Alexander Radulov has keyed Montreal’s 2-1 series lead over the Rangers.Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2017

The Montreal Canadiens can put themselves in a commanding position in their first-round playoff series by taking advantage of the New York Rangers’ home woes.

The Habs did just that Sunday night in their 3-1 victory at Madison Square Garden, and their hosts have now dropped a franchise-record six straight home Stanley Cup playoff games. 

The Rangers closed the regular season by losing eight of their last 10 home games.

New York won 27 regular-season games on the road and showed the ability to win in front of a hostile crowd. However, this team has struggled when it comes to winning at home, and it appears to be a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation.

New York head coach Alain Vigneault is not interested in trends, jinxes or any other problems. His goal is to make sure the Rangers come out Tuesday night and play a tougher game than they did in Game 3.

“We’re going to go out, and we’re going to compete; we’re obviously going to make a few adjustments, and we’re going to play a lot better than we did [Sunday],” Vigneault told New York Post columnist Larry Brooks. 

NHL Playoff coverage for Tuesday, April 18
Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers Montreal, 2-1 7 p.m. USA Network
Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets Pittsburgh, 3-0 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks Edmonton, 2-1 10 p.m. NBCSN,

Montreal head coach Claude Julien has reinforced the Canadiens’ defensive system since he took over as head coach in February. They appeared to employ a lock-down style of defense after taking the lead at Madison Square Garden.

It would be in the Rangers’ best interest to take an early lead and make the Canadiens chase the game.

The Rangers are counting on Mats Zuccarello to lead their attack.

The Rangers are counting on Mats Zuccarello to lead their attack.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

If New York is going to assert itself on offense, Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash would appear to have the best chance to leading the charge. Zuccarello led the Rangers with 59 points in the regular season, while Nash scored 23 goals. Michael Grabner and J.T. Miller also need to make things happen on the offensive end for the Blueshirts.

The Canadiens are largely dependent on Carey Price in goal, but they also have been getting clutch play from Alexander Radulov. He scored the overtime winner in Game 2, and he also scored on a brilliant one-handed move in Game 3.

Look for the Rangers to leave it all on the ice in Game 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET, and it would not be a shock if it took overtime to decide the outcome.

The game will be televised on the USA Network and live-streamed at

After losing the first game at home, the Edmonton Oilers have looked like a veteran playoff team as they have picked up back-to-back shutout wins over the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers lead the series 2-1.

While Edmonton improved defensively this season, they have grown even more during the early stages of the postseason. Goalie Cam Talbot has been sharp, but it’s the team defense that has prevented the Sharks from getting many prime scoring opportunities.

The Oilers have not been scoring at their usual pace, the threat of the NHL’s leading scorer Connor McDavid has to remain top-of-mind for the Sharks. He gets plenty of support from veteran Milan Lucic and center Leon Draisaitl.

The Oilers have also found a surprise scorer in energy forward Zack Kassian, who has scored two goals in the series, and both of them have been game-winners.

The Sharks need stars Brent Burns, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture to find a way to beat Talbot, or their stay in the postseason will be short.

The Oilers appear to be the sharper and hungrier team through the first three games. Game 4 will be played in San Jose at 10 p.m. Tuesday night.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will try to close out the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m.

The Jackets tried to get back into the series Sunday night by taking an early 3-1 lead, but the experienced Pens never panicked and pulled out a 5-4 overtime victory. As a result, they lead the series by a 3-0 margin, and the Blue Jackets may not have much left in the tank.

Those are words that will never be heard in the Columbus locker room, but stud defenseman Zach Werenski is done for the year after breaking a bone in his face that left him with horrific swelling around his eyes.

The Game 3 loss was as painful as it was debilitating, and it would take a heroic effort for the Blue Jackets to come back in this series.

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