Five things to know about the NHL playoffs

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The buzzword this morning in Edmonton and Tampa Bay is "comeback."

The two-time defending champion Lightning are down 2-0 to the New York Rangers, reminding themselves there's no reason to panic unless you lose at home. And Game 3 goes today at Amalie Arena in Florida.

In Edmonton, where the Oilers are down 3-0 to the Colorado Avalanche after losing 4-2 last night, "Canada's team" is chirping about playing one game at a time, missed opportunities and the fact that it's never over until it's over.

Doubt that enthusiasm? Check out Ball Arena in Denver and you'll see that New Kids on the Block has launched a comeback tour and playing a concert there next week in-between Avs' playoff games. They were a popular boy band in the '80s who obviously feel there's still much more to give with old hits like Step by Step and Hanging Tough. You know, songs which the Oiler faithful can really relate to this morning.

Here are five things you need to know about the NHL playoffs heading into today's action:

FAST START FIZZLES OUT

Oilers' captain Connor McDavid scored 38 seconds into last night's game and Rogers Place was warming up the La Bamba soundtrack.

Then, at 1:06 of the first period, the Avalanche lost point producer Nazem Kadri when Evander Kane hit him from behind and was assessed a five-minute major for boarding. Despite the loss of Kadri — who entered the game tied for fourth on Colorado with six goals and 14 points in 12 playoff games — and killing the penalty to Kane, the Oilers couldn't produce a knockout goal.

The Avalanche bounced back and eventually delivered their own K-O when J.T. Compher — who replaced Kadri on the top line — scored at 12:42 of the third to snap a 2-2 deadlock.

After the game, it was announced that Kadri would miss the remainder of the series with an undisclosed injury. It was reported the forward was seen leaving the arena with a cast on his right arm.

Game 4 in the series goes Monday in Edmonton. Game 5, if necessary, is Wednesday in Denver.

FRANKIE SHINES IN RELIEF

When starting goalie Darcy Kuemper was injured in Game 1 of the Oilers-Avalanche series, oddsmakers immediately liked Edmonton's chances of filling Colorado's net.

But Pavel Francouz hasn't missed a beat as backup. After recording a Game 2 shutout, he made 27 saves in Game 3, including a game-saving glove stop off of McDavid with 8:20 to go in the third and the game tied 2-2. His captain was so impressed he was chipping in with the "Frankie, Frankie" chants.

“Frankie’s quick and got over there and made a great stop on (McDavid),” Nathan MacKinnon said. “That shows some strength to be able to reset after they tie it up in the fashion they did and be able to reset and get back to it.”

McDAVID'S NUMBERS IMPRESS

His dream of winning a Stanley Cup took a major hit with last night's loss, but McDavid refuses to go down without a fight

His early goal last night gave him an NHL-leading 30 points in 15 playoff games. That tied Rick Middleton (15 contests in 1983) for the sixth-fewest games in NHL history to reach the mark in a post-season, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (11 in 1983, 12 in 1985, and 14 in 1988), Mario Lemieux (13 in 1992) and Mark Messier (14 in 1988).

McDavid also became the sixth player in franchise history to post 30 points in the post-season and the first in 32 years.

SHESTY'S THE BESTIE IN EAST SERIES

Despite leading the New York Rangers to within two games of a berth in the Stanley Cup final, netminder Igor Shesterkin insists he's the second-best stopper in the Eastern Conference final.

"I still stand by my opinion that Andrei (Vasilevskiy) is the best goalie in the world," said Shesterkin, who will face the Lightning later today in Game 3.

“Igor's unreal,” Rangers defenceman said yesterday. “You see it every game, he has a number of highlight-reel saves. Obviously, we have a lot of trust in him and kinda let him do his thing. Obviously, we try to limit the chances that he sees by blocking shots and doing those little things.

“But Shesty’s Shesty. He’s gonna stop the puck if he sees it.”

CHAMPS NO STRANGER TO ADVERSITY

With some puck pundits suggesting the Rangers are well on their way to dismantling the Tampa Bay dynasty, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos grinned before offering his input about writing off the two-time defending champions.

"You’re going to come across some adverse moments," said Stamkos. "This is certainly one of them, but you have to look at the team that we’re playing, how they got there. (The Rangers) were down 2-zip last series, 3-1 in the first round, so the recipe’s there. But we still have a long ways to go in this series."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2022

Gord Kurenoff, The Canadian Press

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