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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 1:55 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Lightning series blog

Lightning's Callahan feels better, wants to play better

TAMPA -- Hockey became secondary the night of May 11, when Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan was sent to the hospital because of abdominal pain. An emergency appendectomy was required.

Three days later, Callahan was on the ice at practice. He's played all three games of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, a best-of-7 series the Lightning lead 2-1 following a 6-5 overtime win in Game 3 on Wednesday.

Game 4 is at Amalie Arena on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I feel good," Callahan said after a brief skate Thursday. "It gets better each day. As of now I'm good. I'm ready."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 1:03 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Lightning series blog

Lundqvist allows six goals for second straight game

TAMPA -- Prior to the start of the Eastern Conference Final, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers hadn't seen the Tampa Bay Lightning since Dec. 1.

Tampa Bay swept the three-game, regular-season series, outscoring the Rangers 15-7. But that was so long ago, there was little reason to believe it would mean much in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The belief grew stronger when New York opened the series with a 2-1 win at Madison Square Garden last Saturday. Lundqvist made 23 saves in the victory.

Since then, he's allowed 12 goals on 66 shots. With a 6-5 overtime loss in Game 3 at Amalie Arena on Wednesday, he became the first Rangers goalie to allow six goals in back-to-back playoff games since Gump Worsley in 1958, according to Elias Sports Bureau.


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Posted On Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 1:09 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Rangers-Lightning series blog

Rangers' St. Louis eager to break out of slump

TAMPA -- More than a month has passed since New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis scored a goal.

It's a trend that likely needs to change if the Rangers are going to return to the Stanley Cup Final, and a scoring boost they could use in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against St. Louis' former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

St. Louis scored 21 goals in 74 regular-season games, but he's come up empty through 14 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He hasn't scored since April 6 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Rangers managed to get through the first two rounds against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals without a goal from St. Louis. He has six assists this postseason, two of which came in a 6-2 loss in Game 2 against Tampa Bay on Monday at Madison Square Garden.

"I look at last game, the last two games, the first couple of shifts I get a chance in front of the goalie," St. Louis said Wednesday morning. "I don't know. When you don't have that swagger, sometimes you rush things and those are great chances. On the power play, a couple of tips … [if] we end up scoring on them … sometimes when things go your way, those find the back of the net."

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Posted On Monday, 04.27.2015 / 11:52 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Islanders eager to take next step by winning Game 7

WASHINGTON -- Josh Bailey was one of the first pieces of the New York Islanders' rebuild when he was selected ninth at the 2008 NHL Draft.

It's been a bumpy road for the Islanders for the majority of that stretch, including a 30th-place finish in Bailey's rookie season that allowed New York to select John Tavares with the first pick in 2009.

But with a win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC), the Islanders can finally take a huge step forward.

"People are going to look at it certain ways and spin things different ways, but really we're just focusing on it as a chance to move on to the second round," Bailey said. "It's not been easy to this point and it's not going to be easy tonight. We're not really thinking about anything else other than going in prepared and ready to go for a big Game 7."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.26.2015 / 7:07 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Islanders could have lineup changes for Game 7

WASHINGTON -- The New York Islanders did what they had to do Saturday, when they extended their Eastern Conference First Round series with a 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum.

Now they must win a Game 7 at Verizon Center on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC) in order to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Home teams are 91-65 in Game 7, but were 1-6 a year ago. Either way, Islanders coach Jack Capuano isn't interested.

"I don't believe in momentum or pressure too much," Capuano said Sunday. "I think that we've got a relentless bunch of guys in here, and I've said that from Day One. We've got a lot of character and leadership. Our guys have done a great job holding each other accountable. For me, we're going into Game 7. If you asked me before the series, we'd take it."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.25.2015 / 8:15 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Islanders get solid effort from two young defensemen

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- With their season on the line Saturday and their blue line depleted because of injuries, the New York Islanders played two defensemen who did not have a game of Stanley Cup Playoff experience between them.

Matt Donovan, a healthy scratch for most of the regular season, and Scott Mayfield, who spent the season with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, replaced injured defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan and helped the Islanders avoid elimination with a 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Nassau Coliseum.

"The main objective was to not get scored on, and me and Scotty did that," Donovan said. "I think we played well together."

Mayfield said, "It was really special to play in that game and just hear the crowd and everything, it was a lot of fun."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.22.2015 / 1:26 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Islanders forward Grabovski says he's ready to return

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders forward Mikhail Grabovski hasn't played in more than two months, but he deemed himself ready when the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals resumes Thursday.

Grabovski, who sustained a concussion in a game against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 19, has been skating for several weeks and could return to action for Game 5 at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC).

"I feel good right now," Grabovski said after participating in an optional skate at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday. "I've had a good three months of skating. I don't know exactly what the decision is. Personally, I'm ready to go, but they need to talk to doctors and the coach, all together about me."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.22.2015 / 12:14 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Islanders likely to make lineup changes for Game 5

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After watching the power play fail to convert three times in the second period Tuesday, New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano said to expect changes to the lineup in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

The Capitals took three minor penalties before the midway point of the second period, but New York came up empty and lost 2-1 at Nassau Coliseum when Nicklas Backstrom scored at 11:09 of overtime.

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 and shifts to Verizon Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC).

"I think guys know [it's] probably time for a change," Capuano said. "Maybe guys are squeezing their sticks a little bit. You can see the energy and the confidence and the swagger that those guys play with, and we need to get more.

"Our guys are giving it everything they have, but at the end of the day your best players have got to be your best players. They have been all season long, but for whatever reason right now, offensively we've got to get a little bit more."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.19.2015 / 5:43 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Boychuk's sacrifice helps Islanders to Game 3 victory

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Holding a one-goal lead late in the second period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals, the New York Islanders found themselves in a difficult situation.

Defenseman Brian Strait was sent to the penalty box with 1:20 left for high sticking Capitals forward Jay Beagle. Washington, which boasts one of the more dangerous power plays in the NHL led by 53-goal scorer Alex Ovechkin, was handed a tremendous opportunity to tie the game before the second intermission.

But Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk would have none of it.

Boychuk blocked three shots from Ovechkin near the left circle, then managed to swat the puck out of the Islanders zone while falling down to help keep New York in front heading into the third period.

The Islanders gave up the lead in the third, but went ahead in this best-of-7 series when John Tavares scored 15 seconds into overtime for a 2-1 win. Should they go on to win a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time since 1993, some may point to the effort Boychuk gave on that sequence in the second period as a pivotal moment.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.18.2015 / 6:25 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Young defenseman Reinhart an option for Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders defenseman Griffin Reinhart spent the majority of the season with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, but he may soon get his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Reinhart, who was recalled prior to the start of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals, practiced with the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday and remains an option for coach Jack Capuano, who is trying to fill the void left by injured defenseman Travis Hamonic.

The fourth player selected at the 2012 NHL Draft, Reinhart helped the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League win the Memorial Cup last spring when he had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 21 playoff games. In his first professional season, Reinhart (6-foot-4, 217 pounds) had seven goals and 15 assists in 59 AHL games. He had one assist in eight games for the Islanders at the start of this season.

Reinhart, asked if he feels ready to step in and contribute, said, "I think so. I think I've done a good job of it this year. Playoffs is always the time of year where I think I play my best hockey. I've done well in the playoffs my previous three years in junior. It's clearly a big step up in the NHL, but it'd be something I'm up for the task though."

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Quote of the Day

I look forward to the process, the battle, the pain, the fun, the journey.  It's going to be a long one but it's going to be a lot of fun. If you think there is no pain coming, there is pain coming.

— Mike Babcock, introduced as coach of the Toronto on Thursday, had a warning for fans