Mike Halford

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 13:  J.T. Brown #23 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tomas Tatar #21 of the Detroit Red Wings battle for the puck during the third period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 13, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Bolts’ Brown exits with upper-body injury, won’t return

An otherwise good opening period for Tampa ended on a down note as, during the first intermission, the team announced J.T. Brown suffered an upper-body injury, and wouldn’t return.

Brown was hurt blocking a shot early in the contest, and quickly skated to the bench in discomfort. He played just 2:29 before being ruled out entirely.

A hard-working, physical presence at forward, Brown had a nice year for the Bolts, posting career highs in games played (78), goals (eight), points (22) and average TOI (13:22). He also led the club in penalty minutes, with 59.

Brown had cemented his spot as a regular during last year’s playoffs, when he played in 24 of Tampa’s 26 playoff games — so, if he’s out for any length of time, his absence will be noticeable.

Tampa Bay is already dealing with injuries to captain Steve Stamkos (vascular surgery) and Anton Stralman (broken leg).

Video: Kucherov stays hot, scores third of series

No slowing down for Nikita Kucherov in Game 2 of Tampa Bay’s opening-round series against Detroit.

Kucherov, who scored twice and finished with three points in the Bolts’ Game 1 victory, notched his third goal of the series on a 5-on-3 power play to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead on Friday night at Amalie.

It’s been a terrific start to the series for the 22-year-old Russian, who’s already matched his point total from last year’s tilt against Detroit.

Kucherov failed to score a single goal in the seven-game series, but did finish with four assists.

WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action

Stanley Cup
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Three sets of teams — Detroit-Tampa Bay, Florida-New York Islanders, Chicago-St. Louis — play their respective Game 2s tonight, while the Ducks and Preds kick off their series in Anaheim.

Detroit at Tampa Bay (7:00 p.m. ET)

This one’s on CNBC, with Chris Cuthbert and Ray Ferraro on the call. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

NY Islanders at Florida (7:30 p.m. ET)

The Isles and Panthers are on NHL Network, with Howie Rose and Butch Goring on the call. There will be no live stream available.

Chicago at St. Louis (8:00 p.m. ET)

The first of two games on NBCSN tonight — Pat Foley and Ed Olcyzk are on the call. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at Anaheim (10:30 p.m. ET)

The late game of the NBCSN doubleheader, the Preds and Ducks will have John Forslund and Bret Hedican on the call. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

On Leicester City, and Stanley Cup Cinderellas

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OK first, let me address the obvious — you’re right, this is not a soccer site. It’s a hockey site. Kudos for pointing it out.

But bear with me for a moment.

Across the pond, tiny Leicester City is doing the unthinkable — closing in on a Premier League title despite opening the campaign as a staggering 5000-to-1 longshot. (Which you can watch this Sunday at 7:30 am ET on NBCSN when they play West Ham.) Leicester is, by every definition imaginable, a true Cinderella story.

Which got us thinking, what about hockey?

At first glance, it’s fair to say the NHL’s had a good number of Stanley Cup Cinderellas.

But most of the time, there’s a catch.

Like the 1991 Minnesota North Stars, for example. The Stars snuck into the playoffs despite a lousy (27-39-14) regular season, then upset the ‘Hawks and Blues and Oilers to make it to the Cup Final — which is when the clock struck midnight. Minnesota was blitzed by Mario Lemieux and the Penguins, losing 8-0 in the deciding game.

There was also the 2006 Edmonton Oilers. That team waited until the final week of the regular season to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, then went on a crazy run to upset top-seeded Detroit, San Jose and Anaheim.

But then… yeah, you guessed it. The clock struck midnight.

In Game 1 of the Cup Final, starting netminder Dwayne Roloson got hurt and was lost for the series. The Oilers rallied to push it to Game 7, only to see Carolina capture the final by a 3-1 scoreline.

Which begs the question: Are there any Cinderellas that made it to 12:01?

Oh sure, there’s a case to be made for the 2012 Los Angeles Kings, who got in as the No. 8 seed in the West and went on to capture the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. But the notion of the Kings being a “Cinderella” was put to bed in subsequent years: in ’13, they went to the Western Conference Final and in ’14, they won the Stanley Cup.

Again.

To find arguably the best Stanley Cup Cinderella, we go back to 1938.

NHL on NBC play-by-play man Mike “Doc” Emrick explains:

“The Leicester-like story was the 1938 Chicago Blackhawks. In a virtually-all-Canadian NHL, they had hired an American coach (Bill Stewart), had eight Americans on the squad, scored the fewest goals, only made the playoffs by two points, and upset everyone.”

“So surprising were they that the NHL did not even have the Stanley Cup present for their clinching game. It was being sent on to Toronto for what the hierarchy believed would be a fifth and deciding game there.”

Of course, no discussion about hockey and Cinderellas would be complete without the biggest one of all. No, it didn’t happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs and no, none of the players were professionals.

No matter. From NBC’s Al Michaels, who called the unforgettable game:

“The 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team had an outside shot at a bronze medal as the Games began in Lake Placid. The group’s average age was 22 and most of the players had just finished their college careers. The Soviet Union team, on the other hand, were amateurs in name only. They spent eleven months each year on the ice either training or dominating competition on the international level. Had the Soviets been allowed to play in the National Hockey League at that time, almost everyone on their roster would have been a star.

“When the teams met on February 22, 1980, most everyone who knew anything about hockey gave the American team no chance. In fact, almost everyone expected the outcome to be totally one-sided. Over the next two hours and 15 minutes, the Soviets outshot the U.S. 39-16. They led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 with the U.S. then tying the game on each occasion. At exactly the halfway mark of the third period, Mike Eruzione scored to give the U.S. its first lead. It held up. None of this would have happened without a performance for the ages by goaltender Jim Craig, who made at least a dozen unbelievable saves to never let the game get out of hand. When the horn sounded an entire country erupted with joy.

“But there was still more work to be done. Forty hours later, that same team would be back in action against Finland needing a win to clinch the gold medal. Final score: U.S. 4, Finland 2. Thirty-six years later, it’s no exaggeration to say it still brings tears of joy to many, many people who reminisce. I’ve seen it firsthand.”

NHL announces start time for Rangers-Pens Game 4

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby gets a stick on New York Rangers' Dan Girardi during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
AP

From the league:

The start time for Game 4 of the First Round series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers has been set for 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 21, in New York.

And with that, this series will get its first one-day break. The two sides played last night — a 5-2 Pittsburgh win — and won’t play Game 2 until Saturday, a matinee affair at Consol.

Game 3 of the series will come after another two-day break, when the Pens and Rangers move to MSG on Tuesday, Apr. 19.

The drawn-out nature of the early part of this series could play into New York’s favor. The Rangers are hopeful that injured captain Ryan McDonagh (hand) will be able to play at some point in this series, so the more days off in between games, the better for the Blueshirts.

Related: Rangers don’t think Lundqvist’s eye injury is ‘too serious,’ rule out McDonagh for Game 2