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NHL playoffs: 4 things to know for tonight's games

05/06/2015 12:49 EDT | Updated 05/06/2016 05:59 EDT
The Montreal Canadiens need to regain their poise and focus if they are to dig out of their 0-2 series hole against the Tampa Bay Lightning, while the Washington Capitals are outduelling the New York Rangers on the brilliance of goaltender Braden Holtby.

Here are four things to know for Wednesday night's NHL playoff games:

Canadiens in major bind

Have the Habs woken up a sleeping giant?

That's what Game 3 between the Canadiens and Lightning will reveal when Montreal tries to dig out of an 0-2 Eastern Conference semifinal series deficit in Tampa, Fla., (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).

For the first eight games of the Stanley Cup playoffs, including seven against the Detroit Red Wings in Round 1, Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos was held without a goal. Then, with the help of the power play, Stamkos continued his torture of the Canadiens, scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists.

Of course, tormenting the Habs is nothing new to the Stamkos. In the five regular-season games — all wins — the Lightning played against the Canadiens, Stamkos tallied five goals and two assists.

Even the Montreal players know this is bad news moving forward.

Habs lack poise

If the Canadiens are going to get back into this series, they will need to be more disciplined. Montreal has racked up 138 penalty minutes through eight games, second among playoff teams. 

Montreal has allowed a staggering nine power-play goals in 32 attempts — a 71.9 per cent kill rate that ranks dead last in the playoffs.

The Lightning were 0 for 23 on the power play before Sunday's four-goal outburst.

Canadiens forward Brandon Prust was the poster child for Montreal's frustration in Game 2's loss. After a fight with Braydon Coburn, Referee Brad Watson handed the Canadiens tough guy 27 penalty minutes on the play, including a game misconduct.

Prust apologized for his verbal assault on Watson Tuesday but was still fined $5,000 US by the league for his "baseless and demeaning" and comments.

Holtby outplaying Lundqvist

Goals have been at a premium through the first three games of the series between the Rangers and Capitals. That's usually a good thing for New York as it boasts one of the best goaltenders in hockey. Unfortunately for Henrik Lundqvist, Caps goaltender Braden Holtby has been just a little bit better.

Holtby is the reason Washington leads the series 2-1 heading into Wednesday night's crucial Game 4 matchup (7:30 p.m. ET).

The Washington netminder was sensational in Game 3, turning aside all 30 shots en route to a 1-0 victory.

The Rangers ranked third in the NHL during the regular season in goals scored with 252, but they have only put three goals behind Holtby to this point of the series. It's a trend that will need to change quickly if they are to even up the series before heading back to Madison Square Garden.

No Nash sighting

The Rangers' goal struggles coincide with the playoff disappearance of Rick Nash.

The veteran scored 42 goals in the regular season, which placed him third behind Alex Ovechkin (53) and Steven Stamkos (43).

Nash has been anything but prolific through the first two rounds. His lone playoff goal in 2015 was a meaningless marker with six seconds remaining in a first-round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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