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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:53 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Carlyle needs Maple Leafs' best players to step up

BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were back on the ice at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University on Friday in an attempt to formulate a better game plan for heading into Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Boston Bruins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

While game-planning and strategy is all well and good, Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said he knows his best players need to earn their keep if his team has any shot at defeating the Bruins in the best-of-7 series.

That means Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, Dion Phaneuf and James Reimer need to step up their games, or the organization's first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance in nine years will be a short one.

"In the playoffs you're tested daily, maybe shift-to-shift or period-to-period, and that's what it is," Carlyle said. "It's going out there and earning their space and delivering in pressure situations. That's what it's supposed to be. It's not supposed to be an easy game. This game is tough … it's played with big men out there moving at a quick pace. You're playing for keeps now."

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:47 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild confident Harding can stay sharp

CHICAGO – The Minnesota Wild hope to even their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night at United Center (9:30 pm E.T., NBCSN, CBC, CSN-CH, FS-N) but won't have starting goalie Niklas Backstrom or defenseman Clayton Stoner.

Backstrom will miss his second straight game after incurring a lower-body injury in warmups prior to Game 1 on Tuesday, and Stoner is out with an unspecified injury that happened early in the first period of the series opener on a big hit by Chicago's Andrew Shaw.

Josh Harding, who played well when pressed into service at the last second because of Backstom's injury, will get the start again. Justin Falk will enter Minnesota’s lineup in place of Stoner. Before Tuesday's games, Harding hadn't made an NHL start since Jan. 30, when he played at home against the Blackhawks and got pulled in the first period after allowing two goals on four shots.

After making 35 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1 on Tuesday, Harding is looking to have another strong performance Friday night.

"I'd sure like to hope so," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "For him, there are a lot of positives to take out of the game, and I think as much as anything else, it's the confidence of going out and playing well in a game like that. For a guy who's missed a lot of hockey, he's played good hockey and it's just kind of a statement to himself that, 'I'm getting my game [back].'"

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:43 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Peverley hoping for chance to play Game 2

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After he was a healthy scratch for one of 48 games in the regular season, Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley didn't expect to be sat out of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maybe the only perk of his situation was that Peverley got to watch the Bruins' 4-1 win Wednesday from a prime viewing area.

"We have a lot of depth on this team. And whatever which way it takes to win the game, that was, from watching that game, that was one of the best games we played all year," Peverley said after practice Friday here at Ristuccia Arena. "We were talking, the guys up there. That was fun to watch. So whatever it was, we did a great job, and let's just focus on winning."

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:29 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Julien won't commit to Ference's Game 2 replacement

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- With the one-game suspension the NHL assessed to defenseman Andrew Ference on Thursday, the Boston Bruins know they will have to play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS) without the player who ranked fourth on the team in ice time during the regular season at 19:29 per game.

The Bruins returned to the ice for practice Friday here at Ristuccia Arena after taking a day off Thursday. While coach Claude Julien wouldn't commit to any set lineup the day before facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 2, he split up his playoff shut-down pair of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg for the session. Chara skated with Adam McQuaid while Seidenberg worked with Ference's usual partner, Johnny Boychuk, during 5-on-5 drills.

"We mix and match a lot of times," Julien said. "So that's not an issue."

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:25 PM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

Stanley Cup a special guest on Cisco NHL Live

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are heating up and Cisco NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET Friday on NHL Network will have you covered. We'll have New York Rangers fan and Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton on our set, as well as Keeper of the Cup Phil Pritchard with the Stanley Cup live.

Sidney Crosby returns to the ice tonight for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 against the New York Islanders, and we'll go live to Pittsburgh for a full report. NHL Network analyst Barry Melrose will join the show to give his opinion on some of the coaching moves in the playoffs, and Eddie Olczyk checks in to discuss the playoffs and his favorite to win the Kentucky Derby.

Don't forget to submit your #AskEJ through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL, and stick around for the shootout as EJ picks all four playoff games being played on Friday.

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:18 PM

By Staff -  / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Harding to get Game 2 start for Wild

Josh Harding will start in goal for the Minnesota Wild on Friday when they face the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Harding stopped 35 of 37 shots in the Wild's 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday. He was pressed into starting duty when Niklas Backstrom sustained a lower-body injury during pregame warm-ups.

There was update on Backstrom's status. If he's unavailable for backup duty, rookie Darcy Kuemper will be the second goalie.

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:17 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Tortorella talks Moore no-goal in Game 1 third period

WASHINGTON -- New York Rangers coach John Tortorella agreed with the decision to not award John Moore a goal late in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night against the Washington Capitals even though Tortorella thought it was a goal.

"It's the right call," he said. "I think it's a goal, but it's the right call."

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 2:06 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Nash felt good with play, now needs a win

WASHINGTON -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash felt strong and fast in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, his first game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2009 and his fifth career NHL postseason game.

The problem is Nash's 16 shot attempts, including eight on goal, didn't equate to anything tangible for the Rangers, who lost to the Washington Capitals 3-1 and fell behind 1-0 in the best-of-7 series.

"I thought I had some good opportunities but they didn't go in," said Nash, who is now 0-5 in the playoffs dating to 2009, when his Columbus Blue Jackets were swept in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings. "That's the difference. In big games you've got to bear down and make sure you score on your opportunities."

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 1:59 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Return of Crosby just another challenge for Islanders

PITTSBURGH -- You'd think the last thing the New York Islanders would want coming off a 5-0 loss to a team that has won 24 of its past 28 games is for that opponent to welcome back its leading scorer and NHL MVP candidate into the lineup.

The reaction of New York's Frans Nielsen to the Pittsburgh Penguins announcing that Sidney Crosby will play in Friday's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 2? Bring it on.

"He's one of the best players in the world," Nielsen said after Friday's morning skate. "So it's a challenge -- and that's something that everyone who's involved with sports loves. It makes you more excited. It's always fun playing against the good players."

Crosby told reporters he was cleared to play, and the Penguins' official website and Twitter account announced he was returning in Game 2 to play for the first time since sustaining a broken jaw during his first shift of a game against the Islanders on March 30.

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 1:37 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders could switch lines in search for spark

PITTSBURGH -- With the New York Islanders having produced all of two goals over their past three games, coach Jack Capuano acknowledged there could be a shakeup in his forward lineup.

The top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes combined for one goal over the final two regular-season games and Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. As the Islanders search for answers for Game 2 on Friday, swapping out Tavares' linemates remains firmly on the table.

"We haven't generated too much from that line," Capuano said, "so you probably could see some movement around."

As NHL coaches are wont to do during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Capuano said he would not discuss lineup changes specifically. But he did drop some hints.

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Quote of the Day

I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive. I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever.

— New Jersey Devils center Scott Gomez on former teammate Martin Brodeur, who will announce his retirement Thursday