2014 NHL Playoffs: Gaborik, Quick help Kings stave off elimination

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(Juan Ocampo/Getty Images)

The Kings staved off elimination with a 6-3 win over the Sharks in Game 4. (Juan Ocampo/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Coaches juggle lines all the time looking to spark a flagging offense…but it almost never works out this well.

Justin Williams and Marian Gaborik scored two goals apiece and Dustin Brown chipped in with a goal and an assist to lead the Los Angeles Kings to season-extending 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks Thursday night. Williams and Brown were the biggest pieces shuffled as part of a roster shakeup engineered by Darryl Sutter before the game.

Brown, moved to the top line alongside Gaborik and Anze Kopitar, played his best game of the series. He brought a physicality that helped slow Joe Thornton’s line (a game-high 10 hits) and a camping permit that made life miserable for Antti Niemi.

“For me it’s just getting to the net,” Brown said. “If I can blow my way to the net it opens up ice for those guys. I think Gaborik’s goal in the beginning of the third is a result of it. I gave that guy a lot of space so he’s going to put it in the net. That’s my job to create space for him.”

Williams, who always seems to come up big when the stakes are highest, clicked immediately with Jarret Stoll on the third line.

“We’re certainly happy we got the win, but we feel we have a long way to go obviously,” he said. “We’re going take another step in San Jose and it is going to be a tough one.”

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  • Published On Apr 25, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Playoffs: Wild dominate in their Game 4 win over the Avs

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    Ann Heisenfelt/AP

    The Wild have clawed back from a 2-0 series deficit to tie it all up at 2-2. (Ann Heisenfelt/AP)

    By Sarah Kwak 

    Watching the Avalanche-Wild series is kind of like watching playoff basketball: Just tune into the last five minutes because that’s the best part. With just over two minutes to go, Minnesota was down two men thanks to a hooking penalty and an empty net for the Avalanche. With the way this postseason has been going — nine multiple-goal leads forfeited and four last-minute goals to win or force overtime — it looked like Colorado might have a chance. But no — finally, a two-goal lead didn’t spell doom. For the Wild, it was just enough to hang on, as Minnesota defeated Colorado 2-1 in Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

    But to be fair, if the Avs tied it up and somehow managed to win  it, it would have been a great injustice of the hockey gods. For 58 minutes of this game, Colorado was completely outworked by the Wild, who came out buzzing and simply didn’t stop. And early goal from defenseman Jared Spurgeon, the beneficiary of the hard work down low by forwards Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund, propelled the Wild into one of their most dominating postseason performances ever.

    Some observations from Game 4:

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  • Published On Apr 25, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs: Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf says “Hopefully I can play” in Game 5

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    Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks

    Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf is nursing the always nebulous “upper body injury.” (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    You have to hand it to the Anaheim Ducks. They know how to keep a secret.

    The status of Ryan Getzlaf was so hush-hush that it wasn’t even on the radar until the superstar center failed to step onto the ice for warm-ups just minutes before the start of Game 4 on Wednesday night in Dallas.

    The Stars were caught so far off-guard that their coaches were seen scanning their smartphones for information seconds after the skate started.

    This afternoon, Getzlaf told reporters that while he’s listed as questionable, he’s hopeful he can play in Friday night’s Game 5 in Anaheim.

    But give out details about his injury? Not a chance.

    “I’m not really going to discuss what exactly is going on,” he said. “That’s what we’ve always done here during the playoffs. I wish I could give you insight on it, but I’m just not allowed to. I do know that it’s questionable for tomorrow.”

    Getzlaf called the experience of watching the game “frustrating.”

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  • Published On Apr 24, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Playoffs: L.A. Kings, Anaheim Ducks dealing with goalie controversies

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    Jonathan Quick and the Kings are an 0-3 playoff hole vs. Anaheim

    Quick and the dead? On the brink, the Kings have no choice but to stick with their struggling goale. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    You knew change was coming for the Los Angeles Kings after they fell behind 3-0 in their series with the San Jose Sharks.

    Coach Darryl Sutter tinkered with his lines at practice ahead of tonight’s pivotal Game 4 in L.A, moving winger Dustin Brown to the top line in an effort to get something out the team’s struggling captain.

    Winger Tanner Pearson, solid in limited minutes in his series debut on Tuesday, will skate with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. Mike Richards, coming off his best game in a long while, will center Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis. Jarret Stoll will saddle up with wingers Dwight King and Justin Williams.

    That’s a lot of change. But there is one constant. That’s Jonathan Quick in net.

    And there was never any doubt.

    Oh, his numbers? Yeah, they’re terrible: his league-worst postseason slate of  5.78 GAA and .858 save percentage doesn’t look too swell next to the 1.86 GAA and .934 save pct. he put up last spring, let alone his Conn Smythe-winning stats from 2012.

    That was way back when Quick was being mentioned alongside playoff legends Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy and Tim Thomas after he led the eighth-seeded Kings to one of the most unlikely Stanley Cup titles of all time.

    Now? Kings fans are lamenting the Ben Scrivens trade and pondering the potential of young Martin Jones.

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  • Published On Apr 24, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Awards: Bergeron, Kopitar, Toews are Selke Trophy finalists

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    Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings was nominated for the 2014 Selke Trophy

    King Kopitar: LA’s dark horse nominee does everything but the laundry at a high level. (Kevork Djansezian/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks were named this morning as the three finalists for the 2013-14 Frank J. Selke Trophy. The award, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, goes to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”

    The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 24.

    Here’s what the NHL had to say about the three illustrious finalists:

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  • Published On Apr 24, 2014
  • Report: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg to play in Game 4 vs. Boston

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    Captain Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings

    Henrik Zetterberg has been out a while, but his playoff beard is in game shape. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    There are plenty of reasons why the Detroit Red Wings have managed to score only two goals in their three games against the Boston Bruins. The B’s smothering defense. The efficient play of goalie Tuukka Rask. The inexperience of Detroit’s young forward corps. Pavel Datsyuk playing at less than 100 percent.

    Oh, and they’ve been playing without their leading scorer.

    Not much the Wings can do about the first four, but that last one? According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, that will change tonight.

    A source close to the Red Wings said Henrik Zetterberg has been cleared to play tonight, after missing the last 30 games (including playoffs) and all but one game of the Olympics with a back injury. The source said Zetterberg will likely play only “limited minutes,” somewhere in the range of 10 to 12, but even that will be a massive upgrade for a Red Wings team that is reeling with injuries and has been outscored by the Bruins 7-1 in the past two games.

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  • Published On Apr 24, 2014
  • Top Line: Worst of Marc-Andre Fleury; Marchand fuels Bruins; more links

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    Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins is melting down in the playoffs again.

    Marc-Andre Fleury has become the poster boy for the underachieving Penguins. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

    • Marc-Andre Fleury is wearing the goat horns, but last night’s OT loss in Columbus was a team effort by the Penguins.

    • In honor of his late-game flub, here is a video compilation of Fleury’s greatest misses.

    Nick Foligno of the Blue Jackets actually called his OT winner in Game 4.

    • Rob Rossi remembers that the Islanders faltered last spring when the narrative changed from “maybe they can upset the Pens” to “they can actually do it.” Can the Blue Jackets handle the pressures of a best-of-three series?

    • Damien Cox beat me to it: Why a two-goal lead is no longer safe in hockey.

    Brad Marchand is back to being Brad Marchand, and the Bruins are better for it.

    • Mike Babcock says Marchand is doing his job and the Red Wings have to ignore him.

    • Sounds like Henrik Zetterberg will return for Game 4. The Red Wings desperately need a boost after scoring two goals through the first three games of their series with Boston, but they can’t expect their captain to carry them on his surgically repaired back.

    • The sooner Matt Cooke follows Patrick Kaleta and Sean Avery into obscurity the better, writes Eric Duhatschek, who calls the Minnesota winger “a clear and present danger.” In case you need proof, here’s Cooke’s rap sheet.

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  • Published On Apr 24, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs: Blackhawks beat Blues in OT, tie series at 2-2

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    By Brian Hamilton

    The time for message-sending has ended,” Ken Hitchcock declared before a group of reporters early Wednesday. The St. Louis Blues coach was referring to the nuclear-powered hits that had been delivered by his team and the Chicago Blackhawks early in the series. Those full-bore blasts were being phased out as the stakes continued to rise, and on that specific point, he was correct. But there was no doubt that the results of the teams’ Game 4 showdown delivered an unambiguous message:

    The defending Stanley Cup champions won’t go away easily —  if at all.

    The Blackhawks aren’t making it easy on themselves, either. This time, they blew a two-goal lead before Patrick Kane’s overtime score gave them the 4-3 win and evened their first round series at two games apiece. Still, despite their imperfections, their inexplicable early departure from their core philosophy of speed and precision, and their mind-numbing penalties on Wednesday, the Blackhawks basically had all four games of this series won. They’ve had to settle for two victories without yet compiling a completely dominating effort. That’s a dangerous spot for the Blues to be in, even if they’re heading back home to the Scottrade Center for Game 5 on Friday.

    They’ve got the momentum now,” Hitchcock said after watching his team’s 2-0 series lead evaporate in Chicago. “We’ve got to find a way to regroup and take it back from them. That’s a big challenge for us. We’re going to have a little bit of a heart-to-heart and get back on our toes again.”

    Here are more assorted thoughts from the third overtime tilt in what is fast becoming the best first-round series, by far, of this postseason:

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  • Published On Apr 24, 2014
  • 2014 NHL Playoffs: Blue Jackets beat Penguins 4-3 in OT thriller

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    By Mike Majeski

    A remarkable pattern has developed in the first-round series between the Blue Jackets and the Penguins. In all four games, both teams have twice held 3-1 leads — Columbus in Games 1 and 3; Pittsburgh in Games 2 and 4 — only to end up losing 4-3. Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky tied Game 4 with 24 seconds left in regulation and Nick Foligno delivered the winning goal 2:49 into overtime as the Penguins saw their 3-0 first-period advantage turn into a disheartening defeat on Wednesday night. A series they were supposed to win easily is suddenly knotted at two games apiece.

    It was shades of last year when the Stanley Cup hopeful Penguins had all kinds of trouble putting the underdog New York Islanders away.

    For all its talent, Pittsburgh has underachieved in recent postseasons and is now in danger of making its third first-round exit in the last four years. On Wednesday night, many of the hallmarks of the Penguins’ past playoff failures were present: the shaky goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury; the inconsistency of their defensemen; and the lack of production from stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who combined for just one assist. There is greatness on this roster, but this is not a great team. At this point, it seems unlikely that the Penguins can win the Stanley Cup even if they survive the first round.

    A few observations from an enervating Game 4:

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  • Published On Apr 23, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs injury update: Teemu Selanne sits in Dallas; Zetterberg skates

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    Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks

    Not so fast, Teemu! Selanne’s farewell tour has been put on hold at least for one game. (Eddie Perlas/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    A few highlights coming out of today’s morning skates:

    Look, everyone loves Teemu Selanne. Everyone wants to see him end his brilliant NHL career on a high. But his lack of foot speed has really caught up to him in the Ducks’ series against the Stars and he was particularly ineffective on Monday night in Dallas. Coach Bruce Boudreau has to worry about winning games, not Selanne’s legacy. This was the right call for his team.

    In any case, prepare for a barrage on online vitriol:

    Could the captain be back in uniform for Detroit in Game 4?

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  • Published On Apr 23, 2014


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