SPORTS

NHL playoffs: 3 things to know for Friday night

04/24/2015 12:23 EDT | Updated 07/23/2015 02:59 EDT
The Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers have their opponents on the ropes, while the Blues and the Wild hope to tip a deadlock in their favour.

Here's what you need to know for tonight's NHL playoff games.

Canadiens gear up for defensive battle

Expect a defensive battle in Game 5 on Friday at Montreal's Bell Centre as the Canadiens try to knock out the Senators (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).

The series has gotten progressively lower scoring. The scores have been 4-3, 3-2, 2-1 in Montreal's favour, followed by Ottawa's 1-0 series-stretching victory in Game 4.

There will be at least one goal Friday evening, but they certainly are getting harder to come by.

Craig Anderson stopped 28 Montreal shots for the Game 4 shutout. Only Mike Hoffman was able to beat Carey Price in the Canadiens' net.

The Habs tend to score more on home ice, averaging 2.95 goals for in Montreal and only 2.27 on the road.

​Rangers can polish off Penguins

Sticking with numbers, the Penguins face some pretty long odds in trying to come back in their series against the Rangers, down 3-1 heading into Friday night's tilt at Madison Square Garden. The odds of such a comeback are listed at 9.8 per cent.

The Rangers roll into Game 5 on the strength of back-to-back 2-1 wins in Pittsburgh. The NHL's two most experienced playoff goaltenders oppose each other with Henrik Lundqvist having 96 post-season starts for the Rangers, one less than Marc-Andre Fleury's appearances in goal for the Penguins.

The Penguins weren't able to mount much of an attack in the two losses at home, directing only 24 shots, then 23 on goal in the pair of setbacks. Lundqvist has enjoyed considerable success against the Pens, winning six of his last seven playoff starts against them.

Kevin Hayes provided the Rangers' winner in overtime that boosted their series lead to three games to one.

Blues-Wild series up for grabs

The only math involved in the Blues-Wild series is the law of averages for coin flips as they get set for Game 5 at St. Louis's Scottrade Center.

The teams have met eight times this season, four in the regular season, four in the playoffs and they've split the match-ups right down the middle with four wins apiece. They even met twice in the pre-season. Of course, they each won a game.

The only consistent thing about their series is their inconsistency.

The Blues chased Devan Dubnyk from the Wild goal with a 6-1 romp in Game 4, winning in Minnesota.

Perhaps the most reliable indicator is Blues' sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. When he scores (five goals, one assist in Games 2 and 4) St. Louis wins. When he's held off the scoresheet (Games 1 and 3), they lose.

Here's one of his two goals in the Wednesday win, finished off with his patented Tarasenko move.

 

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