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Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 8:15 PM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Ward's return adds depth, experience for Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Forward Joel Ward returned to the Washington Capitals lineup Thursday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers.

Ward missed the final nine games of the regular season with a knee injury he suffered after blocking a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo on April 7.

"I get a chance to play," Ward said. "I'm excited, for sure, and I get to reunite with my buddies, so I'm pretty happy about that."

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 7:14 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild get solid contributions from young players

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 11 players on the roster who hadn't played a single playoff game in the NHL.

Among those 11 are three rookies, all of whom played big minutes and important roles for the Wild in its Game 1, 2-1 overtime loss to the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Minnesota boasts a pair of rookies among its top-six forwards, plus a 19-year old rookie and a pair of 23-year-olds on its top-four defensive pairings. Four of those five have played major roles for the Wild this season.

Defenseman Jonas Brodin is the headliner of the bunch, a 19-year-old Calder Trophy candidate who skated a team rookie record 34:20 in Game 1.

"I've got total confidence in this kid," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Seeing him go out over and over again, we've talked about it many times this year, but you have to be impressed to see this kid go into Chicago and perform in a playoff game like that. … It shows the composure and the mental makeup he has."

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 7:06 PM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

CISCO NHL Live: Brett Hull

Two-Time Stanley Cup Champion Brett Hull joins CISCO NHL Live via the CISCO Arena Cam at the Scottrade Center.

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 6:30 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Luongo will start Game 2 for regrouping Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Goaltending was back in the Vancouver Canucks' spotlight on Thursday, but they have bigger problems to worry about against the San Jose Sharks: scoring goals, killing penalties and winning faceoffs.

Roberto Luongo confirmed he would be back in net for Game 2 against San Jose on Friday Friday (10 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS) after a getting a somewhat surprising start in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to open the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Sharks.

Injured No.1 Cory Schneider didn't practice Thursday after being on the ice the previous four days, but there was no word whether he suffered a setback. Coach Alain Vigneault continued to label him "day-to-day" with a "body" injury.

"Not too sure what's going on with that," Luongo said of Schneider's health. "It's a playoff series, it's a bit of a mind game with the opposition, and I am just in the groove now to focus as if I am playing every game until I am told otherwise."

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 4:38 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Capuano likes Islanders' attitude after tough Game 1

PITTSBURGH -- The day after, there were few signs there would be lingering effects from the dispiriting 5-0 loss the New York Islanders suffered less than 16 hours earlier to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

It was a loose group that showed up Thursday afternoon for a short, but spirited, practice at Consol Energy Center.

"You got to have spirited practices," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We have a good bunch of young guys on our hockey club and that is how we have gone about our business all year. You could see the emotion they had today and the fun they had today. That is what you have to do. There's going to be surges and there's going to be momentum playing against a good team, like I said, but you want to make sure the guys stay relaxed.

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 4:19 PM

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

Carlyle praises people of Boston

BOSTON -- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said Thursday he has nothing but great respect for all Bostonians, especially after witnessing how the community came together following the Boston Marathon bombings last month.

It was another telling sign of how coaches and players react when there are certainly more pressing issues in life.

"We're in Boston, they have great hockey fans," Carlyle said. "Boston just went through a very traumatic situation. You can see the pride is in this town and the Bruins are a part of that."

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 3:56 PM

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

Bertuzzi in Game 2 lineup for Red Wings

ANAHEIM -- Deep in the recesses of the Detroit Red Wings locker room, a player could be heard playfully singing out Todd Bertuzzi's name, presumably summoning Bertuzzi to the throng of media waiting.

Bertuzzi is ready for his close-up.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock confirmed at the morning skate Thursday that Bertuzzi, 38, will return to the lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 3:32 PM

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

Kostka suffered broken finger in series opener

BOSTON -- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle announced Thursday that defenseman Michael Kostka sustained a broken finger in the second period of Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and is out for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins on Saturday at TD Garden.

Additionally, defenseman Cody Franson (foot bruise) is day-to-day. Forward Phil Kessel, who was missing from Thursday's practice at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University, was taking a maintenance day.

Though Kessel likely will be in the lineup Saturday, it remains to be seen what changes Carlyle will make on defense with Kostka out and Franson hurting. Carlyle said he will insert either Ryan O'Byrne or Jake Gardiner, or have both players in the lineup.

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 2:42 PM - NHL Live blog

Capitals owner Leonsis guests on Cisco NHL Live

The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue as we get ready for two Game 1s in the Eastern Conference and two Game 2s in the Western Conference on Thursday. Cisco NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will get you ready for all four matchups.

Washington Capitals chairman and majority owner Ted Leonsis joins us as the Capitals prepare to face the New York Rangers in Game 1. We'll also fire up our Cisco NHL Arena Cam in Montreal with former player and CBC analyst Garry Galley to get a live preview as the Montreal Canadiens open up their series with the Ottawa Senators.

In the West, Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Bonino will talk to us via the Cisco NHL Arena Cam in Anaheim as the Ducks look for a 2-0 series lead over the Detroit Red Wings. We'll also talk to Hall-of-Famer Brett Hull in St. Louis as the St. Louis Blues look to win back-to-back games against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

Don't forget 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 on Thursday.

Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 2:30 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Pominville still out; no practice for Backstrom, Stoner

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild prepared for Friday's Game 2 of its Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks down three players.

Goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who suffered a lower-body injury during warmups before Game 1 Tuesday, did not take part in practice Thursday. Wild coach Mike Yeo classified him in the day-to-day category and said he expects Backstrom to make the trip to Chicago.

More likely is that Josh Harding will start again in goal for Game 2 with rookie Darcy Kuemper, recalled from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, backing him up.

Right wing Jason Pominville will not play in Game 2 and won't even make the trip as he continues to recover from an elbow to the head from Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown nine days ago. Yeo also said Pominville is day-to-day, so a best-case scenario for Minnesota would mean he's back in time for Game 3 on Sunday.

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It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see the Joe go pretty crazy.  Ever since the introduction there, I was kind of feeling the nerves, and to put that one home, I started to feel comfortable and I thought my play started to pick up.

— Nineteen-year-old Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin after scoring a goal in his NHL debut
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