Jonathan Quick

PHT Morning Skate: Battle for California ends tonight


Game 7: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks [Series tied at 3-3] (9:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Los Angeles Kings have already faced elimination five times in the 2014 playoffs. Can they survive a sixth time?

“When you’ve done special things together, you have the confidence no matter what happens to do that again,” Kings forward Mike Richards said, per “That’s a big thing in playoffs. When you’re down in a game, down in the series, you’ve been through comebacks and good things with the guy beside you, it is a good thing to lean on.”

If this game comes down to who has the most experience, then the Kings are likely to come out on top.

The Ducks aren’t a fresh faced team. Not only do they have 43-year-old Teemu Selanne, but their two biggest offensive contributors — Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — can both still remember raising the Stanley Cup in 2007. However, many of the Ducks’ secondary scorers and some of their key defensemen are still pretty young. More importantly, they’ve been leaning on 20-year-old goaltender John Gibson, who had just three games worth of NHL experience going into this series.

He’s one of the main reasons the Ducks have made it this far in the series despite a mistake in Game 6 that cost Anaheim dearly.

At least it doesn’t sound like it impacted his confidence.

“Yeah, it was just one shot,” Gibson said. “Missed it. It happens.”

Gibson might be the least experienced when it comes to handling the pressure of a Game 7, but it’s crunch time for everyone.

For Selanne, it’s a chance to extend his career so that his final act as a player isn’t congratulating the rival Kings. For Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, it’s an opportunity to finally make it to a conference final. For Kings forward Marian Gaborik, it’s about preserving his shot at winning the Stanley Cup for the first time before he faces the uncertainty of the free agent period.

The winner of this game will establish themselves as the top team in California this year and set their sights on the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.