Cam Tucker

Sullivan: Daley is ‘tough to replace’ but Penguins ‘believe’ in Maatta if he’s called into action

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Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t provide any further update on defenseman Trevor Daley, only saying he would be re-evaluated later on Saturday when the team returned to Pittsburgh.

Daley left Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final after suffering a lower-body injury, which forced Kris Letang to pick up 31:38 of ice time for the Penguins in the loss. Any potential loss of Daley could be a huge turning point in this series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Daley has six points in 15 post-season games this year, but has also been averaging 22:08 of ice time. Only Letang, at 29:14, has played more per game for the Penguins in the playoffs.

“He’s a tough guy to replace. He’s a real good player. He’s really helped change our team since he’s come to join our team,” Sullivan told reporters of Daley.

“He’s a mobile guy. He’s got great offensive instincts. He helps us get out of our end zone. He’s a very good player. He’s not an easy guy to replace, but we’ve dealt with that all year. We’ve had a lot of guys go down, key guys, for long stretches of time.”

If Daley can’t play Game 5 on Sunday — the best-of-seven series is tied 2-2 as it returns to Pittsburgh — that could mean the return of Olli Maatta to the lineup.

Maatta has been scratched in the last three games — did he find his way into Sullivan’s doghouse? — after appearing in the series opener.

Sullivan heaped plenty of praise toward the 21-year-old blue liner, saying the Penguins “believe” in Maatta and they have “a lot of confidence in him.”

“We know, when you go this deep in the playoffs, you need your whole team, in the true sense of the word, to have success,” said Sullivan.

“So we’re fortunate to have the depth that we have at that position, and if we have to put somebody into the lineup, someone like Olli can help us win, we know that.”

As for his starting goalie for Game 5, Sullivan said he’ll make that decision Sunday.

Returning the favor: Blues chase Jones from Sharks net

In Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, the San Jose Sharks chased Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues net.

On Saturday, in Game 4 of the series, the Blues returned the favor, chasing Martin Jones from the Sharks net after building a 4-0 lead by the midway point of the second period. James Reimer entered the game for San Jose.

Jones, who had posted two straight shutouts prior to Saturday’s game, allowed four goals on 19 shots.

The Blues snapped a scoring drought of 156:59 when Troy Brouwer gave them the early lead in the first period.

Jori Lehtera added to the lead before the period was out, before Kyle Brodziak — who preached for the Blues to, “Play as if our lives are on the line” prior to Game 4 — scored twice in the second period, ending the night for Jones with his second goal.

Video: Brouwer and the Blues (finally) solve Jones to take early lead in Game 4

The St. Louis Blues have finally busted out of their scoring drought in the Western Conference Final, scoring their first goal in 156 minutes and 59 seconds.

On the road versus the San Jose Sharks, and needing a win to even the series, the Blues opened the scoring on a goal from Troy Brouwer at 6:14 of the first period, beating goalie Martin Jones, who had posted two straight shut outs.

The goal was subject to review for a coach’s challenge on a potential offside at the San Jose blue line, but the call on the ice eventually stood.

The Blues continued their strong start. Jori Lehtera added to the lead, beating Jones on a scramble in front — after Jones made an unbelievable save — less than four minutes after the Brouwer goal.

Lightning re-sign Richard, Vermin to one-year, two-way deals

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23:  Tanner Richard, 71st overall pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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On an off day from the Eastern Conference Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning got some work done away from the ice.

The Bolts re-signed forwards Tanner Richard and Joel Vermin to one-year, two-way contracts, the team announced Saturday.

In 71 games this season, the 23-year-old Richard led the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch with 43 assists and 54 points. He’s also Tampa Bay’s third-round pick from the 2012 NHL Draft.

The 24-year-old Vermin, Tampa Bay’s seventh-round pick in 2013, appeared in six games for the Lightning during the regular season, recording one assist. He also had nine goals and 21 points in 37 games for the Crunch.

But his season was disrupted by a hand injury that required surgery while he was on recall with the Lightning in December.

 

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 4

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19:  Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks checks Robert Bortuzzo #41 of the St. Louis Blues in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks can take a stranglehold lead in the Western Conference Final with a win in Game 4 at SAP Center on Saturday, while the visiting Blues will look to even the series heading back to St. Louis. You can catch tonight’s game on NBC (7:15 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:

Brodziak: Blues should ‘play as if our lives are on the line’

Praise for the Thornton, Pavelski and Hertl line

Couture says Sharks have been ‘under-appreciated all season’

Blues will start Jake Allen in Game 4 of Western Conference Final