National Hockey League
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  • NHL players might not participate in 2018 Olympics
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 31, 2016

    The chances of NHL players participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics are diminishing.

    • Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday before the start of the Stanley Cup finals in Pittsburgh that insurance and travel costs might keep the NHL from releasing its players for the Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

      "I am pretty sure our teams are not really interested in paying of the privilege of disrupting our season, but we will have to see what they ultimately decide to do," Bettman said in his annual State of the League speech.

      The International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation subsidized the travel and insurance costs for past Olympics, but they might not in 2018.

      Bettman said if the IOC and IIHF can't come to an agreement on the issue, "I have no doubt that it will have a significant impact on our decision." The NHL would be on the hook for "many, many millions of dollars" should the other parties not step up, according to Bettman.

      NHL players started participating in the Olympics in 1998 at Nagano, Japan, when the Czech Republic won the gold medal. Subsequent champions were Canada in 2002 in Salt Lake City, 2010 in Vancouver and 2014 in Sochi, Russia; and Sweden in 2006 in Turin, Italy.

  • Sharks' Ward thinks NHL should retire O'Ree's No. 22
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 29, 2016

    San Jose Sharks right winger Joel Ward said he believes it is time for the NHL to discuss retiring the number of Willie O'Ree, the first black player to play in the league.

    • O'Ree, who wore No. 22, broke the hockey color barrier with the Boston Bruins on Jan. 18, 1958. O'Ree only played in 45 NHL games but is well regarded in hockey circles and is still an ambassador for the sport at age 80.

      "I definitely think Willie should be recognized for sure," Ward, who is black, said at Stanley Cup Media Day on Sunday in advance of the Sharks' contest against the host Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. "The league obviously does that with a task force, but I do think that Willie should definitely be a big part of the league for sure for what he did.

      "It's a no-brainer. Without Willie, it would be tough for me to be sitting here today. I definitely think Willie should be a big part of this."

      Ward, 35, saw what Major League Baseball did by universally retiring Jackie Robinson's No. 42 and thinks the same idea would work in hockey.

      Ward wears No. 42 for the Sharks and said he chose the number to honor Robinson.

      "I decided to pay tribute and I saw the No. 42 was available," Ward said. "When I think about what Jackie Robinson means, not just on the baseball aspect, but what he went through, and I always question myself whether would I ever be strong enough to go through something like that, and the fact that he excelled hitting over .300 and knowing that he could be shot at any minute.

      "Every time he stepped up to the plate he just seemed to tune that out in some miraculously way, so for somebody to pave the way like that and open doors for guys like myself is unbelievable."

      He has similar strong feelings about O'Ree's trail-blazing efforts and hopes his speaking up will prompt the league to consider retiring O'Ree's No. 22.

      "That's something to definitely talk about for sure. It would be great if they did," Ward said. "Obviously that's something that would be a great discussion about. With the amount of respect Willie has around the league, it would definitely be something special if that did come up."

  • Stanley Cup Finals preview: Coaching changes boosted Sharks, Penguins
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 29, 2016

    PITTSBURGH -- The stars weren't producing, the on-ice chemistry wasn't there and the organization felt the coach needed to go. The San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins reached similar conclusions only months apart.

    • On Monday night, two successful franchises -- one with three NHL championships on its resume, the other seeking its first -- will play Game 1 of a Stanley Cup finals that neither team realistically expected to reach not that long ago.

      The Penguins, barely above .500 and skating on thin ice with the unproven Mike Johnston as coach, made a move in mid-December and brought in their top minor league coach, Mike Sullivan, as head coach. They are 45-22-5 since then.

      Now they are trying now to replicate what they did in 2009, when they fired Michel Therrien as coach at midseason and promoted minor league coach Dan Bylsma. Four months later, they won the Stanley Cup.

      "This probably wasn't the scenario I envisioned, to get (to the finals) this quickly," Sullivan said Sunday. "We've been determined to make every day count (since he was hired)."

      And to make every player count.

      The Penguins, going against their long-standing tradition of leaning heavily on stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at every critical juncture of a season or a game, cut their playing time -- especially Malkin's at times -- as Sullivan rolled four lines with the kind of depth they lacked since reaching back-to-back Cup finals in 2008 and 2009.

      "You see it every day -- he brings a lot of energy, a lot of passion," said right wing Bryan Rust, who played part of the season for Sullivan at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL). Rust scored both Penguins goals in a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday.

      For the Sharks, their turnaround began at the end of last season, when the franchise's leader in career coaching wins, Todd McLellan, was fired after going 40-33-9. New coach Peter DeBoer, who formerly coached the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils, brought in a system that emphasized pressuring the opponent and giving the team's stars the time and space to make plays.

      The Sharks went on to go 46-30-6 as new players made significant contributions -- new goalie Martin Jones won 37 games -- and longtime franchise icon Joe Thornton went from producing 65 points and being a minus-4 to getting 82 points and being a plus-25 this season. Linemate Joe Pavelski leads the NHL with 13 playoff goals.

      "We just get out of (Thornton's way) and see a spot on the ice and go to it, and he finds us and we score goals," linemate Tomas Hertl said of how Thornton creates plays for him and Pavelski.

      The Sharks know they must slow the Pittsburgh speed that improved significantly this season with the infusion of a half-dozen players from the minors and longtime Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (nine playoff goals). That high-grade speed helped the Penguins eliminate their perennial playoff nemesis Rangers, the NHL regular-season leading Washington Capitals and the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

      "You have to make a group effort to be conscious with the puck ... you can't be trying to make (unwise) plays to the middle where it can feed that speed," Pavelski said. "We need to lay pucks in, get pucks out, simple things we have control over."

      The Sharks also will lean on shutdown defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Brown to slow Crosby, who has one goal in 10 career games against them. But the Penguins' depth is superior to that of any Western Conference team San Jose met in the playoffs. Pittsburgh's No. 3 line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Kessel is its most productive.

      As Sharks defenseman Paul Martin pointed out, the Penguins have only four forwards remaining from the teams he played on the previous five seasons.

      The goaltender matchup is one of the most intriguing in NHL history -- the 26-year-old Jones, a former Los Angeles Kings backup who never was a full-time starter until this season with San Jose, against 22-year-old Matt Murray, who is 11-4 while appearing in more NHL playoff games (15) than regular-season games (13).

      The teams met twice in 10 days during the regular season, with the Sharks winning 3-1 in Pittsburgh on Nov. 21, but the Penguins winning 5-1 in San Jose on Dec. 1. They have faced each other only 35 times in the last 25 regular seasons.

  • Sharks, Penguins unlikely combatants in finals
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 29, 2016

    The San Jose Sharks crashed the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in the franchise's 25-year history.

    • But it's not a stretch to say the Pittsburgh Penguins were even more unlikely to be one of the final two teams remaining.

      The Sharks and Penguins begin their quest for Lord Stanley's Cup on Monday in Pittsburgh and the Penguins will aim to continue a resurgence that begin on Dec. 12 when Mike Johnston was fired as coach and replaced by Mike Sullivan.

      Pittsburgh was floundering in ninth place in the Eastern Conference at the time and Sullivan began pecking away at the team's mind-set. He requested a more intense and resilient approach and results soon followed.

      Underachieving players began to perform better and victories seemed to arrive in bushels.

      "I know there's a lot of stories that surround this group, but the greatest story of all is the group itself," Sullivan said at Sunday's Stanley Cup Media Day festivities. "When you're part of something that's bigger than yourself it's a special feeling, and I know these guys have it right now."

      The Penguins are fresh off a seven-game series victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals. Suddenly, they are four wins away from winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2009.

      "We didn't think we would be in this situation around Christmas," Pittsburgh right winger Patric Hornqvist said. "We were not even in a playoff race. Since January we've been a (heck) of a team. We've been improving every single day and I can't say enough, how proud I am of this group. But we're not done yet."

      The Sharks advanced by ousting the St. Louis Blues in six games in the Western Conference finals.

      San Jose reached the conference finals in both 2010-11 before losing and long-time stalwarts like left winger Patrick Marleau, center Joe Pavelski and center Joe Thornton appreciate finally getting to lace up their skates for a Stanley Cup game.

      "You've got to keep putting your foot in the door and creating opportunities," Pavelski said. "It has taken a lot longer to break through then we would have thought. There's a lot of work to be done now. It is going to take a big effort from our guys."

      The Sharks also rate as a surprise finalist -- not simply because it is their initial time, but because they didn't even qualify for the playoffs one season earlier.

      But new coach Peter DeBoer helped prompt a revival as his methods clicked with the team's veteran cast.

      "Everyone was ready for something a little fresher," DeBoer said.

      Pavelski has been superb in the postseason with a league-leading 13 goals and his 22 points rank second behind teammate Logan Couture. The 27-year-old center leads in postseason points (24) and assists (16).

      Right winger Phil Kessel leads the Penguins with 18 points (nine goals, nine assists). Centers Sidney Crosby (six points, nine assists), Evgeni Malkin (four goals, 11 assists) and Nick Bonino (three goals, 12 assists) all have 15 points.

      Bonino didn't practice Sunday but Sullivan said he will likely play in Game 1. Bonino got hit in his left leg by a puck during Thursday's clinching win against Tampa Bay.

      San Jose hopes to have left winger Matt Nieto on the ice after he has missed the past seven games with an upper-body injury.

      The teams split two regular-season meetings. The Sharks posted a 3-1 victory at Pittsburgh on Nov. 21 and the Penguins returned serve with a 5-1 win at San Jose on Dec. 1.

  • Sharks' Nieto expected to be available for Game 1
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 29, 2016

    San Jose Sharks forward Matt Nieto is expected to be available for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.

    • The 23-year-old has missed the past seven games since suffering an upper-body injury while crashing into the net in Game 6 of the Sharks' second-round series against Nashville. He practiced Saturday, but did not skate with any of the team's first four lines and may not see the ice even if he does suit up.

      Nieto has one goal and three points in 11 playoff games this year.

      "He brings speed," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said, per NHL.com and The Sports Xchange correspondent Eric Gilmore. "He's one of our faster forwards. He's another guy that gives us a little bit of a different dimension and a little bit of a different element.

      "I'll know more by Monday, but I'd anticipate that he’d be available."

  • Red Wings ink C Nosek to two-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 27, 2016

    The Detroit Red Wings signed center Tomas Nosek to a two-year extension, the club announced Friday.

    • Nosek, 23, played in six games for Detroit last season and didn't score a point.

      He played most of the past two seasons for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

      Prior to that, the Czech Republic native played three seasons in a league in his home country.

  • Devils sign D Auvitu
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 27, 2016

    The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Yohann Auvitu to a one-year, two-way entry level contract, the team announced Friday.

    • Auvitu, 26, played for HIFK Helsinki in Finland's top pro league last season. He scored 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 48 games and was named to the All-Star team and also named top defensemen.

      He has played parts of six seasons in Finland and has 57 career points (19 goals, 38 assists).

  • Jets name Vincent as head coach of AHL affiliate
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 27, 2016

    The Winnipeg Jets named Pascal Vincent as head coach of the Manitoba Moose, the team's American Hockey League affiliate, on Friday.

    • Vincent, 44, has been an assistant coach with the Jets for the past five seasons. He was one of the original hires on the Jets' coaching staff when the team moved to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. The Jets compiled a record of 176-156-44 over that span, including a playoff berth in 2015 following a franchise record season of 43-26-13 for a .604 winning percentage.

      Prior to his time with the Jets, Vincent was a head coach in the QMJHL for 12 seasons with the Montreal Juniors and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

      Vincent becomes the eighth coach in Manitoba Moose history, as well as the seventh in their AHL history.

  • Penguins' Hagelin, Hornqvist added to Team Sweden
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 27, 2016

    Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist, one day after their team advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, were named to Team Sweden for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

    • The Penguins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night.

      Hagelin and Hornqvist were among two of the final seven players named to the roster Friday. Hagelin has five goals and seven assists in the playoffs while Hornqvist has seven goals and four assists.

      The eight teams competing in the World Cup of Hockey started announcing their final roster selections Friday.

      Team Finland, Team Russia and Team Czech Republic got the day started by naming their complete, 23-man rosters (20 skaters and three goaltenders).

      Team USA, Team North America, Team Canada and Team Europe will announce their rosters later Friday.

      The tournament will be played Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto.

      The World Cup of Hockey is a joint effort of the National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association, in cooperation with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The eight teams are split into two Groups, Group A and Group B, for the preliminary round (Sept. 17-22), when each team will play its three Group opponents in a round-robin format.

      Placed in Group A are Team Canada, Team Czech Republic and Team USA, plus Team Europe, a pan-European roster of players from birth countries outside of the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. The four teams in Group B are Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team North America, a selection of the top players from Canada and the United States who are 23 or under as of Oct. 1, 2016.

      The top two finishers in each of Group A and Group B will advance to the semifinals (Sept. 24-25), where each qualifier will face an elimination game against a team from the other Group. The two semifinal winners will meet in the final, a best-of-three series on Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and, if necessary, Oct. 1.

      TEAM FINLAND

      Patrik Laine, expected to be one of the first players selected in the 2016 NHL draft, was one of seven players added to Team Finland's roster.

      Laine, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters, could be one of the top two players chosen in the draft, which will be held June 24-25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

      Forwards: Sebastian Aho, Karpat (FIN); Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers; Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks; Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning; Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild; Erik Haula, Minnesota Wild; Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers; Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild; Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs; Lauri Korpikoski, Edmonton Oilers; Patrik Laine, Tappara (FIN); Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues; Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks.

      Defensemen: Jyrki Jokipakka, Calgary Flames; Sami Lepisto, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL); Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars; Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins; Ville Pokka, Chicago Blackhawks; Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres; Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks.

      Goalies: Mikko Koskinen, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL); Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins; Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators.

      TEAM RUSSIA

      Defensemen Alexei Emelin of the Montreal Canadiens, Alexey Marchenko of the Detroit Red Wings and Nikita Zaitsev, who signed this month with the Toronto Maple Leafs, were the only NHL players among the final seven named to Team Russia.

      The four other players added to the roster play in the Kontinental Hockey League: forwards Evgeny Dadonov of SKA Saint Petersburg, Vadim Shipachyov of SKA and Ivan Telegin of CSKA Moscow and defenseman Slava Voynov of SKA.

      Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Chicago Blackhawks; Evgeny Dadonov, SKA Saint Petersburg (KHL); Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning; Nikolay Kulemin, New York Islanders; Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals; Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; Vladislav Namestnikov, Tampa Bay Lightning; Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals; Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks; Vadim Shipachyov, SKA Saint Petersburg (KHL); Ivan Telegin, CSKA Moscow (KHL); Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues.

      Defensemen: Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens; Dmitry Kulikov, Florida Panthers; Alexey Marchenko, Detroit Red Wings; Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens; Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals; Slava Voynov, SKA Saint Petersburg (KHL); Nikita Zaitsev, Toronto Maple Leafs.

      Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets; Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

      TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC

      Team Czech Republic will have some family ties when it takes part in the World Cup of Hockey. Among the final seven players added to the roster for the tournament were two brothers -- forward Milan Michalek (Toronto Maple Leafs) and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (Arizona Coyotes).

      Forwards: Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars; Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes; Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars; Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks; Dmitrij Jaskin, St. Louis Blues; David Krejci, Boston Bruins; Milan Michalek, Toronto Maple Leafs; Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning; David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins; Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens; Vladimir Sobotka, Avangard Omsk (KHL); Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers.

      Defensemen: Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers; Michal Jordan, Carolina Hurricanes; Michal Kempny, Chicago Blackhawks; Zbynek Michalek, Arizona Coyotes; Jakub Nakladal, Calgary Flames; Roman Polak, San Jose Sharks; Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning.

      Goalies: Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings; Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers; Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets.

      TEAM SWEDEN

      Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg and Chicago Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger also were named to the roster.

      Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals; Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins; Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators; Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins; Carl Hagelin, Pittsburgh Penguins; Marcus Kruger, Chicago Blackhawks; Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche; Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks; Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks; Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks; Carl Soderberg, Colorado Avalanche; Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues; Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings.

      Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators; Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning; Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators; Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings; Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning.

      Goalies: Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres; Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers; Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks.

  • Return to youth, speed propels Pens to finals
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 27, 2016

    PITTSBURGH -- Back in training camp, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Bryan Rust wasn't visualizing being the player whose offense carried his team into the Stanley Cup finals.

    • "I was just trying to make the team," Rust said.

      He didn't finally achieve that until December, about the time the Penguins started playing themselves off the NHL's scrap heap and into postseason discussion.

      "Around Christmas, we weren't even in the playoff race, but since January we've been a (heck) of a team and improving every single day," right winger Patric Hornqvist said after the Penguins' 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday.

      "And we're not done yet."

      No they're not, and the Penguins play into June -- they play host to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against the San Jose Sharks on Monday -- largely because of a cast that wasn't around in October.

      That includes coach Mike Sullivan, who was promoted from the Penguins' Wilkes-Barre/Scranton farm club in mid-December to replace the fired Mike Johnston. The Penguins haven't been the same team since, because they're not the same team they've been in the past.

      Rookies Rust, Matt Murray, Tom Kuhnhackl, Conor Sheary and Brian Dumoulin -- along with veteran additions such as Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Justin Schultz and the injured Trevor Daley -- are a major reason why the Penguins finally made it back to the finals for the first time since 2009.

      Back then, with superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in their early 20s, the Penguins looked to be primed for multiple Cup runs. But it didn't happen until now, and it took a return to youth -- and speed -- to help achieve.

      None of the Penguins' previous four Cup finalists -- the Mario Lemieux teams of 1991 and 1992, the Crosby-Malkin teams of 2008 and 2009 -- were this fast from end to end, or could fly to a puck carrier or a potential shooter as quickly as this team can.

      Lightning coach Jon Cooper already knows what the Sharks must worry about most -- the Penguins arguably are the NHL's fastest team, something they've never been able to say before.

      "They're fast, and if you play a little too slow and aren't executing, it's hard when they're playing fast and they're right on you," said Cooper, who team was outscored 7-3 in Games 6 and 7.

      Sullivan not only brought discipline, motivation, sound defensive structures and a required accountability with him to Pittsburgh from Wilkes-Barre, he also brought Rust (five playoff goals), Kuhnhackl (two playoff goals, five points), Sheary (two playoff goals, five assists) and Murray (11 playoff wins). Dumoulin began the season in Pittsburgh after playing in the minors last season.

      Rust's five goals are the most by a Penguins rookie in the playoffs since Michel Briere also scored five in 1970. Rust and Joonas Donskoi of San Jose are tied for the most goals by a rookie in these playoffs.

      "He came ready to play and used his speed to his advantage," Sheary said of Rust, who scored both Pittsburgh goals in Game 7 and another in Game 6. "It's especially good to see this in the young guys coming up."

      While the forwards ramped up the Penguins' speed -- as did the exceptionally fast Kessel, who has nine playoff goals -- the 22-year-old Murray brought a calmness, confidence and composure in net that Pittsburgh sometimes lacked in the postseason.

      Murray is 11-4 in the playoffs and 18-4 in his last 22 starts -- all this after playing 31 games in the minors earlier this season. And the Penguins are 45-17-5 since losing their first four games under Sullivan.

      In all, seven Penguins players appeared in a Game 7 for the first time, an unusually high number in a sport where veteran teams such as the Blackhawks (3) and Kings (2) combined to win five of the previous six Cups.

      "I can't say that I imagined it," Sheary said of the rookies' impact. "But, right now, all of this seems right."

  • Stanley Cup finals schedule
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 27, 2016

    STANLEY CUP FINALS SCHEDULE

    • Pittsburgh Penguins vs. San Jose Sharks

      Game 1, Monday, May 30, 8 p.m., San Jose at Pittsburgh

      Game 2, Wednesday, June 1, 8 p.m., San Jose at Pittsburgh

      Game 3, Saturday, June 4, 8 p.m., Pittsburgh at San Jose

      Game 4, Monday, June 6, 8 p.m., Pittsburgh at San Jose

      Game 5*, Thursday, June 9, 8 p.m., San Jose at Pittsburgh

      Game 6*, Sunday, June 12, 8 p.m., Pittsburgh at San Jose

      Game 7*, Wednesday, June 15, 8 p.m., San Jose at Pittsburgh

      All times ET. *-if necessary.

      Games 1, 5, 6 and 7 will air on NBC in the United States. Game 2 will be on NBCSN in the United State. U.S. TV coverage for Games 3 and 4 is not yet determined. All games will air on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada.

  • Stamkos unexpectedly in lineup for Lightning in Game 7
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 26, 2016

    PITTSBURGH -- Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was unexpectedly in uniform for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday in Pittsburgh after being out since March 31 for surgery on a blood clot near his neck.

    • Stamkos said during the morning skate that his status hadn't changed, but he was active for the first time during the Lightning's three playoff rounds this spring. The star center helped lead Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup finals last season.

      Stamkos has been out in part because his doctors were attempting to find the right blood thinner to treat him.

      "I'm just working hard and that's about it. So, nothing really to change," Stamkos said about nine hours before the start of the Lightning's second Eastern Conference finals Game 7 in as many seasons.

      During pregame warmups, Stamkos skated at center on a line with wingers Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan

      Stamkos' contract expires at the end of this season, so any elimination game for the Lightning could be his final game for them. Stamkos led the Lightning with 36 goals in 77 regular season games, and he has nine goals and 18 assists in 27 games against the Penguins.

  • Red Wings add LW Sadowy in deal with Ducks
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 26, 2016

    The Detroit Red Wings acquired left winger Dylan Sadowy from the San Jose Sharks on Thursday for a third-round draft pick in the 2017 NHL draft.

    • The 20-year-old Sadowy has yet to play in the NHL. He recently finished his fourth full season in the Ontario Hockey League.

      In 70 games with Saginaw and Barrie this past season, Sadowy totaled 45 goals, 25 assists and a plus-17 rating. In 258 career OHL games, he has 188 points and 245 penalty minutes.

      Sadowy, a third-round pick (81st overall) by the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 NHL Draftt, also was part of the 2015 CHL Canada-Russia Series in November.

  • Panthers acquire McCann from Canucks
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    The Vancouver Canucks acquired defenseman Erik Gudbranson and a fifth-round pick in this summer's draft from the Florida Panthers for forward Jared McCann and second and fourth round picks this year.

    • Gudbranson, 24, scored two goals while adding nine assists and 49 penalty minutes in 64 games with the Panthers this season. He also appeared in six playoff games. He ranked third on the Panthers in hits (150), fourth in blocked shots (73) and fourth in average ice time per game (20:06).

      The 2010 third overall draft pick ranked second on the Panthers and led Florida defensemen in average ice time in the 2016 playoffs (26:54) in addition to ranking second on the team in blocked shots (eight).

      He has 11 goals and 32 assists in 309 regular season games over the span of five seasons with the Panthers.

      The 19-year-old McCann was selected by the Canucks in the first round (24th overall) of the 2014 draft. The 6-foot, 180-pounder played in 69 games with Vancouver this season, scoring nine goals while adding nine assists.

  • Devils D Merrill on the mend after shoulder surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 25, 2016

    New Jersey Devils defenseman Jon Merrill underwent surgery on his right shoulder, the Devils announced Wednesday.

    • The procedure was performed Monday at Midtown Surgical Center in New York City by Dr. Jonathan L. Glashow, the team's chief medical officer.

      The 24-year-old Merrill's recovery is expected to be four months.

      Merrill battled injuries this past season -- his third with the Devils -- and finished with one goal and four assists in 47 games.

  • Penguins reinstall Murray in net
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    The Pittsburgh Penguins will go back to rookie goaltender Matt Murray while facing elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.

    • The Penguins trail the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, having lost Game 5 in Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime with veteran Marc-Andre Fleury starting that game. It was his first since March 31, and it showed late in the game, when he appeared to hit the wall, giving up a late equalizer and a goal early in overtime. He allowed four goals on 25 shots in that game.

      Penguins coach Mike Sullivan announced the change after the morning skate Tuesday.

      "We try to put players on the ice that we think give us the best chance to win," Sullivan said of the decision to go back to Murray. "He's won a lot of big games for us."

      Murray, 21, is 9-4 with a .923 save percentage in the playoffs.

      "He's handled each challenge like he's been through it way beyond his years," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said of Murray. "He's always been confident and showed a lot of poise, and that's the biggest thing that has stuck out to me."

  • Blues return to Elliott for Game 6
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    Brian Elliott will be back in goal for the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

    • Jake Allen started the last two games for the Blues, who were beaten 6-3 in Game 5 on Monday night and trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

      "It's his turn," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's his turn for Game 6."

      The 31-year-old Elliott had started every playoff game for the Blues before Hitchcock made the switch before Game 4, which St. Louis won 6-3 in San Jose, Calif. The two goalies split time during the regular season.

      "We needed a jolt to get back in the series and we got it," Hitchcock said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get the win yesterday, but this has been Brian's playoffs and we'd like him to finish the job."

      The Sharks are trying to advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time. The Blues are playing in a conference final for the first time since 2001.

      Elliott has won both games during the postseason when the Blues faced elimination. He has a 9-8 record in the playoffs with a .925 save percentage and a 2.34 goals-against average.

      "I think he's going to be great tomorrow," Hitchcock said.

  • D Miller signs extension with Bruins
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    The Boston Bruins signed defenseman Kevan Miller to a four-year contract extension on Tuesday worth $10 million.

    • The team announced the deal, which extends through the 2019-20 season and includes a cap hit of $2.5 million each year.

      The Bruins also signed forward Seth Griffith to a one-year, two-way contract through 2016-17 at a cap figure of $625,000, the team announced.

      In a career-high 71 games last season, Miller finished with career bests in goals with five, assists with 13, points with 18 and penalty minutes with 53.

      The 28-year-old Miller completed his third season with the Bruins and has played in 159 NHL games, totaling eight goals, 23 assists and 106 penalty minutes.

      Griffith played in four games for the Bruins during the 2015-16 season and had one assist. In 57 games for Providence in the American Hockey league, the 23-year-old had 24 goals and 53 assists, ranking first in the AHL in assists and second in scoring with 77 points.

      In 34 career NHL games with the Bruins, Griffith has six goals and five assists.

  • Blues sticking with G Allen for Game 5
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 22, 2016

    For the second straight game, The St. Louis Blues are going with goaltender Jake Allen over Brian Elliott in net for Monday's Game 5 of the Western Conference final vs. the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

    • "I'm comfortable with either guy, but I woke up this morning, talked to the coaches again, and decided to go with Jake," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Sunday.

      On Saturday in San Jose, Allen made 31 saves in a 6-3 Blues win that evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

      Elliott started the Blues' first 17 playoff games and was replaced by Allen in the third period of Game 3. Elliott went 9-8 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in the playoffs, but lost two games in a row, prompting Hitchock to make the switch in an attempt to change momentum

      "It had nothing to do with Brian and his play," Hitchcock said. "He's been unbelievable since the start of playoffs, but we needed, in my opinion, to jolt ourselves into playing a lot harder for whoever was in the net."

      In other Blues news, forwards David Backes, Robby Fabbri and Scottie Upshall, who were banged up on Saturday, will have their statuses updated Monday morning, but it looks like Backes and Fabbri will play.

      Backes did not play after the first period after he took a hit from Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. Fabbri sat all but four minutes of the third period after being hit by Tommy Wingels. Upshall missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.

  • Penguins starting G Fleury in Game 5
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 22, 2016

    PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury will replace rookie Matt Murray in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a critical Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.

    • The Penguins will be without defenseman Trevor Daley, who will miss the rest of the playoffs with a broken left ankle.

      Fleury, who helped lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009, hasn't started since March 31, when he was diagnosed with his second concussion of the season. He was 35-17-6 during the season.

      Murray, 21, is 9-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average that is fourth among NHL playoff goalies, but he allowed four goals in the first two periods of a 4-3 loss in Game 4 in which the Penguins fell behind by four goals. Fleury replaced him and stopped all seven shots he faced.

      Coach Mike Sullivan knows he is taking a major gamble in a series that's tied 2-2 by benching Murray, whose nine playoff wins are the most by a rookie goalie in 10 years.

      Murray has won 16 of his last 20 starts, and Fleury has played in only one game in 51 days.

      "Matt's terrific. He understands. He gets it -- he's a mature kid," Sullivan said. "If, and when, he's called upon to go back into the net, he'll go back into the net."

      Daley was hurt when he and Lightning forward Ryan Callahan slammed into the boards chasing a puck in Game 4 on Friday. Daley has one goal and five assists in the playoffs and is second on the team in average ice time to defenseman Kris Letang.

      "He's a tough guy to replace," Sullivan said of Daley. "He's really made our team a better team. He's a mobile guy. He can move the puck. He's got real good offensive instincts. He's a real solid two-way defenseman and it's hard to replace those guys, but we've done it all year and we'll deal with it again."

  • Lightning re-sign forwards Vermin, Richard
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 21, 2016

    The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed forwards Joel Vermin and Tanner Richard to one-year, two-way contracts Saturday.

    • Vermin, 24, had one assist and a plus-1 rating in six games with the Lightning this season. He added nine goals and 12 assists with six penalty minutes in 37 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL.

      Richard, 23, tallied 11 goals and 43 assists with 57 penalty minutes in 71 games for the Crunch this season.

  • Sabres sign D Martin to entry-level contract
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 21, 2016

    The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Brycen Martin to a three-year, entry-level contract Saturday.

    • Martin tied career highs with six goals, 31 assists and 37 points over 66 games this season for the Saskatoon Blades and Everett Silvertips of the WHL.

      In 277 career WHL games, Martin has 21 goals, 110 assists and 154 penalty minutes. He was a third-round draft pick of the Sabres in 2014.

  • Penguins remove G Murray after second period
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 20, 2016

    TAMPA, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled goalie Matthew Murray after two periods on Friday night with the Tampa Bay Lightning leading 4-0 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

    • Murray, who had played every minute for Pittsburgh in the playoffs since Game 3 of the opening round, was replaced in the final period by Marc-Andre Fleury, who saw his first action since March.

      Pittsburgh started Jeff Zatkoff in the first two games of the playoffs before turning to the 21-year-old Murray.

      The Lightning-Penguins series will continue Sunday in Pittsburgh before returning to Tampa on Tuesday night.

  • Penguins lose D Daley
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 20, 2016

    TAMPA, Fla. -- Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley had to be helped off the ice with a lower-body injury and he went hard into the boards behind the Pittsburgh net in the second period of Friday night's Eastern Conference final game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    • Daley went awkwardly into the boards with 9:07 left in the second and play was stopped. He was helped off the ice with the Lightning up 2-0, and Tampa Bay went on a four-minute power play 45 seconds later and would extend its lead to 4-0 by the end of the second.

      Daley was averaging the second-most ice time of Pittsburgh's defensemen in the playoffs, averaging 22:59 per game entering Friday's game. He was at minus-2 when he left the game, logging 15 shifts for 10:12 of ice time. He did not return for the remainder of the second period.

  • Blues switch to G Allen for Game 4
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 20, 2016

    St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock announced Friday afternoon that Jake Allen would take over in goal for Game 4 against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

    • Brian Elliott was benched in the third period after giving up three goals on 14 shots during Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Sharks in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.

      "I would say, you know, about 9 or 10 this morning, made the decision," Hitchcock said. "I like to solicit a lot of opinions. So I listened to the coaches. We kind of got rid of it last night and didn't want to deal with it that much because of the emotion of the game and everything.

      "So I just talked it over this morning with everyone, including management. We came to the decision. It's ultimately my call. But just feel like we need to get us a little bit of momentum change because we are not being rewarded for the work and they are, the small difference in the series being that."

      Elliott has a .925 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average this postseason. Allen, who has not started a game of any kind since April 3, has appeared in two playoff games in relief of Elliott this postseason for a total of 50 minutes. He has not allowed any postseason goals but has only had to make nine saves.

      While it appears Allen's puck-moving ability was a factor in the decision to make the switch, Hitchcock said changing momentum was the biggest factor.

      "(Allen's puck-moving factored in) a little bit," Hitchcock said. "I just feel like if you're in a position where you need to change momentum, you need to look at a lot of things."

      Allen was the Blues' starter last postseason, going 2-4 as St. Louis was eliminated in the first round by the Minnesota Wild. He had a .910 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average in those six games.