Cam Tucker

Video: Brouwer shows off his baseball swing to give Blues the lead

Troy Brouwer has continued his impressive run in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Brouwer gave the St. Louis Blues the lead late in the first period of a pivotal Game 5 on Monday, swatting the puck out of mid-air on a rebound and into the back of the net by San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones.

For the 30-year-old Brouwer, a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, that’s his eighth goal of these playoffs. In his 78 previous post-season games, he had scored a total of seven goals.

The Sharks took the lead just 3:51 into the period on a point shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic that fooled Jake Allen. The goal was initially credited to Tomas Hertl, who was in front of the net, but changed to Vlasic’s goal later on.

The Blues responded with the equalizer just 3:13 later on a goal from Jaden Schwartz.

Backes and Fabbri are in the Blues’ lineup for Game 5

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 17, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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David Backes and Robby Fabbri are both in the lineup for the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Monday. (Click here to watch the game live online.)

There had been some question as to whether they would be ready to play, after their ice time was incredibly limited due to separate ailments in Game 4 of the series.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock made it clear both players would take the pre-game warm-up before a decision would be made.

The series is tied at two games apiece.

 

Report: Blackhawks agree to deal with Czech d-man Kempny

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The Chicago Blackhawks have reportedly agreed to a contract with Czech defenseman Michal Kempny, who will turn 26 years old in September.

The club has yet to officially announce such a deal.

Reports of the deal come following the 2016 world hockey championship, where Kempny recorded two assists in eight games for the Czech Republic. He also had 10 penalty minutes and 19 shots on goal in the tournament.

After spending six years of his career in the Czech league, Kempny spent the 2015-16 season in the KHL with Avangard Omsk, where he had five goals and 21 points in 59 regular season games.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Kempny likely will challenge for a regular roster spot with Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, David Rundblad and Rockford standout Ville Pokka. After an early postseason exit in which their lack of defensive depth was glaring, only Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Trevor van Riemsdyk are locks for next season.

According to a report from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres were pursuing Kempny.

WATCH LIVE: Sharks at Blues – Game 5

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Brenden Dillon #4 of the San Jose Sharks fights with Carl Gunnarsson #4 of the St. Louis Blues in game four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues finally re-discovered a scoring touch to even the Western Conference Final at two games apiece, and they can now take back the series lead with a win on home ice over the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Meanwhile, the Sharks will look to rebound from a difficult outing in Game 4.

You can catch tonight’s Game 5 on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Hitchcock only says that Backes, Fabbri will warm up for Game 5

Hitchcock is having ‘fun’ trading barbs with DeBoer

Has the Sharks-Blues series created a DeBoer vs. Hitchcock rivalry?

‘It’s not always the size of the player’: Tyler Johnson plays OT hero for Bolts

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Prior to Game 4 of this series, Tyler Johnson was hit in the face with a puck during warm-up.

That didn’t seem to faze him. In Game 5, he was positioned right in front of the net when the puck deflected off him and into the net, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning the overtime win and pushing that team one step closer to a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

“I was just out there in front. I saw (Jason Garrison) start to shoot it, and I thought it was going for my head again,” Johnson told reporters. “So I turned around, and I got lucky. It just nicked me.”

That goal was Johnson’s seventh of the post-season. His 17 points has him tied with Phil Kessel for fifth in the playoffs.

At a time of the year when the physical play is emphasized, Johnson, who stands five-foot-eight-inches tall, has been a consistent producer in the playoffs, with 42 points in 45 career post-season games. (That production slowed to two points in six games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, though it was revealed he suffered a broken wrist early in that series.)

“He’s a winner. That’s what winners do. They don’t back down. And when there’s a challenge ahead of you, you’ve got to find a way to meet that challenge. Tyler Johnson was that way before he came to the Tampa Bay Lightning,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

“It’s not always the size of the player, it’s the size of the heart, and that’s Tyler Johnson.”