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2014 NHL Playoffs: Nathan MacKinnon lifts Avs to 2-0 series lead over Wild

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Nathan MacKinnon has given Avs fans plenty to cheer about with seven points through two games. (Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon has taken a liking to the playoffs in his first go-round. (Michael Martin/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Patrick Roy knows a bit about making a playoff impression at an early age.

The coach of the Colorado Avalanche was just 20 when he stepped between the pipes and led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1986.

But even he has to be amazed at what Nathan MacKinnon is doing to the Minnesota Wild.

The 18-year-old sensation followed up a three-point performance in Game 1 with a record-setting four-point encore to lead the Avs to a 4-2 win over the Wild on Saturday night. The victory gives Colorado a commanding 2-0 lead as the best-of-seven series heads to Minnesota.

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  • Published On Apr 20, 2014
  • Blues outlast Blackhawks to win Game 1 in a triple overtime thriller, 4-3

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    By Keith Schultz 

    The Blues finished Game 1 of their series against the Blackhawks with a win — and it only took 100 minutes and 26 seconds to get it. Chicago led 3-2 for much of the game after a wild first period, but St. Louis scored the equalizer with 1:45 left in regulation when Jaden Schwartz put a backhander past goalie Corey Crawford. The two teams then slugged it out for two full overtime periods, both of which included plenty of end-to-end action but no goals. Finally, just 26 seconds into the third overtime, Steve Ott made a nifty pass to Alexander Steen, who scored the winning goal.

    Here are some quick observations from the Blues’ marathon triple overtime win.

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  • Published On Apr 18, 2014
  • Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews ready for battle in Stanley Cup defense

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    Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks

    As go Patrick Kane (88) and Jonathan Toews (19), so go the Stanley Cup champions. (Bill Wippert/Getty Images)

    By Brian Hamilton

    CHICAGO – At 11:42 a.m. on Monday, Patrick Kane stopped at the edge of the rink at Johnny’s Ice House West, the Blackhawks’ auxiliary practice facility. He wiped down his stick before he skated onto the ice, double-tapped the blade and then dumped over a bucket of pucks before he went to work. A minute later, Jonathan Toews joined him. Chicago’s captain picked up one of the scattered discs and stick-handled through the face-off circle before flicking a shot into the upper right corner of an empty net.

    It was the first time since mid-March that the franchise cornerstones had skated together in public. They’d mostly been sequestered as they recovered from injuries – Kane’s knee, Toews’ nebulous “upper-body” – but here they were in full view as the Blackhawks’ defense of their Stanley Cup championship began. And not one other skater on the roster joined them. Aside from two goalies, it was just Kane and Toews and 20 brisk minutes of hard work. This was a fitting opening scene for the postseason: Chicago will go nowhere in the playoffs without its two Conn Smythe Trophy winners drawing everyone’s attention. But the Blackhawks are also going to need more than just Kane and Toews.

    “The first four games I was out, the team went 4-0,” Toews said with a smile, moments after leaving the ice and towelling off his sweat-soaked scalp. “It was looking pretty good for a while there. Our team has always done well dealing with key players being hurt, whether it’s guys like [Marian] Hossa or [Patrick Sharp] or Kaner, whatever. We’ve always found ways to step it up. Now when you get some top players back, it’s always about those guys fitting in and being part of the room. Nothing changes that way.”

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  • Published On Apr 17, 2014
  • NHL Playoffs: Canadiens nab overtime win over Lightning in sloppy Game 1

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    Dale Weise (left) and P.K. Subban celebrated after Weise won the game for Montreal in overtime. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

    Montreal’s Dale Weise (22) and P.K. Subban celebrated after Weise’s game-winner in OT. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

    By Brian Cazeneuve

    It wasn’t a huge surprise that the series opener between the Canadiens and the Lightning went to overtime, but the score itself was a bit of a stunner. After the teams combined for 11 goals in four games during the regular season, the clubs scored nine on Wednesday night in a 5-4 win for Montreal. Veteran forward Danny Briere set up Dale Weise at 18:08 of the extra period to end a mistake-filled Game 1. If there was a surprise during the contest, it was the significant number of errors made by two teams who had worked hard to keep mistakes to a minimum during the season.

    Some thoughts on the Canadiens’ series-opening victory:

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  • Published On Apr 17, 2014
  • Blue Jackets clinch playoff berth after beating Stars in makeup game

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    By Nick Stoico

    The Columbus Blue Jackets clinched a spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the Stars 3-1 on Wednesday night in Dallas. It is only the second time in the 16-year history of the franchise that the Jackets have earned a berth in the postseason tournament.

    The game was being made up after their March 10 matchup was postponed early in the first period after the Stars’ Rich Peverley collapsed.  The Jackets were leading 1-0 at the time and were allowed to keep that advantage for the start of the makeup game, which went the full regulation 60 minutes. [Boxscore] That goal had been scored by Nathan Horton, who was sidelined by a lower body injury for the restart. As a result, he now occupies an odd place in NHL history.

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  • Published On Apr 10, 2014
  • NHL 2014 playoff bubble teams: Key Eastern games to watch this week

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    Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

    At stake: Detroit’s 22-year playoff streak and Toronto’s postseason hopes. (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    After the Maple Leafs stormed into Los Angeles and upended the Kings on March 13, SportsClubStats.com projected Toronto as having an 89.7 percent chance of securing a spot in the playoffs.

    What a difference 10 days can make.

    A listless performance against New Jersey on Sundaty night led to Toronto’s fifth consecutive loss. As a result, the Leafs’ postseason chances have dwindled to just 34.5 percent today, forcing a team that was comfortably situated as an Atlantic Division qualifier just a few days ago into a battle for its life as the regular season winds down.

    Even after their stumble, the Leafs have 80 points, good enough for the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference … for now, anyway. It’s better to be in than out, but Toronto is vulnerable. The Leafs have played 73 games, one more than the Washington Capitals (31.8 percent), who trail them by one point, and two above Columbus (56.6 percent).

    It’s no surprise that these clubs find themselves battling each other for the scraps. All three are middle of the road teams, predestined for the murky fringes by their youth (Jackets) or uneven foundations (Caps and Leafs). Add in an injury-ravaged Red Wings team (68.9 percent) and an underperforming Rangers squad (95 percent) that is currently holding down the third spot in the Metropolitan Division and you have five clubs challenging for three spots in the East.

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  • Published On Mar 24, 2014
  • Bruins become first team to clinch playoff spot with 11th straight win

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    By Nick Stoico

    With a 2-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, the Boston Bruins earned their eleventh straight win, broke 100 points and secured a position in the 2014 NHL playoffs.
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  • Published On Mar 22, 2014
  • Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks grace Sports Illustrated regional cover

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    Sports Illustrated's Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup cover (Brian Babineau NHLI/Getty Images)

    The Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions — and Sports Illustrated cover boys. SI’s regional cover showcases Dave Bolland’s game-winning goal, which sealed a miraculous 3-2 Game 6 comeback win and gave the ‘Hawks a 4-2 series victory. Despite Monday’s action pushing right up to SI’s weekly close deadline, the magazine was able to highlight the stunning conclusion to an outstanding NHL postseason.

    For more, subscribe to Sports Illustrated or purchase the tablet edition of this week’s magazine. And check SI.com on Wednesday for the national cover reveal.

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  • Published On Jun 25, 2013
  • Stanley Cup Final: Celebrity Twitter reaction to Blackhawks’ Cup win

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    By Allan Muir

    A quick look at what some notable celebrities and athletes had to say on Twitter during last night’s thrilling Stanley Cup-clinching victory by the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston.

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  • Published On Jun 25, 2013
  • Stanley Cup Final: Gary Bettman booed as usual after Blackhawks win Game 6

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    By John Rolfe

    Did you expect anything other than a robustly negative reception for the Lord of the Lockout? Fans may have forgiven the NHL for depriving them of half a season — the great postseason certainly helped soothe inflamed passions — but they didn’t forget. If anything, this year’s sour serenade was one of the most highly anticipated of the Commissioner’s 20-year tenure, and it didn’t disappoint.


  • Published On Jun 25, 2013


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