If you thought the NBC Game of the Week between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals featured a wild ending, then you should have seen how Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars finished their big Pacific Division match.
Los Angeles 3, Dallas 2
The Kings were clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the third period, even as the Stars fought desperately in front of their home crowd. It seemed like Jonathan Quick and the Kings would manage to hold onto that slim lead until Jamie Langenbrunner jumped on a rebound to tie the game at 2-2 with 43 seconds left.
It looked like Dallas would get at least one point from the game until Wayne Simmonds caused havoc in the Stars’ end of the ice. The young, scrappy forward brought the puck down low, then Alexei Ponikarovsky (and maybe Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas?) created an odd rebound that bounced out to Michal Handzus, who banged the puck home with just 21 seconds left to win the game.
Those two points are big for Los Angeles, especially since they earned them during regulation rather than overtime. The win catapults the Kings to fourth place with 83 points while the Stars are tied with the Blackhawks for fifth with 82.
Pittsburgh 5, Edmonton 1
It might have been excessive to say that the Penguins “needed” this type of win – a resounding victory against a lesser opponent – but this must have felt good.
They only managed a 1-0 lead after out-shooting the Oilers 13-2 in the first period, but the game never really seemed to be in much doubt for Pittsburgh. Chris Kunitz scored two goals, Tyler Kennedy racked up three assists and Marc-Andre Fleury won his 31st win of the season by stopping 28 out of 29 shots.
This win strengthens their fourth place lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning to three points, although the Bolts own a game in hand.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?
Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.
Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.
Official update on the really important story of the evening:
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.
The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.
Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.