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Preview: Rangers face Lightning in return trip to ECF Staff

The New York Rangers are in the Eastern Conference Final for the third time in the past four seasons and have a chance to become the first team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and 2009 to win the Prince of Wales Trophy two years in a row.

The Rangers earned this appearance with a 2-1 overtime win Wednesday in Game 7 of the second round against the Washington Capitals.

New York became the first team in NHL history to win a best-of-7 series after trailing 3-1 in back-to-back seasons. The Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round last season by winning the final three games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2011, when they lost in seven games to the Boston Bruins. The Lightning haven't reached the Stanley Cup Final since 2004, when they won the championship with forward Martin St. Louis as their leading scorer and Dan Boyle as their top defenseman.


Sharp, scoring again, integral to Blackhawks' success

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 4:50 PM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp is scoring goals on a regular basis in the Stanley Cup Playoffs again, and that's good news for the Chicago Blackhawks heading into the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks.

Sharp has four goals, five assists and a plus-3 rating in the Blackhawks' 10 playoff games. He's one goal shy of matching his total from 19 games in last season's playoffs. Game 1 of the best-of-7 series against the Ducks is at Honda Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"It's always nice to score and contribute offensively," Sharp said after practice Thursday. "You look at every series, and they all present challenges in their own way. I'm playing a little bit of a different role [now], but I still try to get to the net and score as much as possible. Hopefully it can continue in the next round."


Crosby hoping to help Canada end drought at Worlds

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 4:34 PM / 2015 IIHF World Championship

Michael Langr - Correspondent

PRAGUE -- Canada has won gold at consecutive Olympics, but hasn't been successful at the IIHF World Championship in recent years. Since 2009, when they brought home silver medals from Bern, Switzerland, the Canadians had been eliminated in the quarterfinals five times in a row.

On Thursday in the Czech Republic, a group of Canadian stars led by captain Sidney Crosby managed to break the quarterfinal spell in a spectacular way, defeating Belarus 9-0 to advance to the semifinals.

"It's nice," Crosby said after the quarterfinal win. "We put ourselves in a position to get to the finals. The important thing is to get better every game, and at this point it's win or go home. So we did a good job today doing that."


Farrish: Lundqvist, Rangers unbreakable, resilient

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 3:53 PM / Rangers vs Capitals - 2015 SCP Second Round

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

For additional insight into the New York Rangers during the Eastern Conference Final series, has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.

Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games over seven seasons in the NHL.

From watching the New York Rangers closely through two rounds featuring 12 games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, former NHL assistant coach Dave Farrish has found three things about them that impress him the most.

Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers' overall team speed and their remarkable resiliency.


Senators' Melnyk appeals to public for liver donor

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 2:43 PM / News

The following statement regarding Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was posted to the team's official Web site Thursday.

OTTAWA – This past season our fans witnessed the remarkable and historic rally of their Ottawa Senators to overcome the largest regular-season point deficit in National Hockey League history to successfully qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

During this spectacular comeback many of our fans noticed the unusual absence of the Senators' number one fan and team owner, Eugene Melnyk.

Mr. Melnyk has consistently remained very private on matters of a personal or family nature.

Today, the club wishes to share with the hockey community and our fans that Mr. Melnyk has been sick and battling major health issues since mid-January. Since then, his medical care and treatment have been the sole focus for him and his family.


Lightning's Callahan has motivation to be X-factor

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 2:18 PM / X-Factor

Corey Long - Correspondent

BRANDON, Fla. -- It was no surprise Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan was starting to feel better shortly after his emergency appendectomy Monday and wanted to participate in an optional practice Thursday in hopes of playing in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, NBC, TVA Sports).

"[The surgery] was tough news," Callahan said. "I didn't know what to expect, but each day it's felt tremendously better even though it's only been two days. You want to get back as soon as possible but you also want to make sure you can help the team. I think every guy in the room would do the same."

Although Callahan said playing the conference final is exciting regardless of who the opponent is, it's understandable if he's a little more motivated to face the Rangers. Even if he doesn't want to admit it.


Lightning's Callahan possible for Game 1 vs. Rangers

Corey Long - Correspondent

BRANDON, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan participated in an optional practice Thursday and will be a game-time decision for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Callahan missed Game 6 of the second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens after having an emergency appendectomy Monday. He was released from the hospital Tuesday and said he watched the game from his home.

"It was tough to watch," Callahan said. "But the guys made it easy on me. There were a couple of times I jumped around a little, but I thought they played their best game of the playoffs."


Lundqvist, Perry among Conn Smythe candidates

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 12:04 PM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Stars have shined and unlikely overtime heroes have emerged through two rounds totaling 69 games, including three Game 7s, during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning are the final four teams standing. They still have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, which means their players  have a chance to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs.

Here are the top five candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy through two rounds:


Hayes gives Rangers lift into conference final

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 12:00 PM / "Obvious Choice" Moments

The New York Rangers needed a spark trailing 1-0 in the second period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals.

They got one from rookie Kevin Hayes, whose power-play goal at 6:22 of the second period tied the game and ignited a nervous crowd at Madison Square Garden.

After Capitals defenseman Mike Green went off for cross checking, his second penalty in a span of 3:39, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh kept in a clearing attempt and found forward J.T. Miller at the top of the right circle. Miller poked a pass to an open Hayes, who beat goalie Braden Holtby for his first goal since his game-winner in overtime of Game 4 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.


Five reasons Capitals were eliminated from playoffs

Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 9:30 AM / Rangers vs Capitals - 2015 SCP Second Round

Katie Brown - Correspondent

The Washington Capitals were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round after a 2-1 loss in overtime Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Capitals have been eliminated from the playoffs by the Rangers three times in the past four years, twice from the second round. Washington has not been to the Eastern Conference Final since 1998.

"I don't know what to say," captain Alex Ovechkin said following the loss. "They're a great team, but we deserve a better result."

Here are five reasons the Capitals were eliminated:

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Quote of the Day

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