. If the Habs are going to win this series, they'll likely need their captain to bury one.
  3. Offense By Committee: On the New York side of things, as it was in the regular season, there hasn't been one main focal point to the Rangers offense. It's a balanced attack. Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, and Jesper Fast each have two points in the series. Nobody else has more than one. Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller have combined for just two points in four games. That will need to change in a hurry for the Rangers to win two of the next three games. -Kyle Morton

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators - Game Three Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators (NSH leads 3-0)
8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN

  1. Don't Count 'Em Out: Obviously the biggest story in this game is Nashville's chance to sweep the Blackhawks, but they know it won't be easy. After game 3, forward Harry Zolnierczyk wisely noted that "It's still the Chicago Blackhawks — they're not dead until the series is over." Chicago's star power is evident from one glance at their roster, but they even have some history on their side. The last time they went down 3-0 in a series was in 2011 against Vancouver Canucks — a series which saw the Hawks win three straight to force a Game 7 before ultimately bowing out in OT to the eventual Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks. Even with the 3-0 lead, Nashville still very much has its hands full.
  2. I Need a Hero: Regardless of which team wins, it will more than likely take some form of heroics from a player or two to turn the tide. Nashville has had an entire line of heroes in Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg, but it took an unlikely OT scorer in Kevin Fiala to take the win in Game 3. Chicago, on the other hand, has...uh, nobody. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Artemi Panarin, Marian Hossa and a few notable others have a combined two points between all of them. Two goals in three games is decidely not what we've come to expect from the Chicago juggernaut. Will someone in a Blackhawks jersey finally put the puck in the net a couple times, or are Nashville's stars just too hot to outscore?
  3. Can Pekka Keep it Up? As important as the Predators' scorers have been, they likely have no more than one win without Pekka Rinne backstopping. The 34-year-old netminder has certainly looked like "Old Pekka" in this series, stopping 93 of 95 shots across three games. He allowed his first goals of the series in Game 3 as Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane found their way behind him, but he responded with multiple key saves down the stretch to keep the game in reach or tied. Game 4 will require another steadfast performance from #35 in yellow, but if he can deliver as he has so far, they'll be celebrating a series win in Smashville. -Peter Dewar

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers (Series tied 2-2)
10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

  1. Can the Oilers erase the Game 4 memories? Losing 7-0 is sometimes better than losing a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker. We will see what kind of fortitude the young Oilers have in Game 5 after being blasted by the Sharks on Tuesday night. After Cam Talbot was pulled halfway through the game, Laurent Brossoit allowed just two goals in the final 30 minutes of the contest. Talbot will be back between the pipes tonight hoping to erase the memories from his performance in Game 4, after playing stellar in the first three games of the series where he allowed just three goals.
  2. Sharks look to keep the momentum going: The Sharks’ stars finally played like it in Game 4, as Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns combined for eight points . It was much needed, as they had all struggled offensively in the first three games of the series. The trio reinvigorated a power play that had been stagnant, putting four power play goals on the board on Tuesday.
  3. Martin Jones is locked in: After back-to-back shutouts in Games 2 and 3, Cam Talbot was the talk of the series. The reality is, Jones has been just as good. In the teams two loses in games two and three, Jones got zero goal support, so he took matters into his own hands in Game 4, recording a shutout of his own. Jones has allowed just five goals in four games, despite the series being tied at two. He ranks third among playoff goaltenders in both goals against average (1.25) and save percentage (.950%) behind Nashville's Pekka Rinne and St. Louis's Jake Allen. -Kevin LeBlanc