Stanley Cup Final
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Lundqvist the difference for Rangers in Game 6 win

Wednesday, 05.27.2015 / 1:12 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning came at New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with numbers seemingly every time they came down the ice. They were winning the middle of the ice, winning the possession game, winning everything but on the scoreboard through 40 minutes Tuesday.

Lundqvist was the difference, as he tends to be when the Rangers are facing elimination. He controlled the fire through two periods in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena. His teammates put it out with a dominant start to the third period.

The Rangers defeated the Lightning 7-3 to even the best-of-7 series at 3-3; they can eliminate them on Friday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), where they do not lose Game 7s.

The Rangers are 7-0 all time in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden, including a win in the second round against the Washington Capitals. Lundqvist is 6-1 with a 0.97 goals-against average in Game 7s. He is now 15-3 with a 1.47 GAA and .954 save percentage in 18 elimination games since 2012.


Rangers' Brassard answers coach's challenge in win

Wednesday, 05.27.2015 / 1:06 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- The meeting that helped save the New York Rangers season took place Tuesday morning in the cramped quarters of the visiting coach's room inside Amalie Arena.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault called in centers Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan and presented them with a challenge.

"He challenged us to be a little better," Brassard said.

It was just the three of them. No voices were raised. Nothing crazy happened. No hard feelings. No animosity.

"We never felt he was angry with us, but it was good to have that little extra push," Stepan said.

Vigneault gave it to them because he knew that there was no way the Rangers were going to survive one more night in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs without a strong performance from their top two centers, or at least one that was stronger than they had in Game 5, when New York got shutout 2-0 at Madison Square Garden.


Lightning's struggles at home continue in Game 6 loss

Wednesday, 05.27.2015 / 1:05 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Corey Long - Correspondent

TAMPA -- The message was clear from the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room after a 7-3 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Tuesday: Move on and prepare for Game 7.

The Rangers tied the best-of-7 series at 3-3 and will host Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Tampa Bay had a golden opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final on home ice. The Lightning were 32-8-1 at Amalie Arena during the regular season, the best home record in the NHL. But in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they are 5-5 at home and have given up 34 goals.

The Lightning are 6-3 on the road in the postseason and have allowed 16 goals.

"It would be nice if you could put your finger on [the home losses]," Lightning goalie Ben Bishop said. "But I don't know what the reason is. It's a really good building for us to play in and it's nice to win in front of these fans."


Surging Nash has four points in Rangers' win

Wednesday, 05.27.2015 / 12:39 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

TAMPA -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash had three goals in 25 games last postseason, but it didn't prevent his team from reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

Nash endured another drought in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he had a goal and three assists Tuesday to help the Rangers stave off elimination with a 7-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena to tie the best-of-7 series at 3-3.

The Rangers can reach the Stanley Cup Final for a second straight season with a win in Game 7 on Friday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Nash has three goals in the past three games and ranks second on the Rangers in scoring with 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 18 games.


Lightning forward Paquette a scratch for Game 6

Tuesday, 05.26.2015 / 8:06 PM / News

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette is a scratch for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

Vladislav Namestnikov, who hasn't played since Game 1, is in the lineup in Paquette's place.

The Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said Paquette was "very questionable" during his pregame press conference Tuesday morning.


Blashill, Red Wings to discuss coaching job: report

Tuesday, 05.26.2015 / 8:00 PM / News

Jeff Blashill, the leading candidate to replace Mike Babcock as coach of the Detroit Red Wings, will meet with general manager Ken Holland sometime this week to discuss the job, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Holland said Tuesday that Blashill, 41, is his only candidate at the moment.

"I've had some people reach out to me," Holland told Helene St. James, "but as of right now, I haven't expanded the list."

Blashill is coaching the Red Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, in the Western Conference Finals; the best-of-7 series against the Utica Comets is tied 1-1 and resumes Thursday. He has been Grand Rapids coach since June 2012.


Blackhawks must channel frustration for Game 6

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks have a mountain of experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but might need to borrow something from the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at United Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Ducks said they were mad heading into overtime of Game 5 at Honda Center on Monday and claimed that's what helped them most in a 5-4 victory that gave them a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. For all the experience and postseason success the Blackhawks have, the feeling they had leaving the ice after that game might be the best approach to Game 6.

"There's a lot of history here that we've collected over seven years, a lot of positive things," coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday after the Blackhawks returned to Chicago. "I think we all came out of last night's game with an anger and a real sour taste in our mouth. Sometimes that can be better than a history lesson."


Chabot: Ducks' Andersen must stay busy in Game 6

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

For additional insight into the Anaheim Ducks during the Western Conference Final, has enlisted the help of Frederic Chabot to break down the action. Chabot will be checking in throughout the series.

Chabot was the goaltending coach for the Edmonton Oilers from 2009 to 2014. He played in the NHL for five seasons, spending time with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings.

If there's been one positive to take away from the slow starts the Anaheim Ducks have had in parts of the Western Conference Final, it might be that goalie Frederik Andersen has been able to get into a rhythm quickly.

The Chicago Blackhawks outshot the Ducks by a combined 49-28 in the first four games of their best-of-7 series, forcing Andersen into action early.

But in Game 5 on Monday, it was Anaheim who came out of the gates quickly, outshooting Chicago 11-3 in the first period and taking a 3-0 lead. The lack of work may have played a factor in Andersen struggling through the next two periods, according to Frederic Chabot, but Andersen's teammates picked him up and Anaheim won 5-4 to take a 3-2 series lead.


Ducks goalie Andersen remains confident, focused

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- The most games Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen played before this season was 47, and that was in the American Hockey League.

Andersen is 68 games into this season and, although he has represented nothing but calm stability for Anaheim, it's fair to wonder how he will rebound after his shakiest game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If Game 5 of the Western Conference Final represented any mental fatigue from his longest season, he didn't let on going into Game 6 on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Anaheim leads the best-of-7 series, 3-2, and is one win away from its first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 2007.

"I think I've always been good at bouncing back," Andersen said. "And I think [Wednesday is] going to be a great opportunity again. It's all about winning that one game and going to the Finals. That's all my focus is right now.

"I know how good I can be and I've shown that the whole playoffs. Maybe last game wasn't my best, but stuff happens when you're a goalie. It's about what you do next that matters."


Hitchcock agrees to one-year contract with Blues

Tuesday, 05.26.2015 / 3:35 PM / News

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will turn back to a familiar face and voice.

The way general manager Doug Armstrong spoke Tuesday to announce that the Blues signed Ken Hitchcock to a one-year contract, there never seemed to be a doubt whether the 63-year-old would return to coach St. Louis for a fifth season.

Hitchcock's contract was set to expire June 30. He and Armstrong took time after the season to reflect on certain issues, but each is comfortable with the other and seems fine with a one-year extension.

"I just had to make sure that the passion level that's going to be necessary in November, December, January, February ... the dog days of the season, that Ken still had that passion," Armstrong said. "I didn't want him to come back and feel that he was coming back out of anger and disappointment. I wanted him to come back out of excitement and energy. When we talked, I felt that. I felt that talking to him and I felt that talking to members of his staff that there's a real excitement in getting back to work here."

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Quote of the Day

For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday