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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 5:48 PM

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

Caps move on; Rangers go home

The Rangers pulled Henrik Lundqvist and got a goal with 31.5 seconds remaining when Wojtek Wolski tucked in a rebound. But all that did was enable the Rangers to avoid being shut out -- they hadn't scored since the second period of Game 4 -- nearly 138 minutes.

A post-goal scrum left the Rangers down a man, and the Caps missed the empty net a couple of time before mobbing Michal Neuvirth after their series-clinching 3-1 victory.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 5:42 PM

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

That will put it away

With the Rangers pressing, the Caps broke out 2-on-1, and Marcus Johansson made a brilliant pass right onto Alexander Semin's stick as he cut to the net. Semin made no mistake, and it's now 3-0 with time running out on the Rangers' season.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 5:41 PM

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

Running out of time

It's an electric atmosphere at the Verizon Center. The 18,398 red-clad fans are ready to celebrate as the Caps continue to lead by two goals.

Michal Neuvirth is devouring what few shots the Rangers are able to get through his defense, but the Caps are being smart and not just sitting back -- third-period shots were 7-7 at the final TV timeout.

Barring a miracle, the Rangers are going to run out of time.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 5:24 PM

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

Desperate times for Rangers

The Rangers came out in the third period with the kind of desperation that would have helped them earlier in the game. But after having the Rangers control play for the first 60-90 seconds, the Caps answered by upping their own pace. Through the first 11 minutes, the Caps outshot the Rangers 3-2 -- New York isn't having any success finding time or space in the offensive zone.

With the defense pinching, the Caps wound up with a 2-on-1 midway through the period, only to see Game 4 hero Jason Chimera fire wide on what would have been the clincher.

Mike Green returned to the bench late in the second period after missing more than 20 minutes of playing time after taking a slapper in the helmet. But he has yet to play a shift since returning.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 4:56 PM

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

Rangers get some push

After more than 30 minutes of being dominated, the Rangers are starting to push back.

Beginning shortly after the halfway mark of the middle period, the Rangers began to pick up their tempo and get more pucks deep on Washington's defense, generating some heat on Michal Neuvirth.

But Neuvirth was up to the task, and his defense did a good job of funneling a lot of shots to the outside or getting in the way of them.

New York got its second power play when defenseman John Erskine was called for taking down Brandon Prust with 2:41 left. The Rangers were able to get some zone time and had a good chance on a tip by Brandon Dubinsky. But Neuvirth was able to see everything, and the Caps killed the penalty and the rest of the period, sending the teams to the dressing room after 40 minutes with Washington ahead 2-0 -- and the Rangers facing the prospect of seeing their season end in about an hour.
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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 / 4:15 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Washington-New York Live Blog

Green returns after taking shot to head

Caps defenseman Mike Green slid along the ice to block a shot by Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy and absorbed the puck with the side of his head.

He left the game with 6:11 remaining in the first period following the block and did not return for the start of the second period.

However, he returned to the Capitals' bench about halfway through the second period.

Green missed the last 20 games of the regular season with concussion issues. The shot by Gilroy appeared to hit Green in the helmet/visor. There was no blood on the ice after the play, a good sign Green avoided serious injury.

But with Green's concussion history, any sort of contact with his head has an added importance.

Green scored the series' first first-period goal at 5:59 of the first period to put the Caps ahead 1-0. Green has a point in all four games of this series.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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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 / 3:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

U.S. beats Canada in semis of U18 WC

The rivalry between the United States and Canada was renewed on Saturday in the Men's Under-18 World Championship at Crimmitschau Arena in Germany.

Boy, was it ever!

In the first meeting between the North American combatants on an international stage since Canada rubbed out the Americans in the semifinal round of the World Junior Championship in Buffalo four months ago, the U.S. made amends in dramatic fashion.

After watching a seemingly insurmountable three-goal lead disintegrate right before their eyes over the final 11 minutes of the third period, the U.S. received the inspirational boost they so desperately needed from one of their team leaders.

After U.S. goalie John Gibson stopped Canada's Ryan Murray at one end, U.S. National Team Development
Tyler Biggs Team USA NTDP
Program captain Tyler Biggs connected 4:22 into overtime at the other to give the Americans a 5-4 victory. Biggs, who dropped 17 rungs to No. 22 on NHL Central Scouting's final listing of North American skaters, might have just boosted his stock, too. Learn more about Biggs right here.

Team USA will look to capture its third straight gold medal after garnering back-to-back world titles in 2009 and 2010.

"We are fortunate to have held on for the win against such a good Canadian team," said U.S. coach Ron Rolston. "The puck bounced our way in overtime and now we have to prepare for a talented Sweden team."

After spotting Canada a 1-0 lead 4:37 into the first on the first of two goals by Brett Ritchie, the U.S. stormed back with four unanswered goals. J.T. Miller evened the score at 11:14 before assisting on Reid Boucher's first of two tallies 16:10 into the second. The U.S. then received goals by unheralded Zach Larraza at 6:43 and Boucher 33 seconds later in the third to open a 4-1 advantage. Boucher was named Player of the Game.

Despite the deficit, the Canadians didn't quit. Ritchie connected at the 9:15 mark and 2012 draft-eligible defenseman Ryan Murray then scored a power-play goal with Canadian goal Malcolm Subban pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage. Canada would then square the contest, 4-4, with 51 seconds showing and their goalie still pulled when Mark Scheifele converted feeds from Murray and Nick Cousins.  

For the second straight year, the Americans will face Sweden, a 3-1 victor over Russia in the other semifinal, in Sunday's gold-medal match at Crimmitschau Arena at 12:30 p.m. ET. Canada will face Russia in the bronze medal contest at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Sweden earned its one-way ticket to the gold-medal contest behind some fine display of goaltending by Niklas Lundstrom, the No. 8-rated European keeper according to Central Scouting. Lundstrom finished the contest with 28 saves, including 11 in the second period.

Russia's Sergei Smurov opened the scoring 3:07 into the game and that lead stood up, due in large part to the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevski (44 saves). Jeremy Boyce Rotevall squared the contest 11:02 into the second before Gustav Bjorklund connected for a pair of third-period goals, including the clincher 5:23 into the period. He'd hit an empty net with just 25 seconds left in the game. In five tournament games, Bjorklund has produced 4 goals, 6 points and a plus-8 rating for the Swedes.

U.S. forward Rocco Grimaldi continues to climb the leaderboard in all-time points at the IIHF World Men's U18 Championship for Team USA, with 17 points (4-13) in 11 games to rank third. He also played for the gold medal-winning 2010 U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team at last year's tournament in Belarus.

The Americans have captured a record seven consecutive medals at the U18 Championship, including back-to-back gold medals in 2005-06 and 2009-10, two silver medals (2004, 2007) and one bronze (2008). Team USA also captured the gold medal in 2002.

Here's a quick snapshot of each of the teams competing in the medal round on Sunday and those draft-eligible players to watch.

UNITED STATES: The top four players from the U.S. National Team Development Program who are listed on NHL Central Scouting's list of the best North American skaters are each making their presence felt in Germany. Biggs has notched 2 goals, 3 points and 45 penalty minutes. Biggs is No. 22 on Central Scouting's list. J.T. Miller, rated No. 23, has 4 goals, 11 points and a plus-6 rating. Miller has recorded points in every game and owns four multi-point efforts. Connor Murphy, rated 25th, has done a fine job along the blue line with a goal and a plus-7 rating; Grimaldi, No. 32, has 2 goals, 7 points and a plus-4 rating; Reid Boucher, No. 113, had produced 7 goals, 9 points, a plus-8 rating and team-leading 29 shots; and No. 70 Zac Larraza, has 1 goal, 5 points and plus-4 rating.

The top goalie eligible for the June Draft, USNTDP's John Gibson, has been solid between the pipes. Gibson, rated No. 1 among North American goalies, is a perfect 5-0-0 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

Sweden's Mika Zibanejad

SWEDEN: Top draft eligible prospect Mika Zibanejad (Djurgarden), who NHL Central Scouting has rated No. 2 among European skaters, has 4 goals, 8 points and a plus-9 rating for the Swedes. Additionally, another 2011 prospect along the forward line having a marvelous showing is 6-foot-1 1/2, 194-pound Victor Rask (Leksand), ranked 12th, has 2 goals and 5 points in five games. Defenseman Jonas Brodin (Farjestad), rated third, has one assist and a plus-4 rating.

RUSSIA: Nikita Kucherov (CSKA 2), rated No. 17 among Euro prospects but considered the best Russian winger available in the 2011 Draft, has led his country with 9 goals, 18 points and a plus-9 rating in 6 games in the tournament. The other Nikita on the U18 roster, Nikita Nesterov (Chelyabinsk 2), ranked 32nd on the Euro list, has also had a good tournament with 2 goals, 4 points, plus-9 rating and a whopping 27 penalty minutes.

CANADA: The Canadians have received a nice contribution from Mark Scheifele, who is the No. 16-rated North American on Central Scouting's chart. Scheifele, who plays for the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League, has 6 goals, 7 points and a plus-2 rating. Additionally, defenseman Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers has 3 goals, 9 points and a plus-2 rating while generating 39 shots on net. Murphy, whose draft value has skyrocketed in the second half of the season, is rated ninth. Mark McNeill of Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League has chipped in with 6 assists -- he's rated 14th on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters.  

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Quote of the Day

He's able to play now, we just want to see other guys. We know what he can do.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on not rushing Steven Stamkos onto the ice