New York Rangers - Philadelphia Flyers
Tied 1-1 going into the third New York's powerplay punished some Philly indiscipline to build a two goal advantage, the Flyers were limited to just a single shot on net in those final 20 minutes so Henrik Lundqvist barely broke into a sweat.
Brad Richards stole the show with the game winning goal and a pair of assists, Martin St Louis also chipped in with two helpers and those two won the Cup together in Tampa 10 years ago. Managing to win the physical battle was highly significant for the Rangers too, for the most part Philly have them outmatched in terms of size up front but their energy made up for that disadvantage.
That stronghold opened up the ice for speedsters Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin to go to work with each grabbing a goal and providing a threat throughout, either would be solid options to net again at 3.50 and 4.20 respectively. More bad news for the Flyers is that goalie Steve Mason has still not recovered from an injury suffered in the penultimate game of the regular season, he's played a huge part in getting them to this point but it will be left to Ray Emery to continue and the backup is averaging close to three goals against per game for this year. All signs point to another Rangers victory tonight.
Montreal Canadiens - Tampa Bay Lightning
Losing both home games puts Tampa Bay in a deep hole as the series relocates north of the border to Bell Centre.
Before Game 1 I commented that Montreal's risk-taking defencemen could decide the matchup and it's turned out extremely well for them so far, smooth handling of the puck at the blueline is allowing them to sustain pressure in the offensive zone without giving up rushes for the Bolts' quick forwards. Up front there's an element of redemption about the contributions of Rene Bourque, Lars Eller and Daniel Briere who posted disappointing numbers during the regular season, Michel Therrien just wants his charges to sustain their intensity which should be easy now in front of their own fans.
Tampa's goaltending is becoming another defining factor with rookie Kristers Gudlevskis a candidate to replace Andres Lindback tonight despite the Swede hardly being at fault for Tampa's shortcomings, in the opposing net Carey Price is totally composed and secure. Friday's contest only saw the Canadiens assume further control rather than any sort of fightback, take Montreal over the -1.5 handicap at 2.70.
Best Bet: New York Rangers to win at 1.95.