Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 4:27 PM

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

Blackhawks hoping to cure power-play woes

CHICAGO -- It started fine, hit a lull, picked up at the end of the regular season and now the power play is back to troubling for the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chicago is up 3-1 in its Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild, with a chance to close it in Game 5 Thursday at United Center (9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN), but getting better results with the man-advantage is on the Blackhawks' list of things to do.

Chicago has scored on one of its first 11 power plays in the series (9.1 percent) after finishing 19th in the regular season (16.7 percent).

"It's definitely something we've talked a lot about," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said Wednesday. "The units have switched a lot throughout the season, but whoever's out there, you've just got to take pride in being out there and making something happen."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 3:53 PM

By Erin Nicks - Correspondent / - Canadiens-Senators series blog

Senators to have full lineup available for Game 5

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators held an optional skate Wednesday before departing for Montreal. The Senators lead the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, with Game 5 set for Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek did not participate in the practice, but coach Paul MacLean said that all players who played in Game 4 would be available for Game 5.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 3:42 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - Ducks-Red Wings series blog

No changes expected for Ducks, Red Wings

ANAHEIM -- Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock opened his press conference Wednesday with a rundown of what had transpired since he last spoke to the media.

"I went to Huntington Beach for a couple of hours and had a meal at Capital Grille," he said. "Fifteen teams left in the tournament. That should shorten this right up."

There wasn't much to talk about before Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks, which will be played Wednesday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Babcock said he will make no changes to his lineup, and Anaheim will appear to do the same, because it did not do line rushes during its morning skate.

Detroit evened the best-of-7 series at 2-2 partly because its young players have grown accustomed to the Stanley Cup Playoff intensity.

Babcock summed it up when he said, "Our kids got to be good or we can't win. We don't have enough."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:59 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - Canadiens-Senators series blog

Gionta's season over; Price day-to-day

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta will undergo season-ending surgery Friday to repair a torn left biceps muscle, the team announced Wednesday.

In addition, the Canadiens announced that forwards Ryan White and Brandon Prust each have an upper-body injury and will miss Game 5 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

Goaltender Carey Price, who sat out overtime in Game 4 on Tuesday, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated Thursday.

Price appeared to sustain his injury in the final seconds of regulation in Game 4. He made 30 saves, but when he reached for a high shot, he fell forward and stayed down for a moment. He was able to skate off under his own power, but when overtime began, Peter Budaj was in net.

This is the second year in a row Gionta has torn his biceps muscle; he underwent surgery Jan 11, 2012 to fix a torn right biceps muscle.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said Gionta took the latest injury news very hard.

"When he heard the news," Therrien said, "our captain was crying in my arms."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:55 PM

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

Bolland, Emery still 'doubtful' for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -– Leading 3-1 in the Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks stayed off the ice Wednesday, including injured goalie Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland.

Emery and Bolland have missed the first four games of the series each with a lower-body injury, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the pair is doubtful to play in Game 5 on Thursday at United Center (9:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN).

"Nobody skated [Wednesday], but they’re both fine," Quenneville said. "[They’re both] doubtful for [Thursday]."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:46 PM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - 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 / - Melrose Minute

Melrose on the Canucks

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:32 PM

By Chris Adamski - Correspondent / - 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 - Staff Writer / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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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Quote of the Day

Sick. I said a couple of bad words in Russian, but I said, 'Sick.'

— Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov on Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal in Game 2 against Rangers on Saturday