The last time the St. Louis Blues defeated the Los Angeles Kings, it was to take a 2-0 series lead in their first-round playoff match-up.
And then it all fell apart — the Blues dropped four straight to the Kings and were eliminated from the 2013 postseason, just like that.
Three of those four straight defeats — including the final one — occurred at the Staples Center, the L.A. arena where the two Western Conference contenders will meet tonight for the first time in 2013-14.
“I think we were really deflated after (the playoffs) last year,” Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk said, per the Post-Dispatch. “We poured in an effort that we thought was the right one, that was enough to win. And we didn’t come out on the right side of it. I think we were proud of the way we played, more so than the year before. But for that reason it hurt even more because we didn’t get the result.”
So maybe “fell apart” isn’t quite accurate. All six games in that series were decided by a single goal.
But “fell apart” wouldn’t be an unfair way of describing the Blues’ effort in the first period Friday in San Jose, where the Sharks took a 4-0 lead after the opening frame was barely half over. St. Louis came back to make a game of it, but as David Backes almost comically put it, “If you give any good team a four-goal lead, you’re asking for a loss.”
Meanwhile, with just one win in their last five tries, the Kings suffered their own frustrating, humbling defeat in their last outing. On Saturday, they dropped a 2-1 decision at home to Calgary after Flames forward Mike Cammalleri scored with just 23 seconds remaining to break the deadlock.
Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.
For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.
It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.
Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.
He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:
More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.
There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.
Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.
Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.
This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.
Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.
Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.
While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.
Rate this as you will:
Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not:
As much as this Tampa Bay Lightning – Montreal Canadiens means right now, losing Nikita Kucherov would hang a dark cloud over any result for the Bolts.
There hasn’t been an update yet regarding whether Kucherov is actually injured – or if this is a minor vs. significant issue – but there are concerns after he fell into the boards during tonight’s game.
You can see the fall in video form above the headline and also in this GIF from Stephanie Hail: