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NHL Playoffs: Previewing this weekend's Game 3s & 4s

With the NHL Playoffs well underway and 12 games set to take place over the next three days, there are plenty of storylines to consider ahead of the action.

The first round of the 2023 NHL Playoffs has not disappointed so far.

Through the first few games of the postseason, fans have been treated to it all. Overtime thrillers, shocking upsets, ejections, fights, suspensions.

The action continues on with Games 3 and 4 coming up this weekend. Here is a look at some of the best bets heading into this weekend’s games.

Islanders vs. Hurricanes - Game 3

The Islanders head back to Long Island down 2-0 in their first-round series against the Hurricanes. New York has dropped a pair of one-goal games, including a 4-3 loss in overtime on Wednesday night.

With Game 3 at UBS Arena, it marks the first time that Islanders fans can pack their new home arena for a playoff game. New York was significantly better at home than it was away, going 25-13-3 at home in the regular season while posting a sub-.500 record as the visiting team.

This is a must-win game for the Islanders, and the club isn’t going to disappoint in the franchise’s first playoff game at UBS Arena.

Stars vs. Wild - Game 3

The Stars and Wild are two of the best defensive teams in hockey. That was on full display during Game 1, a 3-2 overtime win for Minnesota, but Dallas ramped up the offense in Game 2 and potted seven goals in a 7-3 victory in Game 2.

The Wild made the intriguing decision to start Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 2, despite Filip Gustavsson setting a franchise record for playoff saves in the team’s double-overtime win. It backfired, as the veteran netminder was not sharp in his 2023 playoff debut.

Minnesota is likely to go back to Gustavsson in Game 3. With Jake Oettinger at the other end, expect the offenses to be subsided on Friday night.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs - Game 3

No arena has seen more postseason hockey over the last three years than Amalie Arena. With the Lightning making three consecutive runs to the Stanley Cup Final, the rink has been home to a number of playoff contests. 

The Lightning lost just three of its home postseason games last year, a defeat in the first round against the Maple Leafs and two losses to the Avalanche in the final. 

Tampa Bay went 28-8-5 at home this season. Only Boston had a better record in its own building than the defending Eastern Conference champions. The Lightning aren’t going to disappoint the Tampa Bay faithful in the team’s first 2023 playoff game at Amalie. 

Oilers vs. Kings - Game 4

Offense was expected to be the name of the game in the Oilers-Kings first-round series. Neither team owned a particularly impressive defense, although the deadline acquisitions for both clubs have greatly helped them in that category. 

Notably, Connor McDavid was held with just one point in the team’s first two games and failed to light the lamp. The Kings may have contained the superstar for now, but it’s only a matter of time before McDavid becomes unleashed and the offense starts to really pour it on for Edmonton. 

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