Anze Kopitar

Kings complete historic series comeback, defeat Sharks in Game 7

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The L.A. Kings looked like they were going to be toppled by their California rivals, the San Jose Sharks, in the opening round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Cue the comeback.

The Kings become the fourth team in National Hockey League history to erase a 3-0 series deficit to win the series four-games-to-three, thanks to a 5-1 victory over the host Sharks in Game 7 on Wednesday. The Toronto Maple Leafs (1942); New York Islanders (1975); and Philadelphia Flyers (2010) are the only other teams to complete the improbable feat, according to CBC.

Oh yeah, Kings’ forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were also part of that 2010 Philadelphia team.

The Kings will now play the Anaheim Ducks in the second round.

San Jose opened the scoring and numerous chances to take the lead even after L.A. got back on even terms, thanks to a run of five straight power plays through the second and third periods. Jonathan Quick, who had been lit up for 16 goals combined through the first three games of this series.

In this elimination game, as in the three previous, he was solid. His best stop of the night was a glove save off Patrick Marleau, with the Sharks on the power play and looking to take the lead for a second time in the evening.

There were questions and concerns from the media about the group of players – perhaps they didn’t have the right “mix” was the thinking – on the Kings roster.

Their comeback in Game 7 wasn’t quite as grand as the series itself. But they never faltered, even when the Sharks took the lead, or when the Sharks took a commanding 3-0 advantage in the series.

Drew Doughty tied the game early in the second period, and Anze Kopitar scored on a beauty backhander to give L.A. the lead. Tyler Toffoli increased their lead to two goals in the third period.

Now begins another off-season of questions for the Sharks. Todd McLellan, the head coach in San Jose since June of 2008, twice pulled starter Antti Niemi in the series, then went to Alex Stalock in Game 6 for his first career Stanley Cup playoff start, before going back to Niemi in Game 7.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”