Hockey Night in Canada


NHL playoffs: 3 things to know for Sunday

The Flames and Rangers will be fighting for their playoff lives Sunday night and can ill afford slow starts against the Ducks and Capitals, respectively. Here are three things to know heading into a critical evening of playoff hockey.

Capitals, Ducks could close things out tonight

No player faces more pressure for the Calgary Flames than goaltender Karri Ramo. (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames and New York Rangers will be fighting for their playoff lives Sunday night and can ill afford slow starts against the Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals, respectively.

Here are three things to know heading into a critical evening of playoff hockey:

All on Ramo

For the Flames, advancing past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004 isn't even a thought.

Instead, it's all about survival.

Trailing 3-1 in their series against the Anaheim Ducks, the Flames are simply looking to win Game 5 and book a return date back to Alberta.

No player faces the burden of Calgary's fate more than goaltender Karri Ramo.

Head coach Bob Hartley announced Ramo would start Game 5 on Saturday. Ramo, who took over from starter Jonas Hiller in Game 1, has had his ups and downs against the Ducks.

Ramo registered Calgary's only win in this series in Game 3. But considering the win-or-be-eliminated scenario the Flames face, not everyone is in favour of Hartely's decision to remain with the Finn.

Ducks own Flames

The Ducks have had their own problems putting together a playoff run since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. However, there is one big difference between the two clubs: Anaheim has owned Calgary at home.  

The Ducks have won 21 consecutive home games over the Flames, tied for second all-time behind Philadelphia's 23-game streak over Pittsburgh from 1980-87. Montreal also had 21-game streaks over the New York Rangers (1954-57) and Washington (1975-81).

For the Flames to end that ugly drought, they must somehow limit the 1-2 punch of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

Perry is riding a playoff-high 1.75 points per game, with Getzlaf second at 1.50. Getzlaf and Perry have also played in all 21 games on the home win streak over Calgary, recording 31 and 26 points, respectively.

Another chance to oust Rangers

The Capitals can end years of playoff futility with one more win against the Rangers in Game 6 (CBC,, 7 p.m. ET) on Sunday. Washington has a 3-2 series edge over New York.

A victory and Washington advances to hockey's final four since getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final in 1998.

It appeared that would happen two nights ago when the Caps were leading New York 1-0 with less than two minutes remaining. But Chris Kreider got the equalizer at 1:41, then captain Ryan McDonagh beat Braden Holtby midway through overtime for a rousing 2-1 victory.

Goals have been hard to come by in this series as New York's Henrik Lundqvist and Washington's Braden Holtby have been oustanding.

The star goaltenders have stopped 296 of 311 shots for a combined .952 save percentage.

"This might be the best goaltending performance, from both goaltenders, that we've seen in the playoffs this year, and maybe in the last decade," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

With files from The Associated Press


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