5 things fans should know at this stage of the NHL playoffs

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The Avs can’t finish off the Blues despite a remarkable individual effort from their superstar and the Battle of Alberta could come to a close.

Here are five things to know as we head into Thursday’s post-season action:

Blues stay alive despite MacKinnon’s brilliance

Nathan MacKinnon netted a hat trick, including a highlight-reel gem to put Colorado ahead with less than three minutes to play, but his Avalanche were unable to seal the deal as the St. Louis Blues managed a 5-4 overtime victory, living to play another day.

MacKinnon’s hat-trick marker was the stuff of childhood dreams.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, left, drives to the net with St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in pursuit during the first period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

He collected the puck from behind his net, exploded through the neutral zone, deked around Blues defenceman Calle Rosen before finishing over St. Louis goalie Ville Husso’s shoulder on the short side.

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The goal put the Avs up 4-3 at the 17:14 mark of the third period.

Unfortunately for MacKinnon and Colorado, however, the Blues managed to strike back as Robert Thomas scored with 56 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime before Tyler Bozak finished things off 3:38 into the extra frame.

Game 6 goes Friday in St. Louis.

Oilers looking to repeat history

The Edmonton Oilers have a chance to eliminate the Calgary Flames in Game 5 of their second round matchup Thursday night.

If they’re able to do so it will be a familiar sight — joyfully for Edmonton fans and painfully for the Calgary faithful.

Edmonton Oilers fans celebrate their teams defat of the Calgary Flames following third period NHL second-round playoff hockey action in Edmonton, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

In five previous playoff encounters with each other, the Oilers have defeated the Flames four times.

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Leading 3-1, Edmonton is well positioned to add a fifth post-season series victory over its archrival.

Can Calgary slow down Edmonton’s offence?

The Oilers have beat the Flames three straight games to put Calgary on the brink entering Thursday evening’s Game 5.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers aim to eliminate Flames in Game 5

In those three victories, Edmonton has outscored Calgary 14-7 and despite dropping Game 1, the Oilers still hung six goals in that opening contest, giving them 20 total across the first four games of the series.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid has grabbed most of the headlines with the 11 points he’s put up in the series so far, but it’s not just him. Edmonton has gotten contributions up and down the lineup.

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Leon Draisaitl has put up 13 points in the series, Evander Kane has scored five times — with all five goals coming in the last two games — to bring his goal scoring total to a playoff-leading 12 and there have been contributions from the team’s secondary and tertiary options with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman scoring as well.

Trailing 3-1, the Flames have a tall task ahead of them to get back into the series and try to win it. The first step they’ll have to take on this journey they face will be finding some way to slow down a prolific-looking Oilers offence.

Will the Hurricanes continue to show up at home?

The Carolina Hurricanes hold a record of 6-5 so far during these playoffs.

All six wins have come with them at home and the five defeats have all been while on the road.

Carolina Hurricanes left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) celebrates his goal against the New York Rangers during the second period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

They’ll be hoping to keep this trend going as they play a pivotal Game 5 with the New York Rangers in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday with their series knotted up at 2-2.

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Shesterkin looking like his old self

After a couple of games in Carolina that saw him get outdueled by Antti Raanta Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist Igor Shesterkin was back to being the dominant force he was for much of the regular season as the series shifted to Madison Square Garden for a couple of games.

He only allowed two goals across the two games in New York and stopped 73-of-75 shots that were lobbed against him, including a 43-save performance in Game 3.

If momentum is a real thing then the Rangers netminder figures to have it on his side entering Thursday’s game.

New York Rangers center Frank Vatrano (77) celebrates with goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) after closing the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in New York. The Rangers won 4-1. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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