James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

It didn’t take long for Blackhawks to, um, ‘get a call’ vs. Blues

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Whether it was gamesmanship or true frustration, Ken Hitchcock was talking about not getting calls after Game 2. He was left stupefied by some early whistles in Game 3.

A scrum took place between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, yet it wasn’t an even takeaway. The Blackhawks ultimately received a power play opportunity, and they cashed in almost immediately.

It’s difficult to tell why the Blackhawks received a man advantage from that altercation, but you can judge for yourself in the video above.

This Brent Seabrook goal was something else, and certainly feeds into various storylines:

Jay Bouwmeester followed that frustration up by taking consecutive penalties: one for a “can-opener” maneuver and another for touching the puck as he left the penalty box.

Those two calls on Bouwmeester might have been accurate in a vacuum, yet they likely only made the Blues and their fans feel more frustrated.

Long story short, there’s plenty of drama early on. It will be interesting to see how this game goes after the Blues survived a trying start.

Update: Fittingly, the Blues scored a power-play goal mere moments into their first chance.

Remarkable return: Steve Ott suits up for the Blues

AP

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

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

AP
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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

AP
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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.