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Features

New Canadiens step up to replace Subban, Pacioretty

Thursday, 04.16.2015 / 12:54 AM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Brian Flynn was named the first star and Torrey Mitchell the second star of the Montreal Canadiens' 4-3 victory Wednesday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Ottawa Senators.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was robbed.

Every player Bergevin acquired for the Canadiens over the course of the season had a big impact in helping them open the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a victory.

Mitchell and Flynn, acquired in separate trades with the Buffalo Sabres at the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2, scored the opening and winning goals for the Canadiens, helping replace the offense that was lost with leading scorer Max Pacioretty out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.

Forward Devante Smith-Pelly, acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 24 for Jiri Sekac in a trade that was widely criticized in Montreal, was a physical presence. He was credited with six hits and was around the net all night. It was easily his best game with the Canadiens.

Finally, defenseman Jeff Petry, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on deadline day, continued his strong play and helped compensate for the loss of top defenseman P.K. Subban, who was ejected at 8:23 of the second period for slashing Senators forward Mark Stone.


Senators remain confident in Hammond for Game 2

Thursday, 04.16.2015 / 12:32 AM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- During Andrew Hammond's remarkable 23-game run to spark the Ottawa Senators to an improbable berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he allowed four or more goals in a game twice.

He gave up four in the second period of the Senators' 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at Bell Centre in Game 1 of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series.

The goals were less a reflection on the play of the 27-year-old goaltender, who was making his playoff debut, and more about the performance of the Senators in front of him.

"We weren't good enough in front of him," Ottawa coach Dave Cameron said said. "I have no trouble with my goaltending whatsoever."


Sloppiness, missed chances cost Capitals in Game 1

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 11:57 PM / Capitals vs Islanders - 2015 SCP First Round

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Nicklas Backstrom surveyed his options but when he was ready to distribute the puck near the offensive blue line, it disappeared on him. He whiffed, and it floated into the neutral zone.

Alex Ovechkin crept in from his typical spot on the power play and the puck came right to him, in a broken play no less. The goaltender scrambled, but the puck tumbled and Ovechkin wasn't able to snap off a shot before Jaroslav Halak was ready.

It was two moments in a game that featured many more, but the two best players for the Washington Capitals having their world-class skills elude them at an inopportune time because of unfortunate luck or an unpredictable hop by the puck was symbolic of the rest of this night.

Washington turned over the puck too much, missed connections on too many passes, and flubbed away too many opportunities in a 4-1 defeat against the New York Islanders on Wednesday in Game 1 of this best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series at Verizon Center.

Predators' Fisher leaves game with lower-body injury

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 10:29 PM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

Robby Stanley - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators forward Mike Fisher left early in the second period with a lower-body injury and will not return to Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

Canadiens' Subban given game misconduct

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 9:47 PM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban received a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for slashing Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone at 8:23 of the second period.

Stone left Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round series Wednesday at Bell Centre briefly with an apparent arm injury but returned to play.

Blackhawks pull Crawford against Predators

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 9:40 PM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

NHL.com

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford allowed three goals in the first period of Game 1 of a first-round series against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday and was replaced by Scott Darling to start the second.

Crawford, who had a 2.27 goals-against average during the regular season, allowed two goals in a span of 2:13 late in the period after Colin Wilson scored 6:07 into the game. Viktor Stalberg made it 2-0 at 17:20 and Wilson scored on a power play at 19:33.

Crawford faced 12 shots in the first period.

Rangers face pressure of being top seed in playoffs

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 5:20 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Being the team with the best record in the NHL entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs is new for the New York Rangers. It's not for coach Alain Vigneault, who doesn't think the Rangers have any reason to feel differently than they did in the regular season.

"I believe that we've been hunted since Day One," Vigneault said. "Any time you've got the Stanley Cup champions or the Stanley Cup finalists, any team playing against them, and I used to do the same thing, you're telling your team, 'We've gotta use them as a benchmark.' I'm sure that's what the other 28 teams were doing when they were playing against us."

Vigneault speaks from experience. Twice he took the Vancouver Canucks into the playoffs after they won the Presidents' Trophy; the second time he did it the season after they reached the Stanley Cup Final.

The Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Final last season after finishing second in the Metropolitan Division with 96 points. This season, New York won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1993-94, when it last won the Cup, and set Rangers records for wins (53) and points (113).

What did 53 wins and 113 points get the Rangers? The opportunity to face Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins in a best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series that starts Thursday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG).

Lack to start Game 1 for Canucks against Flames

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 3:42 PM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER – Goaltender Eddie Lack will make his first Stanley Cup Playoff start for the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Calgary Flames (10 p.m. ET; CBC, USA, TVA), coach Willie Desjardins confirmed after the morning skate.

Most expected Lack to start because No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller is not fully recovered from a knee injury sustained on Feb. 22, but Desjardins wouldn't confirm it earlier in the week.

Now that he has, the questions shift to Lack not having any playoff experience. The easygoing Swede isn't worried about it.

"Not yet, no," Lack said when asked if he felt any extra nerves. "I've been trying to prepare as I have all season here and obviously there's a little more media in here but other than that I kind of feel normal."

Wild's Dubnyk set for first Stanley Cup Playoff game

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 2:38 PM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has done a lot of things during his hockey career. One thing he hasn't: played in a Stanley Cup Playoff game.

That will change Thursday when Dubnyk starts for the Wild against the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series at Scottrade Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-MW).

It's a game that has been a long time coming for Dubnyk, who has played in 231 NHL games since entering the League in 2009, including 39 with the Wild since being acquired in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14.

The Wild were in 12th place in the Western Conference at the time of the trade, but a 27-9-2 stretch helped catapult the Wild to the top wild card.

Dubnyk will see what playoff hockey is like for the first time since six games with the Stockton Thunder in the ECHL playoffs in 2007.

"It's great, but you try not to think about it too much during the last stretch," Dubnyk said. "I've tried to embrace it a little bit this week, but at the same time, I think the most important thing is to just keep the same approach that we've had all year."

Blues to start goalie Allen in Game 1 against Wild

Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 2:30 PM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Jake Allen was named as the St. Louis Blues' starting goaltender for Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round Series on Thursday against the Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-MW).

The 24-year-old, who has 1:07 of experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a relief appearance in Game 2 of the 2012 Western Conference Second Round against the Los Angeles Kings, has been in a strong 1-2 tandem with veteran Brian Elliott all season.

But Allen's play of late -- he was 5-1-1 in his past seven starts with a 1.14 goals-against average and .957 save percentage -- was a deciding factor for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. Allen has given up two goals or fewer in his past seven starts and one goal or fewer in eight of his past 12.

"It’s his turn," Hitchcock said. "Both guys earned our healthy respect. We made the decision to go with Jake. He's going to play in Game 1.

"Jake got really hot down the stretch, which was good for us because we needed it. Just his overall development and the way he played in the last month, we want to give him a chance to go in the playoffs. Both guys earned the right to play in the playoffs, both guys need to stay sharp."

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Quote of the Day

He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.

— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson