Discover ‘Road to the Cup’: Chicago Blackhawks

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The road to the Stanley Cup is a familiar one for the Blackhawks.

The ‘Hawks got to a championship series for the first time in 49 years in 2010 — and snapped the drought, defeating Philly in six games — then did the trick three years later, dispatching of the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, also in six games.

This year, Chicago is looking to travel down that road once more to become the first team since the ’97-98 Detroit Red Wings to hoist Lord Stanley two years in a row.

Let’s take a look at how the ‘Hawks got to where they are…

Round 1: Beat St. Louis 4-2

In one of the most exciting first-round series in recent memory, Chicago rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win four straight and dispatch of their longtime rival. The Blues looked to have things in control after winning consecutive overtime games to open the series, but the ‘Hawks showed their championship form by winning a pair of OT games of their own — including a crucial Game 5 at Scottrade in St. Louis — before closing it out at home at the United Center.

As per usual, it was Chicago’s dynamic duo leading the way. In Game 4, Patrick Kane scored the game-winner in overtime and, the next night out, it was “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews who provided the dramatics, capturing Game 5 with an OT winner on a breakaway against Ryan Miller.

Round 2: Beat Minnesota 4-2

In 2013, the ‘Hawks easily dispatched of the Wild in the opening playoff round, losing just once on the road to the Stanley Cup.

This year’s rematch would prove a much more difficult task.

Chicago came up against a tough, determined and stingy Minnesota team in Round 2, one that held the ‘Hawks to just six goals over the final four games of the series. But, in a familiar theme, it was the Blackhawks’ stars that made the difference in the end as Toews scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 — with less than 16 minutes remaining — before Kane once again provided the OT heroics in Game 6, flipping a backhand past Ilya Bryzgalov to move the ‘Hawks onto the Western Conference final.

“He’s a special player,” Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said of Kane, per ESPN. “Guys have that instinct, have that knack of finding pucks, wanting to be out there, wanting to score.”

Luckily for Kane, he’ll have plenty more opportunities to get out there and find the back of the net.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.