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PHT Morning Skate: Blues, Avs, Ducks look to go up 3-0

Apr 21, 2014, 8:15 AM EDT

Matt Calvert AP

Four series head into Game 3 tonight and three of those see teams looking to take a 3-0 series lead.

The St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, and Anaheim Ducks all hit the road looking to put a stranglehold on their respective series but with the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars playing at home, they’ll have the opportunity to get back into the thick of things with wins of their own.

The night gets started in Columbus where the Blue Jackets host the Pittsburgh Penguins after earning a 4-3 double-overtime win in Game 2 to even up that series. Expect a raucous crowd at Nationwide Arena where there hasn’t been a playoff game played there in five years.

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Game 3: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins [series tied 1-1] (7:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Blue Jackets’ Game 2 victory helped make this series look a bit more accurate in the standings when you consider how evenly played it’s been. Columbus has hung tough with the Penguins through both games and have made life miserable for Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Brandon Dubinsky‘s work to pester them has paid off and Columbus’ role players have stayed strong.

Now the question is how the Penguins will respond to playing on the road after a tough loss. The playoffs can be about facing adversity and the Jackets are giving the Pens a fair amount of that. With Matt Calvert and Jack Johnson providing the offense, if nothing else, this series is providing a spotlight for both teams’ supporting casts.

Game 3: Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche [Colorado leads series 2-0] (7:00 p.m. ET — NHL Network)

The Wild have their hands full in dealing with the Avalanche. After blowing a two-goal lead in Game 1, the Wild were thoroughly outplayed in Game 2 and they had no answers for how to contain the Avs’ top line. That has to change with the series now in St. Paul and it’s time for the Wild’s top line to get a piece of their own action.

While Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise have two assists through two games, they’re getting blown away by Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon who have seven points a piece. The Wild could also stand to see Ilya Bryzgalov play a lot better in goal as he has a .822 save percentage through two games.

Game 3: Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues [St. Louis leads series 2-0] (8:30 p.m. ET — CNBC)

The defending champs haven’t had to face this sort of adversity in the postseason in a while. In both games the Blues have tied the game with a late third period goal and gone on to win in overtime. The Blackhawks are close with the Blues, but St. Louis is finding ways to claw out victories.

Chicago will have to make do without Brent Seabrook for the next three games because of his hit on David Backes. Meanwhile, Backes’ status is still unknown for Game 3. The Blues have gotten support on all their lines as Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Porter, and Adam Cracknell have played key roles in scoring. Going without Backes will hurt, but for how they’ve played as a team, it’s (large) bump in the road.

The Blackhawks have to find better ways to resist the Blues onslaught when they get rolling. We’ve seen the ‘Hawks look like the usual band of world beaters at times, but the Blues ability to push back has been stronger. That has to change in Chicago if the ‘Hawks are going to get back in this series.

Game 3: Dallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks [Anaheim leads series 2-0] (9:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

If there’s something the Stars can take pride in after dropping the first two games against the Ducks, it’s that they’ve gotten progressively better as the series has progressed. The timing of that could work great now that the series moves to Dallas. The Stars have lost two one-goal games and while Anaheim looked dominant in Game 1, the Stars made things a lot more interesting in Game 2.

It’s been a while since the Stars have hosted a playoff game (six years) and the fans there will be ready to go crazy to see Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin try to put one over on the Ducks.

The Stars will have to find ways to wrangle the Ducks’ top line, however, as they  have run rampant over Dallas through two games. Ryan Getzlaf leads the way with two goals and two assists and Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry each have a goal and an assist. If Dallas can’t find a way to slow them down, they could be in for more disappointment.

  1. toiletclown - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    The fans at the Consol were a disgrace Saturday night. Double OT and you could hear a pin drop in that place. No enthusiasm whatsoever. Corporates taking over

    • hockey412 - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      Or, it may have been the fact that the fans hand the wind sucked out of them watching a listless team that gave up a short-handed goal and almost more than one and still refused to even attempt to make the smart play.

      Either way, your internet-breath stinks as bad as your user name.

      CONGRATS to Columbus – wish I could make the drive to see it tonight.

      • toiletclown - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        Bylsma wanted to pile it on with that powerplay. Bit them in the ass, maybe next time he’ll rethink putting 1 D men out there when there up by 2 goals.

      • hockey412 - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        OR (and Pens fans are aware of this), having 4 forwards on the power play is not new, they’ve done it all year, and a 2-0 game is nowhere NEAR out of reach. Not a bad idea to try and make it 3-0. Perhaps you’d rather see the penalty killers out there on the power play? Whoever you root for, just go back to rooting for them, and shut the eff up about the Pens and Pittsburgh in general.

  2. toiletclown - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    I’d like 2 defensemen on the PP up by 2 goals you moron. Man you are a disgrace to the Penguins fan base. Tell your gram I said hi.

    • hockey412 - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      Hindsight is 20/20, I’m sure everyone would agree that 2D would have been better than the outcome. However, it wouldn’t have prevented the goal. The D were playing just as bad on the PP.

      So, the fans were a disgrace, Coporate is taking over, and Bylsma was just trying to pile it on (as opposed to winning the game)…yet, I’M the disgrace? Just save it, creep, just go back to cheering on whoever it is you are pulling for.

      • pens87 - Apr 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        The vast majority of the year the Pens top power play unit was Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin, Neal, and Niskanen and they did finish ranked first in that category. Right now the biggest issue with the power play is they are being far too fancy. Crosby and Malkin are getting picked off way too easily with these cross ice “home-run” passes, leading to the breaks for the Blue Jackets. They need only look at the Blue Jacket power play so far this series if they want to see what they should be doing…keep it simple. You go 1 for 5 on the power play by trying to do too much (not taking any credit away from the excellent PK of the Blue Jackets, they have been great).

        The one problem I do not see with the Pens so far is in goal. Fleury has been fine. Everything in front of him just needs to be fixed. Right now, the Blue Jackets just flat out want it more then the pens do, and it showing on the ice. Here’s hoping they can get it done.

      • toiletclown - Apr 21, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        They will get it done tonight

  3. beepbeepbeeplgb - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    ohhhh man, LETS GO BLUES!

    • jhaegs - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      Yessir! Got tickets for Game 5… I’d rather not use them though! 😄

  4. luvmnsports2012 - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    How About them Wild!! Keumper is starting and we got to slow down that top line! Let’s get this one boys! GO WILD!!

  5. robertb655 - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    How aboot them Avs!! Varley is starting and the top line is full go! Lets get this one MEN! GO AVS!!

  6. jymfinn - Apr 21, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Funny EH! Some of the best hockey and a series that is already 3 & 0. Montreal could sweep in 4 but no mention here about their DOMINANCE. GO CANUQUES GO !!!

  7. jymfinn - Apr 21, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    Have to be careful in a country with two languages if the French take over the Arena the Russian may lay claim to Quebec to protect the french from the repressive Canadians. Putin (french fries with gravy and curdled cheese) is from Quebec too EH!!! GO CANUQUES GO!!!

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