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Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The team in each conference with the most postseason games played since 2008 and the two teams that played the most games against each other over the previous four seasons will be featured in a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader.

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-7) welcome Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks (29-15-2) to Consol Energy Center in the early game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). Each team is within striking distance of first place in its division.

The Penguins and Blackhawks have combined to win the Stanley Cup three times in the past six seasons. The Penguins' 98 postseason games since the start of the 2007-08 season lead the NHL, and the Blackhawks' 94 are third (tops in the Western Conference).

The Los Angeles Kings (20-14-12) and San Jose Sharks (24-17-6) will play for the 44th time since the start of the 2010-11 season in the back half of the doubleheader (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN). San Jose has won 22 of 43 games, but Los Angeles has won two of the three playoff series, each in the past two seasons and in seven games.

Here are five things to watch during the doubleheader:


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Sharks' Hertl more comfortable since move to center

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl can't say he wasn't warned about the danger of a sophomore slump.

As a rookie last season, Hertl scored six goals in his first three games, including four against the New York Rangers. He had 15 goals and 25 points in his first 32 games before damaging two ligaments in his right knee on Dec. 19 during a collision with Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown that kept him out until late in the season.

This season, Hertl has eight goals and 17 points through 47 games entering the Sharks' game Wednesday against the Kings at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

"Everybody thought it would be a harder season for me," Hertl said. "For some guys it's hard. For some guys it's OK. For me I think it's hard. Maybe before the season, maybe it was in my head that this season I needed to play good because of last season. Maybe it was just in my head. Maybe I put a little bit of pressure on myself."

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Penguins' Perron, Crosby found quick chemistry

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Predicting chemistry on a forward line is as easy as predicting the lottery.

Three players who on paper should be able to jell fail to produce, while three players who might look like misshaped puzzle pieces fit together and make magic.

"The chemistry and synergy of linemates only happens when they're together," Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew said. "You can predict as much as you want."

But a prediction is what Agnew and the Penguins coaching staff had to make when right wing David Perron was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 2. Perron is a talented offensive player who scored at least 20 goals three times in his first seven NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Oilers. But almost no one in the Penguins organization had any history with Perron.

"I knew [Kris Letang] a little bit," Perron said. "Knew [Marc-Andre Fleury] slightly, same with [Pascal Dupuis] because we have the same agent."

The only person who had any real relationship with Perron was Agnew, who was an assistant coach with the Blues in 2012-13, Perron's final season in St. Louis. Though it was 48 games in the lockout-shortened season, Agnew said it was more than enough time for him to get an understanding of the kind of player and person Perron is.

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Sharks' Burns acclimates quickly back to defense

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

When the San Jose Sharks decided to move Brent Burns back to defenseman this season after he spent a season and a half as a productive and disruptive force at forward, some questioned the move.

Burns was coming off a career-high 48-point season with 22 goals and 26 assists. He thrived on the top line with center Joe Thornton, who loved playing with free-spirited Burns, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound wrecking ball with an explosive slap shot.

Then there was the issue of Burns having to adjust to another position switch. He was chosen in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild as a forward, but they turned him into a defenseman, and he was selected for the NHL All-Star Game at that position in 2011, his final season with Minnesota before being traded to San Jose. Midway through his second season with the Sharks, he was on the move again, going back to forward, where he energized a slumbering offense. He had nine goals and 20 points in 23 games after the switch that season.

The transition back to defenseman this season has been challenging at times for Burns, but he has 11 goals and 35 points in 47 games and was selected as an All-Star for the second time.

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Blackhawks' Seabrook, the 'other guy,' now an All-Star

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- He's seen as the "other guy" in the top defense pairing for the Chicago Blackhawks, but Brent Seabrook means a lot more than that to his teammates.

If they need an emotional lift, he'll provide it. If they need a huge goal, his slap shot is often a reason they get it. If they need a big brother, on the ice or off, he's never too far away.

"He's been here through thick and thin," said center Andrew Shaw, 23, who's playing his fourth season with Seabrook. "He's seen a lot, he's done a lot, and he's just a great leader. He says what needs to be said and then he goes out there and does it."

Seabrook has a career full of accomplishments to back that up. The 29-year-old won a gold medal with Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010 and 2013, playing a big role in each championship. He's steadily climbing Chicago's all-time statistical categories in his 10th season for the team that selected him with the 14th pick in the 2003 NHL Draft.

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Price's goaltending has Canadiens among best in East

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 1:43 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- As the race for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender became more and more of a two-man derby, the game Tuesday at Bell Centre between the Nashville Predators and the Montreal Canadiens was looking like it could be a showdown between those leading men.

An injury to Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne prevented that from happening. But someone forgot to tell Carey Price.

The Canadiens' goaltender returned from a one-game absence due to injury to make 36 saves in a 2-1 overtime win against the Predators. In the process, Price made a convincing case for why he might be the Vezina frontrunner instead of his injured rival.

When the Predators scored at 12:10 of the second period on a Mike Ribeiro deflection directly in front of Price, Nashville was outshooting Montreal 26-6 but led 1-0. At one point the Canadiens went 22:15 without forcing Predators goalie Carter Hutton to make a single save.

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Brodeur to extend leave from Blues: report

Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 12:07 AM / News

NHL.com

St. Louis Blues goaltender Martin Brodeur will extend his leave of absence from the team, ESPN.com reported Tuesday.

Brodeur was granted the leave Jan. 14. A statement from the Blues then said, "Brodeur will rejoin the club in one week and his future will be addressed at that time."

Brodeur's agent, Pat Brisson, told the website the Blues have granted Brodeur an extension to ponder his future.


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Rangers, in tight playoff race, treasure extra point

Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 11:59 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers entered their game against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square on Tuesday with 15 wins in 18 games. Considering such a run, one would think they would have created some separation in the Metropolitan Division.

Not a chance.

Not when their rival on the other side of the East River, the New York Islanders, has won seven of 10 and reeled off at least three wins in a row seven times this season. The Washington Capitals have earned at least one point in eight of their past 10. As long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in the fold, the Rangers know it's difficult to envision the Pittsburgh Penguins going away anytime soon.

That's why it was crucial for the Rangers to overcome a sluggish start and earn a 3-2 overtime win against the Senators, capped by Carl Hagelin's goal at 2:55 of the extra period. It allowed the Rangers to move into a tie with the Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan, one point ahead of the Capitals.

The Rangers enter the All-Star break five points behind the Islanders, although they do have two games in hand. The bitter rivals will face each other at Nassau Coliseum when play resumes next Tuesday.

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Penguins defenseman Letang leaves game with injury

Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 11:03 PM / News

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang left the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday with 4:24 left in the first period after being hit into the boards by Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo.

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Sharks place Braun, Wingels on IR

Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 8:00 PM / News

SanJoseSharks.com

San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the club has recalled defenseman Dylan DeMelo from the Worcester Sharks (AHL).

DeMelo, 21, has registered 13 points (3-10=13) and 14 penalty minutes this season with the Worcester Sharks. Last season with Worcester, DeMelo posted 24 points (2-22=24) in 68 games, finishing first amongst all Worcester defensemen in points and assists.

In 120 career games with the Worcester Sharks, DeMelo has posted 42 points (5 goals, 37 assists) and 73 penalty minutes.

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Quote of the Day

I don’t know if it was more relief for me that [Stamkos] scored or the power play scored. It was a whole compilation of Alka Seltzer.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Steven Stamkos broke a long scoring drought and Tampa Bay's struggling power play scored four times in Game 2 at Montreal