Rangers’ Yandle stays hot, Nash and St-Louis wake up in Game 4

Keith Yandle

He lines up on the blueline, but make no mistake about it: Keith Yandle’s job is to score points.

He’s been doing exactly that for the Blueshirts lately, fulfilling the high expectations that came with him when he was acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline. GM of the Year candidate Glen Sather paid a hefty price for Yandle in the form of two prospects and first- and second-round picks, but that deal is paying off in this third round of the playoffs.

Yandle scored a goal and added two assists in the Rangers’ 5-1 win against the Lightning on Friday, adding to an already impressive point streak. The 28-year-old now has a goal and five points in his last two games and nine points overall in the playoffs. That’s decent in itself, but the fact he’s scoring now is what matters most.
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Henrik Lundqvist returns to form, makes Ben Bishop look mortal by comparison

Henrik Lundqvist

Rick Nash was Mr. Popular before Game 4 of the Rangers-Lightning series on Friday, after he organized a Rangers team outing to see the premiere of ‘Entourage.’

But after 60 minutes of play, Henrik Lundqvist was the big man in Florida – the Vinny Chase, in Entourage parlance – thanks to his stellar netminding performance against Tampa Bay.

Lundqvist was all-world on Friday, stopping 38 shots, including 18 during a hard Tampa press in the second period to secure the win.
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Rick Nash busts out for a gorgeous goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning

Rick Nash

Rick Nash (remember him?) found his legs and his scoring touch early Saturday, blasting through the Tampa Bay defence to score on a tremendous individual effort in the first period.

Nash took a Kevin Hayes pass in the neutral zone, slipped past Mark Barberio and outskated a backchecking Cedric Paquette to open up some space on his way to the net. Then he cut across the goalmouth and put the puck in between the post and Ben Bishop’s foot.
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Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Carle out for Game 4 against New York

Jared Clinton
Matt Carle (Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle will be watching Friday’s Game 4 from the sidelines following a hit he took in Game 3 from New York Rangers center Derek Stepan.

Carle, who has suited up in each of the Lightning’s post-season games during their current run, left Game 3 following the hit from Stepan and did not return to action Wednesday night. In total, Carle skated 1:36 before he was said to be out with an undisclosed injury. Now, heading into Game 4, it appears that he could be out for longer than Tampa Bay would have hoped. Read more

Corey Perry snaps stick, grabs new one on the fly, nearly scores in one of post-season’s best plays

Jared Clinton
Ryan Getzlaf (left) and Corey Perry  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

If Corey Perry would have scored on his best chance of Thursday’s Game 3 between the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks, it would have made sense had the scoring summary read that Perry scored with assists to Patrick Maroon and the Ducks’ equipment staff.

Perry, who already has eight goals and 16 points in 12 post-season games, was tearing up ice on what looked like it would be a clean-cut 2-on-1 when his stick snapped in half with some help from Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya. Without a second thought, Perry skated straight to the Ducks’ bench and, without missing a stride, grabbed a new stick, picked up a puck rebounding off the boards and fired an attempt right on Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford. The whole play really is something to watch: Read more

Ducks show no exhaustion after triple-OT Game 2, squeeze Hawks 2-1 & reclaim series lead

Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen grabs the puck as teammate Francois Beauchemin and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews collide in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final Thursday in Chicago. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Ducks and Blackhawks played nearly two full hockey games Tuesday in “Game” 2 of their Eastern Conference Final, and many expected there might be a physical letdown when they squared off again Thursday in Chicago. But after losing home ice advantage in that triple-overtime 3-2 loss to the Hawks, Anaheim got it right back by locking down the opposition’s offense in a 2-1 Game 3 victory that marked Chicago’s first home defeat of the 2015 post-season.

The Blackhawks weren’t awful – they were the stronger possession team and outshot Anaheim 28-27 on the night – but other than one-man gang/star winger Patrick Kane (who scored their only goal in Game 3), they couldn’t solve Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. The 25-year-old posted a .964 save percentage Thursday and improved his playoff goals-against average in 12 games this year to a sparkling 1.75 and his SP to .935, and is quietly making a very good case as a candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the post-season’s most valuable player.

Andersen’s resolve in net meant the Ducks’ offense didn’t have to get much past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford to win the game, and other than Patrick Maroon’s goal that opened the scoring at 12:55 of the first period and Simon Despres’ game-winner and first career playoff goal with 55 seconds left in the second frame, they didn’t. But they did block more shots than the Hawks by a 3:1 ratio (a total of 27 to Chicago’s 9) and their special teams were sharp: although they were undisciplined, their penalty kill successfully defended against all five Blackhawks power plays, and they capitalized on their only man advantage of Game 3 when Maroon scored.

In other words, it wasn’t perfect, but after the Ducks believed they deserved to win that three-overtime game, they probably believe they had a little good fortune coming. Read more

Pro wrestler-turned-UFC fighter CM Punk isn’t shy to show his true colors – Blackhawks’ red

UFC star, former pro wrestler and diehard Hawks fan CM Punk reacts after shooting the puck between periods of an NHL game between his favorite team and the L.A. Kings March 30 in Chicago. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

You’ve got to understand this about Phil Brooks, professionally known as CM Punk: he was never handed anything as a blue-collar kid coming out of Chicago, as a student, as a pro wrestler who rose to the pinnacle of the industry or in his current line of work as a nascent mixed martial arts fighter. Punk, 36, has had to grind and scrape for everything he’s earned, and he’s plied his trade (often injured) in hockey arenas across North America and around the world.

No wonder Punk has a love for the NHL, and no wonder he’s come to be acquaintances with many NHL players. There’s a camaraderie at play here, an understanding of serious and constant physical sacrifice and a respect for performing through pain that both parties endure on the regular. “A lot of the physicality is the same, and I was always drawn to hockey because of that physicality,” Punk said. “There’s definitely similarities between what I did, what I’m currently doing, and what hockey players do. And there’s an appreciation there that goes both ways.” Read more

Patrick Kane’s no-look backhand goal will blow (a) your socks off & (b) your mind

Hawks winger Patrick Kane celebrates with teammates Brad Richards and Duncan Keith after his first-period goal against Anaheim in Game Three of the Western Conference Final Thursday. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the first two games of the Western Conference Final between his Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks, superstar winger Patrick Kane did not have a point. If you know him, that’s kind of unlike him. So he was probably due for a spectacular goal or setup of one – and sure enough, in Game 3 Thursday, Kane added to his already-impressive playoff scoring total with a no-look, backhanded goal most of us couldn’t perform on a video game.

The host Hawks were trailing Anaheim 1-0 late in the first period at United Center when Kane picked up the puck between the faceoff dots and directly in front of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen; in one fluid motion, he took the puck on his backhand, without glancing toward the net, and perfectly fired it between Andersen’s right arm and hip for his eighth goal of this post-season: Read more