The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes have given us a lot in the first four games of their series. In fact, they tied an NHL record by sending their first four game to overtime, becoming the only teams to do that other than the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens way back in 1951. Yet for all that, the Blackhawks must feel a little stunned to be down 3-1 in the series thanks to tonight’s 3-2 overtime loss.
“It doesn’t feel like we’re down 3-1,” Toews said. “Every game has been close. Tonight, especially, it’s a little disappointing.”
The Blackhawks have shown that they can fight back from a big deficit to at least make a series out of things before. As you probably remember, the Vancouver Canucks had them down 3-0 last season only to need a dramatic Alexander Burrows overtime-winner to squeak by Chicago in Game 7 of last year’s first round.
Of course, the bottom line is that the Blackhawks still lost that series – close or not.
In a way, Mikkel Boedker’s game-winner might be symbolic of this first round skirmish. The Blackhawks nearly scored on the other end only to see Boedker break in and just barely beat Corey Crawford.
We’ll see if that moment ends up telling the story or if Chicago can turn things around and make things awfully interesting once again.
Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.