Justin Williams, Antti Niemi

0-3 deficits don’t seem so impossible to overcome these days

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The first time it happened was in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final. The Detroit Red Wings won the first three games of the series, only to lose the next four to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It happened again in 1975. This time it was the New York Islanders that fought back from 3-0 down, stunning the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.

The third, and only other time, it happened was in 2010, when the Boston Bruins went up three games to none over the Philadelphia Flyers, only to lose the next four by a combined score of 15-8.

So yeah, it’s been rare. When a team digs itself a 3-0 hole, almost always it ends up buried in it.

Then again, it nearly happened again in 2011, when the Canucks needed overtime to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of their first-round series, which Vancouver once led 3-0.

And remember the 2012 playoffs, when the Penguins put a bit of a scare into the Flyers, turning a 3-0 deficit into 3-2, before Philadelphia triumphed in Game 6? The Devils did the same thing in the Stanley Cup Final, when they fought back from 3-0 before losing Game 6 to the Kings.

At the very least, those two series became interesting, and that’s exactly what the Kings will be trying to make their best-of-seven with the Sharks on Saturday in San Jose. Win Game 5 and things would definitely get interesting, especially with Game 6 set for Monday at Staples Center.

We are, after all, talking about a San Jose team that’s experienced its share of postseason letdowns. Just to throw it out there. (Sorry, Sharks fans.)

We’re also talking about a very different NHL than the one that existed prior to the salary cap. For all you young kids who may be reading, let’s just say first-round matchups in the current era are a touch different than some of the first-round matchups we saw back in the day when 16 out of 21 teams made the playoffs and actual dynasties still existed.

For example, in 1989, there wasn’t much confidence that the 79-point Hartford Whalers were going to come back against the 115-point Montreal Canadiens. And wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t. (Though they did push Game 4 to overtime, losing on a Russ Courtnall tally.)

Look, are we predicting a Kings comeback? Of course not. Even if the difference between L.A. and San Jose is far smaller than the one between the Whalers and Habs, the odds remain very much against the Kings.

But if they win Saturday, just remember we wrote this.

(And if they lose, oh well, we didn’t predict they’d come back anyway.)

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
AP
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.