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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 6:41 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Bruins vs. Capitals series blog

Bruins hope to regain home-ice advantage

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins missed an opportunity to put a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with Washington by dropping a double-overtime thriller in Game 2 Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

But they know from their own experience and by looking at the rest of the League that a split in the first two games is a fortunate circumstance. Last year they lost the first two games at home to Montreal in the first round, and Pittsburgh and Vancouver dug themselves that same hole this season. Home teams struggled during the first week of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Yeah, I think everybody so far has lost home-ice advantage, but that doesn't mean you can't regain it. You get two more games to go there and regain that so it's, hopefully it's temporary for us anyways," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team held a meeting an off-ice workout at TD Garden on Sunday. "The other part is, that's parity in this League. When you look at the number of wins the top team has versus the eighth-place team, regulation wins, there's not that big of a difference. So I think people have to understand that it's a lot close than (No.) 1 against (No.) 8, as far as the gap's concerned. There's not that big of a difference."

Boston forward Brad Marchand believes that when it comes down to it, the venue has little impact on the events between the two teams.

"Even if you play at home, it's the same game on the ice. It really comes down to who wants it more and who has more heart and desire out on the ice," Marchand said. "Home-ice advantage just means you're in front of your home crowd, but really it's up to the guys in the room and that's really what it all comes down to. It's the same game on the ice."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 6:36 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Ellis latest to fill in for injured Gill

DETROIT -- The Nashville Predators won a hard-fought 3-2 game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon and did it with a pair of rookie defensemen on the back end.

Ryan Ellis joined fellow rookie Roman Josi in the starting lineup for Game 3 of a Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinals series between the Predators and Detroit Red Wings -- which was his NHL playoffs debut.

Josi played in the first two games, while Ellis replaced Jack Hillen on Sunday in a continuing effort to replace veteran defenseman Hal Gill -- who missed his third playoff game and fourth game overall with a lower-body injury that happened blocking a shot in the second to last game of the regular season.

Ellis played just 7:50, but delivered three hits and had one of 19 blocked shots for the Preds.

"I was a little nervous," Ellis said. "It's quick out there, a faster pace than a regular game. It's nice to win. Whether it be big or small, it's better to win."

Like Josi, Ellis also made his NHL debut this season facing the Red Wings.

"It’s definitely nice to make the debut here," said Ellis, who played junior hockey just across the Detroit River for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. "It would have been nice to play the first two, but whatever the team has to do to win. I’m just here to be a part of that."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was just glad the talented rookie blueliner got his playoff debut out of the way.

"I thought he played pretty well," Trotz said. "He’s a young guy playing in 'The Joe.' I know he's from across the river, so I know he's very familiar with 'The Joe' and the atmosphere. I thought he played pretty well. He's one of the most intelligent players you'll come across. More than anything, he's a winner. He's been a winner at every level. I was real happy for his first game. I know he was excited, but I don't think he gets too rattled. He was very composed."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 6:35 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Klein steps up in Preds' Game 3 win


DETROIT
-- Kevin Klein's haircut had been garnering more media attention lately than his play, but the Mohawk styling atop his head took a big back seat on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.

Klein scored a goal, added an assist and saved a sure goal by Detroit Red Wings rookie Cory Emmerton in the Nashville Predators' big 3-2 victory in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinals series with the Detroit Red Wings.

Klein's goal, just the second playoff marker of his career, came just 3:50 into the second period and put the Preds up 2-0 to quiet a raucous pro-Wings crowd. Maybe more impressive was the way he scored it.

After Detroit's Brad Stuart created a delayed penalty situation, Klein took a short pass at the Red Wings blue line and blew past Stuart into the slot for a wrist shot that beat Howard high to the top right corner of the net.

"I don't know what I was really doing there," Klein said. "It's one of those plays where you just kind of read and react, and [Erat] gave me a nice pass there. It was nice to make a move and go in and score, get the boys fired up a little bit. It was nice to pot that one. When I got in alone, I saw the top was open a little bit, and I happened to execute it."

He also happened to come up with the quote of the day to sum it up.

"I like to step up and show my offensive talent once a year," said Klein, who scored four goals and added 17 assists in 66 games this season. "That’s about it."

Klein also blocked a shot from close range off the rush by Emmerton to save a sure goal, using just the shaft of his stick. Emmeton had pounced on a rebound of Drew Miller's shot that ricocheted off Pekka Rinne's pad to the low slot -- leaving the Preds goalie out of position.

Klein then picked up a secondary assist on Sergei Kostitsyn's goal with just 3:30 left to play in the third that made it 3-1 Nashville.

"Kevin was really good," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "He really stepped up. He was real strong. The second goal was huge. He looked like a 40-goal scorer jumping up there. He roofed it. I thought it was a real defining moment."

As for the shot block, Rinne was relieved and impressed.

"That was awesome," Rinne said. "He's done that a lot this year. I guess he has a little bit of goalie instinct, but he made a huge block ... really saved a for-sure goal. That's obviously one of the key plays."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 6:32 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

Weber has big game for Preds in hostile atmosphere

DETROIT -- Shea Weber knew that he'd be the subject of jeers on Sunday in an arena filled with angry Detroit Red Wings fans.

Weber's altercation with Henrik Zetterberg just after the final horn of Game 1 in Nashville's Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinals series earned him a fine by the League, but Wings fans got a chance to let him hear it in Game 3 on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.

Weber was booed virtually every time he touched the puck, and he touched it a lot while playing 27:06 and spreading it out over a whopping 33 shifts.

It didn't matter, as Weber scored the game's first goal on a power play, launched four shots on goal, delivered three hits and blocked three shots to earn praise from Nashville coach Barry Trotz after the Preds' narrow 3-2 victory.

"He was a monster out there," Trotz said. "He scored a big goal. Obviously, when he came to the rink, he knew he wasn't going to be the most likeable guy in the arena. He made a big statement. He said, 'I'm here to stay and nothing's going to stop me from being a top player.' He's all about business, on and off the ice. I'm very fortunate that I can put him on the ice, night in and night out."

As for the constant boos, Weber just took them in stride.

"It's part of it, whatever," he said. "I guess we're more focused on the game."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 6:21 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blues vs. Sharks series blog

Moore practices, expected to play in Game 3

SAN JOSESan Jose Sharks forward Dominic Moore practiced Sunday afternoon, one day after suffering a broken nose in Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

Moore was hurt during a brawl that broke out after the third-period buzzer when Blues winger Vladimir Sobotka took him to the ice and hit him in the face. Sharks coach Todd McLellan called it a "sucker punch."

Moore said he was having some trouble breathing through his nose but that he is available to play in Game 3 on Monday night at HP Pavilion. As for Sobotka's punch, Moore offered no opinion.

"I really don't have any need to comment on it, to be honest," Moore said.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 6:01 PM

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

Panthers seeking quicker start

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida coach Kevin Dineen partly blamed himself for his team’s poor first period in Friday’s Stanley Cup Playoff opener against New Jersey, and he expects things to be much different in Game 2 on Sunday.

The Panthers fell behind 3-0 to the Devils after being outshot 26-9 in the first period, and that was the difference in New Jersey’s 3-2 victory.

Dineen said he and his players learned their lesson about what the focus needs to be early on.

“Controllables,” Dineen said Sunday morning. “What can you control during the game, and how you react to adversity and things that happen during the course of the game? That’s what I told them, ‘Hey, you’re dealing with a rookie coach.’ I think what happened during that game is I got my focus in the wrong direction early and I think the players read off that a little bit.

“It’s a matter of all of us keeping the focus directed into what you can control, which is what’s going to happen the next time you step on the ice, killing the penalty if that’s the situation, going out there and reacting to both positives and things that may not go your way and just keeping a little more even keel.”

While they’re hoping to avoid a repeat performance of the first period, the Panthers head into Game 2 with some confidence because of the way they responded across the final two periods

Even though the comeback attempt fell short, Florida out-shot New Jersey 17-12 during the final two periods. The Panthers were particularly impressive in the second period when they scored both of their goals while out-shooting the Devils, 11-6.

“You’ve got to run on the confidence we got in the second and third,” said wing Kris Versteeg, who scored Florida’s second goal with 4:18 left in the second. “We know we can play with these guys. They’re obviously a very skilled and very defensively sound team at the same time, but when we play our game, we’re a very good team, too. We got the confidence that we can play with these guys and now it’s about going out there and putting a full 60 (minutes) together.”

The Devils fully expect a better first-period effort from the Panthers on Sunday, but they’re not looking to change much from what they did.

“I would expect them to be a little more aggresssive,” captain Zach Parise said. “But we’ve got to give ourselves some credit, too. We had a great first period. Regardless of what they did right, what they did do wrong, we just had a good first period. There’s no way around that. But I’m sure they’ll play a little more relaxed. On both sides, there’s always first-game jitters. I expect them to be a little more relaxed and at the same time try to dictate the first 5-10 minutes of the game, which you always expect in the playoffs.”

It sure wasn’t lack of intensity that got the Panthers in trouble in the first 20 minutes of Friday’s game. Florida got the first two shots on goal and delivered some big hits.

If anything, maybe the Panthers were too amped.

“They’re going to play harder, but they tried to do that early in the first,” Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. “But we fed off of that and got turnovers and were able to counteract what they were trying to do. They might be more patient, who knows? They might think, let’s stay in the game and let’s grind it out. That’s what playoff hockey is all about. You can’t just throw everything at once at the other team. It’s 60 minutes and maybe plus.

“We expect the best out of them. We’ve been in that position before to lose the first two games. Mentally, it’s hard to come back. We’re going to try to create that separation in the series, but it’s going to be a tough one.”

The Panthers, whose franchise is on a nine-game playoff losing streak dating back to 1997, will look to avoid joining Vancouver and Pittsburgh as teams in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs to lose the first two games at home.

The Devils, on the other hand, will be looking to go up 2-0 in a series for the 11th time in franchise history. New Jersey is a perfect 10-0 when winning the first two games.

This also would be the fourth time the Devils have taken the first two games on the road. The first three times occurred in the 1995 playoffs when New Jersey won the first of its three Stanley Cup titles.

“It would be great for us to go back to our own rink up 2-0,” Parise said. “That’s the plan. We didn’t come down here with the mind-set of let’s go for a split, like people think. We came down with the intent to win two games. We got off on the right foot. But we have to play even better. We really do. We have to be better in a lot of areas because we know they’re going to be.”

For the Panthers, the biggest improvement clearly has to come in how they start the game.

“We certainly looked like we were overwhelmed,” Dineen said. “The Devils came out flying and our response wasn’t very good. Lesson learned. They’ve been a good starting team all year. It’s something we talked about. Now we’ve seen it live. It’s how you respond. We expect a better response tonight.”
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:45 PM

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

Brodeur's passing ability causing Panthers problems

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers said they were aware of Martin Brodeur’s passing prowess before the start of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against New Jersey.

They’re even more cognizant after what happened in Game 1.

“You’ve got to be aware every time,” Panthers wing Kris Versteeg said. “Obviously we talked about it with his quick ups. He’s pretty dangerous obviously. Probably the best goaltender in the League at handling the puck, so we’ve got to be aware of him again tonight. He made us pay last game and obviously it was a big goal.”

Brodeur made 24 saves Friday to record his 100th career playoff victory, but it was his tremendous passing ability that was responsible for perhaps the biggest play in New Jersey’s 3-2 victory.

The Panthers were seconds away from killing off a four-minute Devils power play to keep their deficit at 1-0 when they iced the puck and went for a line change.

After stopping the puck in front of his net, Brodeur didn’t hesitate and fired a perfect pass to teammate David Clarkson at the Florida blue line near the boards. The Panthers never were able to set up defensively and Clarkson flipped the puck inside to Dainius Zubrus, who skated in alone on Jose Theodore and beat him with a wrist shot.

Ryan Carter would score 45 seconds later for a 3-0 lead that would hold up.

“If nobody is in my face, I’m able to make some decent passes,” Brodeur said. “It just worked out that Jose did such a great job killing that penalty almost by himself making seven or eight saves on that power play. When they dumped the puck, they just wanted to change, they didn’t really pay attention. I just caught them off guard. I’m sure it’s going to be harder to do now. I’m sure they’ll be aware of it.”

If nothing else, the Panthers learned the hard way they can never relax when Brodeur has the puck.

“You have to pay attention to their goalie,” Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson said. “He is the best in the League at moving the puck and he can catch you sleeping, absolutely. Getting the puck in deep and getting hard to the bench is extremely key and being extremely aware of when he has the puck and where you’re placing it as you’re dumping it in.”

The Panthers have plenty of company when it comes to getting burned by Brodeur’s passing.

Friday’s assist was his ninth in the playoffs. He also has a goal, a rink-long wrister into an open net at the end of a 5-2 victory against Montreal on April 17, 1997.

Brodeur had four assists in the just-completed regular season to match his career high.

“I feel like I’ve seen it a thousand times,” Devils captain Zach Parise said. “I can’t say I’m surprised about it. It’s a great play because if you’re an opposing team you can’t relax on a change and I think that’s what they did a little bit there. He’s got a great ability to pass it up and counteract and we were able to catch them. It’s a nice weapon for us to have.”

It’s inevitable that Brodeur will wind up playing the puck at other times in this series. The Panthers just don’t want to make it too easy on him.

“You have to put the puck into a place,” Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. “The game is easy when Marty can go back there and make the kind of direct tape-to-tape passes he can. So it’s more placement, where you end up putting the puck before you actually get in on the forecheck.”
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:43 PM

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

Penguins' Fleury pulled after second period

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins started the third period with Brent Johnson in goal, in place of Marc-Andre Fleury.

Fleury allowed six goals on 28 shots through two periods as Philadelphia led 6-4 after 40 minutes.

Fleury entered the game with a 5.45 goals-against average, and in just more than eight periods in the series, he's allowed 17 goals on 84 shots.

The last time Fleury was pulled from a playoff game was Game 5 of the Penguins' first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, when he allowed four goals on 14 shots in 25:10 of action.

The move didn't help much as the Flyers scored on the first shot they took on Johnson, by Claude Giroux, 27 seconds into the period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:39 PM

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

Lineups remain same for Game 2

SUNRISE, Fla. — The New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers both held an optional morning skate in advance of Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Sunday at the BankAtlantic Center.

Both coaches said there would be no lineup changes from Game 1, which was won by New Jersey 3-2.

That means that Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann and Ed Jovanovski, who both sat out Saturday’s practice in what coach Kevin Dineen termed a “maintenance day,” will be available.

Jose Theodore, who stopped 35 of 38 shots Friday, again will be in net for the Panthers.

Fleischmann and Jovanovski were among eight Panthers players not on the ice Sunday morning, although defenseman Brian Campbell skated on his own beforehand.

For the Devils, defenseman Bryce Salvador was the only player who didn’t take part in the optional skate.

Former Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire, who lives in South Florida, watched the workout from the stands alongside general manager Lou Lamoriello.

New Jersey held an optional practice Saturday, with nine players participating.

“I’ve taken the approach with our group, I don’t believe there’s any such thing as too much rest,” coach Pete DeBoer said in explaining the optional workouts. “Our history over the last half of the season was when we’re rested, we play well. When fatigue gets set in a little bit for us, we don’t. We’re going to control that the best we can. We also have a lot of veterans in that room that know their bodies a lot better than I do.

“The trust is they know their body better than I do and I trust that they’ll be ready to go tonight.”

Here are the projected lineups for Game 2:

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold


Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Wojtek Wolski
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Tomas Kopecky

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 5:24 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Kings unfazed by goalie change

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings predictably didn’t have much reaction to the fact that they will see Corey Schneider in net Sunday night.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault announced Sunday afternoon that he is putting Schneider in for Roberto Luongo, whO played the first two games.

The announcement came fater the Kings morning skate on Sunday.

The Kings said it won’t matter much given that both goalies are fully capable. It likely makes for some more video preparation because Schneider has never played against L.A.

“Now that people are talking about him possibly going in, I’m sure we’ll watch some (film),” Drew Doughty said. “But … any goalie in this League is pretty similar. If you’re not getting traffic in front of him, if he’s seeing every shot on net, he’s going to see it. It’s pretty much the same mindset whether Schneider’s in or Luongo’s in.”

Schneider had the NHL’s second-best save percentage in the regular season (.937). But Luongo hasn’t done much to warrant getting pulled, a sentiment shared by at least one Kings player.

“That would be surprising to me [if they changed goalies],” Willie Mitchell said. “It would be really surprising. To be honest with you, I thought [Luongo’s] been their best player over the first two games of the series.”
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic