The Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals come into Monday with 2-1 series leads that they gained through home wins in their respective Game 3s.
The trio of lower seeds could earn commanding advantages on Monday if they continue to play well on home ice.
Dallas' 2-1 edge over the Calgary Flames is the most shocking lead of the three series. Calgary had one of the best offenses in the regular season and it has not been able to get going against the Stars' defense.
Washington's lead on the Florida Panthers is up there on shock value as well. Florida won the Presidents' Trophy and it entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the pick of some to get out of the Eastern Conference.
The Colorado Avalanche are the only team that could close out a series on Monday. Colorado holds a 3-0 edge on the Nashville Predators and a sweep appears to be in its future.
Monday NHL Playoff Schedule
Florida (-185; bet $185 to win $100) at Washington (+150; bet $100 to win $150) (7 p.m. ET, TBS)
New York Rangers (-110) at Pittsburgh (-110) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Colorado (-255) at Nashville (+205) (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Calgary (-160) at Dallas (+130) (9:30 p.m. ET, TBS)
Dallas' Defense Continues To Shut Down Flames
The Calgary Flames ran into a defensive wall created by the Dallas Stars in Game 1 and they have not recovered.
Dallas held Calgary to a single goal in the Flames' Game 1 victory and then the wild-card team shut out the Flames in Game 2.
The Flames put two goals past the Stars in Game 3, but it was not enough to reclaim the series lead.
Dallas withstood a 41-shot output from the Flames thanks to Jake Oettinger, who has a .969 postseason save percentage.
Oettinger is second to Washington's Ilya Samsonov in playoff goals against average and he has done well to keep Johnny Gaudreau and others quiet over three games.
Dallas has all of the series momentum on its side and it should use that to its advantage to take Game 4 on home ice.
If that happens, the Stars will shift all of the pressure in the series to Calgary as the series goes back to Alberta.
Calgary was more productive in front of net in Game 3 with its 41 shots, but it still needs to find a way past Oettinger on a consistent basis.
The Flames' regular cast of attackers, including Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm and Gaudreau need to be better in front of net to at least give them a chance of winning.
However, a hot goalie and an in-form defense are tough to stop in the postseason once they get going and that could be the path to a Dallas Game 4 victory.
Washington Takes Another Game Off Presidents' Trophy Winner
Washington took full control of its first-round series with Florida by thumping the Panthers for six goals on Saturday.
The Capitals now have a lead in the series and an edge in momentum and confidence going into one more game on their home ice.
Washington scored six unanswered goals after Jonathan Huberdeau opened the scoring in Game 3. Two of the tallies came on the power play through T.J. Oshie and Alexander Ovechkin.
The second of the two power-play goals was more important from an overall perspective since it was Ovechkin's first of the postseason.
Ovechkin had two assists in Games 1 and 2. He also chipped in a helper on Oshie's first-period goal in Game 3.
If Ovechkin is more active in front of net, it could light another spark inside the Capitals and the home fans that put Florida under pressure.
Florida needs another fast start in the nation's capital, but it can't give up a goal before the first intermission that shifts all of the momentum to Washington's side.
Power-play chances will be the difference-maker in Washington's favor. The Capitals have at least one power-play goal in each of the first three games.
Washington holds a 4-0 edge in man advantage goals. The Capitals' special teams could make the difference and it would not be surprising if Ovechkin was responsible for one or two power-play tallies to start a scoring run.
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