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X-Factor

X-Factor

Rookie Pontus Aberg providing offensive boost for Predators

Forward spent most of season in AHL, could help Nashville against Penguins in Stanley Cup Final

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Pontus Aberg has gone from playing in the American Hockey League to getting the chance to fill a key role for the Nashville Predators in their drive to the Stanley Cup Final. He's making the most of his opportunity.

"This is where you want to be," the 23-year-old forward said. "You want to play these games. This is what you've been working for the whole year, to get back up and have an impact and show what I can do up there and help the team." 

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Chris Kunitz provides Penguins with grit, big-play ability

Pittsburgh forward has fit in on top line, could be factor against Predators in Cup Final

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- There's a reason forward Chris Kunitz is continuously placed in prominent roles with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It's partially because center Sidney Crosby enjoys playing alongside Kunitz. They've been teammates since the Anaheim Ducks traded Kunitz to Pittsburgh on Feb. 27, 2009, and at one time, were two-thirds of possibly the best line in the NHL, along with forward Pascal Dupuis.

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X-Factor

John Gibson in fine form for Ducks

Goaltender ready to lead Anaheim on playoff run after return from injury

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

Anaheim Ducks goaltending coach Sudarshan Maharaj had dinner recently with the man considered to have been one of the best goaltenders in the game, ironman Glenn Hall.

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X-Factor

Benoit Pouliot's playoff experience could key Oilers

Size, chemistry on third line can be advantage for Edmonton

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Edmonton Oilers left wing Benoit Pouliot will be the first to admit he has struggled mightily at times this season.

The 30-year-old has seen his production dip to 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 67 games, and he went one spell of 28 games this season without a goal, from Dec. 8 to March 14.

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X-Factor

Matthew Tkachuk's burn heats up Flames

Sandpaper in game of rookie forward can rough up Calgary opponents in playoffs

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan briefly overlapped with center Ryan Kesler when each was with the Vancouver Canucks; Gulutzan was an assistant and Kesler had not yet been traded to the Anaheim Ducks.

Gulutzan chuckled about how Kesler embraced his inner villain and seemed to relish the booing. "He loves it," Gulutzan said.

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X-Factor

Joonas Donskoi of Sharks already playoff-tested

Forward eager to provide more postseason heroics for San Jose

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks had lost the first two games in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The series moved to SAP Center for Game 3 -- the first-ever Final home game for San Jose -- and the Sharks and Penguins were tied 2-2 after three periods, headed to overtime.

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X-Factor

Kevin Shattenkirk filling big role for Capitals

Defenseman has taken power play to new heights since trade to Washington

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- After defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was traded by the St. Louis Blues to the Washington Capitals on Feb. 27, he tried not to view himself as the final piece to the Capitals' Stanley Cup puzzle.

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Sam Gagner secret weapon for Blue Jackets

Playoff unknown looks to make name for himself

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- Sam Gagner has played 696 games in his NHL career, but when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he's somewhat of an unknown.

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X-Factor

David Perron can make difference for Blues

Forward, back in St. Louis, hungry for playoff success

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- David Perron remembers watching the St. Louis Blues playing the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final last season and thinking he could have helped.

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X-Factor

Leo Komarov special player for Maple Leafs

Forward leads way on penalty kill, power play for Toronto

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov remembers the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After a four-year wait, he is excited to get the chance to experience playoff hockey again.

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