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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 1:51 PM

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

More PP struggles for Penguins

Pittsburgh got its fifth power play when Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was called for interference at 17:02.

This time, the Penguins generated some chances -- Mark Letestu had a golden opportunity on a rebound, but Dwayne Roloson was up to the task. It actually looked like Letestu might have scored -- the Pittsburgh announcers thought so -- but replay showed the black "thing" in the net was the tip of Chris Kunitz' stick.

The Lightning killed off the remainder of the penalty and headed for the second intermission enjoying a 5-0 lead. Pittsburgh had 20 shots on goal to 18 for the Lightning.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 1:35 PM

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

Five and counting

The Lightning got their first power play when Mike Rupp was called for boarding Ryan Malone at 6:52 -- and needed just eight seconds to make it 5-0 when Steven Stamkos fired home a shot from 10 feet for a 5-0 lead. Stamkos, who struggled in the final six weeks of the season and did nothing through the first four games, has 2 goals and looks like the player who had 21 goals in his first 22 games this season.

Pittsburgh got a fourth power play when Lecavalier was called for hooking at 9:20. But the advantage lasted just 19 seconds before Kris Letang was called for cross-checking.

With 8:02 left in the period and a five-goal deficit, Consol Energy Center was as quiet as a church.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 1:23 PM

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

Fleury gets the hook

The Bolts gave Pittsburgh another power-play chance when they were called for having too many men on the ice just 80 seconds after Vinny Lecavalier's goal. But the Penguins again generated almost nothing -- dropping them to 1-for-21 in the series. The boobirds are beginning to make themselves heard.

They got a little louder when the Lightning struck again 5:31 into the period. Steve Downie, who served the penalty, grabbed a loose puck at center ice and led a rush that ended up with Simon Gagne putting a rebound past Marc-Andre Fleury for a 4-0 lead. That was the end of the day for Fleury, who was replaced by Brent Johnson.

As we hit the first TV break in the second period, the Lightning led 4-0 -- and the 18,000-plus at the Consol Energy Center were silent. Barring a miracle, the series appears to be headed back to Tampa for a game on Monday night.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 1:16 PM

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

Another Lightning strike

The Penguins started the second period with a power play, but again couldn't find a way to solve the Lightning's penalty-killers. They're now 0-for-15 at home.

Stamkos then made the play that led to a third Lightning goal at 1:55. Coach Guy Boucher loaded up his big guns -- Stamkos, Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis -- after the penalty kill (he did the same thing after Pavel Kubina's first-period penalty expired) and it paid off. Stamkos dug the puck out of the corner and found Lecavalier coming down the slot for a putaway past Marc-Andre Fleury, as Tyler Kennedy was unable to get back in time.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 12:54 PM

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

Lightning strikes

The Penguins spent the first 16-plus minutes doing everything but score. The Penguins outshot (11-4), outhit, outplayed -- out-everythinged the Lightning ... but couldn't beat Dwayne Roloson.

They might pay for the inability to put the puck in the net, because the Lightning had no such trouble at 16:57. After a passing play worthy of the Harlem Globetrotters, Simon Gagne fired the carom of Vincent Lecavalier's shot off the post into a wide-open net for his first of the series.

Just 46 seconds later, Steven Stamkos found the net for the first time in the series. He went to the net for a deflection of Steve Downie's shot that Marc-Andre Fleury was able to stop, but swatted home the rebound. Talk about a stunned crowd!
 
The Penguins got their second power play when Vincent Lecavalier was called for roughing with 32.6 seconds left in the period and nearly had a goal just before the final horn. But the period ended with the Lightning ahead 2-0 despite being outshot 13-8 (24-12 in shot attempts).
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 12:40 PM

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

Where’s Geno

Versus, which is picking up the Penguins' local telecast on Root Sports, showed footage of Evgeni Malkin skating as he works to come back from knee surgery in February. Malkin's absence has flown underneath the radar -- all the attention has gone to Sidney Crosby's absence due to a concussion, but the Pens have missed Malkin as well. Remember, it was Malkin, not Sid, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy two years ago when the Penguins took home the Stanley Cup.

The Penguins have had the better of the play, but Dwayne Roloson has been up to the task so far -- with a little help from his left post, which stopped Brooks Orpik's blast from the left point with just under seven minutes left in the opening period.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 12:30 PM

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

Searching for Stamkos

It's been a tough postseason so far for Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay's big gun. The No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft is taking part in his first playoff series -- and so far, he's been struggling.

Stamkos has just 1 assist in the first four games and didn't have a shot on goal in 30:38 of ice time in Game 4. That doesn't mean he wasn't trying -- he took 11 shots, but six were blocked and the other five missed the target.

Stamkos looked energized on his first shift. The Lightning need him to produce if they want to have a chance to extend the series.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 12:16 PM

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

12 Hours of Hockey

Are you ready for some hockey?

We hope so, because there's plenty of it coming today.

Eight teams (Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh; New York Rangers-Washington; Montreal-Boston and Los Angeles-San Jose) will square off in one of the great days of playoff hockey -- 12-plus hours of competition that could see as many as three teams sent packing by the end of the day.

The action starts momentarily in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins come back home in hopes of closing out the Lightning after a pair of wins at Tampa Bay (Noon ET; Versus, CBC). Then it's the Rangers at Washington -- will New York be able to recover after Wednesday's shocking 4-3 double-OT loss that saw the Blueshirts blow a 3-0 third-period lead at home (3 p.m. ET; NBC, RDS, TSN).

What could say hockey more than the third game -- Montreal at Boston (7 p.m. ET; Versus, CBC, RDS, the most-played pairing in playoff history? The road team has won the first four games. If that's not enough, the action moves to the West Coast, where the San Jose Sharks host Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. ET; Versus, TSN, RDS) after sweeping a pair of games in Los Angeles -- including a historic comeback victory in Game 3.

And if you haven't seen it, check out the video of the goal scored by Anaheim's Bobby Ryan on Friday night -- it's the most spectacular individual effort of the playoffs so far. The bad part for the Ducks -- they lost to Nashville 4-3 in overtime, allowing a tying goal by Shea Weber with 35.3 seconds left in regulation and the winner by Jerred Smithson 1:57 into OT.

So settle in and relax. It's going to be a busy day.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 2:50 AM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Ducks send Mara back to Habs

Anaheim had too many healthy defenseman; Montreal didn't have enough -- which makes Wednesday's  deal that send Paul Mara back to Montreal a good fit.

Mara had a goal and an assist for Anaheim but hadn't played since Jan. 18 and was the eighth or ninth defenseman on the roster. He goes back to a team he knows well -- Mara signed with the Ducks last summer after spending 2009-10 with the Canadiens, although he didn't play after late January due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

With a shortage on the blue line due to injuries (Hall Gill and Jaroslav Spacek have been out with injuries, forcing the Habs to raid their AHL team in Hamilton), adding Mara at the cost of a fifth-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft should provide help on the blue line for the Canadiens while giving the Ducks the flexibility to add a forward as they head on a weekend trip to Minnesota and St. Louis.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.08.2011 / 1:09 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Goring deal still the gold standard

Butch Goring shakes his head when he's reminded that it's been 31 years since he was involved in the best trade deadline deal of all time.

The New York Islanders had struggled for most of 1979-80 after finishing first overall the previous season. GM Bill Torrey refrained from making any moves until the trade deadline, when he swapped a pair of productive long-time Islanders -- forward Billy Harris and defenseman Dave Lewis -- to Los Angeles for Goring, a speedy center.

The rest is history. With Goring anchoring a second scoring line, the Isles went 8-0-4 for the rest of the season, won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and then went on to win the next three, as well.

Goring said he was surprised -- and not at all pleased -- when the deal went down.

"I had signed a six-year deal with the Kings -- I think I was in the second year -- so I really wasn't expecting to go anywhere. At least I was hoping not to go anywhere," he told NHL.com. "My initial reaction was one of anger and disappointment."

Once he took a look at the team he was going to, he says he felt better.

"I got here and I realized I was going to an awfully good hockey club," he said. "That made it a lot easier to handle. This was a team that had a chance to win a Stanley Cup. Once I was able to get the emotions out of it, I realized it was a tremendous opportunity. In L.A., we were pretty much a .500 hockey club."

The Goring deal has become the gold standard of deadline deals because it led to four Cups, not just one.

"As we now know, you can say it was a pretty good trade," he said with a laugh. "It's because we didn't just win one; we started a dynasty of some sort. I'm not saying that trade was the reason we won four (Cups), but the fact of the matter is that they made a trade and they ended up winning four. That's why it's been such a much talked-about trade, and I'm happy to enjoy the moment every year."
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Quote of the Day

Fifty-five? That's shorts weather.

— New Anaheim Ducks forward, and Michigan native, Ryan Kesler on locals in Southern California considering 55 degrees to be cold
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