Cam Tucker

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  Patrik Berglund #21 of the St. Louis Blues reacts 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 Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 3

The San Jose Sharks are hoping to ride the momentum from a Game 2 victory in the Western Conference Final. On the other hand, the St. Louis Blues are hoping to take the momentum back. The two teams clash in Game 3 of this series at SAP Center on Thursday.

You can catch the game on NBCSN (9 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:

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Just for Men: Vlad (The Dad) Tarasenko

Appreciate Burns, but don’t forget about Vlasic

 

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    Knee surgery ‘is not an option’ for Kronwall, says Holland

    NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 04:  Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings mugs for the camera during the second period against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 4, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    It appears Detroit Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall will not undergo surgery for an ailing knee that bothered him last season.

    The 35-year-old hard-hitting Kronwall, who has three years remaining on his seven-year contract worth an annual cap hit of $4.75 million, as per General Fanager, appeared in 64 games for the Red Wings last season, scoring three times and recording 26 points.

    Despite his struggles — “It’s been a rough year,” he admitted after the Red Wings were knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round — with the knee injury, surgery seems to have been removed from the equation.

    This wasn’t the only news from the Red Wings on Thursday.

    Pending unrestricted free agents Brad Richards, 36, and Kyle Quincey, 30, are unlikely to be back in Detroit next season, with GM Ken Holland reportedly telling both players, “I definitely won’t sign them before July 1, if at all.”

    Vasilevskiy was ‘unreal’ in Game 3 loss, but Bolts need to ‘bail him out’

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    Andrei Vasilevskiy began the Eastern Conference Final as the back-up goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Due to an injury to Ben Bishop, he’s now moved into the No. 1 position, and has been especially busy in the past two games of this series. In Wednesday’s Game 3 loss for the Bolts, Vasilevskiy faced 48 shots. He stopped 44 of them. The Pittsburgh Penguins unleashed an unrelenting onslaught that resulted in a 4-2 victory to take the series lead.

    In these last two games, the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy has faced 89 shots.

    Meanwhile, in the same span, fellow 21-year-old goalie Matt Murray of the Penguins hasn’t been tested with nearly the same frequency — only 49 shots faced.

    “He was unreal tonight. What’s obviously upsetting is — what did we give up, 41 the other night? We were on the road, and they were desperate,” Bolts’ head coach Jon Cooper told reporters of Vasilevskiy’s performance.

    “But  it’s extremely disappointing to give up 48 shots in your home building in a playoff game. That’s unacceptable. So I just feel bad for the kid that he’s keeping us in there and we’re not finding a way to bail him out. The way things have gone these two games, it doesn’t matter who’s in net.”

    As for Bishop, Cooper seemed optimistic he could return in this series.

    Cooper: Kessel ‘probably doesn’t get near the respect he deserves’

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    Phil Kessel can be, well, a polarizing figure.

    He’s a scorer, hitting the 30-goal plateau five times in 10 seasons and that was a huge reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired him in a blockbuster trade with Toronto last summer.

    He’s also been a lightning rod for criticism, like when his former coach Ron Wilson offered quite a take on Kessel after the firing of Randy Carlyle in Toronto.

    Now, it needs to be pointed out that Wilson did say a team can “…win with Phil Kessel.” But he also said a team can’t rely on Kessel.

    On a Penguins team that possesses stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, Kessel — also a star — has certainly been reliable in these playoffs.

    Playing on that dynamic HBK Line with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino — which combined for five points on Pittsburgh’s first two goals of Wednesday’s game — Kessel is up to seven goals now in this post-season. That’s new ground for him. He leads the Penguins with those seven goals and 16 points, which also puts him third in the league in that category during the playoffs. Only Brent Burns and Logan Couture have more points.

    On Wednesday, after scoring and adding an assist in the Penguins’ 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3, taking a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final, Kessel received a pretty high compliment from Jon Cooper, as the opposing head coach addressed a question about that vaunted HBK Line.

    “I think, like when you look at their team, Phil Kessel probably doesn’t get near the respect he deserves,” Cooper told reporters.  “I mean, he’s scored a ton of goals in this league.”

    Penguins dominate the Bolts to take series lead

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    Given how this game began to unfold, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Pittsburgh Penguins would break through for the win.

    The Penguins dominated the second period, firing 21 shots on goal at Andrei Vasilevskiy before Carl Hagelin finally broke a scoreless deadlock with only 10 seconds remaining in the middle period. They had finally broken through.

    There was no stopping the Penguins — at least not for the remainder of Game 3 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    The Penguins now lead the Eastern Conference Final 2-1, following a thorough thumping of the Lightning by a final score of 4-2 on Wednesday. It’s hard to fault the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy, who has been thrust into this series after the injury to Ben Bishop and stopped 44 of 48 shots faced Wednesday.

    This result comes after Tampa Bay’s head coach Jon Cooper felt his team had “…more in the tank than what we’ve showed.”

    (Graph courtesy hockeystats.ca)

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    The trio of Nick Bonino, Phil Kessel and Hagelin was again a catalyst for the Penguins.

    Hagelin opened the scoring and Kessel increased that lead early in the third period, with that line providing a combined five points on Pittsburgh’s first two goals of the night.

    After getting outshot 21-6 in the middle period, the Lightning did make things interesting.

    Just 14 seconds after Kessel scored, Tyler Johnson cut the Tampa Bay deficit to one goal. But that was as close as the Lightning would get. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz added to the Pittsburgh lead with goals 2:22 apart, securing the win on the road.

    Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist didn’t play a single shift for the remaining 7:06 of the third period, with reports saying he blocked a shot prior to leaving the ice.

    Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan acknowledged that Hornqvist did leave the bench, but didn’t provide an update beyond, “So, we’ll probably know more tomorrow.”