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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 1:39 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PIT @ PHI - 9:50 of the Second Period

At 9:50 of the second period in the Penguins/Flyers game, video review upheld the call on the ice by the Referee that the puck shot by the Flyers' Danny Briere crossed the goal line in a legal fashion. Good goal Philadelphia.
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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 1:38 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Edler struggling to find consistency


Facing elimination and with no margin left for error, the Vancouver Canucks dropped ineffective forward Mason Raymond to the fourth line after a bad check cost them a goal in Game 4, and moved tentative rookie Zack Kassian from the lineup to the press box.

Things are a lot different for top-scoring defenseman Alexander Edler, whose struggles in the first three games could be directly tied to falling being 0-3 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edler, who had 11 goals, 49 points and was a first-time All Star this season, coughed the puck up at his own blue line on the winning goal in Game 1, turned it over with a drop pass that led to a shorthanded goal in Game 2, and was on the ice and failed to clear the zone on the only goal of a Game 3 loss. The Canucks stuck with him, though, knowing they needed Edler to have a chance, and he responded with a much better game and a power-play goal in Game 4, which the Canucks hope will be a turning point in his play.

“Give him credit,” said associate coach Rick Bowness, who runs the Canucks’ defense. “He took a lot of pressure on himself and knows he wasn’t up to his game the first three -- he overcame it [Wednesday] night and played much better. … Much more aggressive, much more assertive, much more confident.”

Edler’s struggles have been frustrating to a fan base that has seen the potential for so much more from the 6-foot-3 defender, who can be imposing physically one night and play tentative the next. The 26-year-old is blessed with a 100-mile-an-hour slap shot, but sometimes is too hesitant and struggles to launch it.

“We’ve had a few talks, yeah,” Bowness said. “We all want the end product, the finished product, right now. It took Steve Yzerman until he was 30 to figure it all out. Phil Mickelson didn’t win his first major until his mid-30s. We all want Alex to be the perfect guy right now, but it just doesn’t happen. It’s human nature.”

Bowness reiterated Edler “is a great player, is going to be a great player for a long time.” Down 3-1 to Los Angeles, the Canucks need that time to be now.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 12:06 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Teams not giving anything away in warm-ups

PHILADELPHIA -- Each team engaged in a bit of gamesmanship in pre-game warm-ups, skating 12 forwards and seven defensemen, leaving lineup questions unanswered.

For the Flyers, the only sure thing is defenseman Nicklas Grossmann will not play. He sustained an upper-body injury in Game 4 and sat out Game 5. He skated Saturday, but apparently wasn't feeling well enough from what teammate Claude Giroux called a concussion to play Sunday.

In Grossmann's place, the Flyers had rookies Erik Gustafsson -- who replaced Grossmann in the Game 5 lineup -- and Brandon Manning out for warm-ups.

The Penguins have dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards the last two games in the absence of Paul Martin (undisclosed injury), but Joe Vitale skated as the 12th forward, and remains a viable lineup option.

Here is what the lineups could look like when the teams hit the ice for Game 6 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (Noon ET, NBC, TSN):

PENGUINS
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen - Zbynek Michalek
Brian Strait - Deryk Engelland
Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

If Penguins coach Dan Bylsma elects to go back to 12 forwards and six defensemen, Joe Vitale would play on the fourth line with Tangradi and Adams.

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Matt Read - Jakub Voracek
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Andreas Lilja
Erik Gustafsson - Pavel Kubina

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Brandon Manning took pre-game warm-ups, and could potentially replace Gustafsson or Kubina on the third pair. The forward that would come out if Flyers coach Peter Laviolette elected to go with seven defensemen, however, is unknown.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 10:41 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Projected Penguins lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- Penguins defenseman Paul Martin will sit out for the third straight game with an undisclosed injury and the rest of Pittsburgh's lineup will be a gametime decision, coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday morning prior to Game 6 against the Flyers.

However, don't be surprised to see the Penguins go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen again as they try to stave off elimination for a third time and force a Game 7. They are 2-0 when they play seven blue-liners, and Bylsma said he likes it because it forces him to give his top three centers, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, more ice time to potentially allow for better matchups even on the road, where he does not have the last change.

He doesn't have to necessarily worry about rolling four lines because he is essentially using only three lines with extra forwards Craig Adams and Eric Tangradi taking the odd shift here and there. Adams also plays a key role on the penalty kill.

"Depending on the situation we've seen one of those centermen has played with the two extra forwards to make up a line," Bylsma said. "Yeah, I like going to our big guys as much as we can in a situation like this."

Using the extra defensemen also enables Bylsma to have the option to use an extra body on the power play. It also does not tax his top-four defensemen.

Simon Despres played only 5:33 in Game 5, but he was used a bit on the power play. Brian Strait played eight minutes, but he got some time on the penalty kill.

"Each guy gives an element that is important," Bylsma said.

If Bylsma goes with seven defensemen again, here is what the Penguins lineup should look like for Game 6:

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen - Zbynek Michalek
Brian Strait - Deryk Engelland
Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 10:24 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Flyers' lineup likely stays the same for Game 6

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette declined to speak with the media because of the early start of Game 6 on Sunday (Noon ET, NBC, TSN), so any lineup changes he might have planned won't be seen until the game starts.

However, it's doubtful the Flyers' lineup will look much different than the group that took the ice for Game 5. On Saturday, Laviolette was complimentary of the job James van Riemsdyk did in his return from a seven-week absence with a broken foot.

The only real change could be on defense, with the possibility of Nicklas Grossmann returning to the lineup. Grossmann sat out Game 5 with an upper-body injury he sustained in Game 4. Grossmann is listed as day-to-day by the team, but skated for a short time twice on Saturday. Whether that means he's healthy enough to play, however, is in question.

Here's the lineup the Flyers likely will have on the ice for Game 6:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Matt Read - Jakub Voracek
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Matt Carle - Andreas Lilja
Pavel Kubina - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

If Grossmann is able to play, he would return to his usual spot alongside Coburn. Timonen and Carle would form the second pair, and Kubina would play on the third pair with Lilja or Gustafsson.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.22.2012 / 1:06 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Bracket Challenge Blog

Blues advance for first time in a decade

Not since 2002 had the St. Louis Blues advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But on Saturday night, Ken Hitchcock's club changed all that.

Going up against a team that had reached the Western Conference Final the last two years, the Blues disposed of the San Jose Sharks in five games with Saturday's 3-1 win at the Scottrade Center. Including the regular season, the Blues won eight of nine against the San Jose.

In those nine games, the Sharks scored a total of 11 goals.

Jamie Langenbrunner, David Perron and Andy McDonald scored for the Blues, who were 6-7 when Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne behind the bench. St. Louis also entered the season having not qualified for the postseason since 2009.

Special teams played a huge role in the series, as the Blues killed 15 of San Jose's 17 power plays. The Sharks went 0-for-2 with the man advantage Saturday night.

Craig Anderson
Goalie - OTT
RECORD: 3-2-0
GAA: 1.79 | SVP: 0.943
Anderson does it again -- Craig Anderson was spectacular again for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

The Ottawa Senators goaltender made several phenomenal saves to lead his team to a 2-0 win against the top-seeded New York Rangers in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. Anderson, who finished with 41 saves, lowered his goals-against average to 1.79. Through the first five games of the series, Anderson is boasting a .943 save percentage.

The Rangers have scored only three goals in the past three games, including a 1-0 victory in Game 3. Anderson, meanwhile, improved to 8-1-1 lifetime at MSG.

Since the Blueshirts took a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 4, Anderson has gone 116 minutes, 32 seconds without allowing a goal.

Theodore bounces back -- Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen had complete faith that goaltender Jose Theodore would respond after allowing three goals in the first 6:16 against the New Jersey in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal last Tuesday.

All Theodore did Saturday night was stop all 30 shots he faced for his second career postseason shutout as the Panthers moved within a win of the second round with a 3-0 victory at the BankAtlantic Center.

It's been 16 years since Florida has won a playoff series, but Theodore's ability to respond has the Devils on the brink of elimination when the series resumes Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.

Theodore went eight years in between postseason shutouts -- his first one came back on April 19, 2004, when the Montreal Canadiens blanked the Boston Bruins in a 2-0 win.

Dennis Seidenberg
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
SOG: 11 | +/-: 2
Struggling to score -- Goals have been hard to come by for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

When Dennis Seidenberg beat Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby at 17:21 of the second period on Saturday afternoon, it was the Boston Bruins' first goal in 84 minutes, 9 seconds. Rich Peverley had Boston's lone goal in the opening period of Thursday night's 2-1 loss.

The Bruins' lack of offense is a huge reason why the club is playing with its season on the line Sunday afternoon, when the series shifts back to Washington.

Make it five -- For the first time in 61 years, a playoff series has opened with five consecutive overtime games.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes reached an extra session for a fifth time Saturday night, as Nick Leddy erased a 1-0 deficit midway through the third period before captain Jonathan Toews won it in overtime as the Hawks staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory at Jobing.com Arena.

Saturday night marked the first time a series opened with five straight overtime games since the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs battled in the 1951 Stanley Cup Final.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 10:16 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Korpikoski returns to Coyotes' lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes had one of their wingers back in the lineup as Lauri Korpikoski returned for Game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
 
Korpikoski, who had 17 goals and 37 assists in the regular season, replaced enforcer Paul Bissonnette in the lineup.
 
The Coyotes lead the series 3-1 and will attempt to win their first playoff series since moving to Phoenix and the first for the franchise since 1987.
 
 

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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 6:32 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Garrison scratched for Game 5

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers again will be without defenseman Jason Garrison for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against New Jersey.

Garrison was a late scratch Thursday because of a lower-body injury and coach Kevin Dineen said Saturday morning a decision on his status for Game 5 would come after warmups. But Garrison wasn't on the ice for warmups.

His status was described by the team Thursday as "day-to-day."

Taking Garrison's place on defense Saturday is Tyson Strachan, who was called up from San Antonio.

The 27-year-old veteran, who played 15 regular season games for the Panthers this season and has played 82 career games, will be making his playoff debut.

Keaton Ellerby, who replaced Garrison in the lineup Thursday but sustained a lower-body injury in the second period, also was among the Panthers scratches Saturday.

Jose Theodore is starting in net for the Panthers after Scott Clemmensen got the nod in Game 4.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 5:51 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Coyotes hope to avoid slow start, being shorthanded

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Coyotes have a 3-1 lead in their playoff series with the Blackhawks despite giving up the first goal in three of the four games and losing a forward for the rest of the game three times.

Radim Vrbata was lost on his first shift in Game 1. Martin Hanzal went down early in Game 2. And in Game 4, Paul Bissonnette received a game misconduct for not tying down his jersey – which was pulled off in a fight with Chicago’s Brandon Bollig.
 
“It would help if we don’t lose a player in the first period every night,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “When you are losing key players, it’s hard to get a rhythm and you are shuffling lines and it changes things. Keeping out whole team on the ice for the period would be a step in the right direction. In the last game (Marc-Andre) Pouliot and (Gilbert) Brule don’t get a lot of time early because they lose their linemate (Bissonnette) and we have to find some rhythm earlier.”
 
Tippett can laugh about the misconduct now.

"My original thought was ‘There is no way he doesn’t have it tied down, so it must have ripped, right?’" Tippett said. "But that wasn’t the case, so we’ll just leave it at that. It’s been addressed."
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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 5:32 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Boo birds don't bother Coyotes' Smith

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – For two games in Chicago, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was booed every time he touched the puck from Blackhawk fans who blamed him for Andrew Shaw’s three-game suspension after their collision last weekend in Glendale.
 
But if it was intended to get in his head, it didn’t work. Smith allowed just four goals in the two games, which the Coyotes won in overtime on a pair of Mikkel Boedker goals.
 
“I loved it,” Smith said. “They are passionate fans in Chicago and I wouldn’t expect anything less. If I wasn’t playing hockey I’d be doing the same thing – yelling a screaming at someone. It’s a fun atmosphere but I’m glad to be home.”

If the move was intended to intimidate a goalie that had only one career playoff start in his career before this series, “That was a swing and a miss. It helped me get right into the game,” he said.
 
Smith said he’s not expecting the fans to get on any of the Blackhawks.
 
“Just cheer for us,” he said. “I’m expecting a loud building. Our crowds in the playoffs have been unreal. We’re looking forward to it.”
 
Smith is 10-1-1 in his last 11 starts and has allowed two goals or less in eight of his last nine starts.
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It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday