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Tuesday's NHL playoff action: What bettors need to know

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders (+146, 6)

Pittsburgh leads series 2-1.


Sidney Crosby hasn't missed a beat since returning from a little over a month's absence with a broken jaw. After collecting two goals and three assists in two contests, Crosby and the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins look to push the host New York Islanders to the brink of elimination on Tuesday in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. The captain set up three goals in Game 3 on Saturday afternoon - including Chris Kunitz's power-play tally in overtime - as Pittsburgh seized a 2-1 advantage in the series.

The Islanders would be wise to limit the damage in the first period and do their best to tame the Penguins' potent power play. Pittsburgh has scored an NHL-best eight goals in the opening session, while its 3-for-5 effort with the man advantage in Game 3 proved too big of a mountain to overcome. "Our penalty kill has to be better. The best way to do that is to stay out of the box," New York defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "Those (penalties) can end up killing us."

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, ROOT Sports (Pittsburgh), MSG Plus (New York)

ABOUT THE PENGUINS: After being acquired prior to the trade deadline, Jarome Iginla certainly is paying dividends with his new team. The veteran, who recorded his 29th career postseason goal in Game 3, has seven points in his last four contests dating back to a two-assist effort versus Carolina on April 27. After being sidelined with lower-body injuries, defenseman Brooks Orpik and James Neal participated in the team's optional practice on Monday.

ABOUT THE ISLANDERS: Kyle Okposo has provided quite the punch in this series - and we're not just talking about the one he landed on Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen in Game 2. The former first-round pick went on to score the winning tally in that contest before netting the first short-handed goal of his career on Saturday. "He's been a horse for us all season," center Josh Bailey said of Okposo. "But I think now you're really seeing the determination that he has and that he plays with. Lots of us have fed off that."

TRENDS:


* Over is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings in New York.
* Penguins are 6-1 in the last seven meetings in New York.
* Over is 7-3-1 in the last 11 meetings.
* Penguins are 36-16 in the last 52 meetings.

OVERTIME:

1. Pittsburgh is 6-for-13 on the power play in the series, while New York is just 1-for-11.

2. The Islanders are vying to win their first home playoff game since 2002.

3. The Penguins recorded 4-2 victories in both regular-season tilts on Long Island.


Montreal Canadiens at Ottawa Senators (-140, 5)


Ottawa leads series 2-1.

Three games does a bitter rivalry make - at least when it comes to the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. The Eastern Conference first-round series between the Canadian neighbors has quickly devolved into a brawl-filled, vitriol-laced hate fest following a brutal Game 3 in which the seventh-seeded Senators pummeled Montreal physically and on the scoreboard. Ottawa can take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series when it hosts the Canadiens in Tuesday's Game 4.

The teams had never met in the postseason, but they combined for 236 penalty minutes and nine players received game misconducts in the Senators' 6-1 rout Sunday - a game Ottawa led by only 2-1 after two periods before the game got out of hand in every aspect. There were 14 fighting majors in the third period alone and the sniping extended to behind both benches. Montreal coach Michel Therrien was incensed that the Senators called timeout with only 17 seconds left in the game, calling the move "classless" and accusing counterpart Paul MacLean of trying to "humiliate" his team. MacLean claimed he was "forced to protect" his players. “It got a little bit stupid in the end, but that’s hockey,” MacLean said.

TV: 7 p.m. CNBC, CBC

ABOUT THE CANADIENS: Montreal captain Brian Gionta, as well as regular-season leading scorer Max Pacioretty, returned to the lineup Sunday after one-game injury absences. Gionta had a glittering chance to get his team back in the game when he broke in alone early in the third period, but his backhander was denied by Senators goaltender Craig Anderson. "It was definitely the turning point of the game and it spiraled out of control from there,” Gionta said. Canadiens netminder Carey Price had his second poor performance of the series, allowing the six goals on 30 shots. That continued a theme from the regular season that has seen Price hold the opposition under three goals only four times in his last 13 appearances.

ABOUT THE SENATORS:
Rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau was a most unlikely hero in Game 3, registering his first career hat trick. Pageau delivered a memorable go-ahead goal on a shot while his face was bloodied and he lost a tooth on a high stick from Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. "I might put it under my pillow and see what happens," Pageau quipped of the knocked-out tooth. He was not called up from Ottawa's AHL affiliate until last month and entered the series with only nine NHL games on his resume. Still, Pageau is as responsible for this series as any player, scoring the game-winning goal in the regular-season finale vs. Boston - a win that allowed Montreal to claim the No. 2 seed and set up the matchup with the Senators.

TRENDS:

* Home team is 9-1 in the last 10 meetings.
* Canadiens are 0-4 in the last four meetings in Ottawa.
* Over is 8-3-1 in Canadiens' last 12 overall.
* Under is 34-13-10 in Senators' last 57 overall.

OVERTIME:

1. Senators D Eric Gryba, who was suspended two games for his jarring hit on Lars Eller in Game 1, is eligible to return Tuesday. He is expected to take the place of D Patrick Wiercioch, who was hurt in Game 3.

2. Canadiens RW Brendan Gallagher was among three players named as finalists for the Calder Trophy that goes to the league's top rookie. Gallagher scored 15 goals in the regular season and has two goals in the playoffs.

3. Ottawa G Craig Anderson has turned aside 112 of 118 shots for a save percentage of .949, as compared to Price's .905.

Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild (+156, 5)

The Minnesota Wild looked like a different team at home in Game 3, outshooting the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks for the first time in their Western Conference first-round series to win their first postseason game in five years. The eighth-seeded Wild host Game 4 on Tuesday hoping to even the series at two games apiece. Rookie Jason Zucker’s shot from a sharp angle 2:15 into overtime gave Minnesota a 3-2 victory on Sunday after falling twice at Chicago: 5-2 in Game 2 and 2-1 in overtime in Game 1. The Blackhawks held a 85-55 shot advantage through the first two games, but the Wild used their relentless forecheck and home-ice energy to generate 37 shots on Sunday and keep the series within their grasp.

Chicago forward Patrick Kane set up both goals by the Blackhawks in Game 3 and leads the series with five points - all assists. Minnesota netminder Josh Harding turned aside 25 shots to earn his first career playoff victory on Sunday and will start Game 4 with Niklas Backstrom still ailing from an injury suffered while warming up for Game 1. Corey Crawford has started all three games for Chicago and was absent from the Blackhawks’ practice on Monday in order to rest for Tuesday’s contest. Chicago is the only team with a power-play goal in the series, going 1-for-9 with the man advantage, while Minnesota has not scored in nine opportunities. The Blackhawks also got a short-handed goal from Michael Frolik, suggesting their special teams might be the difference in a tense Game 4 against the Wild.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN, Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, Fox Sports North

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS:
Rookie Brandon Saad was named as one of three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy on Monday along with Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers and Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens. Saad recorded 10 goals and 27 points and a plus-17 rating while playing most of the season on Chicago’s top line with Marian Hossa and captain Jonathan Toews. “There’s a lot of great rookies this year that had a good season so it’s definitely an honor and I’m very excited,” Saad told reporters following practice on Monday. The 20-year-old has yet to record a point in the series and finished minus-2 in Game 3. Ray Emery and Dave Bolland practiced with the team on Monday but neither will be in the lineup on Tuesday due to lower-body injuries.

ABOUT THE WILD: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who registered his first two points of the series with a goal and an assist on Sunday, was also instrumental in Minnesota’s last playoff victory on April 14, 2008, when he scored the winning goal in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche. Bouchard is one of five Wild players from that game who is still with the team, along with goaltenders Harding and Backstrom, captain Mikko Koivu and Stephane Veilleux, who was recalled from the AHL on Sunday and has not played an NHL game since April 7, 2012. Koivu has yet to record a point in the series and is minus-3 despite averaging over 20 minutes time on ice per game and firing six shots. Zach Parise, who leads the team with 12 shots, scored his first of the postseason to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead early in the third period of Sunday’s victory.

TRENDS:

* Under is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings in Minnesota.
* Home team is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Blackhawks are 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Under is 6-0-1 in Blackhawks' last 7 road games.

OVERTIME:

1. Chicago’s last three losses have all come on the road.

2. The Blackhawks lost consecutive games just four times during the regular season.

3. Each of Minnesota’s last three playoff victories have been 3-2 overtime decisions.

Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks (-163, 5)

San Jose leads series 3-0.


The sixth-seeded San Jose Sharks can earn themselves a trip to the second round Tuesday as they look to complete a sweep of their Western Conference first-round series when they host the Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks. San Jose, which never has swept a playoff series, walked into Rogers Arena and scored twice in the third period to post a 3-1 victory in Game 1 and steal home-ice advantage from third-seeded Vancouver. The Sharks pulled out a 3-2 win in Game 2 as Patrick Marleau tied the contest with 56 seconds remaining in the third session and former Canuck Raffi Torres tallied at 5:31 of overtime.

Vancouver switched goaltenders for Game 3, going from Roberto Luongo to Cory Schneider with the hope of turning the series around. The move backfired early in the third period as San Jose scored three goals in a 2:27 span to turn a close game into a rout. Schneider, who was returning from an undisclosed injury that sidelined him for four contests, was pulled after allowing five goals on 28 shots.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN California (San Jose)

ABOUT THE CANUCKS: Coach Alain Vigneault has a tough decision on his hands regarding his starting goaltender for Game 4. During his postgame press conference, Vigneault admitted that Luongo was not the reason the Canucks lost the first two games. Considering Schneider struggled in his return while Luongo stopped all 10 shots he faced in relief, the latter could be back between the pipes Tuesday. Daniel Sedin recorded his 66th career postseason point with an assist on Sunday, tying him with Pavel Bure for third place on the franchise list. The Canucks found themselves short-handed eight times and paid the price as San Jose scored three power-play goals. "I don't know what happened except that we spent way too much time in the penalty box," captain Henrik Sedin said. "We have to stay calm. It's really just a few small things that are costing us, like taking the extra penalty."

ABOUT THE SHARKS: Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski were the offensive stars on Sunday, combining for four goals and three assists. Couture, who scored twice and set up two tallies, became the fourth player in franchise history to register four points in a playoff game. He joined Sergei Makarov (1994), Mike Ricci (1999) and Jeremy Roenick (2008). Couture also is the fourth Shark to score two power-play goals in a postseason game and the first to record two in the same period. Marleau also scored Sunday, giving him a goal in each game of the series. Couture and Marleau tallied nine seconds apart, falling one second shy of the record for the fastest two goals in franchise playoff history. John MacLean and Ron Sutter scored eight seconds apart against the Dallas Stars in 1998.

TRENDS:

* Under is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings in San Jose.
* Under is 6-2-3 in the last 11 meetings.
* Canucks are 0-6 in the last six meetings.
* Under is 15-6-3 in Canucks last 24 overall.

OVERTIME:

1. Including the regular season, San Jose is 6-0-0 against Vancouver in 2013.

2. Vancouver C Ryan Kesler won 13-of-24 faceoffs in Game 3. The rest of the Canucks combined to win 17-of-47 draws.

3. Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic will play in his 72nd career postseason game Tuesday, giving him sole possession of first place on the franchise list among blue-liners. He tied Mike Rathje for the top spot on Sunday.

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