The Stanley Cup playoffs always showcase the best of NHL hockey. Granted, the best teams typically play the best hockey, but the competitiveness of the playoffs gives a whole new level of excitement to the sport.
Overtime action and late comebacks have defined several series thus far, and there’s reason to believe we’ll see much more of both before the playoffs come to a close. Tuesday’s contests have the potential to provide just that.
The New York Rangers play host to the Boston Bruins in the first of two matchups this evening. The Rangers trail 2-0 in that series, but they are favored to secure the victory and pull within one game on Tuesday night.
After a tremendous Game 3 victory on Saturday, the San Jose Sharks have a chance to even their series with the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings hold a 2-1 advantage, but a San Jose win would mean a whole new look to what has turned out to be a very exciting series.
Let’s take a look at both matchups and break down what you need to know about Tuesday’s contests.
Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Where: Madison Square Garden; New York
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Television: NBC Sports Network
Series: Boston leads 2-0
Betting Lines (per Bovada): Rangers -1.5, Over/Under 5
New York has played much better than its 2-0 series disadvantage would indicate. Despite losing Games 1 and 2 by a combined four goals, the hosts of Game 3 will be prepared to steal one from the Bruins on home ice.
This isn’t the first time New York has trailed 2-0 in a playoff series.
The Rangers got off to the same slow start in the opening round against the Washington Capitals before surging to a 4-3 series victory. New York is a streaky team, and now is the time for it to take off on a quality stretch of hockey.
It took two third-period goals for the Bruins to break things open in Game 2, but that kind of momentum may not be possible on New York’s home ice. The Rangers have the firepower to open up the scoring early and often Tuesday night, and that might be what it takes to silence the Bruins' potent offensive attack.
Look for the Blueshirts to halt Boston’s momentum with a couple first-period goals and power their way to a decisive Game 3 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Prediction: New York 4, Boston 1
Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks
Where: HP Pavilion; San Jose, Calif.
When: 10 p.m. ET
Television: NBC Sports Network
Series: Los Angeles leads 2-1
Betting Lines (per Bovada): Sharks -1.5, Over/Under 4.5
The defining factor in this series will be how Los Angeles can respond to adversity playing on the road. The Kings are a suspect road team that had plenty of chances to overtake San Jose before losing in overtime Saturday night, and they can’t afford to miss out on those opportunities in Game 4.
With a win on Tuesday night, the Sharks will even the score with plenty of momentum heading back to Los Angeles. For as poorly as they played for much of the first two games, San Jose would have to feel confident in hitting the road with a 2-2 series tie.
Aggressiveness was San Jose’s saving grace in Game 3. With 13 more shots on goal than their counterparts, the Sharks controlled the pace for much of the contest and took advantage of several untimely Los Angeles penalties. If the Kings rack up another 22 penalty minutes in Game 4 (against a team with a deadly power play), San Jose should run away with a victory.
No game in this series has been without some excitement, and no matter the final score Tuesday night, fans are in for what should be another tremendous contest. The Sharks get the nod on their home ice, though, and Los Angeles should be prepared to return home for Game 5 of a series deadlocked at 2-2.
Prediction: San Jose 3, Los Angeles 2