San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Three

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

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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.

WATCH LIVE: Game 2 of Islanders – Lightning, Penguins – Capitals

Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) starts to celebrate his goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) and Kris Letang (58) during the second period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Can Sidney Crosby and the Penguins even things up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals? Will the Lightning avoid dropping both games at home against the Islanders? We’ll find out on NBC.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media(reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win

With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

Dallas Stars right wing Valeri Nichushkin (43) takes control of the puck in front of St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 3-0. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Eaves won’t be able to play for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in their upcoming Game 2.

The last time we saw Eaves, he was leaving the ice by gliding on one foot after being hit by a teammate’s shot. He needed help to the locker room and was seen on crutches according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

The bad news is that Eaves cannot go. The good news is that the Stars can replace him with a player who boasts considerable offensive skill, as Valeri Nichushkin will take Eaves’ place.

Nichushkin wasn’t very effective in five postseason games so far, failing to score a point and only managed three shots on goal.

Still, if the frenetic pace of Game 1 carries on through this series, Nichushkin could very well make an impact.

Update: the Stars have other options at forward after making recalls:

Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision

Pittsburgh Penguins' Conor Sheary (43) is greeted by teammates Brian Dumoulin (8) and Chris Kunitz (14) after scoring his first NHL goal, in the first period of the Penguins' hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Pittsburgh. Bruins' Brad Marchand is at lower right. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.

As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.

Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.

For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.

The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”

Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.

The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.

“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.

Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

The puck shot by Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel crosses the goal line as St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) attempt the stop during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinals, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Dallas. The Stars won 2-1. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
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The Dallas Stars only beat the St. Louis Blues by one goal (2-1) in Game 1, but the feeling is that the score was deceptively close.

Blame it on fatigue from that epic series against the Chicago Blackhawks or not; the Blues looked out of rhythm and out of breath against the hard-charging Stars.

At least they’re not in denial about that, though.

“We’re not going to beat anybody giving up 40 shots on goal,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after their Game 1 loss on Friday. “We’re not going to beat anybody giving up the scoring chances we did today.”

Hitchcock added “we’ve got to find the energy to play our game, and we’ve got to find it quickly in the next 48 hours.”

Allowing 40 shots on goal might not be that common for the Blues, yet they leaned heavily on Brian Elliott against the Blackhawks in that series.

Just look at the SOG comparison in that series and in Game 1 vs. Dallas:

Game 1: Blues – 18 SOG, Blackhawks – 35
Game 2: Blues – 31, Blackhawks – 29
Game 3: Blues – 36, Blackhawks – 46
Game 4: Blues – 20, Blackhawks – 42
Game 5: Blues – 46, Blackhawks – 35
Game 6: Blues – 28, Blachawks – 36
Game 7: Blues – 26, Blackhawks – 33

Game 1: Blues – 32, Stars – 42

Such shot comparisons make you wonder if Game 1 provided evidence of a rest advantage or if this might just be the state of affairs for the Blues (at least against two electric offenses).

One area to watch is the transition game. The Stars seemed to tear through the neutral zone while the Blues sometimes struggled to get things going.

“They’re a team that wants to play real fast up the ice and through the neutral zone,” Jay Bouwmeester said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Yeah, we didn’t do a very good job of slowing them down. A lot of their chances were off the rush. That’s what you want to take away from them.”

File that under “easier said than done.”