SmithPelly

Home sweet home, finally: Ducks beat Kings, take 3-2 series lead

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It took a while, but the home team has finally won a game in the L.A.-Anaheim series.

After the road team emerged the victor in the first four, the Ducks finally held serve on home ice for Monday’s Game 5, beating the Kings 4-3 at the Honda Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

Devante Smith-Pelly scored twice for the Ducks and Jakob Silfverberg netted the eventual game-winner midway through the second period, while rookie goalie John Gibson continued to impress by stopping 39 of 42 shots faced, remaining undefeated in his brief Stanley Cup playoff career.

For the Kings, the red-hot Marin Gaborik continued to play well, scoring his NHL-leading seventh and eighth goals of the playoffs.

Gaborik’s efforts weren’t enough to keep the L.A. from losing its third straight, though, and that streak has coincided with a rough stretch that’s seen Jonathan Quick allow nine goals on 57 shots… after allowing just three on his first 62 faced in this series.

What’s more, tonight’s loss might end up being a pivotal shift for both clubs.

This series marked the 22nd time in Stanley Cup playoff history that a road team won the first four games, and the 16th time it’s happened since 1994. In the previous 21 series, the winner of Game 5 went on to win 18 times (.857 win%). The only three teams that lost Game 5, but later won the series, were the 1980 North Stars (vs. Montreal), 1995 Sharks (vs. Calgary) and 2001 Penguins (vs. Buffalo).

So, the Kings now have their work out out for them.

In addition to their current three-game losing streak, the Kings have yet to win at Staples since Game 6 of the San Jose series and are just 2-3 at home over the course of these playoffs. L.A. also has to figure out the riddle that is Gibson, who has stopped 67 of 70 shots since taking over the Ducks goal.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.