Blues prevail in longest game in franchise history as Steen scores in third OT

28 Comments

The longest game in St. Louis Blues franchise history might just mark one of their biggest wins in decades.

Alexander Steen scored 26 seconds into a third overtime period to give the Blues a 4-3 win and a 1-0 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks. Neither team will get much time to rest up, as Game 2 takes place in St. Louis on Saturday.

***

The game started off fast and furious. Both teams combined for five goals in the first period, with the Blackhawks taking a 3-2 lead into the first intermission. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane didn’t look all that rusty – at least early on – as Toews collected two assists while Kane gave the Blackhawks a temporary lead.

Broadly speaking, the game began with “Blackhawks hockey” and then arguably transitioned to a style that might be friendlier to the Blues.

Then again, shots totals would argue that Ryan Miller’s performance improved as the game went along, rather than the style of play really changing. One things for sure, though: things became more physical.

Toews was the target of some abuse, but seemed to shake things off. Time will tell if he goes back on the injury list, though.

Miller definitely bounced back in the game, stopping 39 out of 42 shots. Corey Crawford was great in his own right in making 48 out of 52 stops, yet his career playoff overtime record dropped to 8-7 after tonight.

Miller got the win, but he definitely got some help from his teammates, too:

The Blackhawks kept that 3-2 lead through plenty of game time, but Jaden Schwartz scored with less than two minutes left in the third period:

Chalk it up to two fantastic teams, their rivalries or it being early in the postseason, but the two teams didn’t slow down a whole lot in the two overtime periods (and change into the third). There were plenty of near-misses, including a Patrick Sharp semi-breakaway that might haunt the talented sniper.

The Blackhawks have shown the will to fight back from tough losses, so one can argue that this was more important to St. Louis than Chicago. Either way, this series already seems like it might live up to the hype of being one of the best first-round matchups one can imagine.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

Leave a comment

The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

2 Comments

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.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
1 Comment

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.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

15 Comments

Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.