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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Monday, 05.02.2011 / 3:05 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Jones steps up in Kubina's absence

TAMPA -- Randy Jones barely saw the ice in the first period Sunday night. Little did he know he'd go on to play a major role in overtime.

After receiving just two shifts in the first 20 minutes, Jones realized the Washington Capitals were in the midst of a bad line change and sent a long outlet pass to Teddy Purcell, who then fed Vincent Lecavalier for the game-winner at 6:19 of overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series with a 3-2 victory at Verizon Center.

For Jones, it was his first game since he suffered an ankle injury back on March 7. He would have only seven more shifts after the first period, but he made his final one of the night count.

"It felt fantastic," said Jones, who replaced the injured Pavel Kubina in the lineup. "I was happy to kind of get that first period over with. I told a couple of guys my first game in the NHL was in this barn, and I think I was more nervous tonight than I was back then. It felt great to get out there and be part of it again and coming out with a 'W.'

Bad line changes have been a problem for several teams during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only was Purcell open for Jones' long pass at the Washington blue line, but Lecavalier was then standing all alone in front of Michal Neuvirth, and the Lightning's captain had plenty of time to flip the puck over the Caps' goaltender for what was his second goal of the night.

"That's something we emphasize as a group -- strong changes," Jones said. "We've noticed that quite a bit in the playoffs that bad changes can really cost you. It happened in that Montreal-Boston series in overtime. I think it was just a bad change. I just saw Teddy open and I wanted to get it out of our end as quick as possible. Teddy made a great play and Vinny was able to bury it."

Jones is just the latest player on this Tampa Bay roster to contribute. In Game 1, the Lightning's third line of Dominic Moore, Sean Bergenheim and Steve Downie each found the back of the net en route to a 4-2 victory. And while Jones only received 6:25 of ice time Sunday night, his ability to read the play and make the long pass to Purcell is a big reason why Tampa Bay went home with a 2-0 series lead.

"We have a lot of guys that step up," Jones said. "There's a lot of depth on this team. When guys go down, it seems like other guys kind of step up and help contribute. We had a pretty big team effort."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

POSTED ON Saturday, 04.30.2011 / 4:13 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Gagne, Kubina listed as day-to-day

WASHINGTON -- Less than 24 hours after losing both Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina to injuries, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher listed both players as "day-to-day" and couldn't say for sure if one, neither or both will play on Sunday night in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Washington Capitals.

Jones missed the final 16 games of the regular season with a sprained ankle and did not play at all during Tampa Bay's seven-game series victory against Pittsburgh. Boucher, though, deemed Jones -- who last played on March 7 against these Caps -- ready if Kubina is unable to play Sunday night.

"He's ready to go," Boucher said of Jones. "He knows exactly what to do. He was playing against some top lines before he got injured."

Boucher wouldn't commit to a replacement for Gagne, who was hit by Scott Hannan 7:22 into the opening period of Game 1 and hit his head on the ice. A stretcher came out, but Gagne -- who has a history of concussions -- was able to leave the playing surface with the help of two trainers.

"I think the option of being prepared is having Option A, B and C. So, I guess we'll prepare D the rest of the day," Boucher said. "We have to prepare for different scenarios because there are really different scenarios that are possible. It's not clear cut at all."

Kubina, a defenseman who averaged 19:13 of ice time during the regular season, was hit by Jason Chimera late in the second period and was unable to return. Lightning center Steven Stamkos said he spoke with both Kubina and Gagne earlier Sunday and found them to be doing well given the circumstances.

"I haven't heard anything for sure if they're in or not," Stamkos said. "If we don't have them, it's two big holes and it's going to be tough to fill. (But) we found a way all year to fill those holes. Guys have stepped up and filled those shoes. That's the beauty about our team. We have guys that are willing to step up. Obviously we want them in the lineup and healthy as quick as possible, but we've got guys that are hungry for those roles."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
POSTED ON Friday, 04.29.2011 / 1:43 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECSF: Washington-Tampa Bay Live Blog

Boucher not a believer in momentum

WASHINGTON -- The Tampa Bay Lightning staved off elimination three times in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins on their sheet of ice in Game 7 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

That would lead at least some to believe that they enter Friday night's game at Washington with a ton of momentum, right?

Perhaps, but Lightning coach Guy Boucher isn't a part of that group.

"In the playoffs, I'm a non-believer in momentum," Boucher said after the Bolts skated Friday afternoon at Verizon Center. "Every game comes back to zero and it's the team that has the most desperation. We just won three in a row, but it's a new team, a new day. We've got to start all over again. I think that's the beauty of hockey, especially in a series. There's always the next game until the last one."

Steven Stamkos agreed. Stamkos, who had 2 goals and 2 assists against the Penguins, doesn't see how the momentum gained during the opening round can find its way through the Verizon Center's doors. Basically, the Bolts will have to create momentum all over again.

"I think in the playoffs, momentum is what happens during games," Stamkos said. "I think once that game ends, everyone forgets about it -- whether you had a really good game or a really poor game. It's easy to throw games out the window come playoff time, because you know how big the next game is. This is a totally different series.

"You could say they have momentum because they handled the Rangers in five, or you could say we have momentum because we won three straight to come back to beat Pittsburgh. I don't think it's a factor heading into a brand-new series."

A series that features teams that combined for 94 victories during the regular season. That would lead some to believe that this will be an evenly-matched battle between fierce division rivals, but Boucher views the No. 1-seeded Caps as the clear-cut favorite.

"Either we see it as a threat or we see it as a challenge," Boucher said. "It's a great challenge for us. If they lose this, for them, it's a huge failure. There's a lot of pressure, but at the same time, there comes a lot of energy with pressure.

"I think it's going to be like a boxing match. They'll look at us, we'll look at them and we'll figure each other out and try to adapt as we move on."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

POSTED ON Monday, 04.25.2011 / 8:37 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Time set for Game 7

While fans of the Boston Bruins are hoping they won't be at TD Garden on Wednesday night, a time has been set for a Game 7 should the Montreal Canadiens come out victorious at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Previously listed as "to be determined," Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal will begin at 7 p.m. ET. And, of course, fans can watch the game on Versus in the U.S and CBC and RDS in Canada.
POSTED ON Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 1:08 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Kings' win completes great day of hockey

Jonathan Quick knew he'd need to be better if the Los Angeles Kings were going to extend their season on Saturday night.

He wasn't just better -- he was terrific.

Despite the fact that his team allowed a franchise-record 52 shots in a Stanley Cup Playoff game, Quick made 51 saves to lead the Kings to a 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal at HP Pavilion.

The victory allowed the Kings to stave off elimination, as they forced a Game 6 that will be played on Monday night at the Staples Center.

It also was the culmination of a phenomenal day of hockey, which also featured wins by Tampa Bay, Washington and Boston. We hope this long day of hockey was as enjoyable for you as it was for us.
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 11:45 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Here come the Sharks

Can the San Jose Sharks pull off another comeback?

Patrick Marleau has started the rally for the Sharks, as he redirected Niclas wallin's shot past Jonathan Quick to cut the deficit to 3-1 with just over 14 minutes to play in the second period.

San Jose, you'll recall, erased a 4-0 deficit in Los Angeles earlier this week en route to a 6-5 overtime win. The Kings need to win this game to stay alive.
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 11:08 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Bruins win in 2OT

Finally, the home team has won a game in the Boston-Montreal series.

Nathan Horton collected a rebound near the goal mouth and poked it past Carey Price in double overtime as the Boston Bruins won their third straight with a wild 2-1 victory against the Canadiens at TD Garden.

The Bruins can win the series with a victory at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 10:56 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Kings up the Antti

The Los Angeles Kings have ended Antti Niemi's night less than midway through the opening period.

Dustin Penner's first goal in 17 games gave the Kings a 3-0 lead with 11:18 left in the first, prompting Sharks coach Todd McLellan to replace Niemi with Antero Niittymaki.

Kyle Clifford scored at 7:14 of the first to make it 2-0.
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 10:48 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Kings on the board

The action is under way on the West Coast, and the Los Angeles Kings have scored that much-needed first goal.

Wayne Simmonds drew first blood for L.A. as he redirected Rob Scuderi's shot past Antti Niemi to give the Kings a 1-0 lead just 3:36 into Game 5 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at San Jose.
POSTED ON Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 10:35 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Double OT required

Twenty minutes of overtime hockey weren't enough to determine a winner in this epic battle between the Canadiens and Bruins at TD Garden.

Mike Cammalleri had the best chance for the Habs in the first overtime, but his shot from between the circles was blocked by the right skate of hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara. And, a despite a late penalty on Canadiens defenseman Brent Sopel, the Bruins were unable to cash in on the man advantage.

Boston outshot Montreal 12-9 in overtime.
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I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series-winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round