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  • The Avalanche, Maple Leafs, Devils and Ducks all entered Monday down 0-2 in their first round series. Three of them picked up much-needed wins while the Ducks find themselves on the brink of elimination.
By Michael Blinn
April 17, 2018

For the third straight game, the Colorado Avalanche got on the board first against the Nashville Predators. Unlike the first two times, however, the Avalanche just kept on coming. 

Nathan MacKinnon notched a pair of goals—and almost had a third—as the Avs thrilled the home crowd with a 5-3 win on Monday, their first of the series that cut into the Predators’ lead. 

Blake Comeau opened the scoring 1:50 into the first period, tapping Carl Soderberg's pass past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne from the top of the crease. Gabriel Bourque then doubled Colorado's early lead at 13:24 with a redirection of Patrik Nemeth's wrist shot. With just under two minutes left in the frame, MacKinnon got in on the scoring, converting a half-ice breakaway for his second goal of the 2018 playoffs.

MacKinnon wasn't done, however, pouncing on a loose puck in the slot to give the Avalanche a 4-0 lead at 4:25 of the second period, ending Rinne's night with 11 saves on 15 shots. Linemate Gabriel Landeskog was awarded the game's final goal after getting hooked in front of the empty Nashville net at 18:24 of the third period while trying to set up MacKinnon for a hat trick.

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Avs goalie Jonathan Bernier made 29 saves, ceding goals to Ryan Johansen, Colton Sissions and Auston Watson, but held Nashville at bay for most of Game 3. Predators backup Juuse Saros fared better than Rinne on the evening, stopping all 18 shots that came his way in relief. 

Colorado gets the chance to knot the series in Game 4 on Wednesday.

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The Devils needed a win in Game 3, and of course Taylor Hall as the catalyst for it. The MVP candidate turned in a sterling performance in helping New Jersey climb out of a pair of one-goal deficits en route to a 5-2 win, becoming the first Devils player to notch three points in a playoff game since 2012. He was especially effective in the third period, racking up five scoring scoring chances and 1:21 of possession time in the offensive zone according to The Point. Cory Schneider was strong in his first start of the postseason, making 34 saves while his Lightning counterpart Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 36 of 39 on the night. 

The game was fraught with physical play toward the end of the third period, with a line brawl erupting in the final minute that saw all 10 skaters on the ice receive misconduct penalties. Don’t be surprised if some of that bad blood spills over into Game 4 on Wednesday. 

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After giving up three goals on five shots in Game 2, Frederik Andersen bounced back in a big way for the Maple Leafs in Game 3. The Danish goalie made 40 saves to backstop Toronto to its first win of the series, the biggest of which was a third-period down-and-out paddle save on Bruins forward David Pastrnak that kept it a 4-2 score with 2:14 left in the third. The Bruins, who came to Toronto having outscored the Leafs 12-4 in the first two games of the series, got goals from defensemen Adam McQuaid and Zdeno Chara, but were otherwise stymied by Andersen. Patrick Marleau tallied a pair of goals in the win, with James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews adding scores in the effort. Toronto looks to even out the series in Game 4 on Thursday.

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The Sharks scored seven unanswered goals to power their way to a 3-0 series lead over Anaheim. Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi led the way with a goal and two assists apiece as eight different San Jose scored goals and chased Ducks starter John Gibson after two periods, pushing their intrastate rival to the brink of elimination with the victory. Rickard Rakell scored for Anaheim, which has just three goals in the series. Sharks goalie Martin Jones continued to stump Anaheim, stopping 45 of 46 shots on the evening, giving him a .970 save percentage (98/101) through three starts.

San Jose will aim to finish off a sweep on Wednesday.

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Frederik Andersen made 40 saves on Monday, none more ridiculous than this one:


1. Taylor Hall, NJD — As he did all season, Hall put the Devils on his shoulders with a goal and two assists in front of the home crowd.

2. Nathan MacKinnon, COL — With the Avs facing an 0-3 hole, the speedster posted a pair of goals—he would've had a third, but a penalty gave the ENG to Gabriel Landeskog instead.

3. Patrick Marleau, TOR — The 38-year-old forward became the oldest player in Maple Leafs history to score a playoff goal, and then he added another to spark his young teammates.


You don’t have to tell the Capitals what’s at stake after falling behind 0-2 to the Columbus Jackets. Twice, they’ve carried the lead against Columbus, only to fall in overtime. "Obviously, we're disappointed and we're mad," center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We're going to do everything to turn things around. There's a lot of hockey left." The Caps will turn back to Braden Holtby on Tuesday, but they’ll be without forward Andre Burakovsky, who will stay in D.C. while recovering from an upper-body injury. For the Jackets, the game plan is simple: keep capitalizing on mistakes and ride Sergei Bobrovsky’s hot hand in the crease.

After being held to just three goals in the first two games against the Winnipeg Jets, the Minnesota Wild exploded for six goals in a Game 3 win on Sunday that halved the series deficit to 2-1. They’ll need to continue that kind of offensive output if they want to even things out in Game 4 on Tuesday. "It's always important, especially this time of the year but we need everyone to contribute, whether it's on the scoresheet or not, everyone's got to contribute in their own way," captain Zach Parise said. Despite the Wild offensive outburst, the Jets aim to take the series back home with another win under their belt, and they’ll count on goalie Connor Hellebuyck to bounce back: the rookie was 12-2-3 in games following a loss during the regular season.

The Golden Knights were a popular pick to be upset in the first round, but for a team that spend its first season defying expectation, why should the postseason be any different? Vegas rallied for a 3-1 win in Game 3 on Sunday night that pushed the L.A. Kings to the brink of elimination. The Kings, however, aren’t panicking. There’s plenty of holdovers from the 2014 team that became the fourth in league history to win a playoff series after being down 0-3. “We just got to win one game right now,” L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty said. “A series has so many momentum turns, and you never know what can happen if we win that next game."

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