Stanley Cup Playoffs: Day 22 Predictions

Chris BouthillierSenior Analyst IMay 6, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 01:  Tuomo Ruutu #15 of the Carolina Hurricanes is shoved into Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins by Mark Stuart #45 during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 1, 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Hurricanes 4-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, my skid will end tonight. After going winless for the last three days, I guarantee that I will record at least one victory on Wednesday evening.

I'm sure of it.

Two matchups in the Eastern Conference Semifinals will take place this evening. The Boston Bruins are looking for vengeance after their first loss of the postseason against Carolina, while the battle of the superstars will write its third chapter as Washington heads to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins.

Game Two in both series proved to be a spectacle of skill. Cam Ward turned in one of the best goaltending performances of the playoffs, while Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby each notched hat tricks at Verizon Center two nights ago.

Chris' record after Day 21: 28-23

Eastern Conference

Washington (2) @ Pittsburgh (4)—WSH leads 2-0

This series is living up to its billing.

Both Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have embraced the spotlight as they lit up the scoreboard in Game Two. Through the series they have matched one another as each have picked up four goals in two games.

Wait a minute—isn't there another superstar we should be aware of?

Evgeni Malkin has been invisible thus far in the second round. Most people would have thought with all the Ovechkin-Crosby hype that Malkin could fly under the radar and play with more effectiveness.

All those people, along with myself, have thought wrong.

I picked Pittsburgh to take both games in Washington with the impression that this year's Art Ross winner would be a factor. It would be an understatement to say that Malkin has not been impressed with his own performance in this series.

The ball is in the Penguins' court—literally—as we head to Mellon Arena for Game Three. Pittsburgh must have the "backs-against-the-wall" mentality as they need to win four out of the next five. That is a much easier task than having to win four straight if they drop tonight's game.

Crosby and Ovechkin will continue their stellar play, but the Penguins have to follow their captain's effort in order to prevail with a win.

Game Three Winner: Pittsburgh

Boston (1) @ Carolina (6)—Series tied 1-1

Game Two was a hard-fought battle as the Bruins deserved a better fate for their work. Cam Ward stole home ice for the Hurricanes, no questions asked.

Boston will be looking to avoid their second loss of the playoffs as they travel to Raleigh tonight. Tim Thomas played well on Sunday but will need to have better defensive support in front of him.

Even though the Bruins generated 36 shots, none of them beat Ward. They need to keep working at getting traffic in front of Ward to obstruct any view he could have of the puck.

The Hurricanes will be building on a strong game. Eric Staal picked up two points, including the empty-net goal, to solidify his efforts after being bounced around by Zdeno Chara earlier in the contest. Look for Staal to have a productive game if coach Paul Maurice can get him on the ice when Chara's on the bench.

Carolina has last change, and it may prove to be the difference. But if Boston can go back to playing ugly, hard-nosed hockey, they should come away with a win.

Game Three Winner: Boston


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