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Kane rounding into form for Blackhawks

Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 2:50 AM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It was almost inevitable that Patrick Kane was going to need a few games to regain his elite level of play.

After missing the final month of the regular season with a lower-body injury after an opponent landed on his left leg during a game on March 19, Kane got back into the lineup in the opening game of the Chicago Blackhawks' Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues. He scored a breakaway goal near the end of the first period in that game at Scottrade Center, but didn't really look like himself.

But in Game 4 on Wednesday at United Center, Kane looked as dangerous as ever. He scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime of Chicago's 4-3 victory that knotted the best-of-7 series at 2-2. He also assisted on Andrew Shaw's goal that opened the scoring in the second period.

"I was out a month, so you're not going to come back [the same]," said Kane, who was moved off captain Jonathan Toews' top line early in the third period. "You can get all the rest you need, but you're not going to come back and have that game pace and timing that you had when you left, so it takes a little while. It's something I've never really dealt with too much throughout my career. I'm trying to do my best."


Blues must refocus as series shifts back to St. Louis

Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 2:18 AM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- They came back from a two-goal deficit in a hostile environment. It was a chance for the St. Louis Blues to grab the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks by the throat and take a 3-1 lead in this Western Conference First Round series.

But the Blues saw their lead evaporate with 3:52 remaining on a Bryan Bickell goal before Patrick Kane sealed Chicago's 4-3 overtime victory in Game 4 Wednesday night.

Chicago's rally turned this Stanley Cup Playoff series into a best-of-3, starting with Game 5 on Friday at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS2, NBCSN, CSN-CH, FS-MW).

The Blues, down 2-0 late in the second period, got two goals in a 1:05 span from Vladimir Tarasenko and Maxim Lapierre to stun the Blackhawks and 22,123 on hand at United Center.


Penguins doomed by second-period penalties

Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 1:08 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets' rally for a Game 4 victory at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday started with Boone Jenner's power-play goal in the first period, but a big reason the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 4-3 in overtime was their parade to the penalty box in the later stages of the second period.

Columbus dominated the middle period thanks to four consecutive power plays in the final eight-plus minutes, during which Ryan Johansen scored a 5-on-3 goal to make it 3-2.

Brandon Dubinsky then scored with 24 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, and Nick Foligno wristed home the winner with a long shot that beat Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 2:49 of overtime.

The Eastern Conference First Round series is tied 2-2. Game 5 of the best-of-7 series is in Pittsburgh on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).


Wild's Cooke suspended seven games for kneeing

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 8:50 PM / Department of Player Safety News


NEW YORK -– Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke has been suspended seven games for kneeing Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie during Game Three of the teams' First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs series in St. Paul on Monday, April 21, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

If the term of the suspension is not fully served during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the remaining games will be served at the beginning of the 2014-15 regular season.


Kings calling on experienced Richards, Carter

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 6:38 PM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The additions of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter helped propel the Los Angeles Kings to the 2012 Stanley Cup. The two are supposed to be major pieces in what was expected to be a long run as championship contenders.

It hasn't turned out as scripted, but Richards and Carter aren't done telling the story of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The forwards were factors in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round against the San Jose Sharks, a 4-3 overtime loss, and it's something the Kings need to tap into down 3-0 in the best-of-7 series going into Game 4 on Thursday at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. PT; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, CSN-CA, FS-W).

Richards, a former captain with the Philadelphia Flyers, said it's a challenge the Kings should embrace.

"It's easy to say," Richards said. "But I think, as a group, you just have to know that one, it's not going to be easy, and two, it is possible.

"It's a good opportunity for us to show -- everybody's kind of writing us off right now -- a good opportunity to show how resilient we are right now as a group. We've done good things in the past and this is just another thing we have to be excited to accomplish."


Coyle finding comfort with Wild in playoffs

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 5:57 PM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Charlie Coyle's first full season with the Minnesota Wild hasn't gone poorly. It hasn't gone as well as some expected either.

Inconsistent would be a fair assessment, although the forward's game got better as the Stanley Cup Playoffs crept closer.

The Wild trail the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 in their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series, with Coyle stepping up offensively heading into Game 4 Thursday at Xcel Energy Center (9:30pm ET; CNBC, TSN2, RDS2, FS-N, FS-WI, ALT).

After scoring one goal during a 23-game stretch between Jan. 12 and March 20, Wild coach Mike Yeo met with Coyle to relay a simple message: Play physical. It was an important part of his game Coyle knew he had strayed from.

"He said to stay simple to my game and work to my strengths," Coyle said.


Red Wings look to up tempo, pressure on Rask

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 5:02 PM / Bruins vs Red Wings - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

DETROIT -- Mike Babcock's feelings about the Detroit Red Wings' struggling offense might be best summed up by the coach's analysis of the impact Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has had on the Eastern Conference First Round series.

"He's a world-class goalie, skates great, looks great in warm-up," Babcock said. "That's where he's getting his most shots."

In fairness, Rask faced 35 shots in Game 2 and 82 through three games in the best-of-7 series; he's stopped 80 of them, including 57 of the past 58, for a .976 save percentage and 0.67 goals-against average. He's second in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in both categories to Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper, who hasn't allowed a goal but has faced only 36 shots.

The fewest goals Detroit has scored in a series which lasted at least five games is eight (twice, in five-game series in 1944 and 2000). The Red Wings, who trail the series 2-1, managed only 23 shots on goal in a 3-0 loss in Game 3 Tuesday, but the number of times they tested Rask fell far short of their total number of shots.

Game 4 is Thursday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FS-D).


Five reasons why the Canadiens advanced

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 3:30 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning appeared to be two evenly matched teams entering their Eastern Conference First Round series.

They finished one point apart in the standings and three of their four regular-season games were decided after regulation time. The fourth was decided in the third period.

A seven-game series was expected, but the Canadiens completed a four-game sweep with a last-minute 4-3 win at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Health is a big reason for the dramatic change from the tight season series. The Canadiens, for the most part, had it and the Lightning didn't, losing one of their most important players, goaltender Ben Bishop, to a dislocated elbow before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But injuries were far from the only factor working in favor of the Canadiens. Here are five more:


Experienced Flyers confident playing from behind

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 3:30 PM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- In October, with the Philadelphia Flyers sitting at the bottom of the NHL standings, captain Claude Giroux proclaimed his team would make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He made another prediction after his team lost to the New York Rangers in Game 3 to fall behind 2-1 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series, and reiterated it after an optional practice Wednesday.

"I personally think we did a lot of good things [in Game 3], and if we play the same way we're going to win here Friday," Giroux said. "If we play our game, if we play the right way, we're going to win. We just have to make sure we play like that."

The Flyers will host the Rangers in Game 4 of the series Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, RDS, TSN, MSG, CSN-PH).


Five reasons why the Lightning were eliminated

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 2:16 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame so much this season to author a special story of perseverance and promise.

Goaltender Ben Bishop resurrected his career, turning in a regular season worthy of Vezina Trophy consideration. Leading scorer Steven Stamkos went down for a majority of the season after sustaining a broken leg in November. Yet the Lightning refused to fold and finished second in the Atlantic Division, holding off a challenge from the Montreal Canadiens at the end of the regular season.

However, the Lightning could not find the same level of perseverance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did not overcome the hardships placed in their path during an Eastern Conference First Round series against the Canadiens and were eliminated in a stunning four-game sweep, the first in the history of the franchise.

Here are the five biggest reasons Tampa Bay's season came to an earlier-than-expected end:

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Quote of the Day

He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers