Hockey Today April 25

Hockey Today April 25

Hockey Today

N.Y. Rangers at Pittsburgh (7 p.m. EDT). Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr, who won two Stanley Cup titles with the Penguins, returns to the Steel City for his first playoff appearance against his former team.

STARS

-Alex Kovalev and Tom Kostopoulos, Canadiens. Kovalev scored twice, including with 28.6 seconds left in regulation, and Kostopoulos scored 48 seconds into overtime to lift Montreal over Philadelphia 4-3.

-Johan Franzen, Red Wings, scored two goals and had an assist to help Detroit get past Colorado 4-3.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Philadelphia fell to Montreal 4-3 in overtime on Thursday in a game it was leading 2-0 after one period. The Flyers also went up 3-2 early in the third but surrendered the lead with 28.6 seconds left. Philadelphia also blew two-goal leads in Games 1 and 6 of its first-round series against Washington, and lost both games.

AVALANCHE OF INJURIES

Peter Forsberg sat out Colorado's 4-3 series-opening loss to Detroit on Thursday after pulling his groin in the team's morning skate. The Avalanche also pulled goalie Jose Theodore early in the second period and sent him to the team hotel, saying he was sick, after giving up four goals on 16 shots. Colorado also had forward Wojtek Wolski on the ice for less than 4 minutes before he left the game with an upper-body injury.

GOOD SPORTS

Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, Buffalo's Jason Pominville and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis are finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy given to the NHL player who best combines sportsmanship with playing ability. Datsyuk won the Lady Byng in 2006 and 2007, and could become the first player to win it three times in a row since the New York Rangers' Frank Boucher captured the award from 1933-35. Boucher won the award seven times in eight seasons.

SPEAKING

``If you were to ask the guys that played in those series, they wouldn't be commenting on this one now. So, I don't really feel that this is the time for me to comment on or compare the series because there's new players on both sides.'' - Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, on comparing the Red Wings' current series with Colorado to past playoff matchups between the two teams. Osgood made 18 saves to help Detroit beat the Avalanche 4-3 in Game 1 on Thursday.

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NHL LONG SHEET

NY RANGERS (46-27-0-14, 106 pts.) at PITTSBURGH (51-27-0-8, 110 pts.)


Top Trends for this game.
NY RANGERS are 6-15 ATS (-14.5 Units) after 3 or more consecutive overs over the last 3 seasons.
PITTSBURGH is 51-35 ATS (+8.6 Units) in all games this season.
PITTSBURGH is 31-17 ATS (+2.0 Units) second half of the season this season.
PITTSBURGH is 85-45 ATS (+33.3 Units) in home games after a win by 2 goals or more since 1996.
PITTSBURGH is 41-36 ATS (-4.2 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
NY RANGERS are 11-4 ATS (+15.2 Units) in road games after scoring 4 goals or more in their previous game this season.
NY RANGERS are 16-5 ATS (+9.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season this season.
PITTSBURGH is 36-60 ATS (+98.4 Units) when playing with 3 or more days rest since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
PITTSBURGH is 11-13 (+0.4 Units) against the spread versus NY RANGERS over the last 3 seasons
NY RANGERS is 13-11-0 straight up against PITTSBURGH over the last 3 seasons
15 of 23 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+5.9 Units)


DALLAS (49-32-0-7, 105 pts.) at SAN JOSE (53-26-0-10, 116 pts.)

Top Trends for this game.
DALLAS is 54-58 ATS (-34.2 Units) when playing with 3 or more days rest since 1996.
SAN JOSE is 74-44 ATS (+4.4 Units) in April games since 1996.
DALLAS is 19-13 ATS (+34.3 Units) in a road game where where the total is 5 or less this season.
DALLAS is 22-13 ATS (+8.8 Units) in road games vs. division opponents over the last 2 seasons.
DALLAS is 28-17 ATS (+45.0 Units) in road games after a win by 2 goals or more over the last 3 seasons.
DALLAS is 10-2 ATS (+12.2 Units) in road games after scoring 4 goals or more in their previous game this season.
DALLAS is 22-16 ATS (+39.7 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
DALLAS is 14-8 ATS (+22.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season this season.
SAN JOSE is 51-58 ATS (-35.9 Units) in home games when playing with 2 days rest since 1996.
SAN JOSE is 6-10 ATS (-14.1 Units) in home games vs. division opponents this season.

Head-to-Head Series History
DALLAS is 13-11 (+2.9 Units) against the spread versus SAN JOSE over the last 3 seasons
DALLAS is 13-11-0 straight up against SAN JOSE over the last 3 seasons
11 of 21 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+0.2 Units)

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NHL SHORT SHEET

Second Round
Game One
Series Tied, 0-0
NY Rangers at Pittsburgh, 7:05 ET

NY Rangers:
9-15 SU if 8+ goals were scored last game
3-9 SU off a road game where both teams score 3+

Pittsburgh:
31-16 SU off an Under
11-2 SU at home revenging a road loss


Second Round
Game One
Series Tied, 0-0
Dallas at San Jose, 10:05 ET

Dallas:
10-2 SU Away after scoring 4+ goals
22-13 SU Away vs. division

San Jose:
6-10 SU at home vs. division
4-8 SU at home vs. Dallas

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2008 NHL playoffs

Home side is 10-1 in last 11 Ranger-Penguin games, with Pens winning seven of last nine at home vs Blueshirts. The under is 11-4 in last fifteen series games. Pittsburgh squashed Ottawa in first round, sweeping Senators, while Rangers had surprisingly easy time beating Devils in five- only one of their four wins was by a single goal.

Road team was 6-2 in Dallas-San Jose games this season, with Stars 3-1 in last four visits to Shark Tank; over last three years, Stars are 8-4 in this building. Over is 6-2-1 in last nine games in this series. Sharks needed seven games to win in first round vs Calgary, while Dallas has little extra rest after upsetting champ Ducks in six games in first round.

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NHL Trend Sheet

7:00 PM NY RANGERS vs. PITTSBURGH
NY Rangers are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of the NY Rangers last 7 games
Pittsburgh is 5-1 SU in their last 6 games when playing at home against NY Rangers
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Pittsburgh's last 8 games when playing at home against NY Rangers


10:00 PM DALLAS vs. SAN JOSE
Dallas is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Dallas's last 9 games
San Jose is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Dallas
The total has gone OVER in 4 of San Jose's last 6 games when playing Dalla

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A battle of agitators in Penguins-Rangers series
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Apparently, it takes an agitator to know how to agitate another team's agitator.

The Pittsburgh Penguins watched with only a hint of amusement, and a great measure of disdain, when New York Rangers forward Sean Avery repeatedly waved his hands in the face of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur during a first-round playoff game.

The NHL moved quickly to ban such goalie-distracting tactics, but the Penguins weren't surprised it was Avery, a longtime antagonist, who would stoop to employing such tactics.

''He's going to play his game no matter what, especially in the playoffs,'' Penguins star Sidney Crosby said Wednesday. ''He's an agitator and he knows his role. Those guys take a lot of pride in what they do and playing a tough game, and that's part of the playoffs.''

Oddsmakers have the Penguins favored at -140 Friday night and -130 to win the series.

Pittsburgh's own agitator par excellence, Jarkko Ruutu, isn't convinced Avery will be much of a factor in the Rangers-Penguins conference semifinal series that starts Friday night.

Maybe Ruutu figures the best way to agitate Avery is to ignore him.

''We don't worry about him, he's one of their other players now,'' Ruutu said. ''They have a lot better players on that team and in the end, it comes down to how we play and how we shut them down.''

Avery has proved to be an irritant to the Penguins in the past, scoring two goals against them March 18 while getting three goals and two assists during the eight-game season series in which New York won five times.

''Good for him,'' Ruutu said. ''But we don't worry about him.''

Ruutu, himself one of the NHL's best-known irritants with his tight checking and physical play and occasionally borderline hits, has a history with the Rangers.

During the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Ruutu slammed Rangers star Jaromir Jagr into the boards during a key Finland-Czech Republic game. Jagr, who was wearing a lightweight helmet with little protection, was cut on the forehead and bled profusely on the ice.

Jagr was digging for the puck along the boards when Ruutu skated across the ice from the far edge of the left circle, his left elbow up, and drove Jagr into the boards headfirst. Czech coach Alois Hadamczik was highly critical of the play and said ''the shadow of this game is the foul on Jaromir Jagr.''

Jagr's teammate then and now, former Penguins forward Martin Straka, came to Jagr's defense by jumping on Ruutu.

Ruutu was ejected but was allowed to keep playing in the Olympics, with Finland getting the silver medal and the Czechs the bronze.

The question now is whether any bad blood will be stirred up again should Ruutu tangle with Jagr or Avery tries to intimidate Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 18-2-1 in his past 21 decisions.

''I don't really rate agitators, to be honest with you,'' Crosby said after being asked to compare Avery to others in the game. ''They have a role and they take pride in doing it - goalies take pride in stopping the puck and scorers take pride in scoring, it's just what they do.

''But I don't think that should change anybody's role.''

Crosby, who has dealt with borderline defensive tactics since coming into the league as an 18-year-old in 2005, wouldn't be surprised if Avery or the Rangers target him for extra physical attention. Crosby missed 28 games during the second half of the season with a sprained right ankle.

''It's not something that other guys haven't tried before,'' he said.

Fleury also isn't concerned about Avery getting in his face - or getting into his head.

''I watched it,'' he said of Avery's arm-waving tactics against Brodeur. ''But it's illegal and he will get a penalty, so I don't have to worry about it.''

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