It looked like the St. Louis Blues would need only one goal to beat the L.A. Kings on Tuesday. It turned out they needed two.
The Blues took a 1-0 series lead over the L.A. Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarter-final with a 2-1 overtime victory.
Alexander Steen, who scored the first goal of the hockey game in the first period, also scored in overtime – short-handed, no less – on a puck-handling mistake from Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
The Kings were badly outplayed through most of the first three periods, but Justin Williams tied the score with only 31 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Here are some talking points:
- The Kings were slow to answer to the Blues’ physical play. St. Louis was already billed as a bruising opponent, but it was Ryan Reaves and Adam Cracknell who led the way in that aspect, combining for 14 hits on the night. The total of registered hits by the end of the night actually favored the Kings by a count of 41-38.
- The Kings had no room to create much of anything offensively. In the third period, the shots were, at one point, 11-1 for St. Louis. But, all it takes in a one-goal is one shot to change everything. Justin Williams can attest.
- Jonathan Quick, last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoff MVP, showed last year’s form. He made 40 saves and was spectacular right up until the OT winner. He made a mistake playing the puck behind the Kings net that immediately led to the Steen winner.
- The Blues got some pretty decent goaltending, even if Brian Elliott didn’t face nearly the same onslaught that Quick did. Elliott made 28 saves. He has allowed just one goal in each of his last three regular season starts, and this first playoff start.
- Talk about tough: Kings’ defenseman Robyn Regehr took a David Backes skate to the nose early in the third period. He was dripping blood and had to go to the dressing for repairs. He returned just a few minutes later.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.
Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.
The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?
Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:
If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.
Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.
An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.
After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.
You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.
Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.
Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.
Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.
Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.
Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.
Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:
Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.
Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.
“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”
Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”
People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.