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Start times announced for Friday playoff games

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 5:15 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League today announced updated start time and national television information for two potential 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round games scheduled for Friday, April 24.

The remainder of Friday's schedule will be announced at a later date.

· The starting time for the potential Game 5 of the series between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators has been set for 7 p.m. ET in Montreal. In Canada, the game would be televised on CBC and TVA Sports. In the U.S., the game would be televised on CNBC.


Senators' Karlsson emerging as a leader in playoffs

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 3:16 PM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Chris Stevenson - Correspondent

OTTAWA -- There could be a scenario in the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens when a top defenseman knocked an opposing player out of the series with a big body check.

It probably wouldn't have been thought to be 6-foot, 180-pound Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson as the one who has delivered the biggest hit of the series.

Karlsson hit Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the second period of Game 3 on Sunday when he caught Beaulieu accepting a pass inside the Montreal blue line and stepped into him. The Canadiens said Tuesday that Beaulieu will be out for the duration of the best-of-7 series with an upper-body injury.

"That open-ice hit was perfect, a textbook body check. It gets the momentum going for your team," Senators forward Curtis Lazar said.

Senators defenseman Cody Ceci said, "I've seen him make a couple of big hits before, but that was probably one of the biggest. It definitely got us going. That's kind of out of his element. He stepped up and made a big hit like that."


Penguins see need to test Lundqvist with more shots

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 3:15 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins preach getting an abundance of shots on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston pledged he expects 35 shots per game midway through the regular season. Pittsburgh had stretches when it met Johnston's expectation but often came up short, which the Penguins felt partially led to their lackluster offensive output as the season neared its end.

Three games into the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round Series against New York, not much has changed, and Pittsburgh trails 2-1. The Penguins had their first shot on goal in Game 3 at 15:10 of the first period, when defenseman Ben Lovejoy sent a slap shot on Lundqvist from center ice following a power play.

The Penguins cannot repeat their Game 3 performance if they wish to tie the series in Game 4 at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA2, MSG, ROOT).

"Last night, we talked about shots allowed," Johnston said Tuesday. "Anytime you go through the first 10 minutes, or 11 minutes, of the first period and don't get a shot, when you look at our shot attempts last night, we had 35 shot attempts that were blocked or missed. Those are the ones we have to get eight or nine of those to the net, for sure. You can't have 35 that are blocked or missed.

"Certainly, some teams block a lot of shots, but that's far too many. We had some early that were blocked or missed that could have given us some real momentum in the first 10 minutes. And then you miss them, and obviously, you're looking at the clock and you don't have any shots at the 10-minute mark."


Chabot: Home crowd may have also affected Jets

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 3:00 PM / Ducks vs Jets - 2015 SCP First Round

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

For additional insight into the Western Conference First Round series between the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets, has enlisted the help of Frederic Chabot to break down the action. Chabot will be checking in throughout the series.

Chabot was the goaltending coach for the Edmonton Oilers from 2009 to 2014. He played in the NHL for five seasons, spending time with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings.

Leading up to Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round series between the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks, the anticipation and focus was on playoff hockey returning to Winnipeg for the first time since 1996 and what the crowd and atmosphere would be like at MTS Centre.


McDonagh fully acclimated to role as Rangers captain

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 2:36 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan McDonagh felt earlier this season that if he figured out how to marry being the New York Rangers captain and their top defensemen he'd start to resemble the player who earned each of those titles through his performance last season.

It was a union that took some time to develop and came with some internal struggles for McDonagh, but it's become the perfect marriage for the Rangers, who have a 2-1 lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series heading into Game 4 Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 2, ROOT, MSG).

"He's done so many great things for us and now you see it," Rangers center Derek Stepan said. "He's a big part of what we do as a group."


Pominville, Wild top line asserts itself in Game 3

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 2:01 PM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When judging the season of Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville, be sure to look further than his statistics.

Despite a 12-goal decline from last season, Pominville has been an important piece all season for the Wild, who are leading a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time in their history.

Pominville scored the game-winning goal in Game 3 of Minnesota's Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues on Monday, giving the Wild a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series with Game 4 on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NCBSN, SN360, TVA3, FW-MW, FS-N).

"From a goal-scoring standpoint, you always want more," Pominville said. "From a point-production, I'm pretty much where I was last year (60-54). I went through a stretch [this season] where maybe I was making more plays and not shooting as much, but when you look at my total shots, I had more this year."


Islanders defense raising game in Hamonic's absence

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 12:22 PM / Capitals vs Islanders - 2015 SCP First Round

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- When defenseman Travis Hamonic sustained an undisclosed injury in the second-to-last game of the regular season, the rest of the New York Islanders blue line knew it would have to step it up a notch in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Brian Strait, who was shuffled in and out of the lineup during the season, has arguably been one of the Islanders' best defensemen through the first three games of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals, which continues Tuesday with Game 4 at Nassau Coliseum (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVA Sports 2, CSN-DC, MSG+).

The Islanders lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Strait was playing alongside Hamonic at the time of the injury and has since been paired with Calvin de Haan. Strait doesn't have a point in the series but he's helped limit a potent Capitals offense to one goal in two of the three games.

There is no timetable for Hamonic's return.

"It's tough because I was playing with him at the time and we were playing really well together," Strait said Tuesday. "More from a team standpoint, the things that he does physically and against top players, it's something that we miss. But I think everybody's stepped up pretty well and done a pretty decent job so far. I think we've got to keep progressing and getting better."


Jets lose Game 3, but Winnipeg wins

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 2:06 AM / Ducks vs Jets - 2015 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

WINNIPEG -- A building that had been ear-splitting loud for hours fell deathly silent.

The contrast in the atmosphere at MTS Centre moments before and immediately after Rickard Rakell won the game for the Anaheim Ducks in overtime Monday showed how fleeting euphoria can be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Especially for a city that hadn't experienced them for 19 years.

One moment, there's hope for the hometown Winnipeg Jets, perhaps the most hometown team of any in the NHL. The next moment that hope was gone and reality set in that the home team is down 3-0 in this Western Conference First Round series, losing three straight games it led in the third period.


Blues sloppy with puck in Game 3 loss to Wild

Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 12:30 AM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Louis Blues said they understood what they would be facing against the Minnesota Wild in their Western Conference First Round series.

But after the Wild won Game 3 on Monday to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, the Blues face a virtual must-win situation in Game 4 on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, FS-MW, FS-N).

The Wild's speed game has given the Blues fits throughout this series. It again played a role Monday in Minnesota's 3-0 victory in front of 19,165 boisterous fans at Xcel Energy Center.

The Blues had no answer for wave after wave of speed and checking that the Wild threw at them.

"They played a good game from the start," St. Louis defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "We were slow from the start, and they just stayed on top of us the whole game."


Slow start dooms Penguins again in Game 3

Monday, 04.20.2015 / 11:01 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins had a sluggish start again on Monday, and the New York Rangers took advantage for a 2-1 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Consol Energy Center.

Unlike in Game 1 of their best-of-7 series, the Penguins did not respond well from a porous first period to pull within one goal in the second and earn a puncher's chance to steal a win with ample time to spare. Unlike in Game 2, they did not respond from another lackluster first to control the majority of the final 40 minutes to earn an eye-opening win.

In Game 3, Pittsburgh started slow again. By the time it got going, it was too late.

"Tonight, I think, what we talked about before, sometimes at home, you get the energy and you try to do things and you try to force," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "I thought we forced a lot of plays in the first period. And really, we can't do that. We have to make sure we have better shot selection, get more pucks to the net. That's what's going to create the loose puck intensity."

The Penguins weren't drastically outplayed in the first period, because neither team played particularly well. The Rangers scored the period's lone goal when Keith Yandle sent Carl Hagelin on a breakaway, and Pittsburgh was caught during a botched line change.

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He's a winner. We want winners here, and he's a proven winner. He's won two Stanley Cups. He's 22 years old and been a big part of it. He's got all the right tools. He's got size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and strength. He's exactly what we were looking for. He's going to be a big piece of our team for many, many years to come.

— Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on Brandon Saad, who he acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks on Tuesday