As the Conference Finals continue, we’ll give you a recap from last night’s game and what to look forward to in tonight’s action.
Eastern Conference Final Game 3
Ottawa Senators 5 - Pittsburgh Penguins 1
Senators Lead Series 2-1
Well, we asked for excitement, right?
I’m no mind reader, but I’m going to guess that the Senators fans couldn’t be much happier today, having watched a 5-1 pounding of the Penguins in the first home appearance in Ottawa last night.
It didn’t even take a minute: 48 seconds into the first period, MIke Hoffman snagged a redirect off the back boards and stuffed a tight shot behind Marc-Andre Fleury to break the scoring seal.
Then, for the remaining first half of the period, it seemed like we were settling in for a good back-and-forth matchup. Until a little past the ten-minute mark, when the Penguins had a three-minute stretch Lemony Snicket would call “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
- Fleury unknowingly kicks the puck backwards into the net. 2-0.
- Mark Streit caught sleeping on Derick Brassard. 3-0.
- Fleury is a half-second late recognizing the wraparound from Zack Smith. 4-0.
That was all for Fleury last night. Fleury has had one of the worst regular seasons of his career, in which he posted a 3.00+ GAA for the first time since 2005-06. But coming into tonight’s game, Fleury had shown fairly stellar playoff composure in net like a two-time Stanley Cup goalie should. Everybody has that one night though.
But Matt Murray is in net, and Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin all healthy -- this game is far from over... well, until they still couldn’t earn a second-period goal and Kyle Turris closed out the period blowing by Murray to make it a 5-0 lead.
Crosby would tally his first point of the season, but he got back to the bench, sat down, and gave the most defeated look I’ve seen him have in the 2017 playoffs.
Always next game, Sidney...
- Jake Crouse
Western Conference Final Game 4
Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks
8:00 pm ET - Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
NBCSN and NBCSports app
Nashville Leads Series 2-1
Three Things to Watch
- Home Sweet Home The Predators have won every single home playoff game that they've played thus far. That's six straight at Bridgestone Arena, and the Ducks will look to end that streak on Thursday night. Game four is huge for Anaheim for more reasons than just ending the streak. They're in danger of falling behind 3-1 in this series, and based on how well Nashville has played with Pekka Rinne holding things down in net, that's a death sentence.
- Putting it all Together The Ducks have been fantastic in different areas throughout these playoffs. John Gibson has had great games, the offense has been potent, and they've been able to shut teams down at even strength. If they can put all of that together in game four they'll be tough to beat. In game three, Gibson was marvelous, stopping 38 of 40 shots and holding onto a shutout through 44 minutes, but the offense couldn't penetrate Nashville's defense with any consistency. Look for the Ducks to try to push the envelope on offense tonight with their season on the verge of being on the line.
- Roman Josi It's incredible that more people don't talk about Roman Josi as one of the best defenders in the league. He's an incredible physical presence and talent on both ends of the ice, and he came through with the all-important third goal of game three to give the Preds a 2-1 win. Coming off of the high from game three's win, expect Josi to come out flying again tonight. He can be a real difference maker in any game, both in ways that you notice and ways that you don't.
- Brett Finger