The Pittsburgh Penguins can join the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a Game 5 win over the New York Rangers.
Pittsburgh's offense overpowered Igor Shesterkin and the Rangers defense over the last two games.
The back-to-back seven-goal outputs put Pittsburgh one win away from clinching a second-round spot and a few extra days of rest.
Sidney Crosby leads the Penguins with nine points, but he has not done the majority of the scoring.
Jake Guentzel is on fire with five goals, and he could turn another strong set of shifts into the Penguins' third straight victory.
The other two Game 5s set to take place on Wednesday will give two teams a 3-2 edge in their respective series.
The Florida Panthers used an overtime victory over the Washington Capitals to level their series. Florida's defense has been strong in its two wins. Florida needs another big performance in front of its own net to win consecutive games.
The Calgary Flames return back home to face Dallas Stars after earning a Game 4 road victory. Calgary netted its highest single-game tally of the series, and the confidence gained from that performance could propel it to a Game 5 win.
Wednesday NHL Playoff Schedule
Pittsburgh (+105; bet $100 to win $105) at New York Rangers (-130; bet $130 to win $100) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Washington (+180) at Florida (-225) (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Dallas (+180) at Calgary (-225) (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Pittsburgh's On-Fire Offense Pushes It Into Second Round
Pittsburgh has the hottest offense by far of the six teams taking to the ice on Wednesday.
The Penguins rolled seven goals past the New York Rangers in their victories on home ice in Games 3 and 4.
A road win in Game 5 powered by a similar offensive total would be massive in a few ways.
Pittsburgh could avoid letting the Rangers back in the series ahead of Game 6, and it could gain at least one extra day of rest ahead of its second-round clash with either the Carolina Hurricanes or Boston Bruins.
Pittsburgh's key in Games 3 and 4 was jumping out to a fast start on the power play. The Penguins scored with a man advantage in the first period of both games.
In Game 3, Jeff Carter and Evan Rodrigues scored back-to-back tallies on the power play to open up a multi-goal advantage.
Sidney Crosby struck on the power play halfway through the first period in Game 4 to level the game and start a run of four straight Pittsburgh goals.
Crosby has been the main offensive catalyst with seven assists, but credit should also go to Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter, who have combined for eight goals.
Pittsburgh's lengthy postseason experience has shown through with Crosby, Guentzel, Carter and others. That could be the edge again in Game 5.
The Rangers have been unable to slow down Pittsburgh's offense once it gets going, and we could see a similar storyline play out inside Madison Square Garden.
Florida Banks On Defense To Take Series Lead
Florida has had some trouble dealing with Washington's playoff experience at parts of the series.
The Panthers seem to have found a fix to the struggles they faced in their losses in Games 1 and 3.
The Presidents' Trophy winner held the Capitals to three goals in its two victories in the series. A similar game plan is needed to take advantage on home ice.
Florida limited Washington to 16 shots in Game 4. The Caps went almost two full periods between goals.
The Panthers proved in Game 4 that they could slow down Alexander Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Co. for long stretches of the contest.
The top seed in the Eastern Conference needs that defensive muscle to show up once again in Game 5 to gain its first lead in the series.
Calgary Rides Momentum Of Four-Goal Output
The Calgary Flames finally broke out on the offensive end in their Game 4 win over the Dallas Stars.
Calgary produced four goals in the road victory. That was one more goal that it tallied in the first three games combined.
The Flames broke Dallas' defensive hold on the series through a second-period power-play goal out of Rasmus Andersson.
Three goals in the third period padded the advantage and put all the momentum on Calgary going back to the Saddledome.
Calgary proved it could match Dallas' strong defense on its home ice in Games 1 and 2. Dallas scored twice in Games 1 and 2.
Normally, that would have been enough for the Flames to take command of the series, but they were shut out in Game 2.
Calgary holds a 150-106 advantage in shots, and Jacob Markstrom possesses a .952 save percentage.
The defensive performances have been there for the Flames, and they could play their most complete game of the series on Wednesday if their attack plays even better than it did in Game 4.
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