Posts Tagged ‘Antti Niemi’

2014 NHL Playoffs: San Jose Sharks push L.A. Kings to brink with 4-3 OT win

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By Allan Muir

Rallying from two disastrous efforts in San Jose, the Kings threw everything they had at the Sharks in Game 3 on Tuesday night.

It wasn’t enough.

San Jose’s Patrick Marleau ended a back-and-forth thriller at 6:20 of overtime with a harmless looking backhander that deflected off the stick of L.A. defenseman Slava Voynov and over the shoulder of goalie Jonathan Quick to seal a 4-3 win. The Sharks now have a 3-0 stranglehold on their best-of-seven series and could close out the 2012 Stanley Cup champions on Thursday night.

The Kings answered the bell early in this one, tightening a porous defense, amping up their physical game and getting strong performances from Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards (a game-high 66.7 percent Corsi rating). But their inability to build on a pair of one-goal leads created by Carter and Jarret Stoll pushed them into sudden death. They had their chances there, too, pinning San Jose deep in its own zone and getting off the first five shots of the extra frame before Marleau administered the dagger that all but ends L.A.’s season.

Here are a few observations from this OT thriller, along with thoughts on what lies ahead in Game 4.

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  • Published On Apr 23, 2014
  • Sharks get to Jonathan Quick, Kings early, hang on for 6-3 Game 1 Win

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    The Sharks' relentless forecheck did not make it an easy night for Jonathan Quick. (Nick Lust/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The Sharks’ relentless forecheck did not make it an easy night for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Asked before the game what it would take the upend the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose’s Joe Thornton said simply, “Score some goals on Quick.”

    The Sharks did just that, beating Jonathan Quick three times in the first period on the way to a 6-3 win in their series opener on Thursday night.

    Thornton got the hosts on the board just 3:06 in with a deft deflection of a Joe Pavelski backhander, but it was a pair of goals from rookie Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau in the final 52 seconds of the frame that set the stage for a rout.

    The Sharks built their lead up to 5-0 in the second, sending Quick to the showers after 40 minutes. And while the Kings rallied with three goals to make the score interesting in the third, the end result was never really in doubt.

    Here are some observations after tonight’s contest and a look ahead to Sunday’s Game 2.

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  • Published On Apr 18, 2014
  • 2014 NHL playoffs preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks

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    Joe Thornton (left) and Drew Doughty are both crucial figures in a potentially thrilling first round California series. (Don Smith/Getty Images)

    Joe Thornton (19) and Drew Doughty (8) are crucial figures in a possibly thrilling first-round series. (Getty Images)

    By Gabriel Baumgaertner

    Regular Season recaps

    Wed. Oct. 30: Los Angeles 4, San Jose 3 (OT)

    Wed. Nov. 27: San Jose 3, Los Angeles 2 (SO)

    Thu. Dec. 19: Los Angeles 4, San Jose 1

    Mon. Jan. 27: Los Angeles 1, San Jose 0

    Thu April 3: San Jose 2, Los Angeles 1

    Notable injuries

    Kings: Drew Doughty (upper-body, day-to-day), Dwight King (undisclosed)

    Sharks: Raffi Torres (knee, doubtful), Scott Hannan (head, day-to-day)

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  • Published On Apr 16, 2014
  • Top Line: Ducks lay record rout on Canucks; Rask’s woes; more links

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    The Anaheim Ducks scored a team-record nine goals vs. the Vancouver Canucks

    The red-hot Ducks had the reeling Canucks under siege all night. (Debora Robinson/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

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

    • Jonas Hiller didn’t just miss out on a start on Wednesday night. Too sick to go against the Canucks, the NHL’s hottest goaltender missed out on all the fun as the Ducks set a pair of franchise records in a 9-1 thrashing of Vancouver. The most amazing stat of the evening? Anaheim started the game with the league’s 22nd ranked power play, but after scoring five times with the extra man the Ducks had jumped up to 15th.

    • So instead of turning a corner with their hard-fought 1-0 loss to the Kings last Monday, the Canucks simply ran face first into a different wall. With seven losses in their last eight games, it’s fair to ask where do they go from here?

    • Wyatt Arndt doesn’t blames referee Paul Devorski for making the calls that turned the game into a farce, but he’s sure not thrilled by how they were made.

    • A young Finn took center stage in Pittsburgh as the Penguins set a franchise record of their own.

    • Adam Oates did not enjoy his part in that historic event.

    • Claude Julien says he knows there’s something wrong with Tuukka Rask’s game and that the team has a plan to address the goalie’s tumbling numbers. With defenseman Dennis Seidenberg out of the lineup, Rask is not getting the help he’s used to, but he’s also visibly not as sharp, either, especially when the Bruins are on the penalty kill.

    • Rask’s swoon could cost him the starting job on Team Finland in Sochi if it’s not quickly corrected, especially in light of how well Antti Niemi has played of late.

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  • Published On Jan 16, 2014
  • Top Line: NHL’s Top 50 players; Leafs finally sign Cody Franson; more links

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    Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks are among the NHLs top 50 players.

    Who’s No. 1? According to TSN, the Sedins’ stock has fallen in its Top 50 players list. (Marc Piscotty/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

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

    • Pavel Datsyuk at No. 5? Taylor Hall at 39? Separated Sedins? TSN offers up its annual list of the NHL’s Top-50 players and it’s sure to start bar brawls all over Canada. And maybe Buffalo.

    • Bruce Garrioch, who doesn’t mind letting you know he writes Canada’s best Sunday column, identifies the 12 players who’ll be at the center of trade talks this season. At least until they sign extensions.

    • The Maple Leafs finally came to terms with restricted free agent Cody Franson this morning. So Toronto saved a few bucks now, but could end up paying big next year. And Franson, who missed most of camp, is all but certain to get off to a slow start. Well done, fellas.

    • The Leafs had to be hoping that Jonathan Bernier would put on a blue jersey and immediately assert himself as the team’s top goalie. That hasn’t happened.

    • As soon as Vinnie Viola officially takes over as new owner of the Panthers — which could happen as soon as today — look for the team to announce the signing of Tim Thomas. It might be one of the last deals of the offseason, but it could end up being the most important.

    • Kay Whitmore, who is featured in Michael Farber’s centerpiece story in SI mag’s NHL preview this week, is kind of like Batman. Only instead of sending criminals to Arkham, he’s out to catch NHL goalies in the act of flouting the league’s new equipment rules. Plus, he only wears a regular suit, so as not to inspire fear in anyone.

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  • Published On Sep 26, 2013
  • Most irreplaceable NHL players for the 2013-14 season

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    John Tavares of the New York Islanders

    John Tavares, the likely new captain of the Isles, is the pillar of the franchise’s recent progress. (Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    Sidney Crosby may be the best player in hockey, but is he also the most irreplaceable?

    Doesn’t seem like it.

    Everyone expected Pittsburgh’s wheels to fly off last season when their captain was sidelined indefinitely with a broken jaw. Instead, the train picked up speed. Pittsburgh finished the season on a 9-2 run, outscoring its opponents 46-25 while Crosby sipped soup through a straw in the hospital.

    Were the Pens a better team without him? Of course not. But they were, and are, in a better position to weather a long-term injury like his because of their enviable depth. Under GM Ray Shero, the organization has become like a shark — knock one tooth out, another just slides up and replaces it.

    Every team has to face up to a Crosby-like injury eventually, but few have rows of teeth in reserve. Most would cobble something together and hope to make do. Others, like the injury-ravaged 2013 Ottawa Senators, might prove something to themselves and the league with their resilience.

    But some players are so critical to the success of their teams that there’s no way to fill the void if they’re lost long-term.

    Here are the players we think are next season’s most irreplaceable.

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  • Published On Aug 30, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Sharks clip Kings 2-1 at home in Game 6, force seventh game

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    T.J. Galiardi (left) has raised his play after being put on a line with Sharks captain Joe Thornton. (Getty Images)

    By Adrian Dater

    You knew this was going seven.

    The home team had won every game in this Western Conference semifinal series, so it didn’t seem likely that the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings would win Game 6 on Sunday night in San Jose.

    The Sharks’ 2-1 victory was an impressive performance, but now all that home-ice mojo goes back with the Kings to the Staples Center for Game 7 on Tuesday night.

    T.J. Galiardi’s second-period goal, a wicked wrister from the slot, proved the game-winner, and continued his story of rejuvenation. The former Avalanche winger was nearly out of the league by the start of the year and he was sometimes a healthy scratch by Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan. But Galiardi started showing more fire late in the season, enough for McLellan to gamble on putting him on a line with star center Joe Thornton.

    Galiardi has not disappointed. He still doesn’t score a lot, but he has gotten under the Kings’ skin with sandpaper play in front of the net and in the corners. It’s the same kind of playoff performance he had in 2010 for the Avalanche in their first-round series against the Sharks. Galiardi was a big agitating presence against San Jose then, and he’s found that style of play again.

    The Sharks just looked like they wanted this game more than the Kings did. They probably did, in truth. The Kings just seem to let it slide a little too much in road games they don’t have to win. Now, the only thing that can save them is that precious home-ice advantage in a final game. But that’s why you play so hard during the regular season, to have that advantage.

    Here are some other observations from Game 6:

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  • Published On May 26, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Kings take 3-2 series lead with 3-0 win over Sharks in Game 5

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    Jonathan Quick

    Jonathan Quick’s 28 saves blunted a surge by the Sharks, who had won the last two games. (Getty Images)

    By Adrian Dater

    The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from their second straight Western Conference finals appearance, which puts them in striking distance of doing what they say can’t be done in this age of NHL parity: win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

    Not since Detroit in 1997 and 1998 has a team repeated the feat, but the Kings are now nine wins away.

    In Game 5’s 3-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks at the Staples Center on Thursday night, goaltender Jonathan Quick kept alive his bid to accomplish something that has only been done twice in the history of the sport: win two straight Conn Smythe trophies (goalie Bernie Parent of the Flyers in 1974 and ’75, and Penguins great Mario Lemieux in 1991 and ’92 are the two repeat postseason MVPs).

    Quick saved his best for last: a glove-hand robbery of Joe Pavelski with 39.5 seconds left in regulation, a ridiculous stop that helped earn him an honor as the game’s No. 1 star.

    Anze Kopitar, who scored the game-winner, summed up the game to the NBC Sports Network as “Probably our best game of the playoffs so far. We all realize they have lots of players who can make good plays, but when you can limit their time and space it makes it hard for them.”

    Other observations from Game 5:

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  • Published On May 24, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Couture the OT hero as Sharks ride power play to Game 3 win

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    Logan Couture scored the winning goal in overtime of Game 3 to cut  the Kings' series lead down to 2-1. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Logan Couture scored the winning goal in OT to cut the Kings’ series lead to 2-1. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

    Two nights ago, the Los Angeles Kings scored twice when given a late five-on-three advantage to beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of their series.

    Tonight, the Sharks were handed the same two-man advantage, and in overtime, no less. The Kings killed off the first penalty, but Logan Couture made them pay for the second, scoring the clincher 1:29 into the extra frame to earn San Jose a 2-1 win in Game 3.

    The win cuts Los Angeles’ series lead to 2-1, and gives the Sharks new life with Game 4 coming up Tuesday night in San Jose.

    Here are some observations from Saturday night’s thriller:

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  • Published On May 19, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Kings stun Sharks with two late goals, post 4-3 Game 2 win

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    The Kings scored two goals within 22 seconds to secure the Game 2 victory and 2-0 series lead.

    The Kings scored two goals within 22 seconds to take Game 2 and secure a 2-0 series lead. (Evan Gole/Getty)

    If we’ve learned anything from watching hockey this week, it’s this: No lead is safe in the 2013 NHL playoffs.

    Three days after the Boston Bruins pulled off a miraculous three-goal Game 7 comeback against the Maple Leafs, the defending champion Los Angeles Kings worked some last-minute magic of their own, scoring two power play goals 22 seconds apart to earn a stunning 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.

    It’s fair to wonder after this one if the Sharks can recover. The visitors were on the verge of evening up the series, riding three unanswered goals to a 3-2 lead when the thrill ride began. Energetic rookie Tyler Toffoli was hauled down by San Jose’s Brad Stuart while driving the net, drawing a penalty at 17:19 of the third. Seconds later, Marc-Edouard Vlasic joined him in the box after clearing the puck into the crowd, putting the Kings on a five-on-three. And just like that, it was over. Dustin Brown pounced on a rebound of a Mike Richards shot and shoveled it behind Antti Niemi to tie the score. On the next shift, Trevor Lewis drove the net and buried another rebound, this one off a Toffoli shot, to seal the win with just 1:21 remaining.

    For Los Angeles, this was a statement game. There’s more than one way the Kings can win.

    As for the Sharks? They made a statement, too, only it was less flattering. They were the better team for much of the night. They scored three on Jonathan Quick. But in the end, they let the Kings take it away from them.

    And their chance at winning the series may have gone with it.

    Here are some more observations from Game 2:

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  • Published On May 17, 2013