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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 4:46 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Green's back

Washington defenseman Mike Green returned to the bench with about 5:30 left in the second period. He missed just over a full period after taking a slap shot by Matt Gilroy in the helmet.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 4:31 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Caps extend their lead

Mike Green wasn't on the bench for the Caps at the start of the second period after taking a Matt Gilroy blast in the helmet with 6:11 left in the first. The team said the All-Star defenseman's return is questionable. Green would be missed -- he scored the first goal on Saturday and has points in all five games.

The Caps nearly scored 45 seconds into the period on a beautiful three-way passing play -- a brilliant defensive play by Marc Staal kept Ovechkin from being able to put the puck into the net. Staal got a stick on a little touch pass from Nicklas Backstrom, who opted to pass instead of shoot.

Alexander Semin missed another chance a minute later -- Henrik Lundqvist was in the right place to stop his wide-open backhander.

But the Caps continued to dominate play and made it 2-0 at 7:04 when Alex Ovechkin took advantage of a long shift by the D-pair of Staal and Dan Girardi. He raced up the right wing, cut in on a weary Staal and tucked a backhander past Lundqvist, who was left to fend for himself.

It's all Caps at the first TV timeout -- they're up 2-0 and heading to their third power play.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 4:06 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

It could have been worse

The Caps took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but if you're a Rangers fan, you're probably happy to get out of the opening 20 minutes down only one goal.

After the Rangers' flurry in the first 30 seconds, the Caps dominated play. Washington won the races to loose pucks, had little trouble breaking out of its own zone and generally made life miserable for the visitors -- especially Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced. Michal Neuvirth had to stop just six shots.

More indicative of the play are the shot attempts, rather than the ones that got through: The Rangers had 12 attempts (6 on goal, 5 blocked, 1 missed the net); the Caps had 36 (13 on goal, 13 blocked, 10 that missed). After the first shift, in which the Rangers dominated, Lundqvist spent the rest of the period surrounded by red jerseys trying to get in his way.

The one good piece of news for the Rangers: Defenseman Dan Girardi was back before the end of the period.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 3:54 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Caps push the pace

The pace is frantic, with Washington pushing the tempo as the Caps sense a chance to grab a two-goal lead that might be more than the Rangers can overcome. Lundqvist has faced a dozen shots in the first 13 minutes; Michal Neuvirth has seen just four and is spending minutes at a time all by his lonesome in the Caps' zone.

But the 18,398 fans quieted as one with 6:11 remaining when Matt Gilroy took a blast from near the right circle that dropped Caps defenseman Mike Green. Play was stopped immediately, and Green was helped from the ice, though he was able to skate off.

The Rangers were also missing a key defenseman -- Dan Girardi wasn't on the bench as the clock ticked down past the 5:00 mark.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 3:38 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Caps get the jump

Talk about coming out flying!

The Rangers came out like they'd been shot out of a cannon, forcing Michal Neuvirth to make an excellent stop off a scramble before the game was 30 seconds old.

Then it was the Caps' turn. Alex Ovechkin came down right wing on a 2-on-1 but fired wide. Henrik Lundqvist also had to make a pair of fine glove stops. John Erskine, not known for his offensive skills, also tested Lundqvist twice.

After the initial flurry, the Caps are carrying the play, forcing the Rangers to defend rather than attack. They earned the first power play when Bryan McCabe got his stick between Marcus Johansson' legs and tripped the rookie center as he raced down the right wing.

The Caps wasted no time taking advantage. With the Rangers in full disarray, Mike Green took a rip from the slot that Lundqvist stopped. But the All-Star defenseman followed his shot and poked the puck off defenseman Dan Girardi and into the net at 5:59 for a 1-0 lead. It's only the second time in the five games that the Caps have scored first.

Even worse for the Rangers: They wound up with the extra penalty after a scrum behind the net when New York's bench was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. They nearly wound up with a second minor seconds later when a clearing attempt went out of play -- but NBC's Pierre McGuire knew before anyone that the puck hadn't gone over the glass ... because he caught it.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 3:18 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Ready to "Rock the Red"

The Verizon Center is a sea of red as the Washington Capitals try to do what the Penguins couldn't -- put away an opponent in Game 5.

It's an uphill battle for the Rangers, who saw a 3-0 third-period lead turn into a 4-3 double-overtime loss in Game 4 -- meaning that instead of going back to D.C. all even, the Rangers need to win just to stay alive.

One area in which the Rangers need to improve is the power play. They are 1-for-18 and went 0-for-7 in Game 4. Another day like that and the Rangers could be toast.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 2:52 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

It’s over

Much to the relief of the Penguins, the final horn went off at the Consol Energy Center, ending an 8-2 nightmare. Two goals (and 3 points) for Steven Stamkos, two for Simon Gagne, two for Pavel Kubina. Four power-play goals. A perfect effort by the Lightning's penalty-killers. All in all, a near-perfect day for the Bolts -- and a nightmare for the Penguins, who had hoped to close out the series in front of their home fans.

So it's back to the St. Pete Times Forum for Game 6 on Monday for the Pens and Bolts -- and on to the Rangers and Caps for Act II of our 12 Hours of Hockey.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 2:51 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

One for the road

The Penguins finally killed off a full power play, but they paid the price again for Max Talbot's unnecessary boarding call when Dominic Moore put the puck into a wide-open net with 4:25 left for an 8-2 lead and a 4-for-6 showing with the extra man.

Kris Letang took a boarding call on the play after flattening Nate Thompson (who took the hit to make the play), giving the Bolts yet another advantage -- that's five in the third period.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 2:31 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Playing for pride

Give the Penguins credit for not rolling over. They added a second goal with 11:38 left when Chris Connor scored after Dwayne Roloson lost his stick during some sloppy play in Tampa Bay's zone. Bolts coach Guy Boucher looked about as unhappy as a coach can look with a five-goal lead.

The second goal and subsequent pressure by the Penguins has finally gotten the crowd back into the game, at least briefly. The Penguins look alive -- although it's far too late to affect the outcome of this game, this does give them something to build on for Game 6.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 2:21 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - 12 Hours of Hockey - Live Blog

Power’s on again

The Lightning's power play made it two goals in three tries (the one they missed was just 19 seconds) when Pavel Kubina teed up a slapper from just above the right faceoff dot and blew it past Brent Johnson at 2:54 for a 6-0 lead.

It became 3-for-4 on the PP when Kubina set up in front of the crease and tapped home a pass by Purcell at 5:45 for a 7-0 lead.

At least the Penguins spoiled Dwayne Roloson's shutout bid. Mike Rupp chipped in a rebound at 6:36 to get the Pens on the board.

The Lightning have outscored the Penguins 12-2 in the last five-plus periods in Pittsburgh after a 3-0 loss in Game 1. It's an amazing turnabout -- Pittsburgh won both regular-season meetings at home and outscored the Lightning 13-2.
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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players