LA Kings

Don’t look now, but the Kings are scoring goals

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The Los Angeles Kings have to be pleased with their recent run of offense. They’ve played seven games since Feb. 21 and scored a whopping 23 goals over that span, an average of 3.28 per contest.

For most teams, that’s a nice surge in goalscoring

For L.A., it’s Krakatoa.

To put the recent 23-goal binge in perspective, the Kings scored 22 goals from Jan. 15 to Feb. 18 — a span of 14 games. That included shutout losses to St. Louis, Phoenix and Calgary and one-goal outings against Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado, Carolina, Florida and the New York Islanders.

One would naturally tie LA’s newfound offense to the acquisition of Jeff Carter, but that’s not entirely accurate. He only has two goals (zero assists) since coming over from Columbus five games ago, and both were scored in a 4-2 win over Anaheim.

That said, Carter’s presence has made a difference. He’s teamed with Mike Richards and Dwight King to give the Kings a dangerous second line, which in turn has made life easier for the top group of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams. At no time was that more evident than in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Nashville — the Kopitar-Brown-Williams trio combined for four points as L.A. tied its season-high for goals in a single game.

Of course, scoring isn’t just about the guys up front.

“Our defensemen scored two goals by getting shots through, getting it past the first guy,” Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said after the Nashville win. “That really was the difference. Our defense was more involved offensively than they have been.”

That’s been the case for the last while. Over the last seven games, Drew Doughty has three goals, Willie Mitchell has five assists while Matt Greene and Slava Voynov each have three points. It’s an impressive display considering GM Dean Lombardi dealt away a talented offensive defenseman in Jack Johnson to acquire Carter.

Add it all up, and you’ve got a Kings team surging at the right time. They’re currently on 74 points — the same as eighth-place San Jose — and very much alive in the wild Pacific Division chase. Current leaders Dallas (77 points) are just two up on Phoenix and three clear of both the Sharks and Kings.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”