Stanley Cup Playoffs: Tuesday’s NHL betting preview

It should be a great night of Stanley Cup Playoffs action Tuesday night with four fantastic matchups (two in the East and two in the West). Who will take the pivotal 2-1 edge in the Penguins/Rangers series? Can the Blues tighten the noose on the Blackhawks? Can the Ducks get things turned around on the road? Stay tuned.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings (A: +107, H: -130, O/U: 5)

Lightning lead series 2-1

The Detroit Red Wings have shown they are not going away easily and can even the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit for Game 4 on Tuesday. The Red Wings limited Tampa Bay to 16 shots on net in Sunday’s 2-0 victory and goaltender Petr Mrazek notched his third shutout in eight playoff starts against the Lightning.

“I thought everyone really battled hard,” Detroit center Luke Glendening told reporters. “We got a ton of energy from our fans, which was awesome. … But it was just one game. Now we’ve got to go get the next one.” Glendening was instrumental – along with Justin Abdelkader and Riley Sheahan — in holding the red-hot line of Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov without a shot Sunday after the trio recorded 15 points in the first two games. “It’s frustrating that we just didn’t play our best,” Johnson told reporters. “We know we need to be better. The team needs to be better. It starts with us.” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning needed more “will” to get pressure on Mrazek and told reporters, “it went from us pinning them against the wall, to now it’s a series.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS2, FSN Detroit, FSN Florida (Tampa Bay)

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (48-32-5, 35-50 ATS, 35-40 O/U): Tampa Bay’s penalty-killing unit has been outstanding in the series (16-for-17), but the Lightning could not generate much offense Sunday while losing puck battles and being forced to blank Detroit on seven power-play tries. Goalie Ben Bishop has allowed two goals or fewer in 20-of-27 career playoff games and told reporters, “We expected them to be desperate. Now it’s our turn to turn the tables.” Erik Condra took the spot in the lineup vacated by fellow forward J.T. Brown (upper body), who is lost for the series, and was a minus-1 while playing only 7:28 on Sunday.

ABOUT THE RED WINGS (42-32-11, 32-53 ATS, 32-37 O/U): Mrazek told reporters he is confident despite posting an .884 save percentage in March and taking over for Jimmy Howard, who played the first two games of the series. “I think it’s positive he’s had the opportunity to get away and just get back to work on his game.” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told reporters of Mrazek. Blashill shuffled his lines, moving captain Henrik Zetterberg between Gustav Nyquist and Dylan Larkin while Pavel Datsyuk centered Brad Richards and Darren Helm, and Andreas Athanasiou played with Joakim Andersson and Tomas Tatar in Game 3.

TRENDS:

* Lightning are 4-1 in their last 5 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Red Wings are 0-4 in their last 4 Tuesday games.
* Home team is 8-0 in the last 8 meetings.
* Under is 5-1-1 in the last 7 meetings in Detroit.

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (A: -115, H: -105, O/U: 5.5)

Series ties 1-1

Just as it appeared the sky was falling for the New York Rangers, star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist returned to the lineup from a potentially serious eye injury to restore order in Gotham. After salvaging a split on the road, Lundqvist and the Rangers look to make it two straight wins against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins in Tuesday night’s Game 3 of the first-round series.

Lundqvist, who had to leave Game 1 after taking a stick in the eye from teammate Marc Staal, made 29 saves to level the series at a game apiece while beating Pittsburgh for the eighth time in his last 10 postseason matchups. His return also shifted the focus back to issues in net for the Penguins, who have been forced to start third-stringer Jeff Zatkoff in Games 1 and 2. Starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury remains day-to-day with a concussion sustained on March 31 while backup Matt Murray returned to practice Monday after suffering a concussion in the regular-season finale. New York received more good news on the injury front as captain Ryan McDonagh (hand) was back at practice Monday, although coach Alain Vigneault termed him “doubtful.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET; USA, Sportsnet, TVAS, ROOT (Pittsburgh), MSG (New York)

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (49-27-8, 38-46 ATS, 38-32 O/U): The goaltendending situation remains in flux for Pittsburgh, with Fleury acknowledging “it’s frustrating to not play and still be talking about it” and Murray telling reporters: “When I’m healthy, when I’m 100 percent, I’ll be ready to play in games.” The Penguins had won 14 of 16 prior to Saturday’s loss and one of the questions was whether the return of star center Evgeni Malkin after a five-week injury absence had a detrimental effect on the team’s chemistry. Despite the devastating potential of a line featuring Malkin and captain Sidney Crosby, coach Mike Sullivan had Malkin centering rookie Conor Sheary and Eric Fehr during Monday’s practice.

ABOUT THE RANGERS (47-28-9, 40-44 ATS, 38-28 O/U): Vigneault expressed surprise that McDonagh was a full participant in Monday’s practice and while the coach said it was unlikely that his captain will be back in the lineup Tuesday, he hedged that by adding: “Stranger things have happened.” J.T. Miller tied a franchise record with three assists — all coming in the second period — while Derick Brassard snapped out of his offensive funk by scoring once and setting up a pair of tallies to give him seven goals in his past 10 postseason games against the Penguins. With Dan Girardi ruled out for Game 3, New York recalled fellow defenseman Raphael Diaz from Hartford for the American Hockey League.

TRENDS:

* Penguins are 9-1 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Penguins are 8-1 in their last 9 road games.
* Over is 5-0-4 in Rangers last 9 home games.
* Over is 3-0-2 in the last 5 meetings.

St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks (A: +140, H: -160, O/U: 5)

Blues lead series 2-1

Patrick Kane scored a career-high 46 goals this season and captain Jonathan Toews, Andrew Ladd and Marian Hossa are capable of giving goaltenders nightmares with their offensive play as well. Despite collectively unleashing 48 shots on net, the Chicago Blackhawks’ quartet still is in search of its first goal heading into Tuesday’s Game 4 of the first-round series versus the visiting St. Louis Blues.

“I don’t think frustration’s the word,” Kane (13 shots) told the Chicago Sun-Times. “(But) obviously, when it’s not going in, you’re not doing your job. That’s something we’ll have to step up here the rest of the series.” Brian Elliott certainly has been doing his job, stopping 105-of-109 shots – including a playoff career-high 44-save performance in a 3-2 win on Sunday to give St. Louis a 2-1 advantage in the series. The 31-year-old has recorded a stingy 1.28 goals-against average and scintillating .963 save percentage to keep the defending Stanley Cup champions on edge. “Yeah, he’s been OK,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said with a smile.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVAS, SN, FSN-Midwest (St. Louis), CSN Chicago

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE BLUES (51-25-9, 38-47 ATS, 32-41 O/U): Captain David Backes set up Jaden Schwartz’s power-play goal with 6:38 remaining in the third period on Sunday to extend his point streak to seven games (three goals, six assists). Fellow forward Steve Ott didn’t dent the scoresheet in his return from a four-plus-month absence due to a hamstring injury, but his abrasive style during his 13 shifts scored points with his teammates. “He was in everybody’s face. We need that from him,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “That’s why I used to hate playing against him, but I like him now.”

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (48-27-10, 37-48 ATS, 30-33 O/U): Chicago isn’t about to get hang its head with its current deficit in the series – after all, it lost the first two games of its first-round series versus St. Louis in 2014 and won the next four contests. Taken a step further, the Blackhawks own a sizzling 43-14 mark in Games 4-7 of a postseason series under the watchful eye of coach Joel Quenneville. “You look back at what we’ve done and how we’ve been successful in the past, coming back in the series, I think it’s the character in the room from the coaching staff to all the players,” forward Andrew Shaw told the team website on Monday. “We feed off each other and we always stick together through thick and thin, and we always seem to come out on top.”

TRENDS:

* Blues are 6-0 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Over is 8-0-3 in Blues last 11 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Under is 3-0-3 in the last 6 meetings.
* Blues are 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Chicago.

Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators (A: -115, H: -105, O/U: 5)

Predators lead series 2-0

The Anaheim Ducks had to overcome a wretched start to the season to capture their fourth consecutive Pacific Division title and they will have to dig themselves out of another hole when they visit the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night in Game 3 of their first-round series. Anaheim heads to Tennessee staring at a 2-0 deficit after dropping a pair of 3-2 decisions at home.

“You never want to go down 2-0 in your own building. We got to go on the road and do something now,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. ” … We’ve been doing things the hard way all year so we’re looking forward to that challenge in Game 3.” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau made no effort to hide his displeasure with his team’s play in Game 2, using the terms “stupid,” “selfish” and “dumb” in his postgame media conference. Nashville, which finished as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, is in possession of its first 2-0 series lead in franchise history and can push the Ducks to the brink of elimination Tuesday night. “It’s a seven-game series for a reason,” cautioned Predators captain Shea Weber. “They’re going to come out with an even better effort (Tuesday), so I don’t think we can sit back here and dwell on anything we’ve done so far. It’s just going to get harder.”

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, USA, TVAS 2, Sportsnet360, Prime Ticket (Anaheim), FSN Tennessee (Nashville)

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE DUCKS (46-27-11, 39-45 ATS, 32-34 O/U): Anaheim finished the season with the top-ranked power-play and penalty-killing units in the league, but giving Nashville five opportunities with the man advantage is what drew the ire of Boudreau, who lauded the effort of his team but bristled at the accompanying “foolishness.” Prior to Sunday’s game, Boudreau reaffirmed his faith in goaltender John Gibson, but he later described his play as “OK” amid speculation that the Ducks could turn to Frederik Andersen, who is 17-1-2 in his over 20 starts and blanked Washington in the regular-season finale. Forward Corey Perry, who scored a team-high 34 goals this season, failed to record a shot on goal in Game 2.

ABOUT THE PREDATORS (43-27-14, 36-48 ATS, 33-33 O/U): Nashville’s defensemen scored a league-high 55 goals during the regular season and flexed their collective muscles again in Game 2, with Mattias Ekholm and Weber supplying one tally apiece and fellow blue-liner Roman Josi collecting a pair of assists. Goaltender Pekka Rinne posted the season-lowest save percentage (.908) of his career, but he was superb in Game 2, giving up the second goal late in the third on a deflection off Josi’s stick. “He’s a terrific goalie,” coach Peter Laviolette said of Rinne. “We always accept a little bit of responsibility back three or four months ago for not doing the right things in front of him, and now we’re playing better in front of him.”

TRENDS:

* Ducks are 4-1 in their last 5 road games.
* Under is 5-0-1 in Ducks last 6 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 4-0 in Predators last 4 Tuesday games.
* Over is 17-4-6 in the last 27 meetings.

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