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National Hockey League

 
      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                               Saturday, April 25
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 WASHINGTON CAPITALS (3-2) AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS (2-3), 3 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders will try to keep their 2015
 postseason alive when they host the Washington Capitals on Saturday in what
 could be the final game played at Nassau Coliseum.
 
 The Islanders are facing elimination in this afternoon's Game 6 after losing
 the last two tests of this best-of-seven set. New York dropped a 2-1 overtime
 decision at the Coliseum on Tuesday to allow Washington to tie the Eastern
 Conference quarterfinal at two games apiece and the Capitals grabbed their
 first lead of the series with Thursday's 5-1 rout in D.C.
 
 Any way you look at it, New York's days on Long Island are numbered as the
 club will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season. A
 win for the Isles today would extend the series to Monday, when the clubs are
 scheduled to meet for Game 7 at the Verizon Center. However, New York needs to
 win two straight over Washington to advance to the second round and keep
 playing at the Coliseum, which has been the team's home since the inception of
 the franchise in 1972.
 
 "We know what it means for our fans," Isles defenseman Thomas Hickey said.
 "That can't be the last game there. It just can't be the last game for them.
 We're going to come with our heads on and be ready to play and make sure it's
 not going to be the last game there."
 
 The Islanders scored first in Game 5, taking a 1-0 lead on Josh Bailey's goal
 at 5:48 of the first period. However, Washington would kick off a stretch of
 five straight goals to end the game when Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it up at the
 9:05 mark of the opening stanza.
 
 Kuznetsov had two goals and an assist to lead the rout, which was the first
 game in this series to be decided by more than one goal since New York claimed
 the opener in D.C. by a 4-1 count.
 
 "When I scored and I heard how loud it was in the stadium, I just felt crazy,"
 said Kuznetsov. "I want to say to the fans thanks for coming to the game
 today. It's louder in our stadium than it was at the Islanders game. I hope
 we'll see you in the next round."
 
 Karl Alzner and Jason Chimera posted a goal and an assist, and Brooks Laich
 added a goal for the Capitals. Braden Holtby turned aside 22 shots in the win.
 
 Another win today would get the Capitals to the second round for the first
 time since 2012, when they beat Boston before losing in the conference
 quarterfinals against the Rangers.
 
 The Islanders haven't made it out of the first round since 1993.
 
 New York head coach Jack Capuano pulled Jaroslav Halak in Game 5 after he
 allowed five goals on 35 shots. Michal Neuvirth stopped all six shots he faced
 in relief.
 
 "I'm not disappointed with the guys," said Capuano. "I mean they battled. We
 talk about it all the time, and it's coming back to haunt us now. You have to
 manage the puck."
 
 Isles forward Mikhail Grabovski played for the first time since suffering a
 concussion on Feb. 19. He had three shots on net in 15 minutes, 38 seconds of
 ice time.
 
 In other injury news, New York will be without defenseman Travis Hamonic for a
 seventh straight game since he suffered a lower-body injury in the team's
 penultimate game of the regular season. Fellow blueliners Calvin de Haan and
 Lubomir Visnovsky also expect to sit out on Saturday. Visnovsky has been
 sidelined since suffering a concussion in Game 4, while de Haan left
 Thursday's contest with an upper-body injury and did not practice on Friday.
 
 Caps centerman Eric Fehr is likely to miss a third straight game after he was
 injured on a check by Kyle Okposo in the first period of Game 3
 
 The winner of this series will face the New York Rangers in the conference
 semifinals. The Rangers advanced to the second round on Friday, ousting
 Pittsburgh in five games with an overtime victory.
 
 DETROIT RED WINGS (2-2) AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (2-2), 6 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - After storming back for a thrilling comeback win, the
 Tampa Bay Lightning will try to grab their first lead of the Eastern
 Conference quarterfinals on Saturday when they host the Detroit Red Wings in
 Game 5.
 
 The Lightning evened this best-of-seven set at two games apiece on Thursday
 thanks to a furious comeback effort in Detroit. Tampa overcame a two-goal
 deficit to grab a 3-2 overtime win for its second victory of the series after
 taking Game 2 on home ice by a 5-1 score.
 
 The Red Wings led Game 4 by a 2-0 count in the latter stages of the third
 period and seemed to be closing in on a 3-1 cushion in the series. However,
 Tampa scored three straight goals over a span of less than eight minutes to
 steal the game and even the series.
 
 Tyler Johnson factored in all three goals during the late rally. He cut the
 deficit to 2-1 by scoring with 5:26 left in the third period before notching
 the primary assist on Ondrej Palat's game-tying goal just 1:17 later.
 
 Johnson then completed the comeback when he scored his fourth marker of the
 playoffs just 2:25 into the extra session.
 
 "I thought they stole this game," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "We
 made some mistakes that they capitalized on."
 
 Tampa broke out on a 3-on-1 rush early in OT after Palat pushed the puck ahead
 to Victor Hedman on the right wing. Hedman froze Red Wings defender Kyle
 Quincey and pulled Petr Mrazek out of position at the right side before
 Johnson slid home his cross-ice dish from a tough angle.
 
 Palat recorded an assist on the game-winner, while Ben Bishop recovered from
 an early miscue to record a 22-save victory.
 
 "Everyone knew the job that had to be done, and they went out and did it,"
 Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "I couldn't be more proud of them."
 
 Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson tallied for the Red Wings, while Mrazek
 took the loss despite stopping 26 pucks. Tampa Bay failed to score on Mrazek
 for 119 minutes, 4 seconds before Johnson's first goal of the contest
 
 Andersson scored when Bishop mishandled a shot with his glove. The carom
 deflected off Tampa defenseman Jason Garrison, then the crossbar and the tip
 of Bishop's stick before sliding across the goal line at 14:24 of the second
 period.
 
 Garrison was playing in his first game of the series after sitting out the
 previous nine games dating back to the regular season with an upper-body
 injury.
 
 Red Wings center Luke Glendening left Game 4 after suffering an injury to
 his right hand. The club revealed after the contest that doctors stitched up
 the wound and he will be ready for tonight.
 
 The Lightning will be glad to be back home tonight. The Bolts went 32-8-1 at
 Amalie Arena during the regular season.
 
 Game 6 is scheduled for Monday night in Detroit. If necessary, a decisive
 seventh contest will be played Wednesday in Tampa.
 
 NASHVILLE PREDATORS (2-3) AT CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (3-2), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will get a second chance to close
 out the Nashville Predators and this time they'll be on home ice.
 
 With a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals, the
 Blackhawks welcome the Predators for Saturday's Game 6 at United Center.
 
 Chicago claimed a three games to one lead in this series after winning
 Tuesday's Game 4 in the Windy City in triple overtime. However, the Predators
 answered that 3-2 loss by avoiding elimination with a 5-2 decision in
 Thursday's rematch at Bridgestone Arena.
 
 Filip Forsberg posted a hat trick and Nashville used a three-goal barrage
 early in the final period to stave off elimination with the lopsided home
 victory.
 
 Forsberg turned in a huge performance on the same night he was left out of
 conversation for the Calder Trophy. The three finalists for the rookie award
 were announced Thursday night with Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau, Florida's Aaron
 Ekblad and Ottawa's Mark Stone filling up the spots. Meanwhile, Forsberg, who
 finished a point behind Gaudreau and Stone for the rookie scoring lead this
 season, was snubbed for a Calder finalist spot.
 
 The 20-year-old Swede proved his worth hours later, however, scoring three
 times to bring his series total to four goals.
 
 Forsberg made it 1-1 in the first period, tallying 75 seconds after Brad
 Richards gave Chicago the early lead with 6:33 remaining in the opening
 stanza. His second marker made it a 4-1 game early in the third period and he
 capped the hat trick with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
 
 "For Filip to come out and score some big goals for us, I think he has been
 our guy all year," Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said. "We have really
 counted on him to produce offense and we put ourselves in a situation where
 our back is against the wall. We need to get big performances out of our
 players. I think that speaks a lot of him."
 
 James Neal added a goal and an assist, Colin Wilson also lit the lamp and
 Pekka Rinne made 28 saves for the Predators, who scored three times in the
 first 3:14 of the third to subdue the Blackhawks.
 
 "They got three quick goals and those were the difference," Blackhawks coach
 Joel Quenneville said.
 
 Kris Versteeg joined Richards as the goal-scorers for Chicago, which had taken
 Games 3 and 4 at home.
 
 The Blackhawks hope to stay perfect as the host in this series to close out
 the series tonight. If Nashville can produce another victory, the clubs will
 meet Monday for a Game 7 in the Music City.
 
 Scott Darling allowed four goals on 28 shots in Thursday's loss, but he will
 get the start again tonight over Corey Crawford.
 
 Nashville will have to pull off the comeback without captain and star
 defenseman Shea Weber, who has been ruled out for the rest of the series with
 a lower-body injury. Weber suffered the injury in Game 2 before missing the
 last three contests.
 
 The Blackhawks went 3-1-0 versus the Predators this season and won both
 meetings at the United Center.
 
 Chicago and Nashville have met once previously in the postseason, a 2010
 conference quarterfinal series that Chicago won in six games.
 
 VANCOUVER CANUCKS (2-3) AT CALGARY FLAMES (3-2), 9 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Calgary Flames couldn't finish off the Vancouver
 Canucks on the road, but they'll get a second chance at ending this series in
 Saturday's Game 6 on home ice.
 
 The Flames, who are attempting to advance to the second round for the first
 time since 2004, jumped out to a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven Western
 Conference quarterfinal, but fell in Vancouver on Thursday night.
 
 The Canucks played at a breakneck pace with their season on the line in Game 5
 and extended the series with a 2-1 victory at Rogers Arena. Vancouver outshot
 Calgary by a 43-21 margin in the win and fired 17 shots on net in each of the
 first two periods.
 
 Nick Bonino and Daniel Sedin scored the goals for Vancouver, while Ryan Miller
 made 20 saves in the must-win game. Miller, still somewhat recovering from a
 knee injury, earned his first starting nod of the series following a flawless
 relief effort of an ineffective Eddie Lack in Game 4. The veteran will get the
 call over Lack again tonight.
 
 "We showed what we can do tonight," Bonino said. "We played well offensively
 all game."
 
 Vancouver has come back from 3-1 deficits to win a series three times in its
 history and the last occurrence was against St. Louis in the opening round of
 the 2003 playoffs. The Canucks also achieved the 3-1 comeback against Calgary
 in the 1994 conference quarterfinals. That marked the last time the Flames
 held a 3-1 lead in the playoffs.
 
 If the Canucks can win again tonight they will host a decisive Game 7 at home
 on Monday.
 
 David Jones scored Calgary's only goal and Jonas Hiller kept the Flames in it
 with 41 saves. Hiller may need a similar performance tonight at the Saddledome
 if the Flames hope to eliminate the desperate Canucks for their first playoff
 series win in 11 years.
 
 "We knew they weren't going to go away easily," Hiller said. "I think we have
 proven we can step up and get better."
 
 The Flames are trying to advance past the opening round for the first time
 since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. Calgary beat Vancouver in the
 first round that season.
 
 Calgary is in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, while Vancouver is
 making its sixth postseason appearance in seven springs. However, one more
 loss in this best-of-seven set would give the Canucks their third straight
 first-round exit since making it to the Cup Finals in 2011 when they lost to
 Boston.
 
 This series marks the seventh postseason encounter between the clubs, but the
 first since the 2004 conference quarterfinals, won in seven games by Calgary.
 The Flames have won four of the six playoff encounters.
 
 
 
 04/25 10:58:38 ET

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