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NHL Playoff Preview Capsules @NHLdotcom

Capsules of NHL conference semifinal series:

SAN JOSE: The Sharks shed some naysayers by avoiding another early flameout, rallying from 1-0 and 2-1 series deficits to Colorado. San Jose could take its biggest step toward a first trip to the Stanley Cup finals if it can knock off the two-time defending Western champions. ... Second-line forward Joe Pavelski carried the offense by scoring five goals and eight points in a first-round win. Along with linemates Ryan Clowe and Devin Setoguchi, the trio combined for nine goals and 22 points in the series. ... The Sharks will likely need Joe Thornton to step up against Detroit. Thornton scored three of his team's seven goals in the regular-season series with the Wings. ... The Sharks went 0 for 10 on the power play and allowed three man-advantage goals in 15 short-handed opportunities against the Wings. ... San Jose coach Todd McLellan was a Detroit assistant coach from 2005-08, winning the Stanley Cup in 2008.

DETROIT: The Red Wings shook off upstart Phoenix with a decisive 6-1 win in Game 7, recording 50 shots. Pavel Datsyuk and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom both scored two goals, and Henrik Zetterberg added three assists in the rout. Zetterberg had six goals and 11 points in the series. Datsyuk had five goals, eight points. ... Detroit has decided edge in experience, having being in the playoffs 19 straight seasons and playing 70 postseason games since 2007. However, the Red Wings are in unfamiliar territory by starting their second consecutive series on the road and ceding home-ice advantage. ... Lidstrom, the Red Wings captain, is third on the NHL career list for postseason games played with 242. He could pass Patrick Roy for second if this series goes at least six games. Lidstrom is only European-born player to win Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, and captain a team to Stanley Cup title. ... The team that scored first in each of the regular-season games lost.

OUTLOOK: Sharks ready to take bite out of Wings. San Jose in 7.


CHICAGO: Blackhawks looking to make consecutive appearances in conference finals for first time since 1989 and 1990. They have reached NHL final four only twice overall since then. ... In his first NHL playoff series, Antti Niemi went 4-2 with two shutouts, a 2.15 goals-against average, and .921 save percentage, to help the Blackhawks shake off deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to Nashville. Niemi earned a shutout over the Canucks on Nov. 22, but then gave up three goals on 12 shots during a loss on Jan. 23. ... Patrick Kane netted hat trick against Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo in Game 6 win last year - a performance Luongo was still answering questions about at the Vancouver Olympics in February. Chicago won that game 7-5 to advance. ... Chicago killed 26 of 27 Nashville power plays in first round, and Kane netted short-handed goal that tied Game 5 in closing seconds.

VANCOUVER: The Canucks also trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in the first round before winning three straight, including two victories at Los Angeles. ... Mikael Samulesson joined twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin on a line in Game 4 and netted an NHL-best seven goals in the first round. Combined, the line produced three goals and four assists in the Canucks' 7-2 win over the Kings in Game 5. ... Luongo had a 43-save win against Chicago, but also allowed five goals to the Blackhawks in the first period of loss on Feb. 5. Luongo gave up five consecutive goals in Game 2 of last year's series and seven goals in Game 6. ... Bad blood exists between the clubs. The latest incident in the developing rivalry had Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell leveling Jonathan Toews with open-ice hit that forced the Blackhawks captain to miss six games. ... The Canucks were second in the NHL with 3.27 goals scored per game in the regular season. The Blackhawks were fourth at 3.20. ... Vancouver gave up nine goals on 16 short-handed opportunities during the first four games against Los Angeles in the first round, then killed nine of 10 in the final two contests.

OUTLOOK: Chicago takes care of Canucks again to return to conference finals. Blackhawks in 6.


End Capsules

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