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Features

Lundqvist's save on Canadiens' Vanek lifts Rangers

Friday, 05.30.2014 / 1:50 AM / Winning Ingredients

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist reacted on instinct. He threw his stick, tossed up his blocker, and nearly did a cartwheel.

The acrobatics were not only necessary, they were game-changing.

Lundqvist's remarkable, highlight-reel blocker save on Montreal Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek's deflected shot at 15:15 of the second period in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final preserved what at the time was a 0-0 game.

The fantastic save loomed larger less than three minutes later, when Rangers forward Dominic Moore scored what turned into the only goal of the game in a 1-0 series-clinching win for the Rangers, who earned their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1994.


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Rangers' Vigneault takes second team to Cup Final

Friday, 05.30.2014 / 12:29 AM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL.com

The New York Rangers haven't been to the Stanley Cup Final since 1994, but their coach has.

Alain Vigneault became the 10th coach in NHL history to lead more than one team to the Final when the Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Thursday to win the Eastern Conference Final in six games. The Rangers will play the winner of the Western Conference Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings; Game 1 of the Cup Final is Wednesday, June 4.


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Saad taking game to new heights for Blackhawks

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 6:37 PM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2014 Western Conference Final

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Brandon Saad is developing into an elite two-way forward for the Chicago Blackhawks, and the game he helped win Wednesday at United Center might someday be looked upon as the night he made the jump from good to great.

Saad was one of the most dominant players on the ice for the Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings, a game they had to win to avoid elimination. He scored in the first period and assisted on Chicago's last two goals in a 5-4 double-overtime win. His second assist was a beautiful feed to Michal Handzus for the game-winner.

But Saad was just as good in areas of the game that aren't as easily noticed.


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Rangers' Lundqvist only interested in looking ahead

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 12:42 PM / Canadiens vs Rangers - 2014 Eastern Conference Final

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has no interest in talking about Game 5.

Can you blame him?

He was pulled midway through the second period after giving up four goals on 19 shots at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Why would Lundqvist want to talk about that, especially on the morning of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), New York's second opportunity to clinch its first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1994?

The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

"All of you [the media] keep asking about the last game, but I don't think about the last game," Lundqvist said Thursday morning at Madison Square Garden. "I think about tonight."

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Intrigue surrounds top Russian prospects at Combine

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 9:28 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Who will be the first Russian-born hockey player selected at the 2014 NHL Draft next month at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia?

There are three Russians at the NHL Scouting Combine this week, including forwards Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tkachev of the Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and left wing Vladislav Kamenev of Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League.

All three are considered high-end prospects.

Barbashev is No. 18 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 draft. The 6-foot, 180-pound left-hand shot had 25 goals and 68 points in 48 games for Moncton this season.

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Bennett learned OHL, emerged as best in 2014 class

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- A little confidence went a long way in helping jumpstart the career of Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett.

There wasn't much pressure on Bennett entering 2012-13, his first season in the Ontario Hockey League, after being the ninth pick of the 2012 OHL draft. He played his game, learned the team's system and style of play, and gradually gained a familiarity with how he needed to perform in order to be successful.

"Entering my first year I didn't really know what to expect," Bennett told NHL.com. "I didn't really have too high goals for myself. But this year I definitely was expecting a lot more and I came into the league with a lot more confidence. Winning the World Under-18 Championship [in April 2013], getting that support from teammates and the coaching staff helped with my confidence."

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Kings miss chance to put away defending champs

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 2:33 AM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2014 Western Conference Final

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty understood the opportunity his team squandered Wednesday at United Center in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.

The Chicago Blackhawks rallied for the first time in this series, turning a one-goal deficit at the start of the third period into a stunning 5-4 victory in double overtime.

Ben Smith scored the tying goal 77 seconds into the third period, and Michal Handzus won it in overtime with a beautiful backhander. Handzus, who had one postseason goal entering the game, played a mere nine shifts between the end of the second period and his game-winner.


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Smith's tying goal gives momentum to Blackhawks

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 2:16 AM / Winning Ingredients

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- The defending Stanley Cup champions spent the second intermission Wednesday knowing they needed a goal or it would be the last in-game break of the season.

Ben Smith provided that goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, and it didn't take very long. Smith scored his third goal of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs 77 seconds into the third period of Game 5, and the Blackhawks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in double overtime to avoid elimination.


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Handzus' 2OT goal saves Blackhawks' season

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 2:03 AM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2014 Western Conference Final

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Michal Handzus has been maligned for his play during in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the goal he scored Wednesday for the Chicago Blackhawks was literally a season-saver.

Handzus scored his second goal of the postseason 2:04 into double overtime to beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 at United Center and force the Western Conference Final to a Game 6 on Friday at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The Kings lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

Handzus played 14:30 in Game 5 but saw the ice for 1:38 in the third period, 2:43 in the first overtime and 19 seconds in the second OT. He came into the game minus-6 with two points (one goal) in Chicago's 16 previous postseason games.

"You still have to have a lot of confidence in yourself," the 37-year-old center said. "I'm not real happy how [I've] played, but [I've] just got to be confident. It's a lot of fun to be playing in the playoffs. It's conference finals. You cannot just look at yourself all the time, be down [and] be disappointed. You just got to be positive. If you don't want be positive, then probably you won't get out of the slump or anything. I stay positive. I'm [a] better player than [I've] showed. [I'll] try to show it next game again."

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Blackhawks show heart, resiliency in Game 5 win

Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 1:51 AM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2014 Western Conference Final

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks believed they were going to pull themselves off the proverbial canvas and deliver a night to remember in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at United Center.

Sure, the Los Angeles Kings had delivered three straight haymakers with a run of three straight wins to take a stranglehold in this best-of-7 series, rocking the defending champions to the very limit of their endurance in the process.

When the puck dropped for Game 5, the Blackhawks had no goal other than to play their best game, something they believe they have not come close to doing yet in this series. It was as much about delivering a statement about who they are as an organization as it was about winning the game and getting the series back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

In the end, they did both.

Yes, they won an instant classic with a 5-4 victory in double overtime, delivered by the unlikeliest of heroes, Michal Handzus. But they also delivered a vintage Blackhawks performance along the way, turning in a showing which will be added to the lore of what has been accomplished at the Madhouse on Madison.

"It's a special group," Chicago forward Patrick Kane said. "I think we know that in the locker room. It seems like in a lot of games we find ways to win, whether we should or not."

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