The Los Angeles Kings fired the first shot of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals, snatching home ice advantage from the Devils with a 2-1 OT win in Game 1.
If a single story emerged from the Prudential Center, it was New Jersey’s inability to get anything going. Los Angeles only blocked six shots, yet limited the Devils to just 18 shots on goal over 68:13 minutes. Other than a somewhat fluky deflection goal — a shot from Anton Volchenkov went off Slava Voynov and behind Jonathan Quick — New Jersey was unable to find the back of the net.
Some points to discuss in the comments section:
— The Devils didn’t register their first shot of the second period until there was just 5:30 minutes remaining. Even then, it wasn’t much of a shot.
— Colin Fraser became the 16th Kings’ player to score during their playoff run. With that, every one of their forwards (that has participated in at least 10 games) has scored a goal.
— The Kings’ Jarret Stoll won nine out of 10 faceoff opportunities.
— Jonathan Quick won his 11th straight road game, dating to last year. That breaks former Islanders goalie Billy Smith’s NHL record of 10.
— This was the first Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals to go to overtime since 2002. In that contest, Carolina beat Detroit 3-2, but the Red Wings still won the Cup in five games.
— The Kings are now a perfect 3-0 in overtimes this postseason while the Devils fell to 4-2.
These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.
Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.
It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.
Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.
It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.
His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.
Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.
He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.
And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.
Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:
As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.
Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?
It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.
Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).
There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.
Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.
The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.
The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)
For more on the three finalists, click here.