Stanley Cup Final
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'Triplets' a perfect combination for Lightning

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- The three players on the Tampa Bay Lightning's delightfully skilled and fantastically young and energetic second line are known as "The Triplets." The nickname works because it's quick, to the point, memorable and easy to digest. It's all good except for one great problem to have:

Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov are nothing alike. But in an odd way that's what fuels their chemistry, what makes them so good and so awesome to watch. They've been that way all season and, most impressively and importantly, throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nothing changed Wednesday at Amalie Arena, when "The Triplets" combined for four goals, including Kucherov's overtime winner, and three assists in the Lightning's 6-5 victory against the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 and host Game 4 on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).


Lightning forward Killorn steps up game in playoffs

Corey Long - Correspondent

TAMPA -- After going through several lengthy scoring slumps during the regular season, Alex Killorn is hot at the right time for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Killorn had a goal and an assist in the Lightning's 6-5 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday against the New York Rangers. He has three goals and two assists in the past two games and at least a point in six of the past eight Stanley Cup Playoff games.

As the "Triplets" line of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat is justifiably earning the headlines, Killorn has found his scoring touch playing on a line with Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula.

"I think with Filppula and Stamkos we've found some chemistry, for sure," Killorn, 25, said. "We all know our role and what we bring to the line. I like to go into the corners and get the puck for those guys, and Filppula just opens up the whole ice. [Stamkos] likes to shoot it, but he wants us to shoot it as well."

Killorn's nine shots on goal led the Lightning on Wednesday.


Lightning defenseman Carle leaves Game 3 with injury

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 11:41 PM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle left Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at 9:55 of the first period following a collision in the neutral zone with New York Rangers center Derek Stepan.

Carle did not return to the game because of an undisclosed injury.


Blashill candidate to become Red Wings coach

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 8:58 PM / News

Jeff Blashill, coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, could be the leading candidate to replace Mike Babcock as Detroit Red Wings coach.

Babcock on Wednesday left the Red Wings after 10 seasons to become coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Grand Rapids has won its first two series in the Calder Cup Playoffs and will play the Utica Comets in the Western Conference Finals. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Wednesday he has contacted Blashill and will meet with him in the near future, likely during the next round.

"I reached out to [Blashill] to say, 'Blash, in the next little while you're the first guy I want to talk to. You've been in the organization. You've been the head coach in Grand Rapids. You've been Mike's assistant coach,'" Holland said Wednesday.


Blackhawks lean heavily on top-four defensemen

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 8:29 PM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks arrived Wednesday looking like a team that played deep into the night Tuesday to defeat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in the third overtime of Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center.

Among those who met with reporters was defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who still looked bleary-eyed after playing a career-high 47:35 in the win that evened the best-of-7 series at 1-1. He wasn’t the only one who looked a little bushed.

Centers Brad Richards and Jonathan Toews did too, and it’s a safe bet the other three defensemen who comprise Chicago’s top four were dragging just as much. Duncan Keith (49:51), Brent Seabrook (47:46) and Johnny Oduya (46:06) all played at least 46 minutes in Game 2, as Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville continued to lean on them heavily in the absence of injured veteran Michal Rozsival (fractured ankle).

"Yeah, [that] was a lot of minutes last game," Hjalmarsson said. "But we won the game, and we move on from there, start focusing on [the] next game. Personally, I feel fine. I have no complaints."


Blues name Brodeur assistant general manager

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 7:59 PM / News

Martin Brodeur has agreed to a three-year contract to be assistant general manager of the St. Louis Blues, general manager Doug Armstrong announced Wednesday.

Brodeur retired Jan. 29 after playing the final seven games of his career with the Blues; he spent the remainder of the season as a senior adviser to Armstrong.

"It's a great opportunity," Brodeur told the Blues website. "I got a little taste of it last season and really enjoyed being around Doug and the organization. It's a good fit for me, and it works out well. I'm really happy about it.

"I want to put the work in. I want to learn how everything works, to learn the organization. I'm committed to do the work and do as much as I can to help the team get better. It's a good fit for me to be able to learn what I have to learn."


Red Wings GM moving forward without Babcock

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 7:14 PM / News

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland repeatedly referred to the past 10 years working with Mike Babcock as "fabulous" but stressed the franchise is looking ahead to the future after its former coach was hired Wednesday by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Holland said he met in person with Babcock at 8 a.m. Wednesday before heading in to his office. He spoke with Babcock again by phone at 11:15 a.m., at which time Babcock told him he had made his choice.

"I know it was a difficult decision, but at the end of the day he made a decision that was best for him and now I have some decisions to make," Holland said.

Babcock received an eight-year, $50 million contract from the Maple Leafs, according to media reports. Holland didn't reveal how much money he was willing to give Babcock to stay, but said he didn't feel comfortable going more than five years.


Mike Babcock hired by Maple Leafs as coach

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 6:55 PM / News

Mike Babcock was hired Wednesday as coach by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Terms of the contract were not released, but Sportsnet and TSN reported that Babcock, who spent the past 10 seasons coaching the Detroit Red Wings, has agreed to an eight-year contract worth approximately $50 million.

He will be introduced Thursday at a press conference at Air Canada Centre.

"I think Mike Babcock is a phenomenal coach and we're really lucky to get him," Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, said in video posted by Sportsnet. "As everyone knows we weren't the only one bidding for his services."


Analysis: Babcock to face uphill battle with Toronto

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 5:55 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

In deciding to accept the contract offer to become coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, Mike Babcock also accepted the offer to take on the greatest challenge of his career in the NHL.

"I think it is," NHL Network and TSN analyst Craig Button said.

It is because coaching the Maple Leafs at this time is unlike anything he has taken on in his career with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, or Canadian Olympic teams.


Don Sweeney named Bruins general manager

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 5:30 PM / News

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON – After 15 years as a player for the Boston Bruins and nine seasons in the Bruins' front office, Don Sweeney will have an opportunity to transform the visions of a championship team he has in his head into a reality on the ice.

Sweeney, whose 16-year career as a defenseman also included one season with the Dallas Stars, was introduced Wednesday as the eighth general manager in Bruins history, replacing Peter Chiarelli. Sweeney worked for Chiarelli in several capacities, including the past six as an assistant general manager.

The Bruins missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in eight seasons in 2014-15. Under Chiarelli they won the Stanley Cup in 2011, reached the Stanley Cup Final a second time in 2013 and won the Presidents' Trophy last season. Chiarelli was fired April 15.

Sweeney will be tasked with turning the Bruins back in the right direction.

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Quote of the Day

That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews on teammate Antoine Vermette, who returned from being a healthy scratch in Game 3 to score the double-overtime winner in Game 4