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Triple-header of Game 7s set for Wednesday

Long-time rivals Rangers, Flyers to clash in Game 7 for first time since 1974

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 9:43 AM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will contest Game 7 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round series tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York (7 p.m., ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS), opening a triple-header that also features the Colorado Avalanche hosting the Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m., ET, CNBC, TSN2, RDS) and the San Jose Sharks welcoming the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m., ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS2). It marks the fifth time in NHL history and first time since April 22, 2003, that three or more Game 7s will be played on the same day.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that at least three Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series have extended to the limit, capping a thrilling two weeks that have featured 27 comeback wins in the 45 games contested (60%), including a first-round record 10 multi-goal comeback victories, six game-tying goals in the final 2:00 of regulation and 13 overtime games spread over seven series. The 20 seven-game series in the first round since 2008 is nearly triple the number of four-game sweeps (seven) over the same span.

For the first time in 40 years, the long-time division-rival Rangers and Flyers will meet in a Game 7. On May 5, 1974, the Flyers defeated the Rangers 4-3 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia to win their Semifinal series and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. Two weeks later, the Flyers became the first expansion team to claim the championship in a six-game triumph over Boston.

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Busy Mason thwarts Rangers, leads Flyers to win

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 12:18 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The scoring chances were coming fast at Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason, and the shots were piling up in the first 20 minutes.

That's just what he wanted.

Mason made 13 saves in the first period and allowed the Flyers, despite nine giveaways, to lead 1-0 after one period en route to a 5-2 win against the New York Rangers on Tuesday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round series.

"He's done it time after time this year. They came in waves, and he made some huge saves for us," said Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, who scored three goals. "It allowed us to get our footing under us, and we went from there. We got our offensive opportunities and we capitalized tonight. If it wasn't for Mason, I don't know if those plays would have happened."


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Rangers miss chance to avoid another Game 7

Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 12:03 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The New York Rangers find themselves in the all-too-familiar situation of needing to win a Game 7 to clinch a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Missed opportunities in the early going, a lifeless power play and an opposing goalie possessing ice water in his veins proved to be the demise of the Rangers on Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center.

The loss sets the stage for a Game 7 showdown between the Metropolitan Division rivals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN2, CSN-PH, MSG).


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Three Game 7s cap first round of playoffs

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 11:35 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

For the third season in a row, the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be capped with a trio of Game 7s. For the first time in 11 years, all three will take place on the same night.

The Philadelphia Flyers made sure of that Tuesday when they beat the New York Rangers 5-2 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center, continuing a pattern that has seen the Rangers win the odd-numbered games and the Flyers take the even-numbered ones.

Neither team will get much rest; the teams will determine the series winner Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in the only games being played on back-to-back nights in the opening round of the playoffs.

The other two first-round series to go seven games are in the Western Conference. The Central Division-champion Colorado Avalanche host the Minnesota Wild in a series that has seen the home team win each of the first six games, and the Los Angeles Kings will try to become the fourth NHL team ever to win a series after falling behind 3-0 when they visit the San Jose Sharks.

Here's a quick look at all three Game 7s:


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Roy's early empty-net moves getting noticed

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 10:04 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy might be setting a trend by going to an empty net early enough in games to turn what once was a regular coaching decision into a bigger storyline in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Roy also might be showing NHL coaches what can go wrong when taking a gamble as big as pulling the goaltender in favor of the extra attacker with between two-and-a-half and three minutes remaining.

The verdict is out while the coaching community weighs the pros and cons of Roy's strategy of using the extra attacker earlier than conventional wisdom suggests.

"Since he gave up two in the empty net [Monday], I'm not so sure it's all that wonderful an idea," longtime NHL coach Craig Ramsay told NHL.com. "I think there is nothing wrong with it. I'm certainly not against it. But for me, that's a little early. That's a hope or two."

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Round 2 begins Thursday with Bruins vs. Canadiens

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 9:30 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

NEW YORK - The National Hockey League today announced that the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round will begin Thursday, May 1 with a one game slate – Game 1 of the Second Round series between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.

The starting time for Game 1 on Thursday will be 7:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden in Boston. The game will be seen exclusively on NBCSN in the U.S. and on CBC and RDS in Canada.

Further information on the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule will be released tomorrow.

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Analysis: Sharks weigh Niemi or Stalock in Game 7

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 8:18 PM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi were two of the last players in the San Jose Sharks dressing room after practice Tuesday, the day before one of the biggest games in the history of the franchise.

Stalock and Niemi were discussing the skating ability of some goalies, and at one point Stalock told Niemi a story about participating in a goalie race a few years back in Michigan with other top American players at the position.

It was a joke, a con that Stalock kept up for the entire conversation before letting Niemi in on it near the end. For people who don't get to witness interactions like that, the idea of two goaltenders who are competing for the same spot and each of whom told the media they did not know who would start Game 7 of this Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings remaining friendly might seem far-fetched.

"Obviously it is good to have competition, but we get along great and we're good friends," Stalock said. "I think [not talking] would only hurt the play. I think it is great that we get along and help each other and push each other."

For Sharks coach Todd McLellan, it could be one of the most important decisions of his tenure. San Jose is trying to avoid becoming the fourth team in NHL history to lose a series after taking a 3-0 lead, and he has to choose between the goalie he has pulled from his past two starts and someone who has one career start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

McLellan spoke to both goaltenders on the ice at practice Tuesday.

"Told them both to be ready to go," McLellan said to the media after the workout leading into Game 7 on Wednesday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS2, PRIME, CSN-CA).

Which way will McLellan turn? Here's the argument for each goaltender:

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Kings rally behind top forwards to force Game 7

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 7:44 PM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- Although the San Jose Sharks' fourth line generated plenty of attention for its play in the first couple games, the reason the Los Angeles Kings were facing a 3-0 deficit in the Western Conference First Round series was the lopsided disparity between the performances by the top forwards on each team.

The same can be said about why there will be a Game 7 in this series Wednesday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS2, NBCSN, PRIME, CSN-CA). In the past three games, the top forwards wearing black and silver jerseys have outproduced the ones wearing black and teal.

"When I look at this series, our core, our high-end players if you will, got the better of theirs in the first two to three games, and it certainly has swung in their favor now," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "The series as a whole is created that way so we get an opportunity to settle it all here in Game 7. For us, we believe in that group, and if we want to have success, it has to go through our core. They have to find ways to elevate their play and carry the team, and everybody else has to follow them. Some of those players have had good looks, some open nets, in fact, that they haven't scored on.

"That's all in the past now. We have to get a winning performance out of a lot of players who maybe have not had that over the last little bit, but we're counting on it [Wednesday]."


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Wild face crossroads as they prepare for Game 7

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 7:41 PM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

DENVER -- The Minnesota Wild have been climbing the ladder to contender status since Zach Parise and Ryan Suter changed the expectations around the team and the perception of the franchise by signing matching 13-year, $98 million contracts two summers ago.

The next step is the Wild's toughest yet.

The result of Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, RDS, FS-N, ALT) will either raise the expectations around the Wild even higher or potentially alter the perception of the team going into the offseason.


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Avalanche ready for emotions of Game 7 vs. Wild

Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 6:23 PM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- When the Colorado Avalanche acquired Max Talbot from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Steve Downie on Oct. 31, it was for precisely the kind of experience the young team will face Wednesday at Pepsi Center: Game 7 against the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round (9:30 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN2, CNBC, FS-N, ALT).

The 30-year-old forward has played in far more Stanley Cup Playoff games (83) than any of his teammates, including four Game 7s.

Talbot scored both goals when the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup in 2009, so he understands what it takes to win a game of this magnitude.

"It's definitely intense emotions," Talbot said Tuesday. "Game 7, you know that everybody's watching. I feel like it's a little bigger stage. You have to take it in. Every Game 7 I've played, you remember the guys that scored the goals, you remember little plays, the saves and the blocked shots, the things that made you win this game, made you move on to have a chance at the Stanley Cup."

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Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals