Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press
April 16, 2017
Easter Sunday’s slate of hockey features one home team looking to capitalize on two away wins and essentially put the series away, another team hoping for some home magic to climb out of an 0-2 hole and two series knotted at a game apiece.
Hockey fans can start the day with the St. Louis Blues facing off against the Minnesota Wild and continue watching all the the way through the night as the San Jose Sharks wrap up the action looking for some home-ice help against the Edmonton Oilers.
Here’s the full slate of TV coverage and live-stream options for the four first-round playoff contests:
|NHL Playoff Coverage for Sunday, April 16|
|3 p.m.||3||Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues||STL 2-0 MIN||NBC||NBCSports.com|
|6 p.m.||3||Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets||PIT 2-0 CBJ||CNBC||NBCSports.com|
|7 p.m.||3||Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers||MTL 1-1 NYR||NBCSN||NBCSports.com|
|10 p.m.||3||Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks||EDM 1-1 SJS||NBCSN||NBCSports.com|
Live streams are available at NBCSports.com.
The Blues find themselves in an excellent position heading into Sunday. They’re playing at home at the Scottrade Center after beating the Wild in the Twin Cities by identical 2-1 scorelines in the first two games.
The Wild, the second-highest scoring team in the regular season, have outshot the Blues 76-48 over those two games but have little to show for it. Both of their goals in this series have come with the Blues outnumbered on the ice, which doesn’t bode well for their chances while playing even-strength hockey in a hostile arena.
The Blues offense consists of two goals from defenseman Joel Edmundson, including the overtime winner in Game 1, a goal from winger Jaden Schwartz and a score from Vladimir Sobotka.
Stacy Bengs/Associated Press
The Czech center’s timely return to St. Louis—he re-joined the team for the final game of the regular season after three seasons in the KHL, scoring a goal in the process—is a big boost for the squad. Blues fans should feel confident about their chances in this series.
The next contest of the day has the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets, with the latter’s chances looking extremely grim after the Penguins trounced them 3-1 in Game 1 and 4-1 in Game 2.
The Blue Jackets will be without forward Matt Calvert on Sunday, as he is suspended for a cross check on Pittsburgh’s Tom Kuhnhackl at the end of Game 2. Calvert wasn’t a big source of scoring for Columbus during the regular season, but he happens to have one of the team’s two goals in this playoff series. Things are looking grim for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus can take comfort in the fact they beat the Penguins twice at home in the regular season, including a 7-1 thrashing on Dec. 22. They’ll have to find a way to generate more offense while stemming the bleeding at the other end, a tall order against a team led by the great Sidney Crosby.
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Next on the slate is the Montreal Canadiens on the road against the New York Rangers, as the two teams look to break a 1-1 series deadlock. The Rangers blanked the Canadiens to win 2-0 in Game 1, only to see the Habs storm back and win 4-3 in overtime in Game 2.
It was an excellent rally from Montreal, as Tomas Plekanec scored with 18 seconds left in the third period to set up Alexander Radulov’s game-winner deep into the first overtime period. Here’s Radulov’s goal, via the NHL:
The @CanadiensMTL and @RADUL22 are just a perfect fit. #StanleyCup https://t.co/1JntXFuQgR
The Canadiens can take that momentum into Madison Square Garden on Sunday, where the Rangers’ home-ice advantage has been lacking this season. The New York Times‘ Filip Bondy has more:
That would be Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers compiled the worst regular-season home record among the playoff teams, becoming one of only two NHL clubs to gain fewer points at home than on the road. It is the site where the Rangers play host to the Canadiens on Sunday in Game 3 of their first-round series, which is tied at one game apiece, hoping to reverse a malaise infecting both the gladiators and their audience.
Ask Coach Alain Vigneault or his players about this problem, and they will hold to the politically correct line that the Garden crowd is just fine and can still inspire great moments. Vigneault says these regular-season tendencies don’t matter because ‘you’re playing against the same team every night and it’s a different mind-set.’ The fans, however, are more likely to tell tales on themselves, acknowledging that the self-proclaimed World’s Most Famous Arena has become a place of diminishing returns and decibels.
The Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks wrap up Sunday’s hockey. The series is tied at 1-1, with the Sharks at home at the SAP Center for Game 3. San Jose came back from a 2-0 first-period deficit in Game 1 to win 3-2 in overtime, while the Oilers struck back from that deflating loss to win 2-0 in Game 2.
Both of the Oilers’ goals in Game 2 came shorthanded, the second one notable for being the first career playoff goal for hockey’s ascendant superstar, Connor McDavid.
The 20-year-old Canadian has enjoyed a spectacular second season in the NHL, tallying 100 points (30 goals 70 assists) to win the Art Ross Trophy. He flashed his speed and silky puck-handling on his debut playoff goal on Friday, via the NHL:
YUP. That’s @cmcdavid97 scoring his first ever #StanleyCup Playoff goal… a man down. https://t.co/nqBaWSX4N9
McDavid also wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work in Game 2, which saw the Oilers play physically, outhitting the Sharks 41-21, per the Edmonton Journal‘s Terry Jones. According to Jones, McDavid had four hits in the game.
“Guys have to step out of their comfort zones,” said Zack Kassian, who had the other Edmonton goal in Game 2, per Jones. “It doesn’t mean we need our skill guys running around, but when you see the skill guys doing that, it’s contagious. We’re a contagious group right now.”
McDavid’s lighting-fast rise to becoming arguably the league’s best player has dragged Edmonton from the doldrums of the NHL to a prime spot in the playoffs in short order.
His talent is contagious, and it will be interesting to see how the Sharks, no strangers to deep postseason runs in recent years, play a loose, physical team that is looking to make a statement in its first playoff series in a decade.