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Reading list: Bolts near sweep; Kesler comes through

Wednesday, 05.04.2011 / 9:42 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Semifinals

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Reading list: Bolts near sweep; Kesler comes through
Just six days after they started their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against Washington, the Tampa Bay Lightning are on the verge of sweeping it.

The Lightning survived a three-goal second period by Washington with a dynamic third period of their own, including goals by Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone in a 24-second span that gave the Bolts a 4-3 win and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. With the teams playing again at the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday, the Lightning have the chance to put the Capitals away tonight.

The Vancouver Canucks have a day to enjoy their 3-2 overtime win at Nashville. Ryan Kesler, a non-factor offensively through Vancouver's first nine playoff games, was a big factor on Tuesday -- he scored twice on the power play, including the OT winner.

The other two series also resume tonight. Boston returns home with a 2-0 series lead after winning twice in Philadelphia, while Detroit hopes that a return to Joe Louis Arena will help them in their series against the Sharks, who won the first two games in San Jose.

Here's your daily NHL.com Reading List for a set of quick links to some of the stories you won't want to miss:

Ovi: We'll win
It's not up there with Joe Namath's Super Bowl guarantee, but as Corey Masisak reports, Alex Ovechkin said the Capitals "are going to win" after Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 3.

Stamkos delivers
With his team down a goal in the third period, Steven Stamkos delivered for the Tampa Bay Lightning, snapping off a shot few players could have managed to tie the game and setting the stage for Ryan Malone's game-winner 24 seconds later. Brian Compton reports.

Kesler and linemates come through
Through nine playoff games, 41-goal scorer Ryan Kesler had a big "0" in the "Goals" column. Not any more. As John Manasso reports, Kesler stepped up when his team needed him with a pair of power-play goals and his line scored all three goals in the Canucks' 2-1 overtime win at Nashville in Game 3.

Bruins not content
The Boston Bruins may be taking a 2-0 lead into Game 3 of their series against Philadelphia, but as Adam Kimelman reports, they know they have to play better in the later stages of games than they did in Monday night's 3-2 overtime win.

Flyers still confident
Losing the first two games of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series to Boston at home hasn't diminished the Philadelphia Flyers' confidence. As Adam Kimelman writes, that's not surprising after last year's series.

Will Wings split stars?
The Detroit Red Wings have scored just two goals in two games against San Jose while playing star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the same line. Brian Hedger reports that coach Mike Babcock had them on different lines at Tuesday's practice and may split them again on Wednesday.

Sharks sharp in close games
It's not like the San Jose Sharks have been routing the Detroit Red Wings. But as Dave Lozo notes, the Sharks' run of 10 wins in 12 games against the Wings is built on their success in winning one-goal contests -- like the pair of 2-1 victories that have the Sharks ahead 2-0 in their Western Conference Semifinal series.

Brad Richards plays prognosticator
With the Dallas Stars' season done, center Brad Richards stopped by NHL.com on Tuesday to offer his playoff picks, as well as his thoughts on former Tampa Bay teammates Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. David Kalan writes that Richards sees a long spring ahead for Boston and San Jose.
Quote of the Day

My focus is always just to play as well as I can and do my job, no matter where the faceoff is.

— New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin on using his speed to his advantage
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