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Stanley Cup Final
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Features

Three keys for Blackhawks, Ducks to winning Game 3

Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 3:14 PM / Ducks vs Blackhawks - 2015 Western Conference Final

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- There might be some heavy legs among the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), but they will be mitigated somewhat by a combination of emotion and desperation.

For the Blackhawks, the emotion will come from returning to their home arena to play a game for the first time in 18 days. Chicago last played at United Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Minnesota Wild, a 4-1 victory May 3.

"I think our players know the advantage, the perk of playing in front of such a passionate fan base, the excitement," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We look forward to this. I think playing here at home against a good road team here, it's going to be a good test."

For the Ducks the desperation will come from the desire to dictate by regaining control of the fate of the series. Much like Chicago earlier this week, Anaheim knows it needs to win a road game and the best way to clear that hurdle is to do so immediately.

Here are three keys for the Ducks in Game 3 that, if executed properly, will give them a chance to regain command of the series.

Also here are three keys for the Blackhawks that, if executed properly, give them their best chance to move within two wins of another trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

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Lightning's Stamkos focused on enjoying the moment

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

TAMPA -- If the right post at TD Garden in Boston never got in his way, never was the guilty party in why Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos broke his right leg early last season, he of course would be fine with that. After all, nobody wants to feel that kind of pain.

But if it never happened, Stamkos said he wouldn't have the same level of appreciation he has now for the journey on which he and his Lightning teammates have embarked.

The Lightning are two wins from reaching the Stanley Cup Final. They lead the New York Rangers 2-1 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final, with Game 4 set for Friday at Amalie Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Just knowing that anything can happen in this sport, anything can happen the next game, it just puts a greater appreciation for what you have and a little more burning desire to leave it all on the ice every shift," Stamkos said Thursday. "You never know what's going to happen."
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Pastor shows passion for Lightning through signs

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Pastor Tyler Moore is passionate about spreading the good news of the church and the success of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As assistant pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg and Largo, Fla., Moore has taken it to a new spiritual level during these Stanley Cup Playoffs with headlines on the sign in front of the Largo church that combine theology and hockey.

"I've been a big Lightning fan for a long time so I was thinking how much fun it would be to create signs after a win each game during the playoffs," Moore said. "I know we are a church. But at the same time, church is a community organization. [The Lightning] are something the community is rallying around right now so that was the catalyst."

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Sprong hoping to become next Dutch-born NHL player

Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Daniel Sprong might have been considered an outsider growing up in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In a country where most young athletes aspire to become professional soccer players, Sprong had a different passion.

"There was only one hockey rink in Amsterdam; soccer in Amsterdam is like hockey in Canada," Sprong said. "It's very rare that kids in Amsterdam play hockey. When I first started working on fundamentals when I was 4 or 5 years old, I played on a team with 12- and 13-year-old kids."

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Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Wednesday, May 20

Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 2:02 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations

KUCHEROV'S OT GOAL LIFTS LIGHTNING OVER RANGERS IN WILD GAME 3

Dan Boyle tied the game with 1:56 remaining in regulation, but Nikita Kucherov scored at 3:33 of overtime to end a see-saw affair and give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 series lead against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.

* Kucherov (1-1—2) scored his third playoff game-winning goal and second in overtime. In the second round, he had the winner in each of the first two games at the Montreal Canadiens, including a goal at 2:06 of double-overtime in Game 1.

* Kucherov is the only player with multiple overtime goals in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Martin St. Louis is the only other player in Lightning history with multiple overtime goals in one playoff year; he scored them when Tampa Bay won its only Stanley Cup in 2004 (Game 5 of EQF vs. the New York Islanders and Game 6 of Stanley Cup Final at the Calgary Flames).

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'Triplets' a perfect combination for Lightning

Dan Rosen - NHL.com 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).

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Lightning forward Killorn steps up game in playoffs

Corey Long - NHL.com 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.

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Lightning defenseman Carle leaves Game 3 with injury

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

Dan Rosen - NHL.com 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.

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Blackhawks lean heavily on top-four defensemen

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

Brian Hedger - NHL.com 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."

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Analysis: Babcock to face uphill battle with Toronto

Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 5:55 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com 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.

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Quote of the Day

I always feel the pressure to produce offensively. It's disappointing and frustrating when you can't help out your team the way you're supposed to.

— Rangers forward Rick Nash on scoring twice in a 5-1 Game 4 victory against the Lightning on Friday