Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Monday NHL playoff preview

NASHVILLE — The Blackhawks know one thing with an absolute certainty: They must play better.

Scoring their first goal against Pekka Rinne this postseason would be a good start.

Instead, the Western Conference's top seed trails the Predators 0-2 after being shut out twice in their first-round series and looks nothing like the team favored to reach the Stanley Cup final.

"I think we all thought the series would be in a different place right now," Chicago forward Patrick Kane said.

The Predators are the fifth team in NHL history to start a postseason with back-to-back road shutouts, the first since Toronto in 2001, Elias Sports said.

Nashville also is just the third in league history to post consecutive playoff shutouts in Chicago, joining the 1960 Canadiens and 2002 Blues.

St. Louis took that series 4-1.

"It's a tough hole to be in right now," Kane said. "We can learn from these games, make the necessary adjustments. We've been a good road team all year, so hopefully that comes into play here. I don't think we need to lose confidence or swagger or anything like that. Bring that next game."

The Capitals lost home-ice advantage to the Maple Leafs on Kasperi Kapanen's double overtime winner in Game 2 , but coach Barry Trotz and his players aren't in panic mode with the series tied at one game each. At least not yet.

Trotz is considering lineup adjustments going into Game 3 Monday night. Washington is not in a hole like Chicago, but it's not all rosy for the Presidents' Trophy winners.

"We've responded all year to any adversity we've had this year," Trotz said on a conference call Sunday. "We'll get things corrected; we'll be better. It's more of a marathon than a sprint, and there's no easy games in the playoffs, and there will be adjustments."

•••

Ottawa at Boston, tied 1-1 (7 p.m., CNBC)

The Bruins are back in Boston hoping to start healing a bit, and forward Noel Acciari could be the next to return. He skated Sunday morning and could play Monday night.

"Noel was playing good hockey when he got hurt," Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said. "There's a good chance he'll draw back into the lineup. But, again, those are all things we'll sort through in the morning."

But David Krejci, Torey Krug, and Adam McQuaid did not skate and remain day-to-day. Cassidy said they'll see who can skate Monday morning and go from there.

Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, but Ottawa got back defenseman Marc Methot in Game 2 for the first time since he was hurt March 23. Coach Guy Boucher has a healthy roster if Borowiecki can't go with the Senators feeling pretty confident after an overtime win to tie the series .

"We're looking to start the right way, like we finished," Ottawa defenseman Chris Wideman said.

•••

Capitals at Maple Leafs, tied 1-1 (7 p.m., NBCSN)

Not only are the Maple Leafs going home for the first playoff game in Toronto since 2013 , they also might get top-pairing defenseman Nikita Zaitsev back after missing the first two games with an upper-body injury. He skated Saturday and Sunday, and his return would be a big boost especially in the absence of Roman Polak, who's done for the playoffs after suffering a knee injury in Game 2.

"We're going to get better and better in the series, obviously, as our confidence grows and we get used to it," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby tied his career high with 47 saves in Game 2, only to be matched save for save by Frederik Andersen. Holtby said the key is to focus on the next game.

"You don't want it to be easy," Holtby said. "It's one of the beautiful things about playoffs … how hard it is. Now we go to Toronto with the mind-set that we can play a hard, road, gritty style of game."

•••

Blackhawks at Predators, Predators lead 2-0 (9:30 p.m., CNBC)

The Predators blew a 2-0 lead earned in Anaheim a year ago by losing both games in Nashville in a first-round series eventually won in seven games. They insist a painful lesson was learned as they try to protect this lead.

"We've got a good start, but we've done nothing yet," Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm said.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville is sticking with Corey Crawford in net but looking at other lineup changes. Scoring is the Blackhawks' biggest challenge so far.

"We have to find a way to score the first goal," Chicago forward Marian Hossa said. "That's the No. 1 thing."

———

Ducks at Flames, Ducks lead 2-0 (10 p.m., NBCSN)

With this series shifting to Calgary, the Flames can forget about losing 29 straight in Anaheim and the bounce off Lance Bouma's skate to give Ryan Getzlaf the winning goal in Anaheim's 3-2 win in Game 2 on Saturday night. Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said Calgary has played well enough to win.

"Now we've talked about momentum in the series and momentum within a game," Gulutzan said. "(The Ducks have) got the bounces, and we need to just keep working until we get the bounces. This thing can change quickly. Momentum can swing."

Anaheim took Sami Vatanen on the road trip despite his upper-body injury that made him a late scratch Saturday night. Coach Randy Carlyle said Vatanen will be reassessed Monday.

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