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Stanley Cup Playoff Storylines: May 9, 2022

We could see the first elimination of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but will the Predators find a way to extend the series? That, and the potential for three others teams to take a 3-1 series lead, highlight the upcoming slate of action.
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We could see the first elimination of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but will the Nashville Predators find a way to extend the series? That, and the potential for three others teams to take a 3-1 series lead, highlight the upcoming slate of action.

Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals 

Are the Panthers truly in trouble?

Is the Presidents' Trophy curse truly alive?

After finishing first in the NHL for the first time ever, the Florida Panthers enter Game 4 in Washington down 2-1. Not an insurmountable deficit, for sure, but one the Panthers couldn't have seen themselves sitting in at this stage.

Florida's dominant offense has been rather quiet over the past week, highlighted by a series of mistakes at both ends of the ice. They weren't able to take advantage of Ilya Samsonov and Washington's shaky goaltending in Game 3, something that helped them easily secure the win two nights prior.

The Panthers haven't played close to their potential yet, but a 3-1 disadvantage would be a huge backbreaker before heading back home. Every game is a must-win now.

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Can New York's defense shore things up?

Pittsburgh's offense has come alive in this series, with eight players scoring goals and Jake Guentzel leading the way with four. 

The Rangers, with Igor Shesterkin in net, have allowed 4.33 goals-per-game, trounced only by the Nashville Predators' 5.33. Ignoring the team's 53.7 shots-per-game due to the three-overtime affair messing those numbers up, the Rangers have surrendered too many high-danger opportunities and aren't getting support outside Adam Fox, K'Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba. 

The blueline was New York's shakiest position throughout much of the season and the Penguins are taking advantage of that. Shesterkin needs to shut things down in Game 4 to swing the momentum heading back to Madison Square Garden or else they'll be in true danger.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators

Can the Preds do something, anything, to save their season?

This is it. Do-or-die. 

The Nashville Predators need to win Game 4 to force a return to Colorado, but they're going to need a miracle. The Predators have just six goals in three games while allowing a playoff-high 5.33 goals-against-per-game and haven't found any chemistry against one of the league's top teams.

The goal is simple: score. Goals. Lots of them. They couldn't take advantage of Darcy Kuemper leaving Game 3 with an injury and fell short in an impressive Game 2 effort. The Avalanche were always expected to win, especially with Predators goalie Juuse Saros out of the picture. But tonight, there's no room for any mistakes. It's now or never.

Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars

Calgary's offense needs to figure it out

Given the rest of the playoffs have been full of high-scoring, one-sided affairs, this series has managed to stay relatively close. A pair of shutouts split the quarterfinal matchup in half to begin, with Dallas finally spicing things up with a 4-2 win in Game 3.

So, with three goals in three games, this is where the Flames need to awaken their offense that has been eerily quiet so far.

If that sounds familiar, it's because that's what the Game 3 game plan was for Calgary, too. Elias Lindholm (two) and Matthew Tkachuk (one) are the only goal scorers for the Flames, while Tyler Toffoli and Andrew Mangiapane have yet to record a point. In similar fashion to the 2019 playoffs when Calgary looked like a favorite to win the title, the team's offense has completely dried up, with Dallas' defense and star goaltender getting the job done.

Simply put, the Flames can't afford to let that happen again.

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