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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:46 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Goalie talk big part of Cisco NHL Live

There's goalie news all over the NHL today, and Cisco NHL Live with Steve Mears and EJ Hradek at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will get you caught up with everything between the pipes. Darren Pang will join the show to break down the Vezina Trophy finalists, as well as the news that Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders. On the other side, the Islanders' Casey Cizikas will join the program to talk about his team winning Game 4 to tie the series at 2-2.

Hall-of-Fame defenseman Brian Leetch will be on the show via the Cisco NHL Arena Cam from Madison Square Garden. We'll also have pre-game reports from the Bruins-Maple Leafs, Capitals-Rangers and Kings-Blues from our reporters on-site and give you a live look-in on the early games in our Ice Pass.

Remember to submit your #AskEJ questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL, and stick around for the shootout as EJ picks all four playoff games being played Wednesday.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:35 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose on the Canucks

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:32 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Vokoun to replace Fleury in net for Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the New York Islanders on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

The 36-year-old, a 14-year NHL veteran, went 13-4-0 with a 2.45 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and three shutouts during the regular season for Pittsburgh, which signed him to a two-year contract this offseason to back up longtime Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury.

But Fleury has struggled in this series, including allowing six goals on 24 shots in a 6-4 loss on Long Island in Game 4 on Tuesday that evened the best-of-7 series at two games apiece. That ballooned Fleury's postseason goals-against average to 3.40. Since a shutout in Game 1, Fleury has allowed 14 goals in the past three games, losing two.

Vokoun will be making his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six years.

"We brought Tomas Vokoun in to play big games for us and be a goaltender we could count on to go in and play big games," coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's done that this year for us and he has been very good against the Islanders in three games he's played against the Islanders. We're getting a guy who's real capable at going in and has been a great goalie for us."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:12 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Holtby's puck-handling proving key in series

NEW YORK -- As in any series, the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers has come down to the play of both teams' starting goaltenders. Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have come up with remarkable saves at the timeliest of moments, but when it comes to one aspect of this series, which Washington leads 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday (NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), Holtby does hold one sizeable advantage over the defending Vezina Trophy winner.

Against an aggressive Rangers team that has been keyed by its energetic forecheck, Holtby's puck-handling skills have been vital to the Capitals' potent breakout. While Lundqvist never has been known for playing the puck, Holtby occasionally has seen fit to fire a two-line pass down the wing, squashing any opportunities for the Rangers to set up in the Capitals' zone.

"It's been huge," defenseman Mike Green said of Holtby's puck-handling. "He's been great at it all year. Especially being a defenseman, it really helps out. It's another utility that we can use. Also, we don't have to go back and pick up pucks behind the net. He's making plays. Not many goalies can do that. It's impressive."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:00 PM

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

Blues, Kings ready for best-of-3 series

ST. LOUIS -- Every game has been decided by one goal. Each team feels like it could have won all four. This is how tight the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings has gotten.

The Blues had the early momentum by winning the first two at Scottrade Center. The Kings grabbed it back with a pair of victories in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center.

It sets up Game 5 in St. Louis on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CNBC, CBC), where the Blues have won eight in a row, and the Kings have lost eight straight on the road. On the flip side, the defending Stanley Cup champions have won nine in a row at home.

So what can be made of the series so far? It's everything everyone cooked it up to be.

"It's been like, 'Who's got control of anything right now?'" Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They got momentum off the game [Monday]. I don't think they got momentum off of Game 3. We probably deserved a better fate in [Game] 3, but they took the game [Monday]. They were better than we were. They won a lot of puck battles that we'd been winning before. They dialed it up. There's another level out there. It's our job now to answer the level.

"We got home ice, we've earned it. It's a best-of-3 now. We'll see where it goes. It's been very intense, hard hockey. They went up in a gear [Monday] that we're going to have to find an answer for."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 1:54 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Laich skates, still no timetable for return

NEW YORK -- After being limited to nine games this season and dealing with an aggravation of an injury that held him out of the first two months of the 2012-13 season, Brooks Laich's first practice in over a month didn't get off to a smooth start.

The Washington Capitals forward, who hasn't played since April 4, lost an edge and stumbled into the boards at the beginning of the team's morning skate prior to Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers, which the Capitals lead 2-1.

Laich and his teammates got a nice chuckle out of the fall.

"That was the first contact I've taken in a while. It felt good to get into that," Laich said following the skate. "It was a bit of a wake-up call, maybe. The guys had a good laugh at it. I had a good laugh at it too."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 1:15 PM

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

Report: Islanders' MacDonald out with broken hand

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald reportedly is out with a broken hand and could miss the rest of the postseason for the New York Islanders.

Arthur Staple of Newsday reported the nature of the injury, according to a source, Tuesday after the Islanders' 6-4 win in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2, with Game 5 set for Thursday at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 12:57 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose on changing goalies

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 12:15 PM

By Mike Brophy -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Maple Leafs' trio using AHL experience for help

TORONTO -- A year ago they were immersed in the American Hockey League playoffs with the Toronto Marlies, well on their way to the Calder Cup final.

Although the Marlies were swept in the final by the Norfolk Admirals, forwards Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin, along with defenseman Jake Gardiner, all gained valuable playoff experience. Now they are three players the Toronto Maple Leafs hope can help catapult them into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Maple Leafs trail the Boston Bruins 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, with Game 4 here Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 11:59 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Rangers know Lundqvist is their 'backbone'

NEW YORK -- How do Henrik Lundqvist's teammates feel about him?

"He's the backbone of this team," New York Rangers forward Rick Nash said Wednesday from Madison Square Garden.

What about the coaching staff -- how do they feel about Lundqvist?

"He's the backbone of our club," coach John Tortorella said Wednesday in advance of Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

Sensing a trend here? For good reason, of course -- Lundqvist, who won the Vezina Trophy last year, again is a finalist for the award given to the NHL's best goalie.

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Quote of the Day

Hockey means everything to people here [Winnipeg]. They take their team's success to heart. We've had an incredible year and they've given us incredible support.

— Jets center Mathieu Perreault after losing to the Ducks in Game 3 of their playoff series on Monday