Five things to know about the NHL playoffs

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Not since Fyre Festival has so much been written about a no-show, yet hours before the Colorado Avalanche and Oilers took to the ice for Game 4 in Edmonton, a lot of scribes served up a tsunami of words about Nazem Kadri's repaired thumb and Evander Kane's modified mood.

Neither player laced up last night, one recovering from surgery, one suspended for making the doctor's visit necessary.

The 31-year-old Kadri, who recorded six goals and eight assists in 13 playoff games, teased reporters saying he might return to action before the playoffs end. And that might happen considering the Avs may have a nine- to 12-day rest before the Stanley Cup final starts.

Kane and "Canada's team" won't be back until next season.

Here are five things to know heading into tonight's playoff action:

NO PARTICIPATION MEDAL FOR OIL LEAK

When the Edmonton Oilers went up 4-2 in the third period, it appeared the Alberta squad had all but booked their Denver hotel rooms for Game 5. But by 14:47 of the final frame, the Avs had a 5-4 lead and the Oilers were doing all the chasing to force overtime. Then it was over faster than you can say "where's the broom?"

Losing goaltender Mike Smith, who saw a lot of rubber in the short series, wasn't in the mood to pick out Oiler highlights after the series sweep.

"There's no participation medal," said the 40-year-old. "It's very disappointing. It's hard to get to this point."

Captain Connor McDavid tried to look at his battered team's bright spots during the playoff run.

"It feels like it's (we've taken) steps. You look at a Colorado team that's been in that situation many, many times. They're knocking on the door right now. It's a step in the right direction (for us), but that's all it is."

MAKAR MAKES NOISE IN CLINCHER

Defenceman Cale Makar, who assisted on the overtime winner as part of his five-point night, has recorded nine of his 22 total points this post-season in potential series-clinching games. The 23-year-old became the eighth different player in NHL history — and first in 35 years — to put his team into the Stanley Cup final with a five-point showing.

As impressive as Makar has been in his young career, this is his first five-point game, regular season or playoffs. The offensive explosion has him up to five goals, 17 assists, 51 shots on net and a plus-11 rating through 14 playoff contests.

DRAISAITL HOBBLES TO THE END

Edmonton Oiler forward Leon Draisaitl, described as a "complete warrior" by dejected goaltender Smith after Monday's overtime loss, did more on one leg in the playoffs than many did on two.

With four assists in his team's final game of the season, the native of Cologne, Germany finished with 32 playoff points (seven goals, 25 assists), one less than teammate McDavid.

After the game, Draisaitl deflected attention away from his leg and ankle and pointed to the gutsy efforts of his teammates against a superior opponent that, so far, hasn't lost a playoff game on the road.

Oilers' interim head coach Jay Woodcroft, who described Game 4 as a wild boxing match, was upset his team's five-goal output wasn't enough to win a playoff game, but refused to point fingers during the post-game media session. He'll let the fans do that.

CENTRE OF ATTENTION

Ryan Strome is expected to play for the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Amalie Arena despite a lower-body injury sustained during the second period of Game 3 on Sunday

Coach Gerard Gallant said he "fully expects" to have the centre back. Strome was injured after getting shoved from behind by Lightning forward Ondrej Palat in the second period of Game 3. Strome hobbled through the players' bench door and went straight to the dressing room. He returned for one shift but left before intermission and did not return for the third.

"Guys on both teams are hurt at this time of year and they just find a way to play," said Gallant.

RANGERS WANT CREASE AND DESIST ORDER

The New York Rangers are unhappy with the Lightning's treatment of their goaltender Igor Shesterkin. And coach Gallant plans to have a conversation with the league about it before the puck is dropped tonight.

The Lightning seemed to make it a point to get in Shesterkin’s face in Game 3 in an attempt to throw him off his game, starting several scrums around the Rangers’ crease. At one point, Corey Perry took a slashing penalty after referees deemed he had gone too far with Shesterkin, leading to Mika Zibanejad’s opening goal at 7:37 of the second. Riley Nash also took a penalty for goaltender interference at 8:23 of the second, leading to Chris Kreider’s power-play goal.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper insisted it wasn’t part of their plan to be physical with Shesterkin.

“I don’t think they could have called it any tighter,” Cooper said. “There were three penalties on goalie interference (between both teams). Is a part of this game being net front? Yes. Was that part of our game plan, to knock him over? No. That first penalty, we were on a four-on-three power play and we take ourselves off it."

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2022

Gord Kurenoff, The Canadian Press

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