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Well-rested Blackhawks eager for Game 1 vs. Ducks

Saturday, 05.16.2015 / 7:57 PM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

ANAHEIM – For the better part of a week, observers have been trying to divine how the Chicago Blackhawks will survive the long layoff before the start of the Western Conference Final.

The speculation continued Saturday as the Blackhawks ran through a brisk practice at Anaheim Ice, making final preparations before Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

As the Blackhawks performed some line rushes and took part in a short scrimmage, the hunt was on for signs of rust or ennui in their game. But Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was not worried, even though his team's last game was on May 7, a 4-3 victory against the Minnesota Wild that finished off a second-round sweep.

“We had two really good practices prior to flying out here [Friday],” Quenneville said. “I liked our practice [Saturday]. But we want to play hockey, play real games. I think our team gets measured way better on how we play than practice.”

Toews-Kesler matchup is key in West Final

Saturday, 05.16.2015 / 7:35 PM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- The 2015 Western Conference Final might be the first playoff matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, but for a couple of the key combatants it will be just like old times.

Jonathan Toews and Ryan Kesler were a featured matchup when the Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks met for three consecutive years in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 2009-11, and they’ve seen plenty of each other in Canada-United States games at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2014 Sochi Olympics.

They're sure to see a lot of each other during the next two weeks, beginning with Game 1 at Honda Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Toews is a good player. We always seem to match up against each other," Kesler said Saturday. "So when you play him in the playoffs and you play against the same guy for six-seven games in a row, obviously there’s going to be rivalry there. If I’m playing against him this series, I’m sure we won’t hug each other after draws, let’s just say that."

Veteran Moore plays hero for Rangers in Game 1

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Dominic Moore wore the Broadway Hat signifying the players' choice for the New York Rangers' player of the game. He was also named the first star of the game Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

These accolades, all well-deserved, only came Moore's way because he scored the winning goal for the Rangers on Saturday in their 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

If somebody else scored, that player would have gotten the accolades, but if it were up to Moore's teammates, every story written about the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs would include at least a passing mention of No. 28 in blue, white and red.

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Saturday, May 16

Saturday, 05.16.2015 / 5:29 PM / News

NHL Public Relations

MOORE'S LATE HEROICS POWER RANGERS TO 1-0 LEAD IN EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat tied the game at 6:45 of the third period, but Dominic Moore scored the go-ahead goal with 2:25 remaining in regulation to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final.

* Moore, who played with the Lightning from 2010-12, scored his first goal of the postseason (13 GP). His last goal was also a game-winner, on April 11 at the Washington Capitals in New York’s regular-season finale (4-2 W).

* Moore has four career playoff game-winning goals, three in the past two years, in 82 postseason games. He has 11 in the regular season (685 GP), including the first of his career (regular season and playoffs) at Tampa Bay on Nov. 10, 2005, as a rookie with the Rangers.

Rangers defense stymies Lightning in Game 1 win

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK - Coach Alain Vigneault believes defending well will ultimately lead to quality scoring chances for his New York Rangers.

While the goals haven't come in bunches during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers have certainly done enough defensively to provide the impetus in the opposing end while stalling some of the top offenses in the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers exhibited one of those sterling defensive performances once again Saturday in a 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden.

Game 2 is Monday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The win was the 13th straight one-goal decision and ninth 2-1 game the Rangers have played in the playoffs. They are 7-2 in 2-1 games.

Bishop, Lightning don't get bounces in Game 1

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop did his part to keep his team in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden, but two unlucky bounces ended up being the difference in a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Bishop made 21 saves to keep the game scoreless in the opening 39:47. But with 13 seconds remaining in the second period, Bishop's stick was knocked out of his hands by Rangers forward Chris Kreider, who took a shot from in close that was blocked. The rebound went right to Derek Stepan at the left side of the net, and he roofed a shot to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

"There was some contact, battling in front, and I lost it and then I don't know if [the puck] went off of the stick or off of somebody and then [Stepan] was right there," said Bishop, who also said he didn't think he was interfered with on the play.

Tampa Bay tied the game 6:45 in the third period on a power-play goal by Ondrej Palat, but Rangers forward Dominic Moore was in the right place at the right time when Kevin Hayes threw a puck at the net with 2:35 remaining in regulation. The puck hit Moore's leg and went past Bishop to give the Rangers the win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Spezza's scoring prowess has Canada in Worlds final

Saturday, 05.16.2015 / 4:26 PM / 2015 IIHF World Championship

Michael Langr - NHL.com Correspondent

PRAGUE -- When you have center Jason Spezza on the roster, expect your team to score a lot of goals.

The Dallas Stars did it in the regular season, scoring 261 goals, second-highest in the NHL. And Canada has done it at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Prague, scoring 60 goals in its first nine games.

But unlike the Stars, who didn't make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, Canada has been successful at the World Championship, defeating host Czech Republic on Saturday 2-0 and advancing to the gold-medal game Sunday against Russia (2:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN). Spezza scored Canada's second goal 9:02 into the second period.

"That was a big goal, because a two-goal lead gives you a little bit of cushion in case something goes wrong or you get a penalty," Spezza said. "For us we've talked all tournament about kind of playing with the lead, how it's important to play with the lead on the big ice. So I thought once again we got the lead and we found a way to win the game."

'Peanuts' creator's museum to host Stanley Cup

Saturday, 05.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was a lifetime hockey fan who devoted elements of his comic strip and his life to the sport. On Saturday, the Stanley Cup will be hosted at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., in conjunction with the opening of a new exhibit, "Peanuts in the Penalty Box."

The exhibit will feature 60 original Peanuts strips having to do with hockey, according to his widow, Jeannie Schulz.

The museum is across the street from the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, commonly known as "Snoopy's Home Ice," which was owned by the famed cartoonist when it opened in 1969 and where he shared his love of hockey until his death in 2000 from complications arising from colon cancer. The arena hosts the annual Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament.

Toews' captaincy about having pulse of Blackhawks

Saturday, 05.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- "Captain Serious" is a nickname that's stuck with Jonathan Toews since the age of 20, but it might not fit the Chicago Blackhawks captain anymore.

Toews, 27, not only detests the moniker, which belies his sense of humor, but he's outgrown it. After twice accepting the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman before the age of 30, Toews has become more than just a serious face and elite two-way center.

"Captain Heartbeat" might be a better description now, as he prepares to lead the Blackhawks into the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks.

"He has a great pulse for every piece of the team," said retired forward Jamal Mayers, a television analyst who won the 2013 Stanley Cup with Chicago and studied Toews from a couple locker stalls away. "It doesn't matter if you're the 14th forward or the No. 1 defenseman or the starting goalie. He knows when to pick somebody up, when to kick 'em in the butt, and it's that pulse that amazes me at such a young age. Usually you don't get that until you're in your 30s."

Senators owner Melnyk awaits liver transplant: report

Friday, 05.15.2015 / 11:08 PM / News

NHL.com

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk could receive a liver transplant in a matter of days after more than 2,000 people responded to his plea for a donor made Thursday.

The Senators on Friday updated Melnyk's condition and were optimistic.

"If people continue to respond like this, we definitely will find a donor," Senators president Cyril Leeder told the Ottawa Sun.

Melnyk, 55, could have surgery as soon as this weekend, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

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He's, believe it or not, actually one of my favorite guys, and I've ended up trading him twice. I appreciate what he's done. He was one year away from being an unrestricted free agent, and I felt with this opportunity, that it was a chance that we were able to get somebody for him in Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening.

— Penguins GM Jim Rutherford on forward Brandon Sutter