Determined Ducks snap L.A.’s streak, cut series lead to 2-1

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It wasn’t comfortable, but it was a win.

The Ducks did the business Thursday night at the Staples Center, surviving the loss of their starting goalie and a late charge from the Kings to win 3-2 and snap L.A’s six-game playoff win streak in the process.

The game was a virtual must-have for Anaheim, and the players responded as such. Leading goalscorer Corey Perry scored his first of the series just 4:05 into the game, converting a Patrick Maroon pass on the power play to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.

The Kings tied it up early in the second when Jeff Carter scored his third of the playoffs, also on the power play, but the Ducks retook the lead at the 15:10 mark when the ageless wonder, Teemu Selanne, scored his 44th career playoff goal on — what else? — the power play.

Then came the third period, when the Ducks almost went south.

Starting netminder Frederik Andersen was forced from the game with just under 10 minutes remaining after suffering what appeared to be a lower-body injury. Andersen didn’t put any weight on his right leg upon exiting the ice, and Jonas Hiller — who started Games 1 and 2 of this series — was summoned from the bench.

Hiller got some breathing room at the 17:05 mark, when Ben Lovejoy sniped a high shot past Jonathan Quick to give the Ducks a seemingly comfortable 3-1 advantage. But with 31 seconds to go, Mike Richards batted home a Tanner Pearson rebound for his first goal of the postseason, making for a nervous final 30 seconds.

Thankfully for Anaheim, that would be it for dramatics as it held on and cut the Kings’ series lead to 2-1.

Notes…

Maroon’s assist on the Perry goal was his sixth point in the last six games, making him first rookie to record a postseason point streak of at least six games since Warren Rychel did it for the Kings in 1993…With an assist tonight, Anze Kopitar became the first L.A. player to register a point in 10 straight playoff games since Wayne Gretzky…After starting the series 0-for-4 on the power play, the Ducks are now three for their last six with the man advantage.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too.¬†They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.