What to Watch for: Oilers go for series stranglehold

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan confirms Sidney Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion, and will miss Game 4, but is confident his team can respond in the face of adversity, like they have all season.

Each home team will have the opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead on Wednesday, with a spot in the conference finals just on the horizon.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will have to make do without their captain, while the Edmonton Oilers will have to regroup after a disappointing Game 3 performance.

Here’s what to watch for:

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Game 4: 7:30 p.m. ET on CBC

Can Penguins win without Crosby?

The Penguins looked to be in control of their second-round matchup with the Washington Capitals, taking the opening two games on the road with history in the rivalry on their side.

Then, as has been widely covered the past two nights, disaster struck.

Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion and the Capitals took Game 3 in overtime. All of a sudden the pressure has come back onto Pittsburgh — which was already without star defenceman Kris Letang.

Concussion recovery times are notoriously difficult to predict, but a minimum of seven days off is something of a given. That would leave Crosby out until Game 6, though you can bet the Penguins would love to get their captain as much time off as possible.

Until then, it’ll be up to Pittsburgh’s other superstar centre to get things going.

Capitals hoping to take advantage

Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt, but if you’re Washington, you have to see this as a huge opportunity.

The club was in huge trouble and now has an opportunity to turn this series around and re-claim home-ice advantage with a win in Game 4. The Capitals have famously failed to get past the second round since making the Stanley Cup Final in 1998, and this is likely their best chance yet.

Lost in all the hoopla surrounding Crosby’s injury is the loss of useful Penguins forward Conor Sheary, who also suffered a concussion in Game 3.

It’s not enough to be good in the NHL anymore. Sometimes you need to get lucky, and this could be the break that finally lets a talented Capitals team break through.

If they can’t get the job done against a hobbled Penguins team however, big changes could be ahead this off-season.

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Game 4: 10 p.m. ET on Sportsnet

Edmonton looks to take control

The Oilers, once perennial losers, are 10 wins away from a Stanley Cup victory. They can take one massive step towards that goal by taking care of business at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

Edmonton is 2-2 at Rogers Place this post-season, which stands out in comparison to its 4-1 record on the road.

The team could use some help from winger Jordan Eberle, who, despite his penchant for big-time goals stemming from his world junior heroics, has yet to find the back of the net in these playoffs.

Eberle was called out (softly) by his head coach on Tuesday.

If the Oilers can come away from Game 4 with a win, they’ll take a sizeable 3-1 series lead back to Anaheim.

Carlyle playing mind games with officials?

Not a post-season goes by where some coach doesn’t go through the media to try and gain favour with the officials, and Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was the latest to get in on the action on Tuesday.

“To me it seems like there is somewhat of a white-glove treatment for Mr. (Connor) McDavid,” Carlyle told Helen Elliott of the L.A. Times. “The restrictions on anybody touching him seems to be a little bit higher than normal. It’s fact. Simple. We review the tape numerous times. He does draw penalties because of his speed. But if you don’t get close to him and you’re not inside of him, you’re going to watch him or you’re going to try and impede his progress.”

The Oilers do have a slight edge in power plays this series (12-11), and have one scored one more goal with the man advantage than have the Ducks.

We’ll have to see if Carlyle’s words have any effect on the officiating going forward, but Anaheim should be in tough in Game 4 regardless.

Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot has a knack for bouncing back from tough losses (like the one he suffered in Game 3).

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