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Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Sunday, May 24

Monday, 05.25.2015 / 12:14 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


Ben Bishop made 26 saves and the Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in the second period to take a 3-2 series lead against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.

* The Lightning are one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in their history. Tampa Bay’s previous appearance was in 2004, when they defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup.

* It was Bishop’s second shutout of the postseason. Overall, Bishop improved to 11-7 in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bishop was the first goaltender to shut out NYR in the conference final or Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden since the Los Angeles KingsJonathan Quick made 32 saves June 9, 2014, in a 3-0 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at NYR. Elias adds that prior to Quick, the last goaltender to do so was the Boston BruinsGerry Cheevers, who made 33 saves May 11, 1972, in a 3-0 win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at NYR.

Ducks upbeat after another multi-overtime loss

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Ryan Kesler walked out of Honda Center in a suit with no socks shortly after his media obligation Sunday.

The Anaheim Ducks had just arrived from Chicago, and coach Bruce Boudreau ordered them to decompress. There was no practice, and Kesler intended to take his coach's advice.

"I go sit on the beach and relax," the Ducks center said. "Try not to think about hockey. Spend time with my kids. When it's game time, I'll re-energize there and get ready for the game."

Boudreau briefly met with his players, but he otherwise wanted them to step away after a grueling 5-4 double-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. The best-of-7-series is tied 2-2. Game 5 is Monday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I said, 'Go home,'" Boudreau said. "Don't sit on the couch or anything. Get some movement and exercise in. But have a good day with your families, not think about the game, then come back [Monday] refreshed, all excited to play Game 5 in front of our home fans."

Devils ask to interview Bylsma for coach: report

Sunday, 05.24.2015 / 4:24 PM / News

The New Jersey Devils are believed to have permission to talk to Dan Bylsma about their coaching position, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday.

Devils general manager Ray Shero hired Bylsma in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien as coach on Feb. 15 and less than four months later led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.

Bylsma was fired as Pittsburgh coach following the 2013-14 season, a few weeks after Shero lost his job as GM in the wake of the Penguins being eliminated by the New York Rangers in seven games of the Eastern Conference Second Round after holding a 3-1 series lead.

"I believe Dan is a really good coach," Shero told earlier this month. "He'll be a head coach again in the National Hockey League, but I've got to do what's best for the Devils and Dan's got to do what's best for him, and if that leads us a certain way, so be it."

Bylsma's contract with Pittsburgh runs through the 2015-16 season, which is why a team would need permission to interview him.

Blackhawks feel they're handling Ducks' physical play

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Anaheim Ducks are as dedicated to preaching the merits of physical play as they are to finishing checks against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, a best-of-7 series that is tied 2-2.

Win or lose, the Ducks have mentioned after each of the first four games that they're wearing down the Blackhawks physically and they believe it will pay off in a long series.

"No human can withstand that many hits," Anaheim center Ryan Kesler said. "We’re going to keep banging out there and going after them."

Chicago lacks quality depth among its defensemen and is the smaller team, but the Blackhawks haven't crumbled yet heading into Game 5 at Honda Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

In fact, the Blackhawks are starting to think the Ducks might be doing as much damage to themselves by delivering a lot of hits.

"I think it's both ways," said Chicago forward Bryan Bickell, its biggest lineup regular at 6-foot-4, 223 pounds. "They are wearing us down, but they're getting tired from wearing us down. So, it's a three-game series now."

Blackhawks managing to overcome poor stretches

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It's a stat that is both impressive and frustrating for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Following their 5-4, Game 4, double-overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final on Saturday, the Blackhawks have allowed at least three goals in a period six times in their 14 postseason games.

Remarkably, they've won four of those games. They've scored three goals in one period five times, including twice in the same period they allowed three. The latest happened during a wild third period at United Center on Saturday, when the Ducks scored three straight goals in 37 seconds to take a 4-3 lead.

The Blackhawks were again forced to respond, which they did with a power-play goal by right wing Patrick Kane that eventually forced overtime.

"I mean, it's not the recipe for success, but when we get ourselves in those situations, we have a lot of great leadership and experience to kind of get ourselves through those situations," Kane said. "I think that's probably what we count on most, and no matter what happens in the hockey game, we never feel like we're out of it."

Sobotka will decide soon on return to Blues: report

Sunday, 05.24.2015 / 12:00 PM / News

The St. Louis Blues expect to know in the next week whether forward Vladimir Sobotka will return from the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2015-16 season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A restricted free agent when he left the Blues in the summer of 2014 to sign a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL, Sobotka has an out clause following each season allowing him to return to the NHL.

Sobotka has two weeks from the end of the IIHF World Championship to let Omsk know of his decision. The World Championship ended May 17, giving Sobotka until the end of the month.

"If he decides to come back to the NHL, we'll welcome him back with open arms," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch. "And if not, we'll address it a year from now. He knows he's going to come back through St. Louis."

Noel: Blackhawks' urgency paid off in series tie

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

For additional insight on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, has enlisted the help of Claude Noel to break down the action. Noel will be checking in throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Noel was coach for the Winnipeg Jets from 2011-14 and interim coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009-10. He also coached many years in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Noel, a former forward, had 138 points in 353 regular-season games in the AHL and played seven games in the NHL with Washington Capitals in 1979-80.

The Chicago Blackhawks had a performance of perseverance and a will to get the job done in a 5-4 double overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday at United Center.

That's what Claude Noel took away from the win that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2. Game 5 is at Honda Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Ducks score 2nd-fastest three goals in playoff history

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- The top line of the Chicago Blackhawks dominated the early part of the third period Saturday and scored twice to give them a two-goal lead at 7:38.

But by the time Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa returned to the ice for another shift, the Blackhawks were losing.

Chicago managed to survive and win Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, 5-4 in double overtime, but not before the Anaheim Ducks produced a stunning flurry of goals.

The Ducks scored three times in 37 seconds, the second-fastest three goals in Stanley Cup Playoffs history, to take a 4-3 lead.

"I've come to realize that our team's capable of a lot of things, especially at times when it looks like things are pretty dark and we might be out of it, were a group that believes, no matter what, in here," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "I'm really proud of our guys for fighting and battling back. Down a couple of goals, it would be easy to pack it in, but we didn't feel sorry for ourselves, we kept working at it and certainly gave it our all. So it's unfortunate to lose, but I thought we did a lot of really good things."

Dodging Ducks' combo, Blackhawks fought back

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- As the Western Conference Final evolves into a heavyweight brawl featuring two behemoths with completely different styles, the Chicago Blackhawks are showing they have the granite chin necessary to absorb the haymakers of their hungry opponent.

The Blackhawks were on the mat again Saturday in Game 4, trailing by a goal in the third period, their bleary eyes focused squarely on the potential of a win-or-go-home scenario if the Anaheim Ducks could get through the final 10:41 of regulation with a lead crafted on 37-second fusillade of punches filled with malicious intent.

Instead, Patrick Kane responded with a stinging jab less than four minutes later to tie it. In the second overtime, Antoine Vermette, scratched in Game 3, countered Anaheim's brutality with a roundhouse of his own, holding onto the puck in the slot long enough until goalie Frederik Andersen committed and was not in position to snag his wrist shot.

The goal gave Chicago an improbable 5-4 victory and had the crowd cheering for the home team's toughness and resiliency. It also evened the best-of-7 series 2-2.

"My group finds ways," coach Joel Quenneville said with a tinge of amazement creeping into his tired voice. "It was one of those stretches where our guys find ways instead of looking for the out. It's an amazing group. Tonight is a good illustration of it."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Saturday, May 23

Sunday, 05.24.2015 / 2:16 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


After the teams scored three goals each in the third period, Antoine Vermette scored at 5:37 of double-overtime to even Chicago's Western Conference Final series with Anaheim at two games apiece.

* The Blackhawks improved to 4-0 in overtime games during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, all of which have required at least two overtime periods. In addition to Game 4, the others included April 15 at Nashville (4-3 2OT W in Game 1 of first round), April 21 vs. Nashville (3-2 3OT W in Game 4 of first round) and May 19 at Anaheim (3-2 3OT W in Game 2 of WCF).

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Blackhawks became the first team in NHL history to win four games in a single postseason that required at least two overtime periods.

* Vermette recorded his second career game-winning goal in the playoffs (also April 25, 2006 at Tampa Bay w/ Ottawa) and first in overtime. He has 11-10—21 in 69 postseason games, including 2-1—3 this year (11 GP).

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You could feel it. You could feel that they were going after each other and trying to win the game for their team.

— Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom on Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Penguins forward Sidney Crosby each scored hat tricks
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