NHL Playoffs 2017: Stanley Cup Scores, Updated Odds and Predictions

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2017

The Anaheim Ducks tied the Western Conference Final on  yet another overtime goal by Corey Perry.
The Anaheim Ducks tied the Western Conference Final on yet another overtime goal by Corey Perry.Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks were in huge trouble as they went to their locker room after 60 minutes at the Bridgestone Arena Thursday night.

They had blown a 2-0 lead in the third period, and when Filip Forsberg scored for the Nashville Predators with just seconds remaining, the home team had forced overtime.

Nashville had all the momentum and a 2-1 series lead, and an overtime goal would have given them a stranglehold 3-1 edge.

While the Ducks may have been shaken, they were not deterred. They appeared refocused in the overtime session and had a number of good chances early in the extra session that Preds goalie Pekka Rinne denied.

However, when Corey Perry fired a shot from the right side that deflected off Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban and went into the net, the Ducks had their much-needed road victory.

The series is tied 2-2, and Game 5 will be played in Anaheim Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. ET and will be televised by NBC.

The Ducks had come out with a sharp focus and built a 2-0 lead on goals by Rickard Rakell and Nick Ritchie, but they could not hold it in the final 20 minutes.

The Ducks committed four penalties in the third period, and that lack of discipline gave the Predators life. Subban got Nashville on the board before Forsberg tied the game.

Perry has had a remarkable playoff when it comes to scoring in overtime. This was his third extra-session goal this postseason, meaning he is just the third player to score three overtime goals in a single playoff year, per NHL Public Relations.

He joined Mel "Sudden Death" Hill of the Boston Bruins and Maurice "Rocket" Richard of the Montreal Canadiens.

    

Western Conference Final Schedule: Series Tied 2-2

Game 5: Saturday at Anaheim, 7:15 p.m., NBC
Game 6: Monday at Nashville, 8 p.m., NBCSN
Game 7: Wednesday at Anaheim, 9 p.m., NBCSN, if necessary

The Penguins coaching staff must make a key choice about who starts in goal Friday night.
The Penguins coaching staff must make a key choice about who starts in goal Friday night.Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to have to pick up their game if they are going to square their series with the Ottawa Senators at 2-2.

The defending Stanley Cup champions were outskated, outhit and outplayed by the Senators in Game 3, and they dropped a 5-1 decision.

While goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was replaced as a result of the Senators' four-goal blitz in the first period of that game, head coach Mike Sullivan has not said whether Fleury or Matt Murray will start Game 4, per Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen.

Fleury has played well for the majority of the playoffs, but Murray was in goal when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last year. No matter which goalie Sullivan selects, the Pittsburgh defense is going to have to be much quicker and more effective if the Penguins are going to come up with the much-needed road win.

The Penguins also have injury problems, as forwards Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Tom Kuhnhackl and defenseman Justin Schultz did not practice Thursday because of a variety of injuries.

All four of those players seem likely to miss Game 4.

"We'll see what happens, but obviously, they didn't skate with the team so they're probably not probable [for Game 4]," Sullivan said, per Tom Gulitti of NHL.com. 

Since their depth is likely to be affected, the Penguins will need superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and hard-shooting Phil Kessel to come through with big games.

The Sens will host the Penguins Friday night at 8 p.m. ET, and NBCSN will televise the game.

    

Eastern Conference Final Schedule: Ottawa Leads 2-1

Game 4: Friday, at Ottawa, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Game 5: Sunday, at Pittsburgh, 3 p.m., NBC
Game 6: Tuesday, May 23, at Ottawa, 8 p.m., NBCSN, if necessary
Game 7: Thursday, May 25, at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m., NBCSN, if necessary

Erik Karlsson gives the Senators an edge in most playoff games.
Erik Karlsson gives the Senators an edge in most playoff games.Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

   

Predictions

The Penguins are going to come out with a much better effort in Game 4, and they are going to battle the Senators hard for 60 minutes.

However, it is not going to be enough. Erik Karlsson is the best player in the playoffs this year, and Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson is playing with confidence and consistency. The Senators will have the edge in the third period and take a 3-1 series lead to Pittsburgh for Game 5.

The Ducks seemingly have momentum after Perry's overtime goal, but Nashville has been a special team this postseason.

The Predators have been able to gain an edge when they battle for loose pucks, know how to come back in the third period and have gotten clutch scoring from Forsberg, James Neal and their active defense.

They will go to Anaheim undeterred, and the Preds will leave the Honda Center with a key victory and a 3-2 edge in the series.