NHL playoffs: 3 things to know for tonight's games
Calgary, Minnesota return home in dire straits
The Flames and Wild hope a change in venue is the cure for their second-round ills, while the Ducks and Blackhawks look to put a strangehold on their reeling opponents.
Here are three things to know for tonight's NHL playoff games:
Flames running on empty?
It's unwise to count a team out of a series before it's played a home game, but the Flames and Wild are in dire straits after each losing a pair on the road to open their best-of-seven series.
Calgary looked overmatched in Anaheim, getting outplayed, outmuscled and outscored 9-1 in the two games there. It's fair to wonder whether the overachieving Flames, who have defied their low-end possession indicators all season, have finally run out of gas.
True, Calgary won all three of its first-round games at the Saddledome, where the "C of Red" crowd is sure to create another intimidating atmosphere for the visitors and the officials in Game 3 tonight (9:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. MT), but those victories came against a Vancouver team that's clearly inferior to Anaheim. The Ducks are also seasoned road warriors after winning a pair of games in Winnipeg's raucous arena during their opening-round sweep.
Calgary has shown plenty of heart this season, but it's hard to see a way back here. Even if they can win all their home games, the Flames need to take one in Anaheim, where they've lost 20 straight regular-season meetings and showed no signs of being able to reverse that trend in the first two games of this series.
Perry very good
A top priority for Calgary: figuring a way to contain Corey Perry. The imposing Ducks winger is playing out of his mind, soaring to the top of the playoff scoring race with 13 points. That's three more than anyone else, and no one has played fewer than his six games, with some now having 10 under their belts.
Perry already has six points in this series, and his four-point night in Game 1 made him the first player since big Keith Primeau in 2004 to lay down multiple quads in a single playoff campaign.
Wild in same boat
So we already covered Calgary's plight against Anaheim. A similar storyline in playing out in the Minnesota-Chicago series. The Wild return home for Game 3 tonight (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET*) facing a 2-0 deficit after losing two more games in a place where they can't seem to win in the playoffs.
Minnesota's 4-3 and 4-1 losses at Chicago were its seventh and eighth in a row in post-season games held in the Second City (Or the Windy City. Or the City of Broad Shoulders. Does any town have more nicknames?). Those were also the Wild's first back-to-back defeats in regulation since Jan. 11 and 13 — right before they acquired goalie Devan Dubnyk and he helped them turn their season around by making 39 straight starts and going 27-9-2 to end the regular season.
The Blackhawks eliminated the Wild from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and a hat trick could be in the offing unless Dubnyk and his teammates recapture the high level of play they showed in a first-round win over St. Louis.
*Due to today's Alberta election, the Blackhawks-Wild game will not be broadcast on CBC TV in the province. Alberta viewers can stream the game to their desktops on CBCSports.ca or watch on TV on Sportsnet 360.