His goal at 6:27 of the second period proved to be the game-winner Wednesday night in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden. It was the 11th game-winning goal of St. Louis' postseason career.
NEW YORK -- Most of the players on the Los Angeles Kings roster slept well Tuesday night. After all, they've been in this position before, one win away from the Stanley Cup.
But when the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils for the championship in 2012, right wing Tyler Toffoli hadn't reached the NHL yet. He had just completed his final season of junior hockey, when he had 100 points (52 goals, 48 assists) in 65 games for the Ottawa 67's in the Ontario Hockey League.
This time around, Toffoli has played a huge role in the Kings' success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 22-year-old has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 24 games for Los Angeles, which can win the Cup with a victory in Game 4 against the New York Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
NEW YORK -- Many players, coaches and general managers go their entire career without reaching a Stanley Cup Final, let alone winning a championship.
But the Los Angeles Kings find themselves in the fortunate position of going for their second crown in three seasons when they face the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
It's a remarkable story being written by Los Angeles, which replaced coach Terry Murray with Darryl Sutter in December 2011, when it resided in 12th place in the Western Conference. The Kings would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season and reached the conference final in 2013 before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks.
This postseason, the Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s, and did so each time on the road. Now they're up 3-0 on the Rangers and one win away from another Cup. They realize how special this is.
Stamkos, who sustained a broken tibia in a game against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11, did everything he could to work his way back into Tampa Bay's lineup before the Olympics so he could represent Canada at the Olympics. But it was announced Wednesday that Stamkos has not been medically cleared to play.
St. Louis, who leads the Lightning with 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists) in 56 games, was originally left off the roster when it was announced by Hockey Canada last month. The 38-year-old and Tavares, 23, were roommates at Canada's orientation camp last summer.
"It's great for Marty and well deserved," Tavares said after being informed of the news by a reporter. "He's a tremendous person and I think he's proven throughout his career what he's accomplished and the impact he can make on a team like that and a tournament like this.
"[He's] just a great guy. I think he doesn't take anything for granted. He's worked for everything he's got. I think he's always had that kind of mindset. He's a lot of fun to be around too. He's not this old guy, grumpy guy. He's fun and energetic and extremely hard-working."
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders built an early 2-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but some costly turnovers in the defensive zone ultimately led to two valuable points in the standings slip away in a 6-4 loss.
New York coach Jack Capuano spent Friday going over video with his players, particularly rookie defensemen Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan, who each played more than 20 minutes Thursday. They will pair together again Saturday when the Islanders (21-25-7) host the St. Louis Blues.
"They made a couple [mistakes] last game," Capuano said. "All we can do is continue to work with them. I'm not afraid to play young guys. But for our coaching staff, it's constant learning for those guys. They have some tendencies. Every player has a tendency, our guys have a couple. We have to break some of those habits.
"Early on [in the season], I thought they got down. But this time around, especially Matt since he's come up from his recall, he's responded real well after the shifts that he's made some blunders."
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Perhaps the outcome would have been different for Henrik Zetterberg and the Detroit Red Wings had they not had to change sides halfway through overtime Wednesday.
Playing in snowy, windy conditions at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs took turns skating into the wind during the overtime period. As the game clock wound down to 2:30 in the overtime session, Zetterberg poked a loose puck in the neutral zone past Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson and appeared to be set to go in on a breakaway.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Toronto native Neil McNeil picked up his son at a New Year's Eve party at 2:30 Wednesday morning and immediately hit the road to make the roughly five-hour drive to Michigan Stadium, anxiously awaiting the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic to watch their Toronto Maple Leafs face the Detroit Red Wings.
Little did McNeil know when he secured his tickets that the scene would be as picturesque as it was Wednesday morning, between the live music and the fan experience at Spectator Plaza, along with a light snowfall. It truly is a winter wonderland.
McNeil, who dressed appropriately and topped his outfit with a referee's bathrobe, is spending the morning simply absorbing it all. The Spectator Plaza footprint included beer and food vendors, live music and various hockey-related games.
"This is perfect," said McNeil, who works for a couple of hockey rinks in Toronto. "We were prepared for the worst, but walking around today, it's very comfortable. If this is the worst it gets, it's going to be an amazing day. Little bit of flurries, but not enough to shovel the ice too much. It really lends to the ambience. We've heard about games in the past where they were worried about the ice being soft, [but] that won't be the case today."
DETROIT -- Tie Domi was a fan favorite during his playing days, when he racked up 3,515 penalty minutes in 1,020 NHL games.
Nearly eight years have passed since the 44-year-old played in the NHL, and Domi has moved on. Instead of dwelling on how much he misses the old days, he's turned his attention to his family. And while he won't be playing, Domi could find himself back in NHL rinks soon. Only this time, he'll be watching his son.
Domi is the father of 18-year-old Max Domi, who was a first-round selection (No. 12) of the Phoenix Coyotes at the 2013 NHL Draft. The 5-foot-9 center is in his third season with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, where he has 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) in 30 games this season.
DETROIT -- Joe Nieuwendyk hasn't played in an NHL game since the 2006-07 season, but he was able to get the competitive juices flowing Tuesday.
Nieuwendyk represented the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game of the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park, where the Leafs rallied from a 5-1 deficit before suffering a 6-5 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
The 47-year-old was one of many Hall of Fame players to take the ice in the second game.
DETROIT -- Bryan McCabe hadn't scored a goal in a competitive game since he played for the New York Rangers during the 2010-11 season, his last in the NHL.
But on Tuesday, his goal with two seconds remaining sent the second game of the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park past regulation.
The Alumni Showdown was a big part of the festivities this week that will be capped by the 2014 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, which the Maple Leafs and Red Wings will play Wednesday in front of what is expected to be a record crowd at Michigan Stadium.
As a team, the New York Islanders have not been able to build off what they accomplished last season, when they qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007.
But right wing Kyle Okposo continues to make strides, so much so that the Minnesota native is meriting serious consideration to be named later this week to the United States roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Skating on the top line alongside Thomas Vanek and John Tavares, the 25-year-old ranks second on the Islanders with 34 points (12 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games. He had 24 points (four goals) in 48 games last season.
Okposo's 34 points have him in the top five among American skaters this season.
"It's in the back of your mind, obviously," Okposo said of making the Olympic team, which will be named immediately following the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday. "World Junior tournament is going on right now, so I've been following that a little bit. You think about the international competition a little bit, but I'm here with the Islanders, and I'm still going to keep playing well."
The Islanders are listing Tavares as day-to-day. Capuano said the injury wasn't sustained during a 3-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, but rather something that's been lingering.
"I'm concerned, obviously," Capuano said Saturday morning. "You know what Johnny is to our hockey club. He's not only our leader, but obviously his play speaks for itself. But at this particular time, he's not ready to go. We're not going to put him in a situation where he can further hurt himself.
"You just be cautious with it, and hopefully he'll feel better tomorrow."
The speedy forward was forced to watch the first 10 games, working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. But there's a strong chance he'll be in the lineup when the Rangers (3-7-0) face the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night.
"All I've heard is that everyone that was on the ice is going to take the warmup, and then go from there," said Hagelin, who participated in the optional skate at the Coliseum on Tuesday morning. "I'm just going to prepare myself to play and then if I play, I'll play."
But they can't do it alone. That's why the Islanders, who were sloppy in a 5-2 loss on home ice to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, need more from their other four defensemen -- on both ends of the ice -- if they're going to be a force in the Metropolitan Division.
"Those guys are going to play top minutes, none different than [Ryan] McDonagh and [Dan] Girardi," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of MacDonald and Hamonic, who will receive top minutes again Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"We just collectively back there have to play better. Guys are giving us what they have, [but] we're making mistakes that they see, they know and I've got the confidence in them that it's going to get better. But for us to be successful, we have to have better decisions with the puck on our stick. Our gaps have got to be better, our sticks have got to be better, we've got to defend harder. We've gone through this. I have the confidence they're going to rebound."
Donovan will get that chance Tuesday when the Islanders host the Vancouver Canucks at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"Lubo [Visnovsky] is very offensive, he runs that first power play," Donovan said. "I'm going to get my chance to show what I can do offensively. Hopefully I can play well tonight."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano said Andrew MacDonald will receive the first crack at replacing Visnovsky on the team's top power-play unit but also said Donovan is expected to get playing time during the man-advantage too. Donovan has one goal, one assist and a plus-2 rating in five games this season.
Clutterbuck suffered a lacerated leg during a preseason game against the Calgary Flames on Sept. 17. Originally slated to miss 4-6 weeks, Clutterbuck could be in the lineup as early as Friday night, when the Islanders visit the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I could probably play today," Clutterbuck said after skating Tuesday morning. "But I think just in talking it over with the medical staff and the coaches, it's just probably better that I be more prudent at this point. I've lost two games, three tonight. In the grand of scheme of things, 82 games plus playoffs, I think it's maybe a little bit smarter to miss an extra one versus missing some more down the road."
The restricted free agent has yet to sign a contract with the club and has held out of training camp. Stepan, 23, led the Rangers with 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 48 games last season.
"I don't think Derek is going to let this thing linger that long," Sather said in an interview on MSG Network during the Rangers' preseason game against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. "I don't think he is a big enough fool to think that he will sit out the year and it will do any good. He is in a gap contract and every one of our players has signed a gap contract."
The Jets earned a 3-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators in 2011 at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland. He expected a similar atmosphere against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHL Network-U.S.).
"It's pretty fun," Scheifele said. "Two years ago playing in St. John's was a pumped-up building. It was a fun building to play in and we're looking forward to a good hockey game, for sure."
BELLEVILLE, Ontario – Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele has experienced brief tastes of life in the NHL over the past two seasons. But the first-round pick (No. 7, 2011) said he believes he's ready to make the jump full-time.
Scheifele, 20, made it extremely difficult for Jets brass to send him back to the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League in the fall of 2011, when he scored his first NHL goal during a seven-game audition at the start of the 2011-12 season. But he was ultimately sent back to Barrie, where he scored 23 goals and 40 assists in 47 games.
He was held without a point in four NHL games last season and was sent back to Barrie after the Jets opted not to use a year on Scheifele's entry-level contract on the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Schiefele finished with 39 goals and 40 assists in 45 games for the Colts.
BELLEVILLE, Ontario – When Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammates arrived at Yardmen Arena for the morning skate Saturday in preparation for the evening's Kraft Hockeyville game against the Winnipeg Jets (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHL Network-U.S.), they had a large crowd waiting to greet them.
Plenty of autographs were signed and handshakes exchanged as one of the biggest stars in the world was center stage in a town that normally doesn't host NHL games. The Capitals' captain said he's ready to put on a show for the people of Stirling-Rawdon and its surrounding communities as the puck drops on the NHL preseason.
"It's good for people, it's good for fans," Ovechkin said. "People are excited right now, so we're just going to give them a good time to spend tonight."
BELLEVILLE, Ontario – When the Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals were announced as the teams that would compete in the 2013 Kraft Hockeyville game at Yardmen Arena, a few players were overjoyed.
Eric Tangradi and the Jets arrived in town Friday night, and the 24-year-old forward quickly met up for dinner with Rob and Ilene Cook, his billets during his time with the Belleville Bulls from 2006-09. The memories immediately began to flow back.
BELLEVILLE, Ontario – For the second time in three years, the Winnipeg Jets will be participating in the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game as they face the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at Yardmen Arena.
They're thrilled to be back.
"I think the whole concept around Hockeyville is just an exciting time," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told NHL.com in an exclusive interview Saturday morning. "It really brings everything back to the grass-roots level from all perspectives, especially from the guys' perspective. It's a little bit different than just a normal exhibition game. I think from that standpoint, it's exciting for them."
BELLEVILLE, Ontario – Good news for those who will be in town for the 2013 Kraft Hockeyville festivities: Alex Ovechkin will be in town.
NHL.com has learned that the Washington Capitals superstar will be among those in Stirling-Rawdon and Belleville when the team arrives here Saturday morning. The Capitals will face the Winnipeg Jets at Yardmen Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (CBC, NHLN-U.S.).
It is not known yet if Ovechkin will play in the game, but he will definitely be in town. The 27-year-old right wing won the Hart Trophy last season as the NHL's Most Valuable Player. He had 32 goals and 24 assists in 48 games, leading the Capitals to the Southeast Division title.
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers power play certainly needs more work. Their penalty kill, however, hasn't had any of late at Madison Square Garden.
The Boston Bruins did not receive a power play in their 2-1 victory against the Rangers in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal series Tuesday night. New York went 0-for-2 and has received the past 11 man-advantages awarded in its building.
That might be a frustrating statistic for most teams, but the Bruins managed to keep their focus in Game 3 and came away with a victory that has the Rangers on the brink of elimination heading into Thursday's Game 4.
NEW YORK -- More than a decade has passed since Bob Essensa played in an NHL game. But on Tuesday morning, the 48-year-old was facing shots again.
The Boston Bruins goaltending coach took Tuukka Rask's spot on the ice at Madison Square Garden for the team's optional skate prior to Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
One of the lighter moments came when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk ripped a slap shot Essensa didn't even try to stop. He wasn't about to make any quick movements that weren't going to agree with his body.
"Anything I had to reach for … yeah," he said to reporters. "Just like the good old days."
Seidenberg did take part in the team's optional morning skate but apparently is not ready to return to action. He has been out since sustaining a lower-body injury on the first shift of Game 7 of the Bruins' first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Probably not Seidenberg; Redden, we'll see," Julien told reporters Tuesday morning when asked if either would participate in Tuesday's pregame warm-ups. "They're skating this morning, but I don't think [Seidenberg] will be in. If he is, it'll be a surprise to me as much as you guys."
The San Jose Sharks were feeling the same frustration Tuesday night experienced by the St. Louis Blues during the latter's final four games of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
No matter what the Sharks did in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal against the Los Angeles Kings, they could not solve 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick. The Kings goaltender stopped all 35 shots he faced, including 16 in the third period, to lead Los Angeles to a 2-0 win at Staples Center.
After dropping the first two games of the postseason, the Kings have won five in a row. Much of that is due to the play of their goaltender, who lowered his goals-against average to 1.36 while raising his save percentage to .953.
"He's in a zone right now. He's playing great," Sharks forward Logan Couture said Wednesday. "He's seeing everything, he's compact with the puck. It's hitting him and it's not coming off him. We've got to find a way. The St. Louis series, they were saying the same things that I'm saying right now. We've got to find a way to score."
Fleury allowed six goals on 24 shots in Tuesday's 6-4 loss in Game 4 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. With the best-of-7 series shifting back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday tied 2-2, Bylsma is going with Vokoun, who went 3-0-0 with a shutout against the Islanders during the regular season.
Not long before Bylsma made the announcement, Islanders center John Tavares discussed the possible switch with Mike Francesa of WFAN in New York.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't divulge any information in regard to his lineup for Game 4 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders, but there is a good chance forward James Neal and defenseman Brooks Orpik will return Tuesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).
Neal and Orpik were full participants at the morning skate, and Neal put in work on the club's top power-play unit. Nine of his 21 goals during the regular season came via the man-advantage.
"It's tough sitting out," said Neal, who suffered a lower-body injury during Pittsburgh's 5-0 victory in Game 1. "It's good to be back on the ice and skating with the guys."
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- With six games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the New York Islanders will view each match as a must-win situation.
But they know they really can't afford to let two points slip away Tuesday, when the Islanders (21-16-5, seventh place in Eastern Conference) face the Florida Panthers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
With 32 points, Florida (13-22-6) resides in last place in the Eastern Conference and will be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak. The Panthers have been outscored 10-3 in back-to-back losses to the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
"I know what that feels like the last couple of years," Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic said of the Panthers, a team that is simply playing out the remainder of its schedule. "Those are dangerous teams sometimes. They want to win these games and they want to mess with someone else's season. We have to be prepared."
If it wasn’t bad enough that the New York Islanders had their doors blown off by the Philadelphia Flyers in a 7-0 rout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Monday afternoon, they received more bad news later in the day.
Isles defenseman Brian Strait, a waiver-wire acquisition just prior to the start of the season who has emerged as one of the club’s more reliable blueliners, suffered a fractured left ankle and has been placed on injured reserve.
Strait, 25, caught an edge and crashed hard into the side boards and had to crawl back on to the Islanders’ bench. Moments later, he limped off to the team’s dressing room.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The New York Islanders ended a five-game losing streak Thursday night when they rallied for a 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Islanders (5-7-1) hope to build off that win Saturday evening, when they play host to the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. New Jersey, which also rallied for a 5-3 win on home ice against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, sit atop the Eastern Conference with 21 points (9-2-3).
Johan Hedberg gets the start in goal for New Jersey. Hedberg, who turns 40 in May, has allowed two goals in three appearances this season. He is 2-0-1 with a 0.65 goals-against average and .973 save percentage. Hedberg stopped all 22 shots he faced in the Devils’ 3-0 win against the Islanders on Feb. 3 at the Coliseum.
Forward Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League continued his torrid scoring pace Friday night.
The 17-year-old American scored four goals and added an assist in a 7-0 victory against Shawinigan. Erne, who had 55 points (28 goals, 27 assists) in 64 games last season (his first in the QMJHL), now has 10 goals and 13 assists in 14 contests in 2012-13.
Erne, who will be eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, ranks second behind only Mikhail Grigorenko for the team lead in scoring. Grigorenko was selected in the first round (No. 12) of this year's NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres.
Martin Brodeur made his 186th consecutive postseason start for the New Jersey Devils on Monday night and came within 5:05 of recording his 25th career playoff shutout in a 4-1 win against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at the Prudential Center.
Brodeur was indeed solid in a 28-save performance to help New Jersey even this best-of-seven series at two games apiece. But stopping pucks isn't the only thing Brodeur is doing well this postseason.
The Devils' goaltender also picked up an assist on Zach Parise's empty-net goal with 1:29 remaining in regulation. It was Brodeur's fourth assist of the playoffs -- the most by any goaltender in a single postseason. No goaltender had more than five assists (Nashville's Pekka Rinne reached that mark) during the regular season.
Entering Wednesday's Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, Brodeur -- who now has 109 playoff victories -- will have more points than 92 players this postseason among those who have appeared in at least seven games. He's now averaging a point every four games in these playoffs.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan ended the Kings' remarkable streak at 30 consecutive successful kills when he beat Jonathan Quick at 14:19 of the opening period. The goal proved to be the game-winner, as Phoenix staved off elimination with a 2-0 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at the Staples Center.
It was the first goal for Doan in five games, and he added an insurance tally midway through the second period to help send the series back to Phoenix for Game 5 on Tuesday night. Doan's first goal was also his club's first on the power play in since Game 1 of the Coyotes' second-round series against the Nashville Predators -- a span of 22 opportunities.
Kreider, 21, notched his fifth goal in 15 postseason games in New York's 2-0 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Prudential Center. The 6-foot-3 rookie has now scored in three straight contests, becoming the first Rangers' rookie to do that during the postseason since Don Maloney accomplished the feat back in 1979.
Kreider also set a new record for most playoff goals from a player who has never played in a regular-season game. Montreal's Eddie Mazur had four.
Henrik Lundqvist is undoubtedly one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. Fortunately for the Rangers' goaltender, though, he's receiving plenty of help from his defense.
With Monday night's 3-0 win, Lundqvist has now faced 23 shots or fewer in four straight contests. He went 21-for-21 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden for his ninth win of the postseason.
Lundqvist would have faced more than 40 shots Monday night if not for his relentless defense. Through the first 40 minutes, the Rangers had already blocked 18 shots. Eight more didn't find their way to the net in the third period as New York finished the evening with 26 blocked shots. Ten of those came from the duo of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, who had five apiece.
"I thought he played really strong the whole night and helped out in front blocking shots," Lundqvist said of Girardi. "I always know what to expect from him, and it's a great feeling as a goalie."
With Monday night's 2-1 win against the Nashville Predators at Jobing.com Arena, the Coyotes have advanced to the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history. Phoenix will face the Los Angeles Kings in Round 3, as those squads will battle in a best-of-seven series to determine who will represent the Western Conference in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
"We've been pretty business-like the whole time, and we're excited for this win," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who appeared in his 50th postseason game Monday night. "It means a lot to our group to keep going. But it's only halfway. We've got to find a way to win four more games and regroup again."
Quick, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy after notching a League-high 10 shutouts, helped the Los Angeles Kings complete a sweep of the St. Louis Blues with Sunday's 3-1 win at the Staples Center. With Quick leading the charge, the Kings are headed to the conference finals for the first time in almost 20 years.
Not since 1993 has Los Angeles made it this far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With Sunday's victory, the Kings also became the first team to eliminate the top two seeds in a conference since the NHL adopted the format prior to the 1993-94 season.
Quick is 8-1 this postseason and has stopped 260 of 274 shots for a .949 save percentage. With his help, the Kings killed off all 17 power plays the Blues received in the series.
But Caps coach Dale Hunter limited his superstar's ice time in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday night, and Washington skated away with a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Ovechkin, who led Washington with 65 points (38 goals, 27 assists) during the regular season, was on the ice for just 13 minutes and 36 seconds Monday night, just two days after receiving more than 21 minutes in Game 1. Nonetheless, Ovechkin made the most of his limited ice time in Game 2 and scored what proved to be the game-winner via the power play with 7:27 left in regulation.
The 13:36 of ice time Ovechkin played Monday night were the fewest in his NHL postseason career. It was also the fewest in his NHL career in a game -- excluding ejections or injuries. Ovechkin has played fewer than 17 minutes in three of Washington's last five games.
"I feel good. You have to suck it up and use time what Dale is giving to me," Ovechkin said. "First period, two periods I didn't play a lot and I have a couple opportunities I didn't use it. In third, two power plays -- I think on first power play we move well and on second one finally it goes in.
"It's most important thing right now guys just win the series and win the game. If you gonna talk about my game time and all that kind of stuff, it's not a season – it's the playoffs. How I said before, you have to suck it up and play for team."
Not so shorthanded -- Most teams try to stay out of the penalty box. But the Los Angeles Kings seem to do well even when they're whistled for an infraction.
Not only did the Kings kill all nine St. Louis power plays Monday night, they also received a shorthanded goal from Anze Kopitar in a 5-2 win against the Blues in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series at the Scottrade Center.
Kings captain Dustin Brown picked up an assist on Kopitar's tally, giving him four shorthanded points this postseason. It's the most any player has had in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg had five points in 2008.
"It's good to see that emotional investment from Dustin, right? Good to see, and good for him," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Hey, it's what I said before the series. We need him to have a good series."
St. Louis has already allowed two shorthanded goals in this series. The Blues surrendered three shorthanded tallies during the regular season.
Just moments after having an overtime goal waved off, Briere scored the 46th goal of his postseason career to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at Wells Fargo Center.
Briere -- who scored twice Sunday afternoon -- now has 106 points in 104 playoff games. He is now tied with Claude Giroux for the playoff lead with seven goals, and ranks second behind only Giroux with 10 points.
His overtime tally was his 14th goal on his last 18 playoff games. He now has 36 goals and 69 points in 64 postseason contests with Philadelphia.
"The World's Most Famous Arena" will be hosting its fourth Game 7 on Thursday night.
Thanks to the work of youngsters such as Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider -- along with world-class goaltender Henrik Lundqvist -- the Blueshirts managed to stave off elimination Monday night and force a seventh game with a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
The victory means the Rangers will be participating in their ninth Game 7 in franchise history, and the fourth to be played at Madison Square Garden. It will also be the first Game 7 on Broadway since the Rangers won their only Stanley Cup championship in the last six decades, when they beat the Vancouver Canucks in a dramatic seventh game in 1994.
The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is still ongoing, but there have already been 13 games that have gone past regulation.
So far, that has been bad news for the home teams.
The visiting squad won both games that required overtime on Sunday, as Boston's Tyler Seguin and Jarret Stoll of Los Angeles lit the lamp in the extra session. With the victories, the road team is now 10-3 in overtime games this postseason.
Los Angeles won a playoff series for the first time in 11 years and became just the 10th team that finished eighth in the conference to eliminate a No. 1 seed since the National Hockey League adopted the format in 1993-94, and the sixth to upset a Presidents' Trophy winner. Vancouver finished the 2011-12 regular season with an NHL-best 111 points.
The Canucks lost all three games they hosted at Rogers Arena and have been ousted in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Nothing special -- The subpar goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury certainly is a big reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins' season has ended prematurely. But perhaps an ever bigger reason is special teams.
The Philadelphia Flyers set a new franchise record with 12 power-play goals in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Pens, which ended with Sunday's 5-1 decision at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers finished the series 12-for-23 with the man advantage, an astonishing 52.2 percent.
Pittsburgh's penalty kill ranked third in the League during the regular season with a success rate of 87.8 percent. But for these six games against its arch nemesis, it was nowhere to be found.
And, after Seguin scored 3:17 into overtime, each team has now won eight games.
This is the third time in history the Caps and Bruins have faced each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the teams will need a Game 7 to determine the winner. Alex Ovechkin erased a 3-2 deficit late in the third period Sunday, but Seguin -- who is only 20 years old -- won it for Boston early in the extra session.
Seguin led the Bruins during the regular season with 29 goals and 67 points, but was scoreless in the playoffs until notching two points on Sunday.
Wednesday marks the fifth Game 7 for Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and the first for Washington's Braden Holtby. Thomas is 3-2 with a 2.04 goals-against average in Game 7s.
It will be the 10th Game 7 for Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference. He has won five of nine in his career.
Not since 2002 had the St. Louis Blues advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But on Saturday night, Ken Hitchcock's club changed all that.
Going up against a team that had reached the Western Conference Final the last two years, the Blues disposed of the San Jose Sharks in five games with Saturday's 3-1 win at the Scottrade Center. Including the regular season, the Blues won eight of nine against the San Jose.
In those nine games, the Sharks scored a total of 11 goals.
The Ottawa Senators goaltender made several phenomenal saves to lead his team to a 2-0 win against the top-seeded New York Rangers in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. Anderson, who finished with 41 saves, lowered his goals-against average to 1.79. Through the first five games of the series, Anderson is boasting a .943 save percentage.
The Rangers have scored only three goals in the past three games, including a 1-0 victory in Game 3. Anderson, meanwhile, improved to 8-1-1 lifetime at MSG.
Since the Blueshirts took a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 4, Anderson has gone 116 minutes, 32 seconds without allowing a goal.
Theodore bounces back -- Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen had complete faith that goaltender Jose Theodore would respond after allowing three goals in the first 6:16 against the New Jersey in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal last Tuesday.
All Theodore did Saturday night was stop all 30 shots he faced for his second career postseason shutout as the Panthers moved within a win of the second round with a 3-0 victory at the BankAtlantic Center.
It's been 16 years since Florida has won a playoff series, but Theodore's ability to respond has the Devils on the brink of elimination when the series resumes Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.
Theodore went eight years in between postseason shutouts -- his first one came back on April 19, 2004, when the Montreal Canadiens blanked the Boston Bruins in a 2-0 win.
The Bruins' lack of offense is a huge reason why the club is playing with its season on the line Sunday afternoon, when the series shifts back to Washington.
Make it five -- For the first time in 61 years, a playoff series has opened with five consecutive overtime games.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes reached an extra session for a fifth time Saturday night, as Nick Leddy erased a 1-0 deficit midway through the third period before captain Jonathan Toews won it in overtime as the Hawks staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory at Jobing.com Arena.
After a wild third period, the clubs played overtime for a third straight game Tuesday night before Mikkel Boedker gave the Coyotes a 2-1 series lead when he beat Corey Crawford from a sharp angle at 13:15 in a 3-2 win at the United Center.
Overtime was needed again after the teams traded three goals during a 65-second span in the third period. Michael Frolik gave Chicago a 2-1 lead almost immediately after Rostislav Klesla had tied it for Phoenix, but Ray Whitney evened things up again for the Coyotes just 32 seconds later.
The victory has Phoenix halfway towards its first postseason series victory in 25 years. In 1987, the Winnipeg Jets ousted the Calgary Flames in six games.
It's happened only eight times in 19 years, but the Los Angeles Kings are a solid 60-minute effort away from becoming No. 9.
Thanks to a 41-save performance from Jonathan Quick and another tremendous effort from team captain Dustin Brown, the Kings -- who haven't won a playoff series since 2001 -- took a 3-0 lead on the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference Quarterfinal with a 1-0 win at the Staples Center on Sunday night.
Only eight teams that finished eighth in the conference have managed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the National Hockey League adopted the format in 1993. But the Kings, who didn't even know they were playing the Canucks until the final night of the regular season, can eliminate the Canucks with another victory in Game 4 on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Vancouver's special teams have struggled in this series, as the Canucks clearly miss injured winger Daniel Sedin. Vancouver went 0-for-4 on the power play Sunday night and is now 0-for-14 in the series.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, treated its fans to something they hadn't seen in quite some time -- a playoff victory on home ice. With Sunday's win, the Kings snapped a five-game playoff skid at Staples Center.
A long time coming -- Fifteen years since their last playoff victory, the Florida Panthers had reason to celebrate after Sunday's 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal at the BankAtlantic Center.
When Tomas Fleischmann scored an empty-net goal in the game's final second, it sealed Florida's first postseason win since a 3-0 triumph against the New York Rangers on April 17, 1997 -- a span of 5,478 days.
Sunday's win didn't come easily for the Panthers. The club held a 3-0 lead, but the Devils scored twice in the third period and nearly tied it with just under 10 seconds to go before Fleischmann's tally helped Florida even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
It's probably a good thing Florida won Sunday, too -- New Jersey is 10-0 all-time when it wins the first two games of a playoff series.
Fleury of goals -- What's happened to Marc-Andre Fleury?
Easily one of the top goaltenders in the League during the regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins' netminder has struggled mightily against the Philadelphia Flyers and was pulled after allowing six goals on 28 shots in the first two periods of Sunday's 8-4 loss at Wells Fargo Center.
Fleury won 42 games during the regular season while boasting a 2.36 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. But, in three appearances in the playoffs, he has a 6.34 GAA and .798 save percentage.
Seventh time's a charm -- The Nashville Predators finally won a playoff game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.
After going winless in their first six postseason games in Detroit, the Predators squeaked out a 3-2 victory against the Red Wings in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Nashville now has a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series, with Game 4 to be played in Motown on Tuesday.
The Preds also finally experienced some success on the power play against the Wings. Nashville was 0-for-12 with the man advantage in the series before captain Shea Weber found the back of the net 2:48 into Sunday's contest.
When the Philadelphia Flyers open the postseason next month, it appears they'll be without another one of their top defenseman.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced Monday that Andrej Meszaros will undergo surgery to remove a small disc fragment in his lower back on Wednesday and will be out 6-8 weeks. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Alex Vaccaro at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.
Meszaros, 26, has 7 goals, 18 assists and a plus-6 rating in 62 games this season. The 6-foot-2, 223-pound blueliner hasn't played since March 1 against the New York Islanders, when he had a goal and two assists.
NHL Network hockey insider Darren Dreger reported Tuesday night that the Sharks are a strong contender for Nash's services. Sources have told Dreger that the Columbus Blue Jackets wanted Logan Couture in return, but that was quickly rejected by Sharks general manager Doug Wilson.
Nash and Sharks captain Joe Thornton are apparently good friends and have performed well together in international competitions.
Nash, 27, has a no-trade clause and will ultimately determine where he ends up.
The Islanders (24-25-8) are returning home after splitting a pair of road games this week. New York suffered a 5-1 loss at St. Louis on Thursday night after earning a 3-1 victory in Winnipeg on Tuesday. The Isles enter today's action eight points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina (22-25-11) is coming off a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks at the RBC Center last night to move within a point of the Islanders in the standings. The Hurricanes have earned at least one point in 14 of their last 15 games against New York (10-1-4).
Here are the expected lines tonight for each club:
Kevin Poulin, who was recalled from AHL Bridgeport on an emergency basis Friday, gets the start for the Islanders tonight. Al Montoya will serve as the backup, while Evgeni Nabokov continues to recover from the flu.
"It's good," said Poulin, who made 21 saves for the Isles in a 5-2 win at Carolina on Jan. 31. "I was supposed to play at Bridgeport (tonight), but now I'm playing here. This way, I don't have to change anything."
The Isles (22-22-8) are a .500 club this late in the season for the first time in five years after Evgeni Nabokov guided them to a 1-0 victory at Philadelphia on Tuesday night. New York enters tonight's action nine points behind the Ottawa Senators for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Isles have four games in hand. Ottawa plays host to Nashville tonight.
"We've got to try to win hockey games right now," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "It's a crucial two-week stretch for us."
Montreal (21-24-9) is seeking its third straight win after earning a 3-2 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night. The victory allowed the Canadiens to move within 10 points of Ottawa, although the Habs have only two games in hand.
"Everybody's in the race," Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "Everybody's got something to play for each and every night. We have to be on our game. We've built some good work of late, but that's not good enough. We can't rest on any laurels. We want to keep it going."
Here are the expected lines tonight for each club:
Diaz returns to Montreal's blue line after missing the last two games. Cunneyworth said it will be a game-time decision as to who Diaz will replace in the lineup. The Canadiens promoted Palushaj from AHL Hamilton on Wednesday as Yannick Weber is out with a leg injury.
The team said the deal will be announced Wednesday, but TSN's Bon McKenzie reported that it's a four-year deal worth $11 million, a cap hit of $2.75 million. That's a big jump for Nielsen, who is on the last season of a four-year, $2.2 million deal he signed in 2008.
Nielsen, 27, was the Islanders' third-round choice (No. 87) in the 2002 NHL Draft. He became the first Danish-born NHL player to score a goal when he connected during a 15-game callup in 2007, and became a full-time Islander in 2008-09.
Nielsen entered Thursday's action with nine goals and 25 points in 51 games after posting career highs of 13 goals, 31 assists and 44 points last season, when he led the NHL with seven shorthanded goals. He is also one of the NHL's most proficient scorers in the shootout -- his 57.6 percentage (19-for-33) is the best of any player who has taken 20 or more attempts.
The Raleigh News and Observer reported Monday that 'Canes general manager Jim Rutherford will be holding "an important meeting" with Ruutu this week.
"I want to talk to him about where he's at, this season and in the future," Rutherford told the paper. "We'll talk about that and see where it goes. We're closing in on the (NHL) trade deadline, so we need to make a decision.
"I've had casual conversations with his agent the past month or so. The next step is to meet with (Ruutu) and make a decision on what direction would be the best for everyone."
Ruutu, who turns 29 next week, is believed to be seeking a long-term contract. Set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Ruutu leads Carolina with 16 goals.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders have an opportunity to get back to the .500 mark as they host the Buffalo Sabres tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Isles (21-22-7) pulled within a game of .500 Friday night when Mark Eaton ended a 120-game goalless drought in overtime to lift New York to a 2-1 victory at Ottawa. The Islanders -- who haven't been a .500 club since Nov. 5 -- enter tonight's action nine points behind Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We're a confident bunch right now," said Isles winger PA Parenteau, who had two more assists Friday night to give him 36 on the season. "We play with a lot of passion and we know what's at stake in the next two weeks. Nothing's impossible for us. … A lot of guys are playing well. It's only nine points and there's a lot of games left."
Buffalo (21-24-6) is also 2-0-1 in its last three games and has allowed only two goals over that span. The Sabres couldn't solve Henrik Lundqvist in a 1-0 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at the First Niagara Center on Wednesday night. The Sabres have been somewhat fortunate to earn points in three of their last four games considering they've only scored five goals.
"I know it'll come … we still have to score," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I don't want to talk about chances any more. You've got to create them to get them. The more you create, the better chance you're going to have. The less you give up, the easier it is for your goaltender. I think we've played harder in some situations, which has made a difference."
Here are the expected lines tonight for each club:
Ryan Miller gets the start in goal. The Sabres' netminder has stopped 83 of 85 shots over the last three games while boasting a 0.63 goals-against average. Jhonas Enroth will be the backup.
Buffalo will be without sniper Thomas Vanek, who suffered an upper-body injury during Tuesday's 3-1 win at Montreal. Ennis and Stafford are both expected to play after battling the flu. Jochen Hecht and T.J. Brennan are out with concussions. Zach Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani are expected to be healthy scratches.
Since the end of the 2006-07 season, the Isles are 1-17-5 against their Atlantic Division foes. They went 0-5-1 against the Flyers last season and lost their only meeting thus far this time around, a 4-3 overtime decision Nov. 23 thanks to game-tying and game-winning goals by Danny Briere.
"Sometimes there are just teams you match up against, I guess, and then you build confidence," Briere said when asked why the Flyers have had so much success against the Islanders. "There's other teams where we seem to be struggling against, for some reason. But the Islanders are one of those teams where we come in and we always have a lot of confidence -- even when we fall behind. I hope it keeps going because being in our division, we have to play them quite a bit."
"Sometimes you just match up a little bit better against other teams," Islanders captain Mark Streit said. "You can ask Detroit why they've lost four or five in a row (against us). Sometimes it's tough to explain, but it's a division rivalry and they have a good team. We need points, so you can't really pay attention to the stats."
Here are the expected lines tonight for each club:
Pronger, 37, hasn't played since Nov. 19 at Winnipeg. He temporarily lost vision after taking a high stick to his right eye on Oct. 24 and was immediately put on medication to help relieve the pressure build-up behind his eye. He missed the next six games.
Now the hulking defenseman is closing in on a month without making a single appearance. What was once deemed as a virus could be something much worse. Pronger was slated to meet with concussion experts in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He has a goal and 11 assists in 13 games this season.
The Flyers are also without Claude Giroux, who is out indefinitely with a concussion. Giroux leads the NHL with 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists).
"Giroux's status remains the same. We will have an update on Pronger tomorrow, once we have spoken to the doctors," Holmgren said Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh (16-9-4) will once again be without captain Sidney Crosby, who is experiencing slight headaches. The hope is that he'll be able to play when the Pens host Detroit on Tuesday night. Crosby will be evaluated when the Pens return home.
The Penguins will also be missing defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, as well as center Jordan Staal, who briefly skated this morning before heading to the dressing room due to a lower-body injury.
New York (9-11-6) has gone six straight games without a regulation loss. The Isles, who are 4-0-2 over that stretch, rallied from a 2-0 deficit Thursday night before losing in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice this morning, which means he'll likely get the start. Tuukka Rask would be the backup.
Boychuk is a game-time decision after missing Thursday's 2-1 shootout win against Columbus with flu-like symptoms. He skated this morning and appears ready to go. … Jordan Caron and Steven Kampfer are the likely healthy scratches for the Bruins, who have won seven in a row.
Rick DiPietro gets the start for the Islanders in goal. He will be backed up by Anders Nilsson, who was recalled by AHL Bridgeport due to injuries to both Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Al Montoya (hamstring). The Isles placed Nabokov -- who could miss up to a month -- on injured reserve this morning.
Nilsson, a third-round draft choice (No. 62) in 2009, is 5-2-0 with a 2.86 goals-against average in 7 AHL appearances this season, his first in North America.
Kyle Okposo, who has just 3 assists in 14 games, will be a healthy scratch for a third straight game. Mark Eaton is back in the lineup and will replace Mike Mottau, who is also a healthy scratch.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders began the 2011-12 season with three healthy goaltenders. Now, they're down to one.
And it's the one nobody would have guessed.
Rick DiPietro, who has spent a large chunk of the past four years in the infirmary, will be the Isles' starting goaltender Saturday night when the Isles host the Boston Bruins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The 30-year-old relieved Evgeni Nabokov early in Thursday night's 4-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens after the latter suffered a groin injury that could sideline him up to a month.
Then, on Friday, the Isles announced that Al Montoya -- who has been sharp in the six appearances he's made this season -- is day-to-day with a strained hamstring. New York was forced to promote Anders Nilsson from AHL Bridgeport on Saturday morning to back up DiPietro, who now has been presented with a golden opportunity to regain his spot as the Isles' No. 1 goaltender.
"It's a good opportunity to get in there and get an extended chance to play some games," said DiPietro, who is 2-1-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in five appearances this season. "At the end of the day, it's all about winning and that's our main focus."
DiPietro, the No. 1 pick at the 2000 NHL Draft, made 26 appearances last season -- the most in three years due to various knee, hip and head injuries. Now healthy and eager to seize the moment, DiPietro -- who has 10 years left on his contract -- admits he will put added pressure on himself to reclaim his position as the Isles' franchise goaltender.
"I always end up putting a little added pressure on myself than I probably should," he said. "But really, the focus is winning. That's what I want to do and that's what this hockey club wants to do. We're in the middle of November here and it's time for us to turn this around and get things going in the right direction."
Montoya was rewarded for a strong training camp by starting the Isles' first three games of the season. With Nabokov also in the mix, DiPietro didn't receive his first start until Oct. 29. Suddenly, injuries to both Nabokov and Montoya have DiPietro back in the spotlight. Islanders coach Jack Capuano is hopeful DiPietro will make the most of this chance.
"It's a good opportunity for him," Capuano said. "If you know Rick at all like we know him, he's a competitive kid and he wants that challenge. There's no better place than against the Stanley Cup champions tonight, so it'll be a good test for him."
"I feel good," DiPietro said. "I had a good summer. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge."
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Winnipeg Jets will have a different look on their blue line Thursday night against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Winnipeg will be without world-class defenseman Tobias Enstrom after he was injured during Monday's 4-3 shootout victory at Florida. Enstrom suffered an upper-body injury after being hit by Panthers forward Jack Skille and was sent back to Winnipeg for further evaluation.
The Jets are also likely to be without defenseman Mark Stuart, who is day-to-day after suffering an upper-body injury Monday.
"Guys are going to have to pick up the slack," said Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian, who could conceivably play close to 30 minutes against the Isles. "For right now, I've just got to keep it simple and kind of read of who you're playing with."
Here are Winnipeg's projected lines for Thursday night:
Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in goal for the Jets. Pavelec is 3-4-1 with a 3.62 goals-against average and .885 save percentage in nine appearances. Former Isles goalie Peter Mannino will be the backup as Chris Mason (groin) was placed on injured reserve Thursday morning.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders, who are in search of their first victory in 19 days, will boast the same lineup for Thursday's game against the Winnipeg Jets at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Rick DiPietro will make his second straight start after stopping 27 of 30 shots in last Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Here are the Isles' projected lines for Thursday night:
Neither team skated this morning, as both opted to only have meetings.
Both squads' lineups are expected to look very similar to their previous games. New York is coming off a 2-1 win against Minnesota on Monday afternoon, while the Lightning dropped a 6-5 shootout decision at Washington later that night.
Al Montoya will get his third straight start in goal, with Evgeni Nabokov dressing for the first time this season as the backup. Rick DiPietro is being re-evaluated today after being struck near the temple by a Rolston slap shot yesterday. Trevor Gillies skated this morning and is expected to be activated off the injured reserve list, but the Isles will again be without Nino Niederreiter and Milan Jurcina, who are out with groin injuries.
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Last month, Conception Bay South resident Cody Porter was focused on attending and making a name for himself at the High Performance Program in Gander, where we was set to try out for Team Newfoundland & Labrador.
The 13-year-old arrived in Gander on Aug. 21 and completed his first round of on-ice and off-ice activities the following day. But that night, he failed to compete in his first game due to what he thought was a fever. He went back to his hotel with hopes that he could sleep it off.
On the morning of Aug. 23, Porter was still not feeling well but managed to make his way to the rink. But his condition continued to deteriorate, and he was soon placed in an ambulance. He was rushed to the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander, going in and out of consciousness along the way.
Within the next hour, Porter's temperature was up to 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn't long after that his vitals flat lined. But with the help of some antibiotics, doctors were able to stabilize Porter and quickly placed him on an air ambulance headed for the Janeway Children's Hospital here in St. John's. During that trip, Porter flat lined a second time.
"I don't really remember much," Cody said. "I only remember getting in the ambulance. That's all I really remember."
"There's no words to explain how fast it all happened," Cody's mother, Laura Lee, told NHL.com. "We never thought he was as sick as what he was. Everything just happened so fast. They had him in St. John's in no time."
Porter was sedated for the next five days. During that time, doctors discovered a growth on his heart. Fortunately, all the tests performed came back negative. In all, he spent 11 days in the hospital. He lost 15 pounds during that span and needed roughly a dozen donations of blood platelets.
"He was asleep for five days and once they woke him up, he was doing good," Laura Lee said. "It took a few days for him to come home, but he's doing well now. The growth shrunk and it went away."
Tonight, Porter will find himself standing at center ice to drop the ceremonial puck for the Kraft Hockeyville game between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators at the Mile One Centre. It will be a great moment for a child who has been through so much in the last month.
"I'm really excited about tonight," Cody said. "It's going to be really cool."
"I'm going to cry," his mom said. "I'll be crying the whole time. He's a pretty special boy."
Porter hopes to continue his hockey career soon. Doctors have informed him that he won't have his full strength back until around Christmas, so he'll be staying off skates for the time being. He hopes to try out as a second-year Bantam next season.
"They said I can go back to playing hockey next year," Cody said.
We're less than 90 minutes away from opening faceoff here in St. John's. Players and coaches seem genuinely thrilled to be a part of the Kraft Hockeyville experience and are primed to put on a good show for these rabid fans tonight.
Here are the expected forward lines tonight for each club:
As it should be, the kids are the big winners in the Kraft Hockeyville festivities.
Just hours before the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators battle at the Mile One Centre in St. John's, a player from each squad headed out to Conception Bay South to visit two elementary schools. Jets forward Spencer Machacek and Sens center Peter Regin represented their clubs and took turns taking questions from students of both Topsail and St. George's Elementary Schools. They also signed some autographs and took group photos.
"I had a lot of fun interacting with the community," said Machacek, who hails from Lethbridge, Alberta. "I've never been out here. This is a beautiful part of the country. It's amazing. The teachers and the kids are just so excited to have us here. All the energy is a lot of fun. It's a special thing I'm sure for them to have NHL players come in. We were all young like that once. It was a lot of fun."
St. George's Principal Paul Edwards was thankful to both Regin and Machacek, knowing full well the two players created memories for his schoolchildren that will last a lifetime.
"The kids have been excited all week," Edwards said. We're delighted today to have the players with us. The kids are excited and they will be for another few days while Hockeyville is ongoing. There's been quite a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our school.
Not lost in the shuffle was a visit from NHL alumni Mathieu Schneider and Rob Zamuner to the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's. There's little doubt Schneider and Zamuner brightened some kids' days.
"I think it's amazing that they do this," Machacek said of the Kraft Hockeyville experience. "I'm sure every year, it just grows and grows. A lot of people haven't been out here, including myself. To be able to see this part of the country and see the excitement in this town and to give these kids an NHL game, it's pretty special."
Auld, a former second-round draft pick (Florida, 1999), spent parts of four seasons playing for the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League. He reflected on his time there fondly this morning after the Sens skated in preparation for tonight's Kraft Hockeyville showdown against the Jets at the Mile One Centre.
"It's exciting," Auld said of the Jets' return to the NHL. "I played four winters there and you could see the passion in the fan base and the love they still had for the Jets. It was tough some nights. We were having a tough game, and the, 'Go Jets Go!' chant would go. It was a little discouraging for us, but it's pretty cool. I was pretty excited and I had been hopeful for a couple of years with all the talk about it."
One of Auld's best seasons came during the NHL work stoppage, when he appeared in 50 games for the Moose. Auld helped Manitoba qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs that season by going 25-18-4 with a 2.56 goals-against average. That season marked the opening of the MTS Centre, which will be the home of the Jets.
"We had a great group of guys," Auld recalled. "Nobody was worrying about who was getting called up or anything like that. We had a good playoff run that year and it was a really fun year. We all really enjoyed it. Opening the new building was pretty cool and closing the old arena. All those things are things you remember forever. Now we'll be playing in Winnipeg again in the NHL. That'll be cool."
It's extremely rare that an NHL team conducts a morning skate that is open to the public, but that is the norm in Kraft Hockeyville.
The Winnipeg Jets arrived on the ice here at Mile One Centre at about 9 a.m. Newfoundland time and were greeted by roughly 1,000 rabid fans who will surely be back tonight to watch the preseason game between the Jets and Ottawa Senators.
Two-time Stanley Cup winner Andrew Ladd was a good sport and wore a microphone during the pre-game twirl. He's excited to participate in his first Kraft Hockeyville game this evening.
"It was fun … there was a bunch of kids in the crowd," the Jets' captain said. "You can see how excited they are. It's always fun to do events like this and to get people involved that don't normally get a chance to see NHL hockey and to see their reaction to it."
One could understand that the Jets were a tad groggy on the ice this morning, as their bodies were still on Winnipeg time. Newfoundland is 2 1/2 hours ahead, which meant the team was really up this morning before dawn.
"It wasn't a very good morning skate for us, some of the guys were a little sleepy," defenseman Ron Hainsey told me, as the Jets had a 7 a.m. wakeup call -- or 4:30 in Winnipeg. "It's fun. It's always fun when there's energy in the building. I'm sure the game will be fun tonight, too."
Winnipeg coach Claude Noel is battling a cold, but he's nonetheless thrilled to be in St. John's, which will host the Jets' top minor-league affiliate this season. He and his players are happy to embrace the Kraft Hockeyville event, which seems to get bigger each year.
"The Hockeyville thing is really good and it's really exciting for us," Noel said. "What's really worked out in our favor is this is our farm team. It couldn't have worked out any better. We end up getting a franchise that we didn't know, or certainly I didn't know, and then we end up putting an American League team here. It all works great for us. The excitement now is double what we've got in Winnipeg and what we've got up here. The frenzy continues out here in the East. It's great for us."
We're now just hours away from the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville game, and both the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators have arrived here at the Mile One Centre in St. John's.
The Jets will hit the ice for their morning skate at 9 a.m. Newfoundland time (7:30 ET), while the Sens will practice at 10 a.m. From there, representatives from each club will head out to Conception Bay South to visit a school and hospital.
The game is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. Newfoundland time (4 p.m. ET). Make sure to check back with NHL.com throughout the day for Kraft Hockeyville coverage.
A family skate at Robert French Memorial Stadium followed, as kids and parents shared the sheet of ice at the arena that is receiving the incredibly generous donation of $100,000 from Kraft that will go toward upgrading the facility.
Sunday concluded with the officials clinic, which was held by referees Mike Leggo and Gord Dwyer and linesmen Scott Driscoll and David Brisebois. Leggo and Dwyer arrived late due to a delayed flight in Montreal, but got to the rink in time to join the classroom session, where they answered questions from aspiring officials and shared some experiences of life in the NHL.
All in all, it's been another great day at Kraft Hockeyville. Can't wait for the morning skates tomorrow at the Mile One Centre. It's almost time to play hockey.
Kris King spent more than a dozen years playing professional hockey. But it was the four seasons he spent in Winnipeg that he's most fond of.
"Winnipeg was the place where I actually enjoyed my time the most, and that's both on and off the ice," said King, who was dealt from the New York Rangers to Winnipeg in December of 1992. "I think it was the people. We worked hard as a team, but the people within the community made those four years the most memorable four years for me. Coming from a small town of 900 people in Northern Ontario, Winnipeg was a small town in the NHL at the time, so it was a natural fit for me."
King was on the last Jets' team in 1995-96 before the franchise moved to Phoenix. Winnipeg's last game -- a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on April 28, 1996 -- will forever be etched in his memory.
"As tough as the ending was, that's the thing that sticks out the most," King said. "Watching Thomas (Steen) and how hard it was for him … to me, he was the Winnipeg Jets for the era that I was there. To see him sitting there and how hard it was for him to realize that this was it … I saw him this summer and he's so excited to have his team back. The fans didn't expect us to win every night, but they expected you to work hard. As a group, we picked up on that real quick. We had some quality guys and we were a good team that was getting close when he had to go to Phoenix."
NHL hockey is back in Winnipeg this season, and the Jets will be landing in Newfoundland later today. They will face the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night as the main event to the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville festivities. King is obviously very excited to have his former team back in the League after a 15-year hiatus.
"Thrilled would probably we a light way of saying it," King said Sunday after helping youth hockey players from Conception Bay South hone their skills. "I'm thrilled for the people of Manitoba and the Jets fans across Canada. They proved to us as players just how hard it was for them to lose a team. It was very, very sad to see what they went through. It was a tough time. But for them to be able to feel the excitement of actually having their team back was really exciting for everybody, especially us alumni."
The Kraft Hockeyville game was originally supposed to feature the Sens and Atlanta Thrashers, but that all changed when the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. King believes having the Jets participate in this event will only add to what is always a special event in Canada. The game will be played at the Mile One Centre in St. John's.
"It's actually really ironic how it was Atlanta-Ottawa and then the change was made," King said. "It's great for the people here and it's great to have hockey here."
The celebrities game at Robert French Memorial Stadium went down to the wire, but it was the Kraft Hockeyville squad edging the Conception Bay South stars in a wild 8-7 affair.
Truth be told, the score could have been much worse had it not been for the tremendous goaltending by CBS's Rod Hennessey, who made several tremendous saves to keep the game close. CBS actually held a 3-2 lead after the first period, but Kraft Hockeyville rallied for sox goals in the second en route to victory in the two-period game).
At the intermission, CBC's Don Cherry and Cassie Campbell-Pascall addressed the capacity crowd and told them how proud they should be to be Newfoundlanders. Cherry reminded them of how special it was in 2008, when Detroit forward Danny Cleary became the first NHL player from the province to ever win the Stanley Cup.
After the game, fans headed for the exits and were treated to a fireworks show. Hopefully they'll now head home to rest up, because there is another busy day in the works Sunday. NHL alumni Kris King, Laurie Boschman, Shaun Van Allen and Patrick Lalime will run clinics in the morning before a family skate in the afternoon. Later in the day, NHL officials will run a clinic for aspiring referees and/or linesmen.
It was a terrific start to the weekend. Make sure you continue to check in with NHL.com for all the latest from 2011 Kraft Hockeyville.
The two biggest things about being crowned Kraft Hockeyville are the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game and $100,000 for arena upgrades.
The showdown between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators is still two nights away, but tonight at Robert French Memorial Stadium, the mayor of CBS, Woodrow French, was part of a ceremony at center ice along with Kraft representatives. It was to pass along the check that will benefit youth hockey players for years to come.
Afterwards, Hall of Fame announcer Bob Cole, a St. John's native, dropped the ceremonial puck for the game that is pitting celebrities from Conception Bay South and Kraft Hockeyville.
"That was great," Cole told me as the game got under way. "A lot of fun."
As fans made their way around the Stanley Cup Jamboree, they were addressed by Jack Hewitt, the Vice President of Marketing Services for Kraft Canada.
Hewitt expressed his heartfelt congratulations to this small, passionate town that earned more than 995,000 votes to win a competition that began with 653 communities. To honor the remarkable accomplishment, the folks here will be treated with festivities throughout the weekend that will culminate with Monday's preseason game between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators.
"Your pride, passion, dedication and commitment got you the title of Kraft Hockeyville 2011. Congratulations," Hewitt told the hundreds of rabid fans in attendance. "We have a great weekend planned for you. You're going to have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy it."
Shaun Van Allen hadn't been in Newfoundland for almost two decades. So when he was asked to represent the Ottawa Senators' alumni group as part of 2011 Kraft Hockeyville, he didn't think twice.
"This is awesome," said Van Allen, who had two stints in Ottawa (1996-2000, 2002-04) and also played for Edmonton, Anaheim, Dallas and Montreal. "It's been a long time since I've been back in Newfoundland. It was back in '92-93 when I played in the minors (for Cape Breton). There's always support here all the time. There's a lot of enthusiasm. It's a great atmosphere to play hockey."
Van Allen, 44, played in 794 NHL games between 1991 and 2004. He was just making a name for himself as a pro when the Winnipeg Jets left town for Phoenix in 1996. But the Jets are returning to the League this season and will play Van Allen's Sens in the main event of this Kraft Hockeyville experience on Monday night.
"I think any time you can add another Canadian team to the NHL, it's a great experience for Canada," said Van Allen, a Calgary native. "I would say it's the driving force behind hockey and it's great to have another team back."
Van Allen, who spent roughly two hours signing autographs today here in Conception Bay South, was asked if he had a favorite memory during his time with the Senators.
"One of my favorites would be the first time we ever made the playoffs (in 1997)," he said. "Last game of the year, Steve Duchene scored late in the game. That clinched us. We won, 1-0."
Never in a million years did the citizens of Conception Bay South think the Stanley Cup would be on display in their town.
But on Saturday, hundreds lined up for the opportunity to have their picture taken with the most prestigious trophy in all of sports.
The excitement on the faces of adults and children alike is absolutely priceless. There are jerseys of several different teams -- Montreal, Boston, Calgary, Toronto and Pittsburgh, just to name a few -- being represented here.
But one young lad is standing out amongst the crowd.
Colin Hull, a 10-year-old from here in Conception Bay South, was wearing a Winnipeg Jets sweater -- the last one the club wore before it left for Phoenix in 1996. Colin wasn't alive then, but he was smiling ear to ear Saturday in his old-school jersey as his father took a picture of him with Lord Stanley.
"My dad bought it for me when he went to the MTS Centre in February," said Colin, who said he's still hoping his old man will score tickets for Monday's game between the Jets and Ottawa Senators that will take place at the Mile One Centre in nearby St. John's. "I'm a fan. I hope we get to go."
The 2011 Kraft Hockeyville festivities are now in full swing.
Parents have packed the stands here at Robert French Memorial Stadium and are taking pictures of their children on the ice, where former NHLers Kris King and Patrick Lalime are running drills.
We're also about 45 minutes away from the arrival of the most prestigious trophy in all of sports, the Stanley Cup. It will be present during a four-hour party, where Newfoundlanders can have their picture taken with the Cup and get autographs from NHL alumni.
Be sure to check in with NHL.com throughout the day.
It's that time of year again, as a small town in Newfoundland is set to be the home of Kraft Hockeyville this weekend.
With the festivities set to get under way in Conception Bay South on Saturday morning, work is currently being done by NHL ice guru Dan Craig and his crew at Robert French Memorial Stadium. The in-ice logos are going in as we speak, less than 48 hours before the NHL Alumni Clinics begin at 8 a.m. Newfoundland time (or 6:30 ET).
"It wasn't a case that I really wanted to leave Chicago," Campbell told NHL.com Friday morning during the 2011 Player Media Tour. "I enjoyed my time there and I liked everybody. I liked my lifestyle living in Chicago, and I still am. It was tough, but knowing and talking to Dale Tallon, I knew I could trust him from his days being in Chicago. He's a man of his word. Looking at all the scenarios, I felt it was the best thing for me personally, and that's what I had to look at. I was happy to make the move to South Florida."
"I do know some of the guys and I've played with some of them before, so it makes it a lot more comfortable walking into the dressing room," Campbell said. "All the guys that Dale brought in are character guys that have fun coming to the rink. They all want to compete every night. That's going to give us a chance to win.
"I feel like we're going to have success a lot quicker than people think. For us, as long as we think that in the locker room and know that it's playoffs or everything else is a failure and not acceptable, it's a good place to start. I think that's the mindset that we all need to have going into the season."
A shortened whirlwind of a summer has all but come to a close for Tim Thomas.
The Boston Bruins goaltender is finished celebrating a season that saw him win a Vezina Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup. With training camp just a week away, Thomas is one of dozens of players participating in the Player Media Tour. On Friday morning, the 37-year-old sat down with NHL.com and was asked to reflect on what has to be an unforgettable summer.
"There were a couple of times where I was able to appreciate it for a short period," Thomas said. "One was just watching the DVD. It reminded me of everything that happened. I think that's what made it kind of hard to appreciate to a certain extent. So many great things happened for us to win the Cup that even if I had the time, it's hard to wrap your mind around everything that had to go right -- the overtime goals, the save by Ryder, coming back in Montreal in the third period with Chris Kelly and Ryder scoring that overtime goal -- the list just goes on and on and on. It's part of what makes it great, but it's also part of what makes it hard to totally soak in and say, 'Wow.' "
Thomas appeared in 57 regular-season games in 2010-11 and went 35-11-9 with a 2.00 goals-against average and an NHL-record .938 save percentage. He followed up with one of more remarkable postseasons in recent memory as he posted a 1.98 GAA, .940 save percentage and four shutouts in 25 games. One might recall that Thomas was Boston's backup goalie during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs and shortly thereafter underwent major hip surgery.
"It was not even knowing for sure whether you'd be able to get to anywhere near the level that I was the first time I won the Vezina (in 2009)," Thomas said. "I don't think it was retirement-serious at any point, but I didn't know if I was looking at spending the rest of my career as a highly-paid backup that was taking all the heat in the media and from the fans constantly."
From the moment he found out he'd be facing John Tavares in a competition at the NHL Store Powered by Reebok, Michael Grabner knew he would be victorious.
The Calder Trophy finalist squeaked past his New York Islanders teammate Thursday afternoon in a skills competition that saw the pair attempt to sell T-shirts to consumers, as well as folding shirts and pressing their names and numbers on Isles' sweaters.
One thing Tavares learned after the competition, though -- Grabner had previous experience.
"It was a little rigged, but my first job was working in a hockey store … I was 14," the speedy Austrian winger said afterwards. "I was used to talking to customers and printing shirts and stuff like that. I'm one-up on Johnny to start the year. It's 1-0 and that's all that matters right now."
Not surprisingly, Tavares first earned his paycheck on the ice. He wasn't pleased in dropping the competition to Grabner, but he was humble in defeat.
"My first job was working for a goalie school," Tavares said. "It was definitely a lot easier than this. I think it was a little bit rigged, but I'll let Mike take this one."
That vacancy is expected to be filled, with the most likely candidates being Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo. But if John Tavares joins that mix, that's just fine the third-year pro who turns 21 this month.
"I'd love to be (captain)," Tavares told NHL.com Thursday morning. "I definitely understand maybe I am still too young and just need to worry about the game, but if it was presented to me, it definitely would be something I would talk about and make sure it's the right decision for the group and for myself as well. I'd love to be a leader of this team.
"Mark Streit and Kyle are great guys and are going to be highly recommended, for sure. But I still feel I'll be a big leader no matter what, and I'll still have a lot of responsibility in a lot of ways. Whatever way it goes, it's going to be a guy that definitely deserves it and will do a great job at it. If I get the opportunity, it would be a huge honor."
After carrying the Anaheim Ducks to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, Corey Perry was recognized by being named the Hart Memorial Trophy winner, which is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.
Perry appeared in all 82 games for the Ducks this season and led the club in both goals (50) and points (98). Nineteen of those goals came in the final 16 games of the season as Anaheim finished fourth in the Western Conference.
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of
sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."
St. Louis was the runaway winner with 70 first-place votes and a total of 994 points. Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom -- who won his seventh Norris Trophy on Wednesday night as the League's best defenseman -- finished second in the voting for the fifth time in his career. Lidstrom tallied 464 points.
Also a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player, St. Louis had 31 goals, 68 assists and just 12 penalty minutes (which matched last season's career-low). He had points in each of the final nine games of the regular season and 15 of the last 17 to help the Lightning finish fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. The Lightning then swept the Washington Capitals in Round 2 before losing to the Boston Bruins in a tremendous seven-game Eastern Conference Final.
"This is a great honor to be here," St. Louis told the audience after repeating as the Lady Byng winner. "Thanks to the organization and everybody that has supported me all the way through this."
While St. Louis is now a two-time winner of the Lady Byng, Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk took the award home the previous four years (2006-09).
History was made at TD Garden during the first period of Game 6 on Monday night.
During a wild opening 20 minutes, the Boston Bruins set the Stanley Cup Final record for the fastest four goals by one team as they accomplished the feat in 4:14. The previous record was 5:29, set in Game 4 of the 1956 Stanley Cup Final by the Montreal Canadiens against Detroit.
The Bruins also tied the Stanley Cup Final record for the most first-period goals by one team. Twelve other teams scored four times in a first period, but it hadn't been done in 15 years, as the Colorado Avalanche were the last team to do it in 1996 against Florida.
Also, Brad Marchand's first-period goal made him the fifth rookie in NHL history with as many as nine goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also became the 11th rookie with as many as 16 points in one postseason.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who is 3-0 in Vancouver in this series, was pulled 8:35 into the first period Monday night. He has allowed 15 goals on 66 shots in Boston and has an 8.05 goals-against average and .773 save percentage.
"You know what? It doesn't," the 43-year-old told reporters on Monday, two days before his team opens a best-of-seven series against the Vancouver Canucks. "At this point, it really doesn't matter. We've learned a lot through the course of the season with this group of guys. There's been some guys that have been through a lot. Same as Vancouver -- they've got some guys that have been through a lot. Some hardships, some good things, and it's just a matter of going out and playing and enjoying it. I mean, this is fun. It's exciting times for everybody."
It's been five years since Recchi was last in position to win a Stanley Cup, when he helped the Carolina Hurricanes win that franchise's lone championship in 2006. Considering there's a strong possibility this season will be his last in the NHL, the Bruins are hoping the Kamloops, British Columbia native can leave the game with one more piece of jewelry.
"It would be nice for a couple of reasons," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Obviously his commitment especially to our team since he's been with us and the will to really go above and beyond his role as a player and really have taken some young players under his wing and has been bringing them home for meals, or whether he's talked to them about certain situations and certain times of the year. Some young guys go through slumps, and as a coach you can talk to those guys and try and do the best you can, encourage them and help them correct what needs to be corrected.
"But when you got a guy like Mark Recchi in the dressing room that will go up to this player and put his arm around him and say, 'Listen, I've been through this' and so on and so forth, these are the things that are part of the game. And coaches are as good as the people that surround them, and a lot of time you think it's just about assistant coaches or other people. It's also about their players, and when their players get it, they can certainly be a big asset to us because we come in the dressing room, we give them the message that we need to give them, but it has to be reinforced by players. And Mark [Recchi] has always been the one who, one of many in that dressing room that's done that. He's been a really valuable asset to our hockey club and he's got a lot of things to back it up with."
Certainly, it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach for the Bruins to win this series that pits them against the Presidents' Trophy winners. Vancouver racked up 54 victories and 117 points during the regular season and disposed of the No. 2 San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals in just five games.
"We only played them once this year, so we haven't gone over really a lot of team stuff," Recchi said. "But, I mean obviously they're a Presidents' Trophy winner, they're a great hockey team, deep and well coached, and we'll look at things we have to do. I mean obviously, any key to your team's success is how you play personally. I think we focus on what we do ourselves. Our coaching staff will give us obviously their tendencies, and their coaching staff will give them our tendencies. It's who’s going to want it more and who's going to play to their abilities the best and their game plan the best."
Not only did they take a commanding 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series, but assistant coach Wayne Fleming is alert and talking after undergoing surgery earlier in the day to remove a malignant brain tumor.
Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher confirmed to reporters after Tuesday night's 4-3 win in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Washington Capitals at the St. Pete Times Forum that Fleming is awake and alert.
"It was the first thing we talked about with players after the game," Boucher said. "We didn't even talk about the win. I did get information from (Lighting GM) Steve (Yzerman) that Wayne's wife had talked to Steve and said that the operation was over. He was awake and alert, which is something extremely positive for that type of operation that he had to go through. For us, any positive note on Wayne is big for us."
The Lightning rallied from a 3-2 deficit by scoring twice in a 24-second span early in the third period. Steven Stamkos tied things up with a laser at 5:23 before Ryan Malone redirected Nate Thompson's feed past Michal Neuvirth for what proved to be the game-winner.
Afterwards, Stamkos -- who is now 4-2-6 in 10 playoff games -- dedicated the victory to his ill coach.
"We're obviously very excited about that," said Stamkos, who, along with his teammates, was informed of the positive news immediately following the game. "It's still a long battle for him and he's a fighter. All we can do now is pray for him and his family. It was a big win for him tonight."
"Simon and Kubina are not going to play. If I want them to play tomorrow, I better start praying," Boucher said Tuesday morning at the St. Pete Times Forum, where Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal will be held in just a few hours. "They're day-to-day -- except for today and tomorrow."
The Lightning lost both Gagne and Kubina during Friday night's Game 1 at the Verizon Center. Gagne fell awkwardly early in the first period due to a hit from Scott Hannan and his head struck the ice. Kubina was injured in the second period after being hit by Jason Chimera -- a hit Kubina declined to comment on Tuesday morning.
"It's getting better every day," Kubina said. "I'm not playing tonight. We'll see about tomorrow."
Randy Jones took Kubina's spot in the lineup Sunday night and started the play that led to Vincent Lecavalier's goal in overtime. Jones will be in the lineup again tonight, as will Blair Jones, who replaced Gagne on Sunday.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the best rivalries on the planet is going to overtime.
While both teams had quality chances in the final minutes, the Canadiens and Bruins are headed for overtime at TD Garden. It marks the second straight contest that requires an extra session -- Michael Ryder evened the series in Montreal on Thursday night when he beat Carey Price in overtime.
Boston is outshooting the Habs 32-30 after regulation.
The New Jersey Devils moved within nine points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with Sunday's 2-1 win at Florida. Now, GM Lou Lamoriello must decide whether or not to deal Jason Arnott.
The veteran center addressed the issue at the BankAtlantic Center after the victory and expressed a willingness to move if it meant playing for a team with a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
"I don't want to go to a team that is battling to make the playoffs," he told the Newark Star-Ledger. "It would make more sense for me just to stay here (with the Devils) and battle it out and try and make it here. I'll have to see who is interested."
With only 20 games remaining in the regular season, New Jersey still has a long way to go to qualify for the playoffs despite its miraculous run.
"It's pretty tough," Arnott said of the Devils' chances. "I've been three or four points out with 15-20 games left and didn't make it. You have to have a lot go your way. The way the guys are playing now, anything is possible. You just have to have other teams lose and have a little luck on your side. It's tough but not impossible.
"We're still a long ways off making the playoffs. It would be a huge gamble to stay. But I have to weigh all my options."
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times just reported on Twitter that the Stars, who entered Sunday's action in a virtual three-way tie for sixth place in the Western Conference, will indeed hang on to the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner rather than deal him.
Richards, who leads the Stars with 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists), is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The 30-year-old is undoubtedly one of the top centers in the League and has likely drawn interest from several teams over the past month. But with the Stars right in the mix for a playoff spot, you certainly can't blame them for wanting to keep Richards in the Lone Star State.
What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.
— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp