Force is on Panthers, Rangers, Flames down 2-1 in sequence


WASHINGTON (AP) — Aaron Ekblad paused for nearly 10 seconds to believe what the Florida Panthers wish to do higher to even their sequence in opposition to the Washington Capitals.

“I believe there’s numerous issues that shall we do higher,” he stated. “I believe to sum it up merely is: In finding the sport that we had within the common season and mould it right into a playoff sport that we will be able to play.”

It’s not the common season, the place the Panthers had been the most efficient workforce within the NHL. Now the force is at the Presidents’ Trophy winners and two different favorites all trailing their respective sequence 2-1 going into Sport 3 Monday. The Pacific Department-champion Calgary Flames are in the similar spot in opposition to the Dallas Stars, as are the New York Rangers in opposition to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Force you’ll be able to maintain two tactics,” Florida intervening time trainer Andrew Brunette stated. “It may well beat you down, or it’s essential to select it up a notch and paintings tougher and convey that stage of fight and depth to the next stage.”

Depth has been missing and anxiety top for the Panthers in opposition to an opponent with a lot more playoff revel in and a historical past of luck this time of 12 months. They wish to discover a treatment for that during Sport 4 Monday evening (7 p.m. EDT, TBS) or they’ll be getting ready to removing and every other early postseason go out.

“If we win a sport, we’re evened up and we’re on house ice once more,” ahead Sam Reinhart stated. “It’s a seven-game sequence. We’re 3 video games in, and we all know our perfect hockey is but to be performed and it’s proper there for us.”

Requested if he would possibly believe putting veteran Joe Thornton or different lineup adjustments, Brunette stated the Panthers had been “taking into account the whole lot.” A demotion may be to ensure that top-pairing defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, who has struggled within the sequence.

“The whole lot’s at the desk,” Brunette stated after a brief, intense observe stuffed with fight drills. “It’s roughly great to have an afternoon reprieve right here, actually an afternoon and a part, and cross over a couple of issues. We’re going to make some selections.”

The choices appear simple at the Capitals aspect after Ilya Samsonov stopped 29 of 30 pictures in his first get started this sequence. It’s established order for Washington with proper winger Tom Wilson nonetheless anticipated to be out and no explanation why for primary adjustments.

RANGERS at PENGUINS (7 p.m., ESPN)

The Rangers went into the playoffs with a slight edge at the Penguins largely as a result of Igor Shesterkin, who used to be probably the most perfect goaltenders within the league this season. They misplaced Sport 3 at Pittsburgh largely as a result of Shesterkin allowed 4 targets on 15 pictures and were given the hook after the primary length.

“He’s no longer a very simple goalie to overcome,” Pittsburgh trainer Mike Sullivan stated. “I believe our guys thus far have finished a actually excellent task at looking to create the web visitors and making the sightlines tricky for Shesterkin.”

For the Rangers to triumph over their deficit in playoff revel in in opposition to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins, they’ll virtually no doubt want Shesterkin to go back to Vezina Trophy-caliber shape. He confirmed he may do it within the playoffs by way of making 79 saves in Sport 1, which went to triple additional time.

Teammates in entrance of Shesterkin additionally wish to be higher.

“I don’t suppose we had been taking part in in combination, particularly at this level of the season,” ahead Chris Kreider stated. “Effort isn’t one thing you query. It’s a question of operating good, no longer onerous.”

FLAMES at STARS (9:30 p.m., TBS)

The Flames are operating masses onerous, however they’re in a difficult fight in opposition to Dallas, which performs a equivalent taste. The sequence has had handiest seven targets, no longer counting empty-netters, and offense is hard to return by way of.

Self belief, however, isn’t a subject matter for Calgary, which had 111 issues within the common season — 13 greater than the Stars.

“I’ve greater than sufficient trust on this crew to understand that we will be able to pop out of this,” winger Matthew Tkachuk stated. “We all know that this sequence, in the end the way in which the 2 groups play and the way aggressive it’s and equivalent types, it’ll almost definitely cross the gap, if no longer actually shut. We’ve were given to return in right here and win one sport.”

MVP candidate Johnny Gaudreau, who led the league in even-strength issues, has simply two assists within the sequence. Like Tkachuk, he’s no longer involved concerning the Flames trailing within the first spherical and suggests they turn the script regardless of entering into as favorites.

“We’ve been underdogs all 12 months,” Gaudreau stated. “Nobody anticipated us to be the place we’re at at the moment, so we’ll simply stay that very same mindset that we’ve had all 12 months and we’ll be tremendous.”

Now not if the Stars have the rest to do about it. Just like the Capitals and Penguins, they’ve more moderen playoff luck to attract from after attaining the Stanley Cup Ultimate in 2020 and know how to maintain the ups and downs from sport to sport.

“Because the sequence is going on, it will get increasingly more intense,” trainer Rick Bowness stated. “Calgary doesn’t need to cross down 3-1. We need to put them down 3-1. We need to put them down 3-1, so the depth simply is going along side the dilemma that the groups in finding themselves in. We’ll maintain it.”

AVALANCHE at PREDATORS, Colorado leads 3-0 (9:30 p.m., ESPN)

The dilemma the Nashville Predators in finding themselves in is getting ready to being swept by way of the Avalanche. Colorado has appeared each and every bit just like the Cup favourite it used to be intended to be and is one victory clear of advancing to the second one spherical for a fourth consecutive 12 months.

Ahead Logan O’Connor stated the Avalanche have a swagger they’re looking to convey each and every sport. That incorporates the second of this sequence that went to additional time.

“Initially of the 12 months, if we’d have had a sport like we did in Sport 2, we would possibly have were given annoyed and guys would possibly have long gone on their very own web page just a little bit, attempt to do issues in my opinion just a little extra,” O’Connor stated. “And in that Sport 2, I believe we exemplified how a long way we’ve come as a result of everybody used to be simply made up our minds to stay doing what we’re doing.”

Colorado were given a scare when goaltender Darcy Kuemper took an inadvertent persist with his proper eye from Nashville’s Ryan Johansen on Saturday and left the sport. Avs trainer Jared Bednar stated Sunday after additional analysis Kuemper’s eye used to be tremendous without a imaginative and prescient loss and the one drawback used to be swelling.

Kuemper may play in Sport 4 if the swelling is going down, however with a 3-0 sequence lead the Avalanche may play it secure and get started Pavel Francouz. Regardless of who’s in function, the purpose stays the similar.

“We were given to proceed to play the similar manner we’ve the primary 3 video games of the sequence,” Bednar stated. “I’ve preferred all 3 video games with our crew. Simply you realize keep resilient.”

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