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Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 4:05 PM

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

Senators won't have Wiercioch in lineup for Game 4

OTTAWA -- Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, who sustained a lower-body injury in Game 3, will be unavailable for the Ottawa Senators in Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS), coach Paul MacLean said following an optional skate Monday.

The Senators lead the Canadiens 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series following a 6-1 victory Sunday night.

Goaltender Robin Lehner took part in Monday's skate, as well as Guillaume Latendresse, Matt Kassian, Peter Regin, Jim O'Brien, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Andre Benoit, Mike Lundin and Eric Gryba.

Gryba will be eligible to play Tuesday after serving a two-game suspension for a hit on Lars Eller in the series opener.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 3:59 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Byslma ready for another noisy night at Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma hopes his players do a better job of handling the raucous atmosphere at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series than they did in Game 3.

The Coliseum, one of the NHL's smallest and oldest buildings, was roaring on Sunday when the New York Islanders played their first home game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six years. Bylsma, an assistant coach with the Islanders before joining the Penguins' organization, had warned his players that the atmosphere they'd see in Game 3 wouldn't be like anything they'd seen in their regular-season visits to Long Island.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

'Amazing Race' winner Battaglia on Cisco NHL Live

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with two Game 3s in the Eastern Conference and two Game 4s in the Western Conference. Get ready for all the battles with Steve Mears and EJ Hradek on Cisco NHL Live at 5 p.m. ET Monday on NHL Network. We'll have game reports from all four cities with the latest news from each locker room.

It has been nine years in the making, but the day is finally here for Maple Leafs fans as Toronto hosts its first playoff game since 2004. We'll fire up the Cisco NHL Arena Cam to get a preview and a behind-the-scenes peak on warmups.

Plus, "Amazing Race" winner and former NHL player Bates Battaglia joins the show. The retired winger will tell us how it feels to win the $1 million prize.

Last but not least, our own Barry Melrose will join the show to weigh in on all these great playoff series. 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 tonight.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 2:25 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - Blues-Kings series blog

Kings likely to go with seven defensemen again

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter will appear to go with seven defensemen again and rotate wingers on the fourth line for Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Alec Martinez took part in the line rushes Monday with Rob Scuderi, while Jake Muzzin was with Slava Voynov. Drew Doughty skated with usual partner Robyn Regehr while Keaton Ellerby would remain in, largely as a penalty-killing force.

Jordan Nolan took rushes with the fourth line but stayed out with the extras.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 1:38 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Overtime is no longer 'Islander Time'

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- For the first two decades of their existence, the New York Islanders were the most successful overtime team in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Islanders won the first of their four consecutive Stanley Cups on Bob Nystrom's OT goal in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final. They eliminated the arch-rival New York Rangers in the fifth and deciding game of their first-round series when Ken Morrow scored in overtime. And they completed one of the biggest upsets in playoff history when David Volek's OT goal in Game 7 of the second round eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were going for their third consecutive Stanley Cup.

At that point in their history, the Islanders had played 36 overtime games in the playoffs and won 29 of them.

Twenty years later, they're still looking for win No. 30.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 1:27 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Top storylines from first week of playoffs

We're just about a week into the postseason and already we've got several exciting series, a number of interesting storylines and many hints for what's to come. Here are some of the things I've noticed so far from the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.


In Game 3 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders, the Isles jumped out to a quick lead and suddenly the Penguins took over. Now, the Islanders came right back before the Pens eventually won in overtime, but there were a few things worth noticing.

First, that quick Pittsburgh rally just shows that team's skill level and how few chances they need to score. The Islanders have had the better chances and more shots, but Pittsburgh gets a chance and it goes in. Douglas Murray gets a chance and he scores. Pascal Dupuis gets a chance and it's in. They're just so talented, and that's the difference. Everybody on that team can score and the Islanders don't have that luxury. Almost nobody does. Only a few teams in the NHL have that kind of luxury and Pittsburgh is by far the best in that area.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 1:22 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders' penalty-killers need to improve

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders were among the NHL's poorest teams at 5-on-5 for much of the regular season, and only their special teams kept them in the playoff race until a late-season improvement at even strength carried them to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After a 5-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first game of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, the Islanders were excellent at full strength in Games 2 and 3 -- only to see their penalty-killers come up short.

Pittsburgh went 2-for-4 in the opener and 1-for-4 in the Islanders' 4-3 win in Game 2. New York jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in Game 3, but two power-play goals in a span of 19 seconds got the Penguins even. They added a third power-play goal on their fifth attempt of the day when Chris Kunitz scored in overtime to give Pittsburgh a 5-4 victory.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 1:11 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Capitals stick with winning lineup for Game 3

NEW YORK -- After eliminating the New York Rangers in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in two of the previous four seasons, the Washington Capitals now bring a two-game lea in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series to Madison Square Garden.

But there was no talk Monday of how a road win in Game 3 would give the Capitals a series stranglehold on a team that beat the Capitals in seven games in last year's conference semis.

"We're just thinking about tonight, we can't get too far ahead," Capitals coach Adam Oates said following Monday's morning skate. "The crowd will be crazy and you've got to enjoy that. As a player, you've got to want that feeling and be prepared for them to be excited about it. You've got to be in control and make good decisions with the puck."

If any NHL coach should be familiar with the MSG crowd during the playoffs, it's Oates. As an assistant with the New Jersey Devils last season, Oates went against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, which New Jersey won in six games. Prior to that series, Oates and the Devils coaching staff scouted New York's second-round series against - of all teams - the Washington Capitals. All those games and all that scouting has sharpened Oates' familiarity with his first-round opponent.

"I think it's very similar," Oates said of this year's Rangers squad compared to last year. "The type of style they play, it's hard hockey, so your team has to be ready for hard hockey. The first two games [in this series], the margin of error was really slim. Both teams played well, both goalies played well."

The Capitals will ice the same lineup for Game 3 in New York that won the previous two games in Washington. Forward Brooks Laich, who has been out of the lineup with a groin injury since April 4, did not participate in the team's practice and remains out, although he did work out on a stationary bike following the skate.

Here is the projected Washington Capitals lineup for Game 3 Monday night against the New York Rangers:

Marcus Johansson -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Alex Ovechkin

Martin Erat -- Mike Ribeiro -- Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera -- Mathieu Perreault -- Eric Fehr

Matt Hendricks -- Jay Beagle -- Joel Ward

Karl Alzner -- Mike Green

John Erskine -- John Carlson

Jack Hillen -- Steve Oleksy

Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Jeff Schultz, Wojtek Wolski, Aaron Volpatti, Tom Poti

Injured: Brooks Laich (groin)

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 1:06 PM

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

Pominville skates at optional practice

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A critical member of the Minnesota Wild's lineup may be on the verge of returning just in time for Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

For the first time in a week, Minnesota right winger Jason Pominville joined his teammates for practice Monday, skating with 14 of his teammates during an optional session at Xcel Energy Center.

Pominville scored four goals and added five assists in 10 games with the Wild after coming over from the Buffalo Sabres in a deal at the NHL Trade Deadline for a pair of prospects and a pair of draft choices.

Posted On Monday, 05.06.2013 / 1:06 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders must find way to limit Crosby

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – For all of their hard work in Games 2 and 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Islanders still couldn’t find a way to shut down Sidney Crosby.

Pittsburgh’s captain missed the series opener due to the broken jaw he suffered in a game against New York on March 30. But Crosby had two first-period goals in Game 2, just hours after being cleared to play, then set up three goals – including the overtime winner – in Pittsburgh’s 5-4 victory Sunday.

The Islanders know they can’t let Crosby continue to pile up points if they hope to win the series. But knowing that they need to shut him down and doing it are two different things.

“We have to be aware of him on the ice,” Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said after practice Monday. “He’s hurt us the past couple of games. We have to know where he is at all times and try to play him hard, try to finish our checks.

“We know that he’s going to create opportunities, he’s going to have chances. We have to accept that and make sure those second and third opportunities aren’t there. We’re going to try to take away some of his time and space.”

The Islanders aren’t having any more success against Crosby in the playoffs than they’ve had in the regular season. In 41 games against New York, he has 20 goals and 75 points.

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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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