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Playoffs 2015
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St-Louis Blues

Sobotka will decide soon on return to Blues: report

Sunday, 05.24.2015 /

The St. Louis Blues expect to know in the next week whether forward Vladimir Sobotka will return from the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2015-16 season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A restricted free agent when he left the Blues in the summer of 2014 to sign a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL, Sobotka has an out clause following each season allowing him to return to the NHL.

Sobotka has two weeks from the end of the IIHF World Championship to let Omsk know of his decision. The World Championship ended May 17, giving Sobotka until the end of the month.

"If he decides to come back to the NHL, we'll welcome him back with open arms," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said according to the Post-Dispatch. "And if not, we'll address it a year from now. He knows he's going to come back through St. Louis."

Chicago Blackhawks

Noel: Blackhawks' urgency paid off in series tie

Sunday, 05.24.2015 /

For additional insight on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, has enlisted the help of Claude Noel to break down the action. Noel will be checking in throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Noel was coach for the Winnipeg Jets from 2011-14 and interim coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009-10. He also coached many years in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Noel, a former forward, had 138 points in 353 regular-season games in the AHL and played seven games in the NHL with Washington Capitals in 1979-80.

The Chicago Blackhawks had a performance of perseverance and a will to get the job done in a 5-4 double overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday at United Center.

That's what Claude Noel took away from the win that evened the best-of-7 series 2-2. Game 5 is at Honda Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Anaheim Ducks

Ducks score 2nd-fastest three goals in playoff history

Sunday, 05.24.2015 /

CHICAGO -- The top line of the Chicago Blackhawks dominated the early part of the third period Saturday and scored twice to give them a two-goal lead at 7:38.

But by the time Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa returned to the ice for another shift, the Blackhawks were losing.

Chicago managed to survive and win Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, 5-4 in double overtime, but not before the Anaheim Ducks produced a stunning flurry of goals.

The Ducks scored three times in 37 seconds, the second-fastest three goals in Stanley Cup Playoffs history, to take a 4-3 lead.

"I've come to realize that our team's capable of a lot of things, especially at times when it looks like things are pretty dark and we might be out of it, were a group that believes, no matter what, in here," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "I'm really proud of our guys for fighting and battling back. Down a couple of goals, it would be easy to pack it in, but we didn't feel sorry for ourselves, we kept working at it and certainly gave it our all. So it's unfortunate to lose, but I thought we did a lot of really good things."

Anaheim Ducks

Dodging Ducks' combo, Blackhawks fought back

Sunday, 05.24.2015 /

CHICAGO -- As the Western Conference Final evolves into a heavyweight brawl featuring two behemoths with completely different styles, the Chicago Blackhawks are showing they have the granite chin necessary to absorb the haymakers of their hungry opponent.

The Blackhawks were on the mat again Saturday in Game 4, trailing by a goal in the third period, their bleary eyes focused squarely on the potential of a win-or-go-home scenario if the Anaheim Ducks could get through the final 10:41 of regulation with a lead crafted on 37-second fusillade of punches filled with malicious intent.

Instead, Patrick Kane responded with a stinging jab less than four minutes later to tie it. In the second overtime, Antoine Vermette, scratched in Game 3, countered Anaheim's brutality with a roundhouse of his own, holding onto the puck in the slot long enough until goalie Frederik Andersen committed and was not in position to snag his wrist shot.

The goal gave Chicago an improbable 5-4 victory and had the crowd cheering for the home team's toughness and resiliency. It also evened the best-of-7 series 2-2.

"My group finds ways," coach Joel Quenneville said with a tinge of amazement creeping into his tired voice. "It was one of those stretches where our guys find ways instead of looking for the out. It's an amazing group. Tonight is a good illustration of it."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Saturday, May 23

Sunday, 05.24.2015 /


After the teams scored three goals each in the third period, Antoine Vermette scored at 5:37 of double-overtime to even Chicago's Western Conference Final series with Anaheim at two games apiece.

* The Blackhawks improved to 4-0 in overtime games during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, all of which have required at least two overtime periods. In addition to Game 4, the others included April 15 at Nashville (4-3 2OT W in Game 1 of first round), April 21 vs. Nashville (3-2 3OT W in Game 4 of first round) and May 19 at Anaheim (3-2 3OT W in Game 2 of WCF).

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Blackhawks became the first team in NHL history to win four games in a single postseason that required at least two overtime periods.

* Vermette recorded his second career game-winning goal in the playoffs (also April 25, 2006 at Tampa Bay w/ Ottawa) and first in overtime. He has 11-10—21 in 69 postseason games, including 2-1—3 this year (11 GP).

Chicago Blackhawks

After scratch, Vermette happy to help Blackhawks

Sunday, 05.24.2015 /

CHICAGO -- Antoine Vermette hadn't had much fun with the Chicago Blackhawks until the second overtime of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at United Center on Saturday.

After being a healthy scratch Thursday in a Game 3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Vermette scored the game-winning goal 5:37 into double overtime for a 5-4 win that evened the best-of-7 series at 2-2.

Game 5 is at Honda Center on Monday (9 p.m.; NBCSN; CBC; TVA Sports).

Left wing Patrick Sharp sent a pass from behind the Ducks net to Vermette, whose shot from the slot was blocked by Ducks forward Rickard Rakell. Vermette pounced on the loose puck and sent it into the net past goalie Frederik Andersen.

Vermette slid to the corner, pumped his fists and celebrated his second goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, also his second since coming to Chicago prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. He didn't score in 19 regular-season games with the Blackhawks after leaving the Arizona Coyotes.

"I think overall on that shift, we talk about our speed, and I think we are effective when we move our feet," Vermette said. "I think that was an illustration of that. We get the puck going in their end a little bit. We stuck with it. ... Lucky enough we got it back and put it in."

Toronto Maple Leafs

Babcock will attract free agents to Toronto: Franson

Saturday, 05.23.2015 /

Defenseman Cody Franson, who played almost four seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded in March, said Saturday that free agents, like himself, will find the team more attractive now that it's coached by Mike Babcock.

"I definitely think it makes [Toronto] more interesting," Franson told TSN 1050 Radio. "... Definitely, with Mr. Babcock going there, it's an exciting time for people in that organization and I think it makes it more intriguing to free agents for sure."

Franson will be a free agent July 1 after finishing the season with the Nashville Predators. He said he would like the chance to return to Toronto.

"One hundred percent; I've always said that I loved it in Toronto," the 27-year-old said. "... I'm hopeful that Toronto's in the mix come July 1 and my phone will definitely be on and hoping that they're one of the teams that calls."

New York Rangers

Rangers power play finds its rhythm against Lightning

Saturday, 05.23.2015 /

TAMPA -- Keith Yandle said the New York Rangers are scoring goals on the power play because they're keeping it simple. Dan Boyle said the only difference is the puck is going into the net now, when earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs it wasn't.

With all due respect, the Rangers defensemen are being too vague and far too humble in describing a power play that has needed five shots to score four goals in the past two games and has connected twice in each of the past three games in the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Rangers were 6-for-38 on the power play in the first two rounds; they're 6-for-15 against the Lightning, including 2-for-4 in a 5-1 win in Game 4 on Friday at Amalie Arena, and 6-for-13 in the past three games.

The best-of-7 series is tied at 2-2 with Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We're making plays," said right wing Martin St. Louis, who broke out of his 18-game scoring drought with a power-play goal in Game 4. "Special teams are always big at this time of the year and it's nice to get our power play rolling."

New York Rangers

Farrish: Rangers' stars shine bright in Game 4

Saturday, 05.23.2015 /

For additional insight into the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning during the Eastern Conference Final series, has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.

Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games over seven seasons in the NHL.

It wasn't just how the New York Rangers won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday, it was who contributed in their 5-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning that has Dave Farrish thinking momentum in the series has potentially taken a significant turn.

The Rangers' big guns, their best player and two of their top scorers, were the stars.

Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves in a vintage performance. Rick Nash played strong, owned the middle of the ice and scored two goals, doubling his production in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in one night. Martin St. Louis scored his first goal of the postseason with a one-timer on the power play that gave New York a 4-1 lead in the third period.

"The players we were talking about finally broke out," Farrish said. "I think it could make a huge difference."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Friday, May 22

Saturday, 05.23.2015 /


Rick Nash (2-1—3) had his first career three-point performance in the postseason to help the New York Rangers even their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 2-2.

* Nash opened the scoring with an even-strength goal and added another goal on the power play for his first two goals of the Eastern Conference Final. It was also Nash’s first career multiple-goal game in the playoffs.

* Nash led the Rangers in the 2014-15 regular season with a career-high 42 goals in 79 GP. He also led the club with 69 points (42-27—69).