Every night during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’ll give you Three Things To Track for each game that night.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals (Series tied 2-2)
7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Pivotal Game 5: The Caps come home after a big road win to regain home-ice advantage. Teams that win Game 5 when tied 2-2 go on to win the series 77.3% of the time and the Caps have Game 7 at home in their back pocket for a worst case scenario. On the flip side, if the Leafs win Game 5 they would return home and go for the series clincher on home ice, where home teams clinch over 55% of the time.
- All Offense: Despite having a 4-1 lead after the first period, the Caps squeaked out a 5-4 win that was made closer by an Auston Matthews goal in the final minute. Frederik Andersen had his worst performance of the postseason with a .815 sv%, stopping only 22 of 27 shots faced. The Leafs stand zero chance against the Caps if their goaltending stays at that level. That said, it wasn't all good for the Caps either. Braden Holtby, who entered the series with the best career postseason save percentage of any goaltender, also had a subpar performance, letting up 4 goals on 34 shots for a .882 sv%.
- Alzner on the Shelf: The Caps fared decently well without Karl Alzner in Game 4, with Nate Schmidt filling in and playing 19 minutes. Even with injuries affecting the pairings, Kevin Shattenkirk played a career-low 13:30 during Game 4, the fewest of any Caps defenseman, which is shocking due to his normal quality of play and the fact that the Caps made big moves in acquiring him for this season's playoff run. Can the Caps win without a meaningful contribution from Shattenkirk? -Zeke Lukow
Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators (OTT leads 3-1)
7:30 p.m. ET, USA Network
- Out of the (Penalty) Box: The Bruins are shorthanded enough, especially defensively, so the last thing the Bruins need is to go down a man and put their defensemen on a long streak of penalty kills. They can be the Bruiser Bruins if and when they force a Game 6 or 7 and gain some momentum, but this shorthanded and facing elimination, they can’t risk it tonight.
- Marchand Marching: Boston’s regular season leader in goals, assists and points, Brad Marchand has only notched one goal in thsi series, way back in Game 1, and has yet to tally an assist. If he can’t find a way to hit the net, his teammates will once again have to step up, and so far that hasn’t worked in Boston’s favor.
- Senators Staying Strong in D-Zone: The Senators are up 3-1. They have got to protect Craig Anderson, which doesn’t seem like a hard task seeing how much they’ve handled the Bruins offensive pressure. However, even in Wednesday’s shutout, the Bruins forced Craig Anderson into leaps and stretched-out glove saves. Erik Karlsson and Dion Phaneuf need to make good offensive chances, but first, protect the blue line. -Jake Crouse