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Five things to know about the National Hockey League playoffs

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If your team had a Vezina candidate in the net and your offense came in with a dozen goals in two playoff games, chances are you’re pretty optimistic in a Game 3.

But the Calgary Flames are very concerned. They can’t stay out of the box, Jacob Markstrom has allowed 11 goals and they can’t stop or fix Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid. In fact, striker Tyler Toffoli doesn’t even recognize his Flames team that split the first two games of the Battle of Alberta in Calgary.

With the playoff series resuming in Edmonton, Tampa Bay and New York today, here are five things you need to know:

LIGHTNING DOWNPLAYING HISTORICAL CHASE

Jon Cooper is one of those live-in-the-moment, day-a-day type coaches. But with two full days off in the Battle of Florida and the next two games on home ice, the Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss at least thought of becoming the first team in 40 years to win three consecutive Stanley Cups.

The Lightning led the Florida Panthers in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-0 with Game 3 this afternoon. The last team to win three consecutive Stanley Cup titles were the New York Islanders, who won four in a row from 1980-83.

We are in the history books and would go down in history as a two-time champion. It’s not like people do that every day. It rarely happens. But doing three now makes you one of the best teams of the decades, Cooper said.

If you think in generations, that’s the Islanders of the ’80s, and the Oilers of the ’80s, or the Montreal Canadiens of the ’70s. Whatever they call this last decade for years to come, it will be the Lightning. That was what haunted.

FLAMES BURNING HOT AND COLD

Defense and structure were trademarks of a Flames team that led the Pacific Division with 111 points this season. But both were suspicious in the first two games of their intense series with the high-flying Oilers.

Since I’ve been here, we’ve done a really good job of playing our type of hockey, Toffoli said. The last two games here we haven’t really played for our foundation. It’s gone from us.

Toffoli, who won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, said the Flames need to get back to their usual habits to win tonight in the Alberta capital and not go down 2-1 in the series.

His playoff hockey, it won’t be perfect every night, he said. Within a game things happen and we have to stay calm. If we stayed five-on-five, we were in a good place.

McDAVID THE BEAUTIFUL

Striker Evander Kane tried to play philosopher king after his Oilers lost to Calgary in Game 1: If we don’t allow nine goals (Friday), I really like our chances.

Kane, who had a stronger game and an assist for the Oilers in a gritty 5-3 Game 2 win, also said having Connor McDavid on his team increases the Oilers’ chances.

Anyone watching this series, you don’t have to say much, said Oilers forward Zach Hyman. It’s just so obvious. (McDavids) the best player in the world and he pushes himself, and I said it before, when you’re the best it’s easy to feel comfortable because guys are chasing you.

And he is a man who wants to win more than anyone. So you see him pushing himself, pushing our team and those are the results.

McDavid leads the NHL playoffs with six goals and 14 assists in nine games.

RANGERS MUST TAKE RISKS

The New York Rangers need someone to make a big game, score a big goal, deliver in the clutch. Today is the time when they need to make it a series with the miserly Carolina Hurricanes.

Carolina, with 2-1 and 2-0 wins in the first two games, were unspectacular on offense, but they were good enough.

I want more offense from our top players and I’m sure [Hurricanes coach Rod] BrindAmour says the same, said New York coach Gerard Gallant. But they were 2-0 and were 0-2, so we have to find a way to get a little bit more.

New York has a 49-48 lead in shots on goal in two games. Carolina has a 119-113 lead on shots.

They had nine chances (Friday) and we had five or six, so it was a defensive battle, Gallant said. So I’m not going to blame our guys for not creating scoring opportunities. Their boys didn’t have much either.

But the difference between how the top Rangers played against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and how they played against the Hurricanes comes down to risk. New York will have to increase the risk if the Rangers want to extend the series.

BAD BREAK FOR AVALANCHE

The Colorado Avalanche didn’t lose on the road in the 2022 playoffs, but they suffered a big loss on Saturday in a 5-2 win over the Blues in St. Louis.

Colorado defender Samuel Girard will miss the rest of the playoffs due to a broken sternum. He was injured in 1:42 of the first period when he was controlled hard behind the net by Blues forward Ivan Barbashev.

When I look back on it, I mean, it’s one big conspiracy. He’s just catching him in a bad spot, said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. But I thought it was a legal check, to be honest. He kind of goes in with his head, but he has a lot of body there. [Girard] was turned the wrong way, and he went in awkwardly and it was a tough check. Shame, but to be honest, I think it was a legal check.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 22, 2022

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