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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 6:14 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Crosby ready for rough road greeting in Game 3

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby returns to the site of his last road game, but this time the New York Islanders are a playoff team surrounded by fans who haven't seen a postseason game in person in six years.

After after the overwhelming positive reaction Crosby received when he returned to action in front of the home folks of Pittsburgh in Game 2 on Friday, you can expect an equally loud show of non-support in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday (noon, NBC).

"That's the playoffs," Crosby said Saturday after practice at Nassau Coliseum. "I think you expect emotion, you expect the opposing team to feed off the crowd, and I don't think that's any different anywhere. They'll be excited and it'll be up to us to make sure to control that.

"Kind of everything gets magnified a little bit when you're on the road, every hit feels like a big one and every chance seems like a big one. So you have to be able to block all that out and just play the game."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 5:48 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Teams expect Xcel Energy Center to be rocking

CHICAGO -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs haven't taken place in St. Paul, Minn., since 2008 and the atmosphere inside Xcel Energy Center on Sunday afternoon is expected to be exciting.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild will square off in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) and the visiting team ought to be a good judge of the playoff atmosphere inside the building.

The Blackhawks are known for having a loud, intimidating crowd at United Center -- starting with the loud cheers during the national anthem -- but they're anticipating the Wild's arena to be like the team's nickname.

"I think it's going to be loud," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said Saturday. "The fans there and the way they play the music … they get that building rocking pretty good. It's the first time they've played in the playoffs for a while, so we expect it's going to be a lot of energy in that building and a fast-paced game. We're going to need to be ready right away."
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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:56 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Blackhawks show they can neutralize Wild forecheck

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo said on Friday night it was time to go back to the drawing board for Sunday's Game 3 of a Western Conference Quarterfinals series his team trails 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

After the Blackhawks won Game 2 by a 5-2 score on Friday night at United Center, Yeo said one area that will need to be tweaked again is a forechecking scheme that proved ineffective against the Blackhawks' swift-skating, puck-moving defensemen.

The Wild worked on creating havoc with the forecheck in a practice between the first two games, but the Blackhawks weren't fazed much at all by it -- dominating puck possession and breaking out of their own zone with a head of steam regularly.

"Part of our strength is our defensemen's ability to get pucks out of our zone and our forwards have done a good job of coming back all year supporting, so that makes it a lot easier on the defense when our forwards get back in position to help out," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Minnesota's got a lot of good skaters and they're fast, so it's not easy. They get in, on the forecheck, really quick. Guys like Zach Parise are fast getting in there, so we have to be ready."


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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:46 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders loose, confident heading into Game 3

The New York Islanders were a loose and confident group Saturday after taking Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series from the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before.

The Islanders trailed 3-1 but won 4-3 to even the best-of-7 series at one game each.

"We didn't get down. We stuck with it, applied pressure and came back," defenseman Mark Streit said Saturday. "The win is great for our confidence, but it's just one."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:27 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Backstrom 'getting better,' not sure about Game 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury shortly before the start of Game 1's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom addressed the media Saturday following the team's practice, one in which he participated.

"I for sure want to get back out there as soon as possible," Backstrom said. "It's getting better, it's getting there. It's going to take time, but it's something to work on every day. Every morning when you wake up, you hope it's better."

Backstrom was expected to start Game 1 when, during warm-ups, he pushed off his left leg to try and stop a puck. He leaned over on the ice in obvious pain and limped back to the locker room.

About 15 minutes before puck drop, Josh Harding was thrust into the starting lineup for the first time in over two months and stopped 35 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday. Harding was stellar again in Game 2, stopping 43 of 47 shots in a 5-2 loss.


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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:20 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues ready to confront desperate group of Kings

LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Blues have a 2-0 series lead heading into Saturday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), but won't sit comfortably thinking the series is in the bag.

Both games in St. Louis, 2-1 victories (including the first in overtime), could have gone the other way with one shot. But the Blues, who have never lost when leading a playoff series 2-0 (they're 10-0 in franchise history) will look to snap a five-game losing skid in this building, including a 6-4 collapse on March 5 when they led 4-1 in the second period.

"For us, we just have to play 60 minutes with competitive composure," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're going to have to absorb some blows, just like you do any place on the road, but we just have to maintain our composure. We gathered it back in (Thursday) in the second half of the game and won the game because of it. We're going to have to find a way to have to do it for more minutes than 30 minutes if we expect to win in this building."


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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:19 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Neal skates briefly at Penguins practice

Forward James Neal skated briefly at Pittsburgh Penguins practice Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.

Neal did not play Game 2 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Friday in Pittsburgh after he sustained a lower-body injury during the second period of Game 1 against the New York Islanders.

According to the Penguins website, Neal "skated a few laps on the ice four roughly 10 minutes in warm-ups."

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who also missed Game 2, and forward Evgeni Malkin did not practice.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 3:45 PM

NHL.com - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

NYR @ WSH - 19:15 of the Third Period

At 19:15 of the third period in the Rangers/Capitals game, the referee's on the ice ruled that the puck deflected off Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner's stick and went over the glass. Because the referee's determination was that it was a deflection and that Karl Alzner did not shoot nor bat the puck it was NOT subject to rule 63.2 which imposes a minor penalty for delay of game. This play is not reviewable by the NHL Situation Room.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 3:10 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings could switch up defense with Martinez

LOS ANGELES -- There could be a new face on the Los Angeles Kings defense, and it doesn't appear to be Matt Greene who is going back into the lineup.

The Kings changed up their defensive pairings at the morning skate Saturday as Alec Martinez skated with Rob Scuderi while Slava Voynov was with Jake Muzzin.

The presence of Martinez is significant because he has not played since April 2. He didn't know or wouldn't say if he would play in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"Ask Darryl," Martinez said in reference to coach Darryl Sutter. "Every guy wants to play. I'll just wait, and if my name's called I'll be ready."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canadiens-Senators series blog

MacLean responds: 'I might be husky, but I'm not fat'

OTTAWA -- In what was easily Paul MacLean's most entertaining press conference since he became the coach of the Ottawa Senators, MacLean addressed the status of Jason Spezza, his line combinations and recent comments by Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust after Ottawa's optional practice Saturday afternoon.

The Senators square off against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series Sunday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

MacLean said Spezza, who has been recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc sustained on Jan. 27, took a "public skate" Saturday morning but is no closer to entering the lineup.

Kyle Turris, who has been serving as the Senators' first-line center since Spezza's injury, has been moved around several times in the postseason lineup. In Game 2, Jean-Gabriel Pageau saw time on the top line, leading some media to wonder if MacLean was unhappy with Turris' performance.

"Kyle's had a tremendous season, and he's played hard in the playoffs," MacLean said. "A lot of times, when we move him around, it's to get a different look for him and against a different set of defensemen. If they're playing their best guys against them, maybe we put him against their next-best guys. Those are the types of things we’re doing to generate offense."

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Quote of the Day

It's a date that's been circled on my calendar, so it's kind of nice to have it here and get it over with (Thursday). This is a little bit of the closing of the book on the move. That's kind of how I'm looking at it.

— Stars forward Jason Spezza on returning to Ottawa for the first time to face the Senators