The L.A. Kings are one win away from a berth in the Western Conference final.
The Kings, defending Stanley Cup champions, were by far the better team in a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal. The Kings now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
Here are some talking points.
Every game in this series has been won by the home team. So, Game 6 is in San Jose. Either the Kings buck the trend, or there’s a Game 7.
Speaking of home ice advantage: the last time the Kings lost a playoff game at home was Game 4 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. That’s seven straight post-season victories on home ice for L.A.
Anze Kopitar scored the game winner. It was also just his second goal in the last 27 games. Quality over quantity, at least in this case.
Jason Demers returned to the Sharks lineup, playing his first game since April 18. His excitement may have got the best of him. He was called for boarding after running Kings’ defenseman Robyn Regehr into the boards. We would’ve also accepted charging as a call.
Jonathan Quick now has three shutouts in these playoffs. Returning to Conn Smythe form. Oh, and he also passed Kelly Hrudey for most playoff wins in franchise history with 27.
Sharks couldn’t generate much offensively. Eleven shots through two periods, 24 in total. Quick didn’t have to do anything extraordinary in this one, say for the stop on Joe Pavelski with 40 seconds remaining in the third period.
This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)
For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.
Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.
Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.
Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.
Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.
With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.
That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:
Leafs rookie record watch:
GOALS – 35 Matthews ASSISTS – 40 Marner tied with Bodnar POINT STREAK – 12 games Nylander SHG – 3 Hyman
The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.
The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)
“Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”
As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.
Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.
“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.
To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.
As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.