The L.A. Kings needed a win to save their season and playoffs. It was that simple. And a win is exactly what they earned.
The Kings, trailing the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in the best-of-seven opening-round series coming into the evening, took over the game in the second period to defeat their California rivals by a final score of 6-3. San Jose now leads the series 3-1. The final few minutes ended with animosity, including a scrap at the final buzzer between Brent Burns and Robyn Regehr.
Their offensive outburst through the second period and early into the third chased San Jose goalie Antti Niemi from the game. His night came to an end after Marian Gaborik scored 34 seconds into the third period, giving a desperate L.A. team a three-goal lead. Niemi made 21 saves on 26 shots faced.
The team in front of him was chasing the game throughout. Gaborik opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game, but the Sharks answered on a nifty play from James Sheppard, who knocked the puck out of mid-air and past Jonathan Quick to even the score at 1-1 with just seven seconds remaining in the opening period.
The Kings, undeterred, took the lead for good late in the second period, as Justin Williams showed some hand-eye coordination of his own, deftly deflecting the puck past Niemi for his second goal of the night. Tyler Toffoli scored with 59 seconds remaining in the second period to up L.A.’s lead to a pair of goals heading into the third.
People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.
Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.
Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.
The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.
“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”
If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.
Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.
“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.
PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
Trevor Daley, traded to Blackhawks for Sharp & Johns and to #Pens for Scuderi (who was flipped to LA for Ehrhoff) played 28:41 in G4 W.