San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Three

Five Thoughts: Sharks-Kings game makes history the right way


1. If you went to bed early on the east coast and opted to skip out on Game 3 between San Jose and Los Angeles, our sympathies are not with you. It’s playoff season and you need to be devoted to this no matter what. Failing that pseudo rallying cry, just know this: The type of hockey being played in this series is the sort of thing those of us that grew up with the firewagon hockey of the 80s often like to wag our finger at you and tell you that you missed it all. San Jose’s unbelievable comeback from being down 4-0 to beat L.A. 6-5 in overtime is the kind of thing that makes fans like us believe that those days aren’t totally dead. What a game.

2. We’ve been kind of ignoring how L.A.’s Dustin Penner has been a bust for the Kings. After last night’s poor showing by Penner in which his slow backcheck turned into the game-winning goal for San Jose in overtime, expect the Kings to do what they can about moving him in the offseason. Sound crazy? Not really. Penner has one year left after this one at $4.25 million against the cap and his time in L.A. has been awful. Last night’s failure by Penner to keep up with Devin Setoguchi will be the cherry on the sundae of Penner’s bad highlight reel.

3. Don’t expect that Antti Niemi’s bad night against the Kings will be held against him at all. Yes he was lit up early by the Kings, but this is part of the package deal with Niemi. Sometimes you’ll get bad outings like this but he doesn’t let them keep him down. Niemi should be back in Game 4 against a beaten down and demotivated Kings team that is still reeling after their historic collapse in Game 3.

4. It was high time the Blackhawks showed a sense of pride at all. After hitting posts and being skunked by Vancouver’s defense, Chicago finally looked like a team that gave a damn about defending their title beating Vancouver 7-2 in Game 4. Winning a game in such an emphatic way shows the great sense of pride the Blackhawks have and that’s a good thing for them because now they can keep that momentum going into Game 5. They’re not out of the woods by any means and are still one loss away from elimination but it’s a start. It’s the exact sort of game Chicago needed to show Vancouver they can still win and win convincingly.

5. Of course there was the Raffi Torres side show that came to pass in such a blowout game. With these two teams already hating on each other, the third period blew up into a penalty filed affair that saw every get their shots physically and verball in on Raffi Torres including both Torres and John Scott getting 10-minute misconducts late in the game as they were busy chirping each other before a face off.

Letting Scott or even Duncan Keith whoop up on Torres wasn’t going to help Brent Seabrook get back in the lineup but perhaps letting these teams settle that score rather than continue to have it linger would be a good idea. After all, the NHL made that bed by not suspending Torres, the least they can do is let these teams get it out of their system before things get really out of hand later on. Chicago used that motivation well in Game 4, they’re hoping it can carry over further.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.