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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 5:22 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Nearing unchartered territory for Coyotes

CHICAGO -- One more overtime game, and the Phoenix Coyotes go into uncharted territory. They've never played four overtime games in a playoff year, much less a playoff series, and that goes back to their identity as the original Winnipeg Jets.

Now they've played three in a row, winning twice, in the first three games of their series with Chicago.

Only once before did the Coyotes engage in overtime three times in a series. They lost two of three overtime games in a seven-game set with St. Louis in 1999, the Blues winning Game 7 in regulation. The franchise's only back-to-back overtime games before this series came in games 6 and 7 of the 1993 series against Vancouver. Teemu Selanne won Game 6 for the Jets, but the Canucks won Game 7.

This is more old hat for the Blackhawks. They played four overtime games, winning the first two and losing the last two, against Colorado in the second round of the 1996 playoffs.

The Hawks have even played three overtime games in a row before, doing so against the Minnesota North Stars in the second round of the 1985 playoffs. Including the last two games of last year's first round series with Vancouver, they've played five straight overtime games, a team record.
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 5:16 PM

By Tim Cronin -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Coyotes vs. Blackhawks series blog

Overtime a study in contrasts for two sides

CHICAGO -- The two schools of thought on how to play overtime were on display again in Game 3 of the Phoenix-Chicago Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

The Blackhawks were skating, trying to force the issue. The Coyotes played it tight, waiting for a break.

The Coyotes' method worked for the second time in three sudden-death sessions. Mikkel Boedker's shot, and Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford's admitted misplay, gave Game 3, and a 2-1 series lead, to the Coyotes.

That's how overtime has to be played, Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle said.

"In overtime, you're trying not to make mistakes," Yandle said. "One shot and it can be over. So you play tight defensively and cash in when you get the chance."

Getting those changes, whether in overtime or regulation, will be harder to find as the series progresses. Cement in the legs became common in the minutes jest before Boedker scored.

"The first couple of games, there's a lot of adrenaline," said Phoenix defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who played for the Hawks for two seasons. "As a series progresses, it starts taking its toll on players. And in overtime, you try to end it on every shift. That takes a toll."

Aucoin sees a long series.

"We're two different teams, but we're matched well," he said.

What he didn't have to mention was the hex the Coyotes have on the Hawks in the United Center. Phoenix is 3-0 on West Madison St. this season, winning both games in the regular season.
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 3:52 PM

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

Booth could join Sedins on Canucks' top line

LOS ANGELES -- David Booth practiced on a line with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin on Tuesday and if that holds for Game 4 it would be the first time Booth has played with the twins.

The Canucks have tried Booth with Ryan Kesler and it hasn’t really worked because both have to play with the puck. Booth was looking forward to the new combination.

"They're the best two in the League in my opinion, and I think a lot of people say the same thing," Booth said. "It's definitely exciting for me."

The projected lineups for each team:

CANUCKS
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - David Booth
Alexandre Burrows - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond
Chris Higgins - Samuel Pahlsson - Jannik Hansen
Maxim Lapierre - Manny Malhotra - Zack Kassian

Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Kevin Bieksa - Dan Hamhuis
Keith Ballard - Chistopher Tanev

Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo

KINGS
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:55 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Canucks vs. Kings series blog

Schneider starts for Canucks; Sedin game-time decision

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault announced after the morning skate on Wednesday that Cory Schneider would be the Game 4 goalie for the Canucks. He also said that Daniel Sedin, who is trying to come back from a concussion, will be a game-time decision.

Sedin took part in the morning skate and "looked good," according to Vigneault.

Vancouver announced Monday that Sedin, out for a month, was fit to re-join practicing with the team. Sedin practiced Wednesday and did not commit to playing in Game 4.

"We'll see," he said Tuesday. "We'll take it day-by-day. Today felt good and we'll see how it is tomorrow morning."

There is enormous pressure for Sedin to return. Vancouver trails 3-0 in this best-of-seven series and is on the verge of being eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after claiming the Presidents' Trophy.

Schneider, the young understudy to No. 1 Roberto Luongo will be in the net again. SchneIder played in Game 3 and allowed the only goal in a 1-0 loss that has put the Canucks on the brink of elimination.
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:40 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Gudbranson having fun with first playoff experience

NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson admits his experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been better than expected.
 
"I think it's more than what people think," the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Gudbranson told NHL.com. "It looks a lot different on TV than when you're actually playing the game. You see the little hits and the bumps that guys get and in playoffs, and they leave a mark.
 
"In the playoffs, guys are going all out and the passion and intensity out there certainly picks up, so it's been absolutely a lot of fun."
 
Gudbranson, who was taken with the third pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, has yet to register a point through three playoff games, but he tied for third on the team with 10 hits. On top of that, he's been receiving plenty of mentoring from veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
 
Jovanovski not only has a locker stall right beside Gudbranson for both home and away games, but the two are also paired together.
 
"I think the biggest thing with him is trying to relate to myself personally, and he did it at the same age that I am now," Gudbranson told The New York Times. "It's nice to be able to relate to someone with so much experience, and he does it for the whole team. He's always there for me whenever I have a question, and he's taught me to become an overall defenseman and to know when and where to be physical while also playing composed."
 
But Jovanovski isn't the only mentor. In the locker room following Florida's 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Tuesday, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was explaining to his prized defender when not to engage an opponent and, rather, "skate away."
 
"The season has been great … I've been happy my rookie season and it's been better just because of the guys we have in this room and the success we've had as a team," Gudbranson told NHL.com. "For a team that hasn't been in the playoffs for 10 years, to come out and compete like we have the past three  games to put ourselves in a good position, is fantastic. But we need to keep going here."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:25 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Jeffrey ready for first taste of playoff action

UPDATE: Jeffrey was made a healthy scratch by coach Dan Bylsma. He chose to dress seven defensemen instead.

PHILADELPHIA -- As he was unstrapping both of his knee braces, Dustin Jeffrey spoke about his level of excitement and anticipation heading into what will could possibly be his first career NHL playoff game.

Jeffrey played in 26 regular-season games, but he was limited this season after having surgery to repair a torn ACL last April. He's good to go now, and the Penguins need him with three forwards suspended.

"It's been an intense series, lots of action both ways with physical stuff and the goals," Jeffrey told NHL.com. "To jump in is pretty exciting."

Jeffrey insisted that he will not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment, the crowd, or the speed of the game.

"One of my biggest attributes is my hockey sense and being able to read plays," he said. "It's going to be fast and physical, but once you get that first shift under your belt you should be able to read the plays."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:11 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Panthers vs. Devils series blog

Night after collapse, Devils back at practice

NEWARK, N.J. -- After suffering an excruciating loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Tuesday, the New Jersey Devils were back on the ice at AmeriHealth Pavilion Wednesday with the hope of restoring some sense of order.
 
The Devils opened a 3-0 lead 6:18 into the first period only to have the Panthers register four unanswered goals en route to a 4-3 triumph. Devils coach Pete DeBoer put the team through a pretty rigorous workout in preparation for Thursday's critical Game 4 at Prudential Center.
 
"I liked practice [Wednesday]," DeBoer said. "We came out in a good frame of mind, we were confident. Now we just need to get a win here [Thursday] night and keep moving forward."
 
The first-year coach said he didn't really need to rehash what transpired Tuesday night.
 
"We talked before playoffs that anytime you go down a playoff road, you will face adverse situations, so you need to expect them," DeBoer said. "You just don't know when, but when they come, you welcome them and handle them properly. We knew we'd be in this spot, eventually, and I think we're prepared for it."
 
DeBoer was asked if his team would be a tad concerned if they were to open a lead at any point in the remainder of the series.
 
"I'll take a 3-0 lead in a game any day," he said. "I don't care how many we've blown. You want to give me three goals, I'll take them. You have to give Florida credit, coming back like we did the other night even though we didn't do it all the way.
 
"There's really no rhyme of reason to these momentum swings," he continued. "That's the way the series is coming down. But the team that can fix those issues the quickest, is probably going to win this series so that's on us to do."
 
Ilya Kovalchuk, who has one goal and one assist in three games in the series, thought the players were sharp at practice Wednesday morning.
 
"It was good ... a nice and short practice," Kovalchuk said. "We cleaned up what we wanted to and worked on our forecheck a little bit. We'll see tomorrow."
 
Devils forward Dainius Zubrus, who has a goal and one assist in three games, feels the team will respond well, as it has the entire season.
 
"You reach certain points where you lose two in a row and it happens throughout the season, but I don't want to say, we've been there, because this is the playoffs and it's a little different," Zubrus told NHL.com. "But we can respond ... we have done it. It's not the situation we want to be in after winning the first game but this is how it is.
 
"There are things we can do better and clean up and, saying that, the belief is still there," he continued. "[Thursday] is a huge game because we don't want to go down and then go on the road."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 2:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

Tangradi among fill-ins hoping to seize opportunity

PHILADELPHIA -- Penguins forward Eric Tangradi was born in Philadelphia and is now staring at an opportunity to play a crucial playoff game in his hometown. Tangradi, who will likely draw into Pittsburgh's lineup for Game 4 Wednesday, is looking to seize the moment and prove he belongs in big-time NHL games with the hope of helping his team stave off a sweep.

The Flyers lead the Penguins 3-0.

"The playoffs are such a big stage for any player," said Tangradi, who got into one playoff game last postseason but only 24 regular-season games this season. "Sometimes this season things may not have gone how I hoped, but at this stage and with this opportunity I could really elevate my expectations from everyone."

While Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not confirm his lineup, it's possible that Tangradi will play along with Dustin Jeffrey and Joe Vitale for suspended players James Neal, Arron Asham and Craig Adams. Rookie defenseman Simon Despres will replace Paul Martin, who is out with an undisclosed injury.

The four players that could be coming into the lineup have a combined three games of playoff experience. The four guys leaving the lineup have a combined 200 games of playoff experience.

There's also a question about defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who did not participate in the morning skate. Michalek did practice Tuesday in Pittsburgh. If he can't play, the Penguins will have to use Brian Strait, who has been a healthy scratch for the first three games of the series.

"Last year I was able to get into a (playoff) game and have a little experience, but nothing will compare to getting in a game back in your hometown in a crucial series when there are 20-plus guys in this room that are really trying to give it all they got 20 minutes at a time," Tangradi said. "It's definitely a big stage, but I've been on big stages before and I'm looking forward to the opportunity."

Since the Penguins have dealt with adversity from injuries to key players such as Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang pretty much all season, Bylsma said it almost gives the team an odd sense of normalcy having to replace at least four veterans with four young players even in such a critical game.

"Part of the obstacles this team has faced and dealt with repeatedly is that type of thing," Bylsma said. "So, to see a lineup on the board today of Adams, Asham and Neal not playing almost gives our team a sense of normalcy and resiliency about how we're going to come out and play tonight."

Regardless of who is in the lineup, Bylsma said the mindset does not change going into Game 4.

"I know the group of guys in there, every one of them plan on going out and winning our first game tonight here in Philly," he said. "I think we're ready to be at our best."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 1:51 PM

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

Likely lineup for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers had nearly every healthy player on the ice for practice Wednesday, but did not skate in line combinations. But after winning the first three games of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, it's doubtful there will be any lineup changes going into Game 4 Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

So here is what the Flyers likely will have in the lineup for Game 4:

Jaromir Jagr - Claude Giroux - Scott Hartnell
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood
Zac Rinaldo - Matt Read - Jakub Voracek

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Pavel Kubina - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.18.2012 / 1:50 PM

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

Flyers non-plussed by Pittsburgh suspensions

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Flyers are clear their game plan isn't going to change one bit, no matter which players the Penguins have in the lineup for Game 4 on Wednesday.

In the wake of suspensions to forwards Craig Adams (one game), James Neal (one game) and Arron Asham (four games), all announced Tuesday, the Flyers said neither the term of the suspensionsnor the resulting rosetr makeover for the Penguins, will make a difference to them.

"It is what it is," Danny Briere said. "I can't change anything about that. Peter [Laviolette, coach] told us that suspension or not, it would be irrelevant to the game and I truly believe that. These guys have their backs to the walls so I expect them to play with a lot of desperation and that's why we have to be ready and leave it out all there tonight if we want to clinch."

"[NHL Vice President of Player Safety] Brendan Shanahan, I think, did a good job," forward Scott Hartnell said. "For us it really makes no difference who they put in there. We have to play the same way, have to have a good start. It's not like they're going to roll over and die just because of what happened. Whoever they put in there we have to do a job against the top guys and be disciplined."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18