Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks

Gaborik’s heroics steal Game 1 in OT for the Kings

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The Los Angeles Kings “weren’t supposed” to come back from a 0-3 deficit against the San Jose Sharks in round one. Down some defensemen and undoubtedly a little winded from that clash with San Jose, it seemed like they were supposed to lose to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 on Saturday.

… But that’s why you acquire players like Marian Gaborik. It wasn’t enough for the talented winger (and pending unrestricted free agent) to score the game-tying goal with just seven seconds left; he also scored the game-winner in overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 OT win and 1-0 series lead.

While the shots were close to even (36-35 for the Kings), there were times that Los Angeles seemed addled, yet they scraped out a win that could be crucial over the long haul.

Here’s video of the game-tying goal with some interesting details:

And here’s footage of that overtime-clincher:

Let’s look at other facets of tonight’s game:

Getting testy early

With little surprise, things got heated between the two in-state rivals, with this exchange ranking among the most heated:

While Robyn Regehr seemingly suffered an injury he couldn’t return from – the Kings unsurprisingly weren’t forthcoming about it – other players managed to shake off ailments and even contribute on the offensive and/or defensive side. Ryan Getzlaf stood out in that regard:

Ducks control certain spans of play

Chalk it up to fatigue or two strong teams refusing to give up space against each other, but there were some moments when offense was definitely difficult to come by. Much was made about the Kings failing to register a shot on goal for more than 17 minutes of game time (though the exact amount of time seemed to be in question).

Teemu Selanne scored a big goal – and his first of the playoffs – thanks to this move on Jonathan Quick:

The Ducks carried much of the play through the first chunk of overtime, but there were heroic moments like these:

***

Ultimately, it came down to huge breakthroughs in desperation moments for the Kings. Game 2 of this series takes place in Anaheim on Monday on NBCSN. If the Kings show us anything, it’s that a series often boasts plenty of highs and lows, so stay tuned.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below:

Stamkos close to game shape, but return might be weeks or months away

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) competes in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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Steve Stamkos began to practice again on Tuesday and he was back out there on Wednesday and Thursday, which some might interpret as him being close to returning. It seems premature to say that definitively.

“It could be weeks. It could be months,” Stamkos said of his timetable, per ESPN. “That’s the tough part.”

The problem isn’t getting back into game shape after undergoing vascular surgery in early April. He feels he’s already close to reaching that objective. The issue is that Stamkos is on blood thinners, which prevents him from taking any contact. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be on blood thinners.

For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent the same surgery and was out for two months and the original timetable provided on April 4 for Stamkos was one-to-three months. So based on that, it sounds like it would be surprising if he returned anytime soon.

Bergeron, Kesler, Kopitar named Selke finalists

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron celebrates after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Will Patrice Bergeron join Bob Gainey as the only players to have ever won the Selke Trophy four times?

That’s a distinct possibility after the Bruins center was named as a finalist along with Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.

The Selke Trophy honors the league’s top defensive forward and for three of the last four years, that distinction has gone to Bergeron. However, Kesler and Kopitar have been popular with the voters of this award as well.

Kopitar has finished second in the voting in each of the previous two campaigns while Kesler won back in 2011, though he finished outside of the top-five in each of the last three years prior to the 2015-16 campaign.

Among the trio, Kesler excelled this season on the draw with a 58.5% success rate, which was good for second in the league among forwards who took at least 200 faceoffs. Bergeron was up there too, winning 57.1% of his draws while Kopitar posted a 53.5%. Meanwhile, Bergeron ranked seventh in the NHL with 67 takeaways compared to Kesler’s 39 and Kopitar’s 43. Where Kopitar stood out was in plus/minus as he finished second in the league at plus-34. Kesler was plus-five and Bergeron was plus-12.

Kopitar similarly led the trio with a 57.4% Corsi For versus Bergeron’s 55.9% and Kesler’s 52.9%.

Capitals get Orpik back for series opener

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed half of Washington’s first round series, but he’s back in time for the opener against his former team.

Orpik last played on April 18 and was regarded as questionable going into tonight’s contest against Pittsburgh. He’s expected to be paired with John Carlson throughout the contest.

Washington’s other projected pairings are Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen as well as Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt.

Orpik was limited to 41 games during the 2015-16 regular season, but when he did play he averaged 19:48 minutes per contest. He also recorded 125 hits and 102 blocked shots despite missing half the season. The 35-year-old blueliner got his start with Pittsburgh and played in 703 regular season contests with them and an additional 92 postseason contests. This is his second season with Washington.