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For Blackhawks' Timonen, one last chance to win it all

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For Blackhawks' Timonen, one last chance to win it all

News, notes and quotes as the Stanley Cup Final resumes with Game 4 tonight in Chicago [8 p.m., NBCSN], where the Blackhawks will try to even the best-of-seven series. The Tampa Bay Lightning hold a 2-1 series edge:

Timonen returns: About a year ago, 40-year-old defenseman Kimmo Timonen was lying in a hospital bed in Finland with blood clots in his left leg and both lungs, asking doctors if he could ever play professional hockey again.

“They said, ‘Well, you have to eat this medicine for six months, then you have a small chance to get back on the ice,’” Timonen told reporters back on Feb. 28, after the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a second-round pick in 2015 and a conditional fourh-round pick in 2016.

“So in that moment, I decided if that small chance happens the only thing I'm missing from hockey career is a Stanley Cup. That was the only goal which I would return to hockey. It wasn't money. It wasn't anything else that was missing.”

Tonight, Timonen is expected to get the chance to play in a Stanley Cup Final for the second time in his 15-year NHL career. [He also played for the Flyers against the Hawks in the 2010 Final]. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he’s also likely to play defenseman Johnny Oduya and rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk when the two teams face off at United Center.

Timonen has been a healthy scratch the past five games and has played a limited role in the playoffs, averaging 9:25 of ice time. He could be matched with Brent Seabrook on a second defense pairing.

 “He gives us some predictability, coverage in the [defensive] zone, strength in the puck area,” Quenneville said of Timonen. “He’s smart, experienced; he did a good job throughout the playoffs. This gives him a chance to get in in a big moment. His reads and positional awareness and coverage in his own end will help him.”

Timonen, who began his NHL career under Capitals coach Barry Trotz when both were in Nashville, said he’s embracing the opportunity.

 “I just try to play my own game, play smart. I don’t want to make mistakes, cost the team goals,” Timonen said. “The only thing I can say is I’ll enjoy the moment. There aren’t many moments I’ll get like this. This is my moment.”

Kris Versteeg is also expected to return to the lineup, playing left wing on a second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. Bryan Bickell is expected to come out of the lineup.

What about Bishop? The Lightning are keeping quiet about the availability of goaltender Ben Bishop, who labored through a 36-save victory in Game 3. Lightning coach Job Cooper said the team is in a “holding pattern” with Bishop, who  13-9 in the playoffs with a 1.19 GAA and three shutouts.

Did you know? Former NBA star Charles Barkley, who earlier in the post-season said he was rooting for Alex Ovechkin to finally win a Stanley Cup, has adopted the Lightning as his favorite NHL team still playing. The reason? He met Lightning coach Jon Cooper earlier this season and the two hit it off.

Stat of the day: Under Joel Quenneville the Blackhawks are 30-30 in Games 1 through 3 of a playoff series and 40-14 in Games 4 through 7.

 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page

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Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

As the Capitals and Penguins prepare to open their second-round series, significant injury news came out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sullivan informed the media that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin would not play in Game 1 due to injuries.

The fact that Hagelin would not be traveling with the team suggests that he will miss Game 2 as well, but that has not been confirmed. That also means that Malkin is at least a possibility for Game 2.

Malkin did not play in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers after getting injured in a collision with Jakub Voracek in Game 5. Hagelin was injured in Game 6 on a big hit from Claude Giroux.

So when the series against Washington begins, Pittsburgh will be playing without two-thirds of its second line.

Malkin made a real push for the Hart Trophy this season with 42 goals and 98 points. He was a major factor in last season's Cup run with 28 points in 26 games and was gearing up for another big postseason with five points in his first five games.

But don't celebrate too much, Caps fans. It is not as if either loss will be crippling to Pittsburgh's offense.

Despite not having Malkin for the entire Game 6 and losing Hagelin midway through the second period, the Penguins still managed to put up eight goals on the Flyers in the series-clinching win.

Still, with scoring depth being such a strength for Pittsburgh, the Capitals need to take advantage. The Penguins will be without one of the best players in the NHL and that makes Game 1 crucial. Washington has gone down 0-2 in each of their past two playoff series including last year against Pittsburgh. They lost that series in seven games. They need to have a better start this year and with no Malkin or Hagelin for Game 1, this may be a must-win for the Caps.

Riley Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated with Phil Kessel on the second line at practice on Wednesday and it is a good bet that is how the second line will remain for Game 1. That way, Pittsburgh can keep its third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust line together which has been very effective.

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