James O'Brien

Linesman Steve Miller, center, tries to separate St. Louis Blues center Steve Ott (9) and Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Cooke, right, during the second period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in St. Paul, Minn., Sunday, April 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
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Remarkable return: Steve Ott suits up for the Blues

If the St. Louis Blues need inspiration, how about the unlikely return of a character guy?

Steve Ott is suiting up against considerable odds as the Blues take on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3, which is mere moments from beginning.

Ott hasn’t played since Dec. 5, and there was at least some reason to wonder if he’d ever play again. Instead, he’s getting back in the mix as the Blues attempt to shake off a painful loss.

Impressive, although it’s unlikely that the Blackhawks will merely allow Ott to ease back in.

WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action

St. Louis Blues right wing Scottie Upshall, center, loses his footing as he competes for the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, April 15, 2016, in St. Louis. The Blackhawks won 3-2 to even the first-round playoff series at a game apiece. (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
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Things are really starting to heat up in the first round. Here’s how you can watch Sunday’s three Game 3 matches and one Game 2:

St. Louis at Chicago (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBC, with Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Tampa Bay at Detroit (7:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on CNBC, with Bob Cole, Garry Galley and Craig Simpson. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Florida at NY Islanders (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 3 will be on NBCSN, with Chris Cuthbert and Joe Micheletti. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at Anaheim (10:30 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBCSN, with John Forslund and Bret Hedican. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Excited yet?

Bieksa’s back for the Ducks; Boudreau calls out Perry

Los Angeles Kings' defenseman Jake Muzzin lands a punch on Anaheim Ducks' rightwing Corey Perry during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles.  (Michael Goulding/The Orange County Register via AP)   MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
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The Anaheim Ducks lost home-ice advantage by falling to the Nashville Predators in Game 1. They’re gaining an important defenseman back for Game 2.

Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed that Kevin Bieksa will be in the lineup on Sunday.

The rugged blueliner logged 21 minutes per game during the regular season and boasts 71 games of playoff experience on his resume.

Getting a little edgier may be the biggest gain, depending upon who you ask:

Speaking of getting more, Boudreau also called out Corey Perry‘s line before Game 2.

Spicy.

Perry generated an assist and five shots on goal, yet he also suffered a -2 rating in Game 1. That helper also came on the power play, which means it wasn’t the result of that line.

Spreading Anaheim’s wealth around the lineup worked during the regular season, yet you have to wonder if people will clamor for the reunion of Perry and Ryan Getzlaf if the Ducks offense sputters on Sunday.

That situation, Bieksa’s return and the increased pressure on this team gives this Game 2 plenty of sizzle.

Here’s how you can watch the action (and all of Sunday’s games).

No signs of Parise progress for Wild; Seguin not guaranteed for Game 3

Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise (11) tries to take a shot on goal against Detroit Red Wings' Jimmy Howard (35) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, April 1, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
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With Game 3 approaching, the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild are monitoring familiar situations with big-name players.

Unfortunately for the struggling Wild, it doesn’t sound like Zach Parise‘s in for Game 3, at least as far as Sunday is concerned. (The game itself is tomorrow.)

Just look at how the question of Parise’s status seemed to get answered with a thud:

Ouch.

It’s not the only interesting variable for the Wild. They might get some help if they play Mike Reilly after calling him up from the AHL.

Again, the Stars also have key situations to keep an eye on. Namely, it doesn’t sound like Tyler Seguin is a lock to play on Monday even after returning in Game 2:

Mattias Janmark‘s expected return doesn’t necessarily exclude Seguin from the lineup, yet it’s a possible sign of that much:

Seguin logged 15:40 in ice time in Game 2, down from his average of 19:27. Lindy Ruff & Co. may deem it sensible to ease Seguin into the action rather than throwing him in the deep end, and perhaps that will translate to resting him for a game or two.

We’ll likely have a better idea of each lineup on game day tomorrow.

Anton Stralman hopes to return if Lightning make second round

Tampa Bay Lightning's Anton Stralman (6), of Sweden, avoids the check of Detroit Red Wings' Joakim Andersson, also of Sweden, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, March 20, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
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To little surprise, the Detroit Red Wings are making big changes going into Game 3. Still, with all the injury issues striking the Tampa Bay Lightning, some might want to see them make tweaks of their own.

Unfortunately for those who are impatient to see returning Bolts, it sounds like the waiting game(s) will continue.

Anton Stralman is apparently making progress, but it’s likely of the slow-and-steady variety. He’s still canceled out of this first-round series against the Red Wings; anything beyond that – if the Lightning manage to advance – is also a coin flip right now.

That’s the word from reporters including Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

Considering how serious that leg injury is, it’s reasonable that the Lightning aren’t rushing Stralman back.

In other Lightning notes, J.T. Brown‘s injury apparently opened the door for Erik Condra to get back into the mix for Tampa Bay.

This post discusses what the Lightning are losing with Brown out of action.