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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 1:55 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Penguins looking to close out Islanders in Game 6

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A convincing 4-0 win against the New York Islanders in Game 5 on Thursday at home shifted momentum squarely toward the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins.

But coach Dan Bylsma made it very clear before Game 6 here Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) he had no intention of bringing their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series back to Pittsburgh for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday.

"That is our mentality. We don't have six periods, we just have three," Bylsma said following the team's morning skate Saturday. "The fourth game is the hardest to win and we expect the very best from their team [Saturday]. We have to be ready for that."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:12 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Holtby's puck-handling proving key in series

NEW YORK -- As in any series, the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers has come down to the play of both teams' starting goaltenders. Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have come up with remarkable saves at the timeliest of moments, but when it comes to one aspect of this series, which Washington leads 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday (NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), Holtby does hold one sizeable advantage over the defending Vezina Trophy winner.

Against an aggressive Rangers team that has been keyed by its energetic forecheck, Holtby's puck-handling skills have been vital to the Capitals' potent breakout. While Lundqvist never has been known for playing the puck, Holtby occasionally has seen fit to fire a two-line pass down the wing, squashing any opportunities for the Rangers to set up in the Capitals' zone.

"It's been huge," defenseman Mike Green said of Holtby's puck-handling. "He's been great at it all year. Especially being a defenseman, it really helps out. It's another utility that we can use. Also, we don't have to go back and pick up pucks behind the net. He's making plays. Not many goalies can do that. It's impressive."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 1:54 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Laich skates, still no timetable for return

NEW YORK -- After being limited to nine games this season and dealing with an aggravation of an injury that held him out of the first two months of the 2012-13 season, Brooks Laich's first practice in over a month didn't get off to a smooth start.

The Washington Capitals forward, who hasn't played since April 4, lost an edge and stumbled into the boards at the beginning of the team's morning skate prior to Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers, which the Capitals lead 2-1.

Laich and his teammates got a nice chuckle out of the fall.

"That was the first contact I've taken in a while. It felt good to get into that," Laich said following the skate. "It was a bit of a wake-up call, maybe. The guys had a good laugh at it. I had a good laugh at it too."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.07.2013 / 8:27 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Neal and Orpik return for Penguins in Game 4

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Defenseman Brooks Orpik and forward James Neal are in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup Tuesday night for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.05.2013 / 12:18 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Neal, Orpik out of Pittsburgh lineup

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Neither wing James Neal nor defenseman Brooks Orpik accompanied the Pittsburgh Penguins for the team's pre-game warmups prior to Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the New York Islanders. Their absence means they will not dress for the game and that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will stick to mostly the same lineup that fell 4-3 to the Islanders in Game 2 at Consol Energy Center Friday night.

The only lineup change will be on defense, where Simon Despres will replace Deryk Engelland

Neal skated briefly on Saturday and Orpik worked with team strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar Sunday morning, but neither appears ready to return from their respective lower-body injuries.

Here are the projected lines for the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday afternoon against the New York Islanders:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Beau Bennett - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla

Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke

Tanner Glass - Jussi Jokinen - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Kris Letang

Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen

Mark Eaton - Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tomas Vokoun

Scratched: Deryk Engelland, Tyler Kennedy, Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Hartzell

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body), James Neal (lower body), Joe Vitale (lower body)

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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.05.2013 / 12:05 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Buzz spreading prior to Game 3 at Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders haven't played a home playoff game since 2007, so you can hardly blame the team's fans for lining up outside Nassau Coliseum at 7 a.m. for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Just one problem: the parking lot didn't open until 8 a.m.

Hours before puck drop, there was still a modest turnout in the parking lot, with loyal fans enjoying what would be an abbreviated tailgate experience before the early noon ET start. Even before ticketholders were allowed in the building, there was a palpable buzz throughout the arena.

"It's going to be sick," one young security guard said.

"I don't think I've ever seen it this busy," one usher said to another as spectators started to file into the building.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.05.2013 / 10:50 AM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Status of Neal, Orpik for Game 3 remains unknown

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who is nursing a lower-body injury and has not played since April 23, participated without equipment in solo skating and puck-handling drills with Pittsburgh strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar for at least 30 minutes prior to Pittsburgh's Sunday matinee against the New York Islanders.

Orpik didn't appear to show any major strain or discomfort in the drill but his status remains uncertain for Game 3 of Pittsburgh's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Islanders. While Orpik skated, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma refused to divulge any information about his lineup, only saying that the game's 12 pm E.T. start (NBC) would not affect his players or his decisions.

"Obviously no morning skate today. But we have and do play a fair amount of odd-timed games," Bylsma said. "This is as early as you get, but we're somewhat accustomed to playing games at a different time."

Pittsburgh saw the return of captain Sidney Crosby on Friday in a 4-3 loss Friday in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Consol Energy Center. And while Crosby scored twice in his first game action since March 30, the team was still without Orpik and James Neal, who played a bit more than eight minutes in Game 1 against the Islanders before leaving with a suspected ankle injury.

Byslma would not comment on the status of either player.

More will be known about the status of these players - as well as forward Joe Vitale, who has been out since April 20 with a lower-body injury - closer to game time.

Just to have some fun with the press, Neal pretended to use a hockey stick as a crutch and walked with a mock limp as he passed by members of the media prior to Bylsma's press conference.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 12:41 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Quick start from top line has been key for Rangers

Any line featuring a captain partnered with the squad's leading scorer and one of the NHL's fastest skaters would be looked to for scoring and leadership on every shift. But for the New York Rangers' top line of captain Ryan Callahan, leading scorer Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin -- who won the Bridgestone Fastest Skater competition at the 2012 All-Star Game -- a good start has been just as critical as a good finish.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 2:02 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Devils face Rangers squad looking to climb standings

NEW YORK -- With a long offseason awaiting the New Jersey Devils after the season finale Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, coach Peter DeBoer was adamant his team wouldn't be a pushover against the New York Rangers.

As for their rivals from across the Hudson River, New York clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth Thursday and are jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference.

"We came to win the game. You just want to finish the right way," DeBoer said Saturday. "I think we have enough professionalism that I don't see that being an issue. The big thing we've talked about is not letting our play drop because of the situation we're in. We've played some very good hockey the last three weeks."

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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 2:29 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Rangers icing same lineup against Devils

NEW YORK -- Last summer the New York Rangers' season ended against the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. They now have an opportunity to gain a measure of revenge, as they can eliminate the Devils from postseason contention with a win Sunday at Madison Square Garden (3 p.m. ET, NBC).

They'll go about doing that by icing the same lineup that has scored 14 goals in the past two games, including a franchise-record five goals in a span of 2:58 Friday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals on 28 shots in Buffalo, but he will be back in the crease Sunday for his eleventh straight start. Before the Rangers' 8-4 win Friday, Lundqvist had allowed two goals or fewer in 13 of his past 15 games.

Here is the projected lineup for the Rangers:

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory