Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Five

Blackhawks stay alive by beating Kings in double-OT

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Being down 3-1 in their Western Conference final series, the Chicago Blackhawks likely knew this wouldn’t be easy. They went through a lot in Game 5 but ultimately kept their season alive thanks to a thrilling 5-4 double-overtime win on Wednesday.

The Kings now carry a 3-2 series lead to Los Angeles with a chance to stomp out what could be a dangerous comeback bid by Chicago.

If you want to single out some Blackhawks standouts, you would do well to mention Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. Kane generated four assists in Game 5 after being held to a single helper in the first four contests of this series while Saad was a consistent threat while producing three points.

Saad’s biggest contribution probably came when he set up Michal Handzus for the decisive goal.

Goalies finish strong

While Corey Crawford’s early struggles carried the most attention because of the dramatic nature of some of the goals and his negative body language, each netminder experienced miserable moments before tightening up. To generalize, Jonathan Quick’s night was roughest in the first period while Crawford almost seemed to melt down in the middle frame.

After a frenetic first two periods, the game – and the goalies – settled down as the Blackhawks turned up the pressure in the final 20 minutes of regulation. Chicago generated a 16-8 shot advantage while Ben Smith’s tally sent the contest to overtime.

The first OT period was frenetic as the Kings aimed to move on while the Blackhawks showed no quit. Los Angeles generated 10 shots to Chicago’s eight in that first overtime frame.

At the same time that the Blackhawks were searching for answers on defense, Drew Doughty stood out as a singular force for the Kings. He generated a blistering nine shots on goal through regulation alone and logged almost 40 minutes of ice time tonight.

Things heat up

From Jake Muzzin’s monstrous hit on Marcus Kruger to a game that was wild and thrilling (often both), a series that seemed to lean heavily toward Los Angeles gets a lot more intriguing.

For Los Angeles fans, there are plenty of “almost” moments that are likely agonizing. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks improve to 8-2 in their last 10 games facing elimination. Hockey fans without a horse in the race benefit from a Game 6 in this star-studded series, so the ‘Hawks aren’t the only winners on Wednesday night.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.