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Vasilevskiy steps in for Bishop, leads Lightning to win

Sunday, 06.07.2015 / 12:37 AM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

TAMPA -- Andrei Vasilevskiy has had a few dreams about winning his first game in the Stanley Cup Final, but it is unlikely that even the wildest of those resembled what transpired Saturday at Amalie Arena.

Vasilevskiy, who twice replaced starter Ben Bishop for undisclosed reasons in the third period of Game 2, became the first goalie in 24 years to win a Final game in relief when the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 2 to even the best-of-7 series at 1-1.

He also became the first goalie to earn his first career playoff win in relief in the Final since Lester Patrick, then the coach of the New York Rangers, did so in 1928.

Blackhawks hope to get Toews, Kane going in Game 3

Sunday, 06.07.2015 / 12:18 AM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

TAMPA -- Two games almost never feels like an eternity, but it can when you're in the Stanley Cup Final.

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, in an attempt to get his top two offensive players going, began the third period of Game 2 of the Final on Saturday with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane split up, the way they were most of the season.

At the time, neither Toews nor Kane had registered a point in the series.

The result of the switch was almost immediately positive. The final overall result, however, was not.

Toews set up Brent Seabrook for a goal at 3:38 of the third period that tied the game 3-3 for his first point of the series, but Jason Garrison put the Tampa Bay Lightning ahead 4-3 five minutes later, and that proved to be the winning goal, tying the series 1-1 heading into Game 3 in Chicago on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"It is something we saw coming," Toews said of the line change. "I think we had a lot of puck possession, but I don't think we quite got to the inside as much early in the game. [Marian Hossa] jumps on our line, and we finally score. Sometimes a quick change like that will make things click. If you keep working for offense, we know it is going to come."

Lightning answer challenge, as usual, in Game 2

Sunday, 06.07.2015 / 12:06 AM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- This is what the Tampa Bay Lightning do.

They fight back. They respond. They answer all the questions after a Game 1 loss about if they're good enough, strong enough, and most important, experienced enough. They do all of it while keeping an air of confidence that suggests cockiness but isn't. It's more swagger than anything else, and it comes from their extremely positive and somewhat brash coach.

They do it all, and then they go out and win Game 2 as if they knew they were going to all along, as if they planned it this way.

It happened in the Eastern Conference First Round. It happened in the conference final. It happened again on the NHL's biggest stage Saturday.

The Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 at Amalie Arena to improve to 4-0 with 21 goals in Game 2s in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. More important, they tied the Stanley Cup Final at 1-1.

Devils coach Hynes, Stevens to talk next week: report

Saturday, 06.06.2015 / 11:28 PM / News

New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes will meet with Scott Stevens next week, general manager Ray Shero told on Saturday.

Stevens on Wednesday said he would be interested in remaining on the Devils coaching staff as an assistant. He finished this season as co-coach with Adam Oates and Lou Lamoriello.

"It's still in the infancy stages of it," Hynes, in Buffalo for the NHL Scouting Combine, told the website of building his staff, not speaking specifically of Stevens. "We talked a little bit about it, but I think this week we'll really hunker down on it and try to have some more serious discussion on what we want."

Stevens, 51, was captain of the Devils' three Stanley Cup championship teams and served as an assistant coach and special assignment coach prior to becoming co-coach on Dec. 26 after coach Peter DeBoer was fired.

Manchester tops Utica in Game 1 of Calder Cup Finals

Saturday, 06.06.2015 / 9:21 PM / News

Michael Mersch scored his second goal of the game 4:10 into overtime to give the Manchester Monarchs a 3-2 win against the Utica Comets in Game 1 of the 2015 Calder Cup Finals in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday.

Manchester, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, outshot Utica, the Vancouver Canucks' affiliate, 37-17.

Eichel highlights results from NHL Scouting Combine

Saturday, 06.06.2015 / 8:07 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO -- Boston University center Jack Eichel showed he has a fitness level to match his tremendous on-ice skills at the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo on Saturday.

Eichel, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked North American skater for the 2015 NHL Draft, finished in the top 10 among all prospects at the fitness testing in seven categories.

Among his top accomplishments was lasting 12 minutes and 15 seconds on the VO2 Max bike test, which measures a player's endurance. The only player to match Eichel was Gatineau Olympiques center Iakov Trenin. Seattle Thunderbirds right wing Keegan Kolesar stayed on for 12:01, and Portland Winterhawks left wing Paul Bittner and center Joel Eriksson Ek of Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League tied for fourth at 12 minutes.

Eichel bests McDavid at 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Saturday, 06.06.2015 / 3:38 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel went head-to-head on the ice at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

On Saturday they had another chance to see who was better during the fitness testing portion of the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine.

Eichel got the best of McDavid in five of the six tests that posted results: Standing long jump, vertical jump, pro-agility test, bench press and pull-ups. Eichel also lasted longer than McDavid on the VO2 Max stationary bike on Friday. That test measures a player's endurance and stamina.

McDavid and Eichel didn't hesitate when asked which of the nine tests Saturday offered the greatest challenge.

Eichel, McDavid debate 'best player in the draft'

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 8:54 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

BUFFALO -- Jack Eichel is expected to be the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, behind Connor McDavid.

But Eichel firmly believes he is the No. 1 player in this draft, and he has been telling teams at the NHL Scouting Combine, including the Buffalo Sabres, who hold that second pick, just that.

"I'm pretty confident in my own abilities," Eichel said Friday after word of his self-assessment leaked out. "I know everyone's making a big deal that I said a comment like that; I don't think it was meant at all about ... it wasn't me comparing myself to Connor or anything like that, it was more of me thinking that I'm the best player in the draft.

"It's more of just confidence in my own self; I didn't really think it was going to be a big deal. I thought that was pretty confidential within the team, but ..."

McDavid, expected to be taken No. 1 by the Edmonton Oilers, who won the NHL Draft Lottery, was asked if he felt he was the best player in this draft class.

"That's not up for me to decide," McDavid told the Sabres website. "I think a lot of people do a lot of talking and they'll judge for their own eyes. I believe in my abilities and that's the main thing. But if I feel I'm the best player in the draft, I'm not sure. Maybe you'll hear a different answer from Jack. But, we'll see."

Top-rated players in draft have been teammates, rivals

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 7:07 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The top-four North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings didn't need to come to the Draft Combine this week to get acquainted. If anything, some of them know each other all too well.

Forwards Connor McDavid, expected to be the first player taken, and Dylan Strome were teammates with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. Boston University forward Jack Eichel, likely to be the second player taken, played against defenseman Noah Hanifin at archrival Boston College.

Those four players headline what's believed to be one of the most talented draft classes in years, though McDavid and Eichel are getting the majority of the attention.

Stats reveal Stralman's hidden value to Lightning

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 6:00 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA -- A year ago, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman was three wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup but also faced a summer of uncertainty as an unrestricted free agent.

The pain of losing in the Stanley Cup Final was compounded when his agent and the New York Rangers were unable to work out a new contract.

"At that time, I was very disappointed I didn't get a chance to stay. Honestly, that's all I wanted to do," Stralman said.

The disappointment didn't last very long. Stralman signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Lightning hours after the free agency period opened July 1, and it has proven to be a perfect match.

Stralman is no longer one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He's a top-pairing defenseman and back in the Stanley Cup Final, helping the Lightning defeat the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final in the process.

The Chicago Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series 1-0 after a 2-1 victory in Game 1. Game 2 is at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

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It's obviously not fun to not know, but on the other hand, I'm not in a rush. I'm going to be back to 100 percent before I start playing. I'm not going to play on 90 percent.

— Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom in an interview with Washington Post about whether he will be able to play in 2015-16 opener