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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 Friday, 04.22.2011 / 9:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Philadelphia-Buffalo Live Blog

Sabres lose Pominville

The first period ended on a high for the Buffalo Sabres, who led 3-0, but the news wasn't all good as they lost forward Jason Pominville for the rest of the night.

Pominville hopped off the ice with about three minutes left in the first period. He was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he left the ice. The Sabres announced he has a lower-body injury and will not return.

Replays showed there was no hit that caused the injury. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Pominville was cut on the left leg by the blade of Philadelphia forward James van Riemsdyk's skate.

The Sabres also lost defenseman Jordan Leopold for the last six minutes of the first and the first 13 minutes of the second to what the team says was an upper-body injury.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hawks not planning to change a thing

While blowing out the Canucks in Games 4 and 5, Chicago has also managed to annoy its arch-enemy to the point where Vancouver players have done a few extracurricular things to strike back physically.

Hamhuis' hit on Bolland was just one of several the Hawks hold in contention from Game 5 – which also included a blatant elbow to the face of Troy Brouwer delivered by Alex Edler at the end of the second period that started a small melee.

Brouwer, who got a hard punch off against Kevin Bieksa in that scrap, was also punched several times by Bieksa while an official held Brouwer down trying to break up the altercation. Toews said the Canucks can expect more of the Hawks' swagger in Game 6 -- and, if necessary, Game 7.

"We're not going out there trying to suck them into anything, but we're playing hard," Toews said. "If you get a lead, sometimes they're going to start doing stuff like that. You can always argue there's a few things you'd like to be called, and when it's not called sometimes it does get out of hand a little bit. It is what it is and it's not going to stop us from playing the way we do."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Toews says Torres hit was a motivator

Some are now saying this series changed after Canucks forward Raffi Torres was not suspended by the League for the Game 3 hit he put on Brent Seabrook, in which Seabrook was leveled while looking behind him behind the Hawks net.

Seabrook missed Game 4 and Game 5 and is questionable for Game 6. Meanwhile, the Hawks have played inspired hockey in his absence. Did that Torres hit ignite a salvo that awoke a sleeping bear?

"That's what everyone wants to say," Toews said. "We just like to say it was added motivation on top of the fact that we were down 3-0 to probably our biggest rival in the League right now -- especially when we lose a key player like Brent Seabrook. Every single guy in that locker room was reminded at that point that, ‘Hey, we're letting this team get away with too much,' and you know, we had to hold them accountable a little bit. That little extra motivation thrown on top of that, it fueled the fire for sure."
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