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  • Stars F Janmark inks one-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Dallas Stars forward Mattias Janmark signed a one-year, $700,000 contract extension on Thursday.

    • Janmark, who missed the entire 2016-17 season due to a knee injury, collected 15 goals, 14 assists and a plus-12 rating in 73 games in 2015-16. The 24-year-old Swede also registered five points (two goals, three assists) in 12 career postseason contests.

      "Mattias is a player that we missed as much as anyone last season with the unfortunate injury he suffered," general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. "We look forward to him returning to our group and getting him back for training camp."

      Janmark was originally selected by Detroit in the third round (79th overall) of the 2013 draft. He was acquired by Dallas from the Red Wings on March 1, 2015.

  • Predators' Fiala has broken femur, done for playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala sustained a broken left femur during Game 1 of the Western Conference second-round series and has been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs, the team announced Thursday.

    • Fiala was injured after being checked into the boards by St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo at 1:46 of the second period of Wednesday's contest, which Nashville won 4-3. The 20-year-old Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher and brought to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

      "He underwent successful surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and is resting comfortably," general manager David Poile said in a statement Thursday. "He is extremely disappointed that he will not be able to help his teammates in their quest for the Stanley Cup, but is looking forward to starting his rehabilitation upon his return to Nashville.

      "The Predators' organization would like to thank the St. Louis Blues medical team, especially head trainer Ray Barile, Drs. Rick Wright and William Ricci, as well as the nurses and personnel at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital for their outstanding care."

      Fiala scored two goals in the Predators' first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, including the overtime tally in Game 3. The 11th overall pick of the 2014 draft, Fiala scored 11 goals and added five assists in 54 games during the regular season.

  • NHL roundup: Predators remain undefeated in postseason
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    ST. LOUIS -- Vernon Fiddler's goal with 5:05 left in the third period broke a tie and gave the Nashville Predators a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night in the first game of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

    • Fiddler, playing his first game in the postseason this year, kept the eighth-seeded Predators undefeated in the playoffs. Game 2 of the series will be Friday night in St. Louis.

      Fiddler scored when he was able to direct the puck past goalie Jake Allen after Allen failed to poke it away following a botched St. Louis attempt at a clearing pass.

      Oilers 5, Ducks 3

      ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Adam Larsson and Mark Letestu each scored two goals, and Leon Draisaitl added a goal and three assists as Edmonton defeated Anaheim in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

      Cam Talbot made 33 saves for the Oilers.

      Draisaitl's empty-net goal at 18:55 of the third period sealed the victory.

      Ryan Getzlaf registered a goal and an assist for the Ducks, and Ryan Kesler added two assists. John Gibson made 27 saves.

  • Predators winger Fiala stretchered off in St. Louis
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    ST. LOUIS -- Nashville Predators left winger Kevin Fiala had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher after being injured early in the second period of Game 1 in the second-round series against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

    • Fiala appeared to suffer a serious injury to his left leg when he was checked hard into the boards behind the Blues net by defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.

      The Predators said Fiala is alert and in stable condition and will be evaluated further at the hospital.

      The injury came just 1:46 into the second period, with the Predators leading 1-0.

      Fiala, 20, scored two goals in Nashville's first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, including the overtime goal in Game 3. He scored 11 goals and added five assists in 54 games during the regular season.

      Fiala was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The game was delayed until a second ambulance could return to the arena in case of another serious injury.

  • Brassard, Zibanejad insist focus should be on Senators-Rangers
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    OTTAWA -- Try as he might, Derick Brassard could not change the storyline for Thursday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers at Canadian Tire Centre.

    • "It's not about me and Mika," the Senators center said after Wednesday's practice, referring to Rangers center Mika Zibanejad -- the player he was traded to Ottawa for last summer. "There are other guys on the teams. It's about the 23 guys on both rosters."

      True enough, but they were the scoring leaders of their respective squads in the first round, with Brassard racking up eight points (two goals) in Ottawa's six-game elimination of the Boston Bruins and Zibanejad picking up four points (one goal, an overtime winner) in New York's six-game bouncing of the Montreal Canadiens.

      It has been a particularly strong resurgence for Brassard, the 29-year-old who had a disappointing regular season (14 goals, 39 points in 81 games) but also owns the reputation of being a strong playoff performer.

      "There's always pressure," said Brassard, who led the Rangers in postseason scoring three of the last four springs and now has 20 goals and 52 points in 65 playoff games. "I think I can handle it pretty well. I've always showed up on the big stage.

      "At this time of year, you expect guys to step up and be better players. You see a lot of players on our team doing that and that's why we're here today."

      The Senators moved the promising 24-year-old Zibanejad because, after missing the playoffs two of the last three seasons, they had a must-win now mentality. In his first season on Broadway, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Swede had 14 goals and 37 points while being limited to 56 games because of a broken fibula.

      "When I saw the schedule and I saw the playoff tree, I knew it was a possibility that it was going to be them," Zibanejad told the Rangers website of facing the team that made him the sixth overall pick of the 2011 entry draft. "It's like any other team now and I just want to get to four first.

      "For me, it's just winning this series. Taking a game at a time and winning. It's all about the team right now. I knew it was going to come up and be brought up a lot, but for me, try and just win."

      The Rangers are favored to advance, but fully expected is a low-scoring, close series. New York will have to deal with Ottawa's suffocating 1-3-1 defensive structure and the Senators will have their hands full with a veteran blue line that will pose bigger problems than they faced against the Bruins, who had three regular defensemen injured.

      Senators coach Guy Boucher, a psychology major, reached into his background while addressing the media Wednesday.

      "From what I hear from everybody, we don't seem to have much of a chance," Boucher said. "The odds are 10/1 in Vegas against us. Everybody seems to think they're going to roll all over us so I guess they're a pretty good team.

      "They don't have many flaws, but I also know they're getting urgency now to win that Cup because they've been talking about it for many years now. That's how we consider those guys, Stanley Cup contenders year after year, and that's what they're after now so that's what we're up against."

      The Senators could get a boost from the return of Tom Pyatt, a defensively sound winger who was knocked out of the Bruins series with an upper-body injury in Game 4. But ruled out Wednesday was Mark Borowiecki, a physical defenseman who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 2.

      The Rangers have no injuries.

  • Penguins, Capitals set to renew rivalry
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    WASHINGTON -- The NHL playoffs might be peaking too soon as the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals host the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday night.

    • The top two teams left in the postseason are meeting in the conference semis for the second straight year. Pittsburgh defeated top-seeded Washington in six games in last year's conference semifinals en route to capturing the fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history.

      The Penguins are 8-1 in playoff series vs. the Capitals, and have won both meetings during the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin era.

      "We lost in Game 6 (in 2016) and Game 7 (in 2009). You just have to move forward," said Ovechkin, who has 10 goals and 13 assists in the 13 games. "You don't have to be afraid. You know you play against Stanley Cup champion and they are a very good team, but so are we. This battle has to be done if we want to get success."

      The Penguins, who finished second behind the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division by going 50-21-11 (111 points), ousted the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in the first round, while Washington 55-19-8 (118 points) bested the stubborn Toronto Maple Leafs in six.

      This will be the first time since the 2001 Stanley Cup Final (Colorado Avalanche vs. New Jersey Devils) that the NHL's top-two teams from the regular season will meet in a playoff series.

      Five of Washington's first-round games went to overtime and the speedy Maple Leafs likely were a good test before facing the fast-paced Penguins.

      "They're a high-pressure team with their skating, their speed," Washington head coach Barry Trotz said of the Penguins. "They pressure on the forecheck, they try to create turnovers. (They get) 50-50 pucks, and they turn that into opportunities and that's sort of what Toronto does."

      Pittsburgh enters the series minus defenseman Kris Letang, who is done for the season, and (for now) goaltender Matt Murray. Forward Carl Hagelin, who had three goals and seven points in last year's playoff series, has been out since March with a lower-body injury, but practiced Wednesday.

      "Big step today, getting involved in team practice," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's getting eager. Take it day-to-day. He's a lot closer."

      Two injured Penguins, forward Chris Kunitz and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, will be game-time decisions.

      Washington defenseman Karl Alzner (upper body) remains day-to-day, though Nate Schmidt has stepped in and performed extremely well.

      Depth is a strength for both teams and while it is billed as Crosby vs. Ovechkin, the series could easily come down to Marcus Johansson or Jake Guentzel. Johansson was one of six Capitals -- led by Ovechkin and Oshie with 33 -- to score 19 or more goals.

      "They're a good forechecking team. They can create offense off the rush," Sullivan said. "They've got some dynamic forwards in their lineup and we're going to have to be aware when they're on the ice."

      Guentzel, a rookie, scored five goals vs. Columbus in the first round. During the regular season, he was one of seven Penguins to score 16 or more goals. Crosby led the team and league with 44.

      Braden Holtby finished the Toronto series with a 2.36 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. After allowing four goals in each of the first three games, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner stopped 61 of 63 shots in Games 5 and 6.

      Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a 2.52 GAA and .933 save percentage against Columbus that included a 49-save effort in a 5-2 series-clinching win.

      Washington went 2-0-2 against Pittsburgh in the regular season, outscoring the Penguins 21-14.

      "It is going to be a battle," Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said. "They are a great team and have a lot of great players and everyone here is excited for that. We ended up winning last year, which is great, but everyone here knows the margin of error is very small come playoff time.

      "A couple bounces here or there and they very easily could have won that series. We know we need to be at our best every shift that we're out there."

      Nicklas Backstrom recorded 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in four games against the Penguins, and Oshie ranked second with 10 points (three goals, seven assists). Holtby was 2-0-1 with a 2.74 GAA and .912 save percentage.

      Evgeni Malkin had five goals and one assist against Washington, while Crosby had a goal and four assists. Fleury was 1-1-0 with a 4.02 GAA and .884 save percentage in two games.

      "I think we both know what to expect," Washington's Brooks Orpik said. "It's just a matter of who executes better within the series."

  • Babcock, McLellan, Tortorella named Jack Adams finalists
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers and John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets are the three finalists for the 2016-17 Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL's coach of the year.

    • Babcock guided the Maple Leafs (40-27-15, 95 points) to a fourth-place finish in the Atlantic Division and the second Wild Card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

      The Maple Leafs, who finished 30th in the NHL standings last season, became the first team since the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers to qualify for the postseason the year after ranking last in the overall standings. Toronto recorded 26 more points than last season, while also becoming the first team in NHL history to have six different rookies each appear in at least 70 games. Babcock is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the third time.

      McLellan led the Oilers (47-26-9, 103 points) to a playoff berth for the first time since 2005-06, their first 100-point campaign since 1986-87 and a league-leading 33-point improvement over 2015-16. McLellan is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the second time.

      Under Tortorella the Blue Jackets (50-24-8, 108 points) set franchise records for wins, points, home wins (28) and road points (51). The club posted a 32-point gain over 2015-16, jumping from 29th to second in team defense. Tortorella is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the fourth time, tying Ken Hitchcock and Alain Vigneault for the most among active coaches. He won the trophy in 2003-04 with Tampa Bay.

      Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season. The winner will be announced June 21, during the 2017 NHL Awards at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

  • NHL notebook: Bruins bring back Cassidy
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Boston Bruins removed the interim tag from Bruce Cassidy's title on Wednesday, announcing he will be back as head coach next season.

    • Bruins general manager Don Sweeney officially named Cassidy as the 28th head coach in franchise history.

      The Bruins went 18-8-1 under Cassidy, who replaced the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 7, and finished third in the Atlantic Division.

      Boston qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. The Bruins were eliminated on Sunday, losing to the Ottawa Senators in six games in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

      Since Cassidy assumed head coaching responsibilities on Feb. 9, the Bruins ranked first in the NHL in goals per game (3.37), first in the NHL in fewest shots allowed (741), tied for second in the NHL in wins (18), tied for second in the NHL in power-play percentage (27.8), tied for third in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.30), tied for fifth in the NHL in faceoff percentage (53.6) and tied for sixth in the NHL in takeaways (229).

      Before joining Boston as an assistant prior to the start of the 2016-17 campaign, Cassidy spent five seasons (2011-16) as head coach of the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. He spent the three previous seasons (2008-11) with the club as an assistant.

      --The Vancouver Canucks officially named Travis Green as their coach.

      Green replaced Willie Desjardins, who was fired as coach on April 10 after Vancouver (30-43-9) finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Desjardins went 109-110-27 in three seasons.

      "It's a proud day for me, something I've been working at for a long time," Green told the team's website. "To get the opportunity here in Vancouver is extra special. I'm confident I'm ready and I'm really excited for the challenge."

      Green served as the coach of the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets, for the last three seasons. The 46-year-old British Columbia native guided the Comets to a 120-78-20 record and an appearance in the Calder Cup Final two seasons ago.

      --Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected to be ready for training camp in September, general manager Jim Nill said.

      "It's something that bothered him all season, and he could have waited to do it sometime after next season and tried to play through it," Nill said of Seguin's decision to have surgery, which was performed Tuesday. "But with the time we had, we decided it was best to get it fixed."

      Seguin is expected to spend the next two to four weeks in a sling and have another month of rehab before he can resume skating.

      Seguin collected 26 goals and 46 assists for a team-leading 72 points while playing in all 82 games this season for the Stars, who finished with a 34-37-11 mark. The 25-year-old has scored 133 goals and set up 173 others in four seasons with Dallas.

  • Canucks officially name Green as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Vancouver Canucks officially named Travis Green as their coach on Wednesday.

    • Green replaced Willie Desjardins, who was fired as coach on April 10 after Vancouver (30-43-9) finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Desjardins went 109-110-27 in three seasons.

      "It's a proud day for me, something I've been working at for a long time," Green told the team's website. "To get the opportunity here in Vancouver is extra special. I'm confident I'm ready and I'm really excited for the challenge."

      Green served as the coach of the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets, for the last three seasons. The 46-year-old British Columbia native guided the Comets to a 120-78-20 record and an appearance in the Calder Cup Final two seasons ago.

      Before coaching Utica, Green was the bench boss for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League during the 2012-13 season, going 37-8-2 en route to the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a Memorial Cup final appearance.

      "Travis is a talented head coach who's played a key role in the development of our young players through four seasons with (Utica)," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. "He has an intense desire to win and build a team identity that is hardworking, responsible on both ends of the ice and competitive. He has an excellent understanding of where we are as an organization and we're confident in his ability to help build our team and develop a winning culture.

      "We're pleased to welcome Travis and his family and truly excited about the future."

      As a player, Green totaled 193 goals and 262 assists over 970 career games from 1992 to 2007 between the New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks/Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

  • Stars' Seguin undergoes shoulder surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected to be ready for training camp in September, general manager Jim Nill said Wednesday.

    • "It's something that bothered him all season, and he could have waited to do it sometime after next season and tried to play through it," Nill said of Seguin's decision to have surgery, which was performed Tuesday. "But with the time we had, we decided it was best to get it fixed."

      Seguin is expected to spend the next two to four weeks in a sling and have another month of rehab before he can resume skating.

      Seguin collected 26 goals and 46 assists for a team-leading 72 points while playing in all 82 games this season for the Stars, who finished with a 34-37-11 mark. The 25-year-old has scored 133 goals and set up 173 others in four seasons with Dallas.

      A Stanley Cup winner with Boston, Seguin has recorded 189 goals and 238 assists in 508 career games with the Bruins and Stars.

  • Bruins bring back Cassidy as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Boston Bruins removed the interim tag from Bruce Cassidy's title on Wednesday, announcing he will be back as head coach next season.

    • Bruins general manager Don Sweeney officially named Cassidy as the 28th head coach in franchise history.

      The Bruins went 18-8-1 under Cassidy, who replaced the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 7, and finished third in the Atlantic Division.

      Boston qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. The Bruins were eliminated on Sunday, losing to the Ottawa Senators in six games in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

      Since Cassidy assumed head coaching responsibilities on Feb. 9, the Bruins ranked first in the NHL in goals per game (3.37), first in the NHL in fewest shots allowed (741), tied for second in the NHL in wins (18), tied for second in the NHL in power-play percentage (27.8), tied for third in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.30), tied for fifth in the NHL in faceoff percentage (53.6) and tied for sixth in the NHL in takeaways (229).

      Before joining Boston as an assistant prior to the start of the 2016-17 campaign, Cassidy spent five seasons (2011-16) as head coach of the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. He spent the three previous seasons (2008-11) with the club as an assistant.

      The 51-year-old Cassidy, a native of Ottawa, compiled a 207-128-45 overall record in 380 games, including winning seasons in all five years and postseason berths in each of his final four seasons at the Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence. In 2015-16, Cassidy helped lead the P-Bruins to a 41-22-13 record.

      Cassidy's previous NHL experience includes coaching the Washington Capitals from 2002-04. He led the Capitals to a 39-29-8-6 record and a postseason berth in his first season with the team. Following his exit from Washington, he served as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2005-06 season.

      As a player, Cassidy recorded 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 36 games during parts of five NHL seasons after being selected by the Blackhawks with the 18th overall pick in the 1983 NHL draft.

  • Sharks announce that Thornton knee surgery 'successful'
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The San Jose Sharks announced Tuesday that captain Joe Thornton underwent successful surgery to repair two damaged ligaments in his left knee.

    • Thornton underwent the surgery Monday. The Sharks said he is expected to make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of his 21st season.

      Thornton's next season might not be with the Sharks. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer and the surgery requires about a six-month recovery.

      The Sharks announced Thornton's injuries Monday after reports surfaced that he played four postseason games against the Edmonton Oilers with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial collateral ligament.

      The 37-year-old was injured April 2 against the Vancouver Canucks. He missed the rest of the regular season games and the first two games against Edmonton.

      Thornton, who won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player in 2006, totaled seven goals and 43 assists in 79 regular-season games this season.

  • Goaltending figures to be key as Blues host Preds
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues know how well goalie Jake Allen played in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, but they have one sobering fact staring them in the face as they prepare for round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    • As good as Allen was, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was even better in his first-round series, leading the Predators to a four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, the top seed in the Western Conference.

      Rinne shut out the Blackhawks in two of the four games and allowed a total of three goals in the series on 126 shots.

      Whether the Blues can have more success against Rinne than the Blackhawks did likely will determine which team wins the series and advances to the Western Conference final. Game 1 is Wednesday night in St. Louis.

      The Blues are trying to reach the conference final for the second consecutive year, while Nashville has never advanced that far, losing in the second round to San Jose a year ago. The Blues then lost to the Sharks in the conference final.

      This is the first time the Blues and Predators have met in the playoffs.

      One of the keys to the Blues' win over the Wild in the first round might have been some inside knowledge from coach Mike Yeo, who spent five years behind the Minnesota bench before he was fired 14 months ago.

      They could have another source for information on the Predators in backup goalie Carter Hutton, who spent three years as Rinne's backup before signing as a free agent with the Blues last summer.

      "Knowing some guys and their mentalities, the way they handle games, the ins and outs of every guy is important," Hutton told NHL.com. "Before each series, we try to analyze it the best we can, and obviously, they're playing good hockey. It's going to be a tough challenge for us, but I think we're pretty pumped for it."

      Each team is quite familiar with the other's goalie. Rinne has started 39 games against the Blues in his career, including three this season. Allen has logged 10 games against the Predators in his career, four of them coming this year.

      "Chicago didn't get much in four games, which is very impressive," Blues center Paul Stastny said of Rinne's performance. "We have to get second- and third-chance opportunities, try to get in front of him so he doesn't see the puck."

      Stastny returned to the lineup for the final game against the Wild, his first since sustaining a broken foot on March 21. The Predators could be getting a key player of their own back for this series in forward Colin Wilson, who missed the Chicago series. Wilson led Nashville with 13 playoff points last year.

      "I think that (the Blues) are a heavy team, so you have to have some heavy players down low, and that's why my game can work well against them, to battle their attributes," Wilson told NHL.com. "I think I've always played well against the Blues."

      There is no question, however, the most important player for the Predators will be Rinne, just as he was against the Blackhawks.

      Rinne thinks having lost in the second round last year is serving as motivation for the Predators' attempt to advance further this season.

      "In anybody's career, you're going to have your ups and downs, and you're going to learn from your defeats," Rinne told NHL.com. "You're going to go through those things, and I think when you go through it as a team, it's good for you. Last year, it was an empty feeling after that Game 7 loss in San Jose. Now we're in the same situation, going back to the second round.

      "The biggest thing, too, even though there's a lot of fans going crazy and the whole city is supporting us, I feel like us players stay pretty even-keeled, and I think that's a good sign. That's a great thing, and that's how it should be. We haven't done anything yet, and I think that's the mindset we've been having."

  • Oilers, McDavid brace for next challenge: Ducks
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Edmonton Oilers and the Anaheim Ducks square off in Game 1 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series Wednesday at Honda Center.

    • For visiting Edmonton, it is uncharted waters for a franchise that missed the playoffs in the 10 previous seasons. Anaheim, meanwhile, emerged as the favorite to win the Western Conference after the surprising first-round elimination of the Chicago Blackhawks, who fell to the Nashville Predators.

      The Oilers won their opening series against banged-up San Jose in unexpected fashion by shutting down the Sharks in six games. Despite having the third-best offense in the Western Conference during the regular season, Edmonton recorded only 12 goals in the six games and were outscored by San Jose 14-12 thanks mostly to the Sharks' 7-0 victory in Game 4.

      Center Connor McDavid, the favorite to win the Hart Trophy awarded to the league MVP, was merely average against the Sharks, registering two goals (including one empty-netter) and two assists.

      The Oilers' best player in the series was goaltender Cam Talbot, who posted two shutouts, a 2.03 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

      Edmonton knows it will need to produce more offense against Anaheim in order to advance.

      If McDavid is to return to form, he likely will have to do it against one of the game's premier defensive centers, Anaheim's Ryan Kesler. The burly center has been nominated for the Frank J. Selke Award, presented to the league's best defensive forward, for the fifth time. Kesler won the Selke in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, but despite his defensive prowess, Edmonton coach Todd McLellan does not appear to be concerned about the matchup.

      "Matching can be overemphasized, it can take a number of players out of the game, it can destroy your rhythm and you'd like to have an edge, but if you don't get it, you still got to find ways to win," McLellan said. "We're going to play four of seven games on the road, odds are we're not going to get favorable matchups, we'll find a way to get through it somehow."

      The Ducks had a much easier first round, sweeping the wild-card Calgary Flames in four games, continuing their recent domination of the matchup. The four-game whitewash gave Anaheim 23 wins in its past 26 games versus the Flames, but the Ducks expect a far tougher series against an Edmonton team that finished two points behind them in the Pacific Division race.

      A key to victory is the health of the Ducks' defensive corps. Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen all could be in the lineup for Game 1, coach Randy Carlyle announced Tuesday. Vatanen and Fowler missed the first round, but fortunately for Carlyle, his blue-line depth chart is arguably the deepest in the league.

      Rookies Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour each averaged about 20 minutes in the first round and are solid insurance policies if any of their established blue-liners are not 100 percent. Theodore and Ryan Getzlaf led the way offensively against Calgary with two goals and three assists apiece.

      Carlyle said he expects far tougher sledding against Edmonton. The Oilers won three of the five regular-season meetings and outscored the Ducks 14-12. This is only the second time the teams have met in the playoffs, with the Oilers winning in five games in 2006 en route to the Stanley Cup finals.

      "Every inch of the ice is earned as you move deeper into the playoffs," Carlyle said. "The teams that win those battles give themselves a better chance of moving on. We not surprised to be facing the Oilers, they got the job done against San Jose, and we know this series will be tougher than the last one."

      The Oilers also received good news on their blue-line contingent when defenseman Oscar Klefbom announced he was at full strength after missing the third period of Edmonton's Game 6 clincher with an undisclosed illness.

      "I feel good, almost back to normal," Klefbom said. "I didn't feel very good on the bench in San Jose but felt a lot better after the game when we won that game. I feel a lot better now and should be good to go (Wednesday)."

      Edmonton may reunite its top line of McDavid, Patrick Maroon and Leon Draisaitl in the hopes of reigniting the offense. Draisaitl feasted on the Ducks in the regular season, registering six goals and two assists. Maroon has seen the chemistry his two linemates have created against Anaheim this season and expects to see more starting Wednesday.

      "Just finding those little holes and creating offense for yourself, that's what elite players do," Maroon said. "Connor and Leon do a really good job of that, and they will be playing against the best defensive line in all the NHL in (Jakob) Silfverberg, (Andrew) Cogliano and Kesler."

  • Canucks hire Green as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Travis Green will be hired as the new coach of the Vancouver Canucks, ESPN reported Tuesday.

    • Green, 46, served as the coach of the Canucks' AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, for the last three seasons. He guided the Comets to a 120-78-20 record and an appearance in the Calder Cup Final two seasons ago.

      Before coaching Utica, Green was the bench boss for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League during the 2012-13 season, going 37-8-2 en route to the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a Memorial Cup final appearance.

      As a player, Green totaled 193 goals and 262 assists over 970 career games from 1992 to 2007 between the New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks/Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

      Vancouver fired coach Willie Desjardins on April 10 after the Canucks (30-43-9) finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL after missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. He went 109-110-27 in three seasons.

  • Sharks' Thornton played through ACL, MCL tears
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, April 24, 2017

    San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton played four postseason games with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial collateral ligament, and he had surgery Monday to repair his left knee.

    • Sharks coach Peter DeBoer announced the extent of Thornton's injury on Monday, and later in the day general manager Doug Wilson said the 37-year-old forward was scheduled for surgery Monday afternoon.

      Thornton was injured on April 2 in a game against the Vancouver Canucks. He missed the rest of the regular season and the first two games of the Sharks' first-round playoff series against Edmonton. However, Thornton returned for Game 3 and played the final four games of the six-game series won by the Oilers.

      "I've been in this business a long time," Wilson said. "You see a player play with that type of injury tells you all you need to know about him."

      Thornton had two assists and averaged 18:50 of ice time in the four postseason games he played.

      Thornton spoke to the media before DeBoer revealed the severity of the injury, and Thornton downplayed the problem, calling it "the normal stuff that hockey players deal with."

      "It was just unfortunate, the time of the year," Thornton said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "That it happened three games before the end of the season and the playoffs, you got to deal with something like that.

      "Hockey players are a different breed. There's probably five or six guys that had to deal with different stuff. But it is what it is. I'll go get it checked out today and go from there."

      Thornton becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the injury and resulting surgery complicate things. ACL surgery typically requires about six months of recovery time, which mean Thornton might be ready to return to action when the 2017-18 season begins.

      Thornton, who won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player in 2006, just finished his 20th NHL season, and he had seven goals and 43 assists in 79 regular-season games this season.

      Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, who also become an unrestricted free agent this summer, said he played the series with a broken left thumb, although he will not need surgery.

  • Anderson, Cogliano, Ryan tabbed as Masterton finalists
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, April 24, 2017

    Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, Anaheim Ducks left winger Andrew Cogliano and Carolina Hurricanes center Derek Ryan on Monday were named finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

    • The award is presented "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

      The Professional Hockey Writers Association voted on the award at the end of the regular season. The winner will be announced June 21 at the NHL Awards event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

      Anderson left the Senators for part of the 2016-17 season while wife Nicholle dealt with throat cancer. He returned to the team on Oct. 29 after Ottawa lost goaltender Andrew Hammond with a groin injury, but left again in early December while his wife underwent treatment.

      After the All-Star break, Anderson came back and helped the Senators to a playoff berth, finishing with 25 victories in 40 starts. The Senators have advanced to the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

      Anderson became Ottawa's career wins leader with 147 and played in his 500th NHL game on March 11.

      Cogliano has received four Masterton Trophy nominations. He has played in 786 consecutive regular-season games and 833 including the playoffs.

      In a 10-year NHL career, Cogliano has never missed a playoff game. His iron-man record to start a career is the second longest in NHL history behind Doug Jarvis' 964-game streak from 1975 to 1988. Cogliano's streak is currently the fourth longest in NHL history.

      Ryan is enjoying his first extended taste of NHL action this season at age 29. Before reaching the NHL, he has played for the Spokane of the Western Hockey League; in the United Hockey League; the University of Alberta; Szekesfehervar, Hungary; Villach, Austria; and Orebro, Sweden.

      Last season, Ryan saw action in six NHL games. In 2016-17, Ryan collected 11 goals and 29 points in 67 games.

      The late Bill Masterton, for whom the award is named, played for the Minnesota North Stars. He died in 1968.

  • Islanders sign D Seidenberg
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, April 24, 2017

    Veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg agreed to a one-year deal with the New York Islanders, the team announced Monday.

    • Seidenberg, 35, registered 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 73 games with the Islanders last season. He also led the club with a plus-25 rating.

      It was his first season with New York and 14th overall in the NHL for Seidenberg, who spent the previous 6 1/2 seasons with the Boston Bruins. He won a Stanley Cup championship with the Bruins in 2011.

      A sixth-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2001, Seidenberg has appeared in 831 games with the Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Bruins and Islanders, compiling 44 goals and 202 assists.

      A native of Schwenningen, Germany, Seidenberg has been a member of the German Olympic hockey team in 2002, 2006 and 2010. He also played for Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

  • Blackhawks dismiss assistant coach Kitchen
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, April 24, 2017

    The Chicago Blackhawks fired assistant coach Mike Kitchen on Monday in the wake of the team being swept by the Nashville Predators.

    • Nashville beat Chicago 4-1 on Thursday night to complete a surprising sweep of the Western Conference's top seed.

      Kitchen joined the Blackhawks' coaching staff as an assistant coach in July 2010 and was on Joel Quenneville's staff for two Stanley Cup Championships in 2013 and 2015.

      "We believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future."

      Kitchen spent 14 years as an assistant coach with Toronto and St. Louis before spending parts of three seasons as the Blues' head coach. He then spent three years as an assistant with the Florida Panthers before joining the Blackhawks following the 2010 Stanley Cup title run.

  • Lightning sign F Katchouk
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, April 23, 2017

    The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Boris Katchouk to a three-year, entry level contract on Sunday.

    • Katchouk, 18, played in 66 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League this season, recording 64 points (35 goals, 29 assists) and 46 penalty minutes. The Waterloo, Ontario, native ranked second on the Greyhounds for goals, third for points and fifth for assists.

      The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Katchouk skated in 141 career OHL games in three seasons, posting 117 points (59 goals, 58 assists) and 124 penalty minutes.

      The Lightning drafted Katchouk in the second round (44th overall) of the 2016 NHL draft.

  • Kings promote Stevens to head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, April 23, 2017

    The Los Angeles Kings promoted assistant John Stevens to become their next head coach.

    • The team and Stevens agreed to contract terms on Sunday, new Kings general manager Rob Blake announced.

      Stevens, 50, has most recently served as the associate head coach of the Kings and been part of the coaching staff for the past seven seasons.

      Stevens was the Philadelphia Flyers' head coach from 2006 to 2010, after which he served as an assistant coach with the Kings, including four games in 2011-12 as an interim head coach. Stevens went 120-109 with the Flyers.

      "John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for," Blake said in a statement. "I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed. With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward."

      After Los Angeles missed the playoffs for the second time in three years with a 39-35-8 mark in 2016-17, the Kings fired coach Darryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi, who helped guide the franchise to its only two Stanley Cup championships.

  • NHL roundup: Rangers, Oilers, Blues advance
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, April 23, 2017

    NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored two goals and Henrik Lundqvist capped a brilliant first-round series with 27 saves as the New York Rangers eliminated the Montreal Canadiens with a 3-1 victory in Game 6 on Saturday night.

    • The Rangers won the Eastern Conference best-of-seven series 4-2 and face Ottawa or Boston in the next round. Zuccarello scored both goals in the second period after the Rangers fell behind 1-0 after the first.

      Derek Stepan capped the win with an empty-net goal with 17.8 seconds remaining. Lundqvist stopped 195 of 206 shots in six games and made a stretching left pad save to deny Tomas Plekanec and preserve the win in the final minutes.

      Alexei Emelin scored for the Canadiens. Carey Price made 20 saves in a losing effort.

      Oilers 3, Sharks 1

      SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored breakaway goals 56 seconds apart early in the second period as Edmonton won their Western Conference first-round playoff series with San Jose 4-2.

      Cam Talbot stopped 27 shots as the defending West champion Sharks couldn't muster the tying goal despite a late third-period rally. Patrick Marleau's third goal of the series -- and 68th of his 177-game postseason career -- at 12:12 of the third period pulled San Jose to within a goal and brought the SAP Center sellout crowd to life.

      The Oilers were guilty of a too-many-men penalty at 15:03 to give the Sharks a third power play, but San Jose could not convert despite captain Joe Pavelski ringing a turn-around backhand effort off the crossbar and goalpost 1:15 into the advantage.

      Blues 4, Wild 3 (OT)

      SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at 9:42 of overtime and Jake Allen made 35 saves as St. Louis defeated Minnesota to win their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

      Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen and Paul Stastny scored first-period goals for St. Louis, which got its third road victory of the playoffs to win the series 4-1. The Blues open the Western Conference semifinals at home versus Nashville.

      Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored for the Wild, who had their best regular season in franchise history, but managed only eight goals in five playoff games.

  • Holtby, Bobrovsky, Price selected as Vezina finalists
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will have an opportunity to repeat as the Vezina Trophy winner.

    • Holtby, who took home the honor last year, joined Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday by being named finalists for the 2016-17 Vezina Trophy. The trophy is awarded "to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position."

      The general managers of the NHL's clubs submitted ballots for the Vezina Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 21, during the 2017 NHL Awards at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

      Holtby shared the league lead with 42 wins this season while his career high-tying nine shutouts paced the NHL. The 27-year-old Saskatchewan native ranked second in the league with a 2.07 goals-against average and became the third goaltender in NHL history to post three straight 40-win seasons, joining Martin Brodeur (2005-06 through 2007-08) and Evgeni Nabokov (2007-08 through 2009-10).

      Bobrovsky, who was a 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, led the NHL with a 2.06 goals-against average and .931 save percentage to guide the Blue Jackets to their best season in club history. The 28-year-old Russian ranked third in wins with a franchise-high 41 and tied for third in shutouts with seven.

      Price returned from an injury-plagued season in 2015-16 to post 37 wins to go along with his 2.23 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. A former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner, Price opened the season in record-setting fashion, becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first 10 appearances.

  • Bruins have shot at home to extend series with Senators
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    BOSTON -- Thanks largely to the unexpected heroics of rookie Sean Kuraly, the Bruins have life and their first-round playoff series with the Ottawa Senators returns to Boston for Sunday's Game 6.

    • But despite Boston's double-overtime win Friday night, Ottawa still leads the series 3-2.

      "We just stay the course. It's exactly what we expected -- tough, hard series," Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said before his team left for a return trip to Boston the Senators had hoped to avoid.

      " ... We rebounded all year. There's no reason why we can't rebound again."

      The Senators, who finished second in the Atlantic Division ahead of the third-place Bruins, have won five straight games at TD Garden. They are 7-2 overall against Boston this season.

      The Senators took Game 3 in overtime and won 1-0 in Game 4, with Bobby Ryan scoring the winner in both games.

      "It's a great stat, but I don't think we think about it much to be honest," Ottawa's Marc Methot said of his team's success at TD Garden. "During the regular season, that's one thing, but it's a different ballgame now."

      And the Bruins, who have never come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series -- losing all 22 previous times they faced that climb -- have life.

      And they have it at least partially because interim coach Bruce Cassidy played a hunch and inserted Kuraly, whose rights were acquired in a 2015 deal that sent goaltender Martin Jones to San Jose, into the lineup after he sat out the two games in Boston.

      Playing in only his 11th NHL game, Kuraly scored the tying goal from behind the net as the Bruins completed a comeback from two goals down, and then had the winner on a rebound past Craig Anderson.

      Kuraly then started jumping up and down as his teammates came off the bench in celebration.

      "It was really cool to see," teammate Kevan Miller said. "He looked a little bit like 1980 Miracle, running around the ice."

      "I'd say it's a huge momentum lift for tomorrow," said defenseman Joe Morrow, who like Kuraly is playing because of injuries to others. "Playing at 3 (p.m.) you're right back at it, take care of your bumps and bruises today.

      "You wake up tomorrow ready to play another game and you're still kind of coming off the high of winning that game in overtime and seeing some guys make some huge plays and be super excited about that. That's what we're going to carry into tomorrow."

      Both teams have manpower situations heading into Game 6. The Bruins, already missing three of their top four defensemen, also lost David Krejci again in Game 5 -- this time on a knee-on-knee hit by Chris Wideman.

      As Krejci left the ice, Bruins players detected Wideman mocking Krejci, who also missed the first two games of the series.

      None of the three defensemen will return for Game 6, although Torey Krug is skating and could be possible for a Game 7. Krejci was getting treatment Saturday and is officially day to day.

      Ottawa's Victor Stalberg went down with an injury Friday, joining Tom Pyatt and Mark Borowiecki on the Senators' injury list. Borowiecki was injured in Game 2, Pyatt in Game 4.

      "I just need to know who's available," Boucher said.

      Of the nine games the teams have played this season, only seven have been decided by one goal, one of the two two-goal decisions included an empty-netter, and four have required extra time.

      Speaking Friday night about Kuraly, Cassidy said, "I liked his game early in the series, but we had guys that had been here. You know Krech came back in the lineup, he's obviously going to play. So we liked him, we just kind of put guys ahead of him that have been here all year.

      "One door closes, another one opens, and he took advantage of his opportunities starting at the bottom of the lineup. Tonight, we just needed him more."

  • Ovechkin, Capitals looking to close out Maple Leafs
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 22, 2017

    TORONTO -- The Washington Capitals expect to have Alex Ovechkin "ready to go" Sunday night in Game 6 when they try to clinch their Eastern Conference playoff series with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

    • Ovechkin left Game 5, which the Capitals won 2-1 in overtime Friday to take a 3-2 series lead, late in the first period at the Verizon Centre when hit on the left knee by a low hip check from Toronto's Nazem Kadri.

      Washington's star left winger returned for the second period and played the rest of the game. Ovechhin seemed to suffer no after-effects.

      "He was re-evaluated again after the game," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said in a conference call Saturday. "He's fine and we expect him to be ready to go."

      Washington defenseman Karl Alzner missed his third straight game Friday with an upper-body injury, although he participated in the morning skate Friday.

      "He's day-to-day and he's improving," Trotz said Saturday when asked about Alzner.

      Trotz said that if Alzner does return Sunday, he would consider going with seven defensemen instead of dropping one.

      If needed, Game 7 would be played Tuesday in Washington but the Capitals would prefer to finish the series by winning in Toronto.

      "You get the opportunity to push someone off the cliff, you need to push them off, if you can," Trotz said. "The difference is we've got a little bit of wiggle room and they don't."

      Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock agreed with Trotz.

      "I think the way I said it was when you have someone down, and you have a chance to step on them, you step on them or they might get up and kill you," Babcock said. "I agree with him 100 percent. We're in the same thing. If we don't win, we go home. There should be no more desperate team than us and we're all aware and understand that fully."

      It has been a close series with each game decided by one goal and four of the five decided in overtime.

      "It's been a great series; it's been a good battle," Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak said. "We're going to bring our best and hopefully we can push it to another game. It'll be an exciting, fun game to be a part of.

      "We believe in ourselves. I think every game has been a one-goal game, so it's been fun. It's been a great series to be a part of. We want to take it to another game after (Sunday). We're going to come out and play our best and hopefully we can get it to Game 7."

      Specials teams were a big factor for the Capitals on Friday and their penalty-killing was an important of the win. It needed to be because Tom Wilson, a hero on Game 4 with two goals and some hustle plays, took four penalties and was benched in the third period. His spot was taken by Ovechkin, who double-shifted the rest or the way.

      "Well, I thought Tom had energy, but you cannot take four penalties in a playoff game," Trotz said. "So, he didn't see the ice after that last one."

      The Maple Leafs praised Washington's penalty-killing.

      "They have a great penalty kill; they have a great goalie," Bozak said. "I think they've made some adjustments that we didn't adapt to well enough as a unit. It's something that we've got to be a little bit better at -- special teams."

      Wilson, when he is not in the penalty box, is an important part of Washington's penalty-killing so when he is off, others need to respond.

      "Especially when you lose a guy like Tommy, he's like a big PK guy, we had to rely on some other guys to go out there and get the job done," Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "But that's the way our guys have been rolling this year, just making sure we just roll those guys over and keep going, and I thought that really gave us a lot of momentum. Obviously, we didn't capitalize on it, but I thought we've gotten a lot of offensive zone time from those kills."

      Babcock said the power play was not at its best Friday.

      "I didn't think the power play was bad until last game," Babcock said Saturday. "I thought last game we bobbled and turned the puck over way too much. Give them credit, but a lot of them were unforced by ourselves. We can do a better job. We won four faceoffs and we didn't do much with them. We could win more faceoffs in that area."

      Trotz said special teams are a "big factor for both teams."

      "If you can keep your special teams going through the playoffs, it is a big factor in a series," he said. "It can be because of the fact that the five-on-five play becomes so tight at times that that can be a deciding factor. Consistency on the special teams has been huge."