The chants of ‘Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!’ grew louder and louder from the fans inside SAP Center in San Jose on Sunday. The Sharks are halfway to that objective.
The Sharks now lead the L.A. Kings 2-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series, thanks to a 7-2 victory in Game 2. San Jose trailed by a pair of goals early on, but emphatically came back and completely took this one over with seven unanswered.
And it was the fourth liners, Mike Brown and Raffi Torres, that initially led the charge. Not only were they both physical forces, punishing opposing players with thunderous body checks, but they displayed a scoring touch, too. Brown got the Sharks on the board with his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal less than five minutes into the second period, and Torres tied it at 2-2 less than five minutes afterward on a perfect wrist shot that beat Jonathan Quick on the stick side.
Justin Braun scored the winner. At the time, it was a close hockey game, the Braun goal breaking the deadlock.
The Sharks’ killer instinct took over from there, and they didn’t let up in the third period. It was an onslaught. The Sharks kept coming and the Kings were powerless to stop it.
Quick, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner only two years ago when the Kings won the Stanley Cup but pulled in the series opener, has now given up 12 goals in the last two games. He still made 33 saves in a losing cause Sunday.
You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.
The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.
As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.
In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.
That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.
Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.
The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.
So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.
He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:
The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).
In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):
Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.
So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.
Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.
Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?
It’s really happening.
For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.
The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.
Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: CNBC (Stream online here)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)