Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews lift Blackhawks over Flames

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The NHL is playing a compact 48-game, 99-day schedule and we

Kane and the rest of the Blackhawks are the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff spot this season.  Rob Grabowski, USA TODAY Sports April 7: Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin scored twice in a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ovechkin has 5 goals in two days.  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports April 7: Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves as the Wild ended their three-game skid with a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Russell LaBounty, USA TODAY Sports April 6: New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had 48 saves in a 4-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.  James Guillory, USA TODAY Sports April 6: Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, left, had a hat trick to beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 and help his team stay atop the Southeast Division.  Robert Mayer, USA TODAY Sports April 6: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 26 saves to beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 and gain some breathing room atop the Northeast Division.  Eric Bolte, USA TODAY Sports April 5: Dallas Stars right wing Alex Chiasson scored his first career NHL goal in a 3-1 upset win over the Anaheim Ducks.  Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports April 5: Jussi Jokinen of the Pittsburgh Penguins joined his new team via trade earlier this week. Jokinen scored one goal in regulation, then tallied the only score in a shootout in the 2-1 win over the Rangers.  Justin K. Aller, Getty Images April 5: St. Louis goalie Jake Allen made 26 saves for the surging Blues, who won their third game by defeating the Blue Jackets 3-1.  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports April 4: Newly-acquired veteran Jaromir Jagr scored the lone goal for the Boston Bruins in a 1-0 win over New Jersey. The 41-year-old forward was traded from Dallas earlier in the week.  Michael Ivins, USA TODAY Sports April 4: Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop recorded a career-high 45 saves in his first appearance with the Lightning. Thanks to the shutout, Tampa was able to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0.  James Guillory, USA TODAY Sports Related story Fullscreen April 4: Columbus forward Marian Gaborik had the go-ahead goal and added an assist in his first game with the Blue Jackets. After being acquired from the New York Rangers earlier in the week, Gaborik led Columbus to a 3-1 win over Nashville.  Mark Humphrey AP April 3: In his first game in a Rangers jersey, Ryan Clowe received the first star of the game award. Clowe scored his first two goals of the season in a 6-1 win over Pittsburgh.  Debby Wong, USA TODAY Sports April 3: Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall notched five points, one goal and four assists, in an 8-2 win over Calgary.  Jordan Verlage, Getty Images April 3: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf scored and had two assists in a 5-2 win over Dallas. It was Getzlaf’s second straight game with at least two points.  Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports April 2: Phoenic Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera makes one of his 39 saves against the Kings. source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nhl/2013/04/27/patrick-kane-jonathan-toews-lift-blackhawks-flames/2116981/

Blackhawks goalies share Jennings

Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltenders on the team with the fewest goals allowed during the regular season. More On The Blackhawks For all the latest on the Blackhawks, check out Scott Powers’ blog on ESPNChicago.com. Blog The Blackhawks gave up 102 goals, two fewer than the Ottawa Senators , who closed the season Sunday with a 4-2 win against the Bruins. Crawford was 19-5-5 with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. Emery was 17-1-0 with a 1.94 GAA and a .922 save percentage. They each had three shutouts and shared another. “I think that’s one area where we’ve been pleased all year long and our consistency of our goaltending has been a strength to our team,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said recently of his goaltenders. The Blackhawks have won the Jennings Trophy four times. Former Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour previously won the award for the 1990-91, 1992-93 and 1994-95 seasons. source: http://espn.go.com/chicago/nhl/story/_/id/9222553/corey-crawford-ray-emery-chicago-blackhawks-share-jennings-trophy

Season in review: Streaks, trades, and a new-look NHL

Nazem Kadri proved the organization was right to bring him along slowly as the forward played with maturity this season and finished second on the team with 44 points, including 18 goals. Goaltender James Reimer was close to being replaced at the deadline by Roberto Luongo , but Toronto general manager Dave Nonis decided not to pull the trigger on a blockbuster with the Vancouver Canucks , sending a vote of confidence in Reimer’s direction. The 25-year-old answered by playing well down the stretch to help Toronto clinch a playoff berth with a week to spare. Injuries and the resilient Senators Erik Karlsson GOALS: 6 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 14 SOG: 79 | +/-: 8 Not even debilitating, long-term injuries to reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson , leading scorer Jason Spezza , goalie Craig Anderson and promising rookie Jared Cowen could stop the Ottawa Senators from reaching the playoffs. Senators coach Paul MacLean finished the season as one of the leading candidates for the Jack Adams Award because of the job he did with his beaten and battered team. Ottawa rode one of the League’s best defenses, thanks in part to the fill-in goaltending from Robin Lehner , to the playoffs. The Senators had the worst goals-per-game among the 16 playoff teams, but were second in the NHL in goals-against and first in penalty killing. Tavares, the Islanders and the playoffs John Tavares played like a Hart Trophy candidate all season, but his teammates jumped on board in March and helped the No. 1 pick get the New York Islanders into the playoffs for the first time since 2007, a surprise considering they were 8-11-2 and stuck in 12th place when the calendar flipped. Tavares was doing his part with 13 goals and 25 points through February, but in March, Evgeni Nabokov turned into an elite goalie again, Josh Bailey picked up his play, and the Islanders became a more balanced 200-foot team. They went 16-5-4 during their next 25 games to clinch a playoff spot with two games to spare. source: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=668278

Experience, star power define Blackhawks as a Cup favorite

If the path stays clear in the Stanley Cup Playoffs — meaning no debilitating injuries or hiccups in goal — there’s every reason to believe the Blackhawks can become the first Presidents’ Trophy winner to win the Stanley Cup since the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. Just look at the items necessary to win the Stanley Cup, a checklist that has been proven time and again, and it’s obvious Chicago has the ingredients of a champion. Experience? Check. Nine of Chicago’s regular 18 skaters played on the 2010 Cup-winning team. Ray Emery and Daniel Carcillo also have played in a Stanley Cup Final. Goaltending? Check. The combination of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery gave the Blackhawks a chance to win almost every game during the regular season — and they came close to doing just that. Star power? Check. source: http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=668209

Pick 6: NHL playoffs full of intriguing storylines with Crosby, Ovechkin, Blackhawks and Kings

Alex Ovechkin was at his best down the stretch with 22 points in the last 13 games after averaging less than a point in his first 35 games. He finished with an NHL-high 32 goals, lighting the lamp more than any other player in the league for the third time. Even though Ovechkin has jaw-dropping talent, he hasn’t gotten past the second round of the playoffs in the first seven seasons of his career and he’s playing for a franchise that hasn’t advanced further than that since getting swept by Detroit in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. ___ KINGS’ QUEST TO REPEAT: The Los Angeles Kings became the first eighth-seeded team to win the Stanley Cup, finishing off the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils in Game 6, and can become the first team to repeat in the salary-cap era that began in the 2005-06 season and the first since Detroit won consecutive times in 1997 and 1998. Compared to last season, when the Kings had to rally just to get in the playoffs, they cruised after clinching a spot in the West and will start the postseason on the road as a fifth-seeded team against the fourth-seeded St. Louis Blues. ___ ORIGINAL SIX STILL SKATING: For the first time since 1996, each of the NHL’s Original Six teams is in the playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs had a lot to do with ending the drought. The storied franchise in a hockey-crazed city and country has advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2004. In the Eastern Conference, the fifth-seeded Maple Leafs will match up with fourth-seeded Boston, another Original Six team, second-seeded Montreal will face seventh-seeded Ottawa, and the sixth-seeded New York Rangers will match up with third-seeded Washington. source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/capitals/pick-6-nhl-playoffs-full-of-intriguing-storylines-with-crosby-ovechkin-blackhawks-and-kings/2013/04/29/f797fe4a-b09c-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html

 

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