Get your game notes: Kings at Blackhawks

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Los Angeles Kings at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— Fueled by three goals in a span of 6:56 in the first period of Game 4, the Kings jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on to to win Game 4, 5-2. Now one win away from reaching their second Stanley Cup Final in the last three years, the Kings lead a best-of-seven series three-games-to-one for the fifth time in franchise history. They have won all of the previous four series, three of which came in 2012 en route to the team capturing its first Stanley Cup. In those four series, Los Angeles was 2-2 in Game 5 and 2-0 in Game 6. Chicago is facing a three-games-to-one deficit in a best-of-seven series for the 13th time in franchise history. The Blackhawks have won just one of the previous 12 series, but their lone win came in their most recent such series: the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Detroit.

— Since the start of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Kings have won eight of 13 games in which they’ve had a chance to clinch a series, including both such games this postseason. Since the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chicago is 7-3 when facing elimination, but has not been in that situation since Games 5, 6 and 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Detroit.

— Through the first 13 games of the postseason, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford posted a 9-4 record, with a 1.90 GAA and .933 save%. But in the last three games, Crawford has lost all three games, with a 4.46 GAA and .841 save%. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick lost his first three games of the postseason, with a 5.78 GAA and .852 save%, but has rebounded in his last 15 games, winning 11 contests, with a 2.08 GAA and .927 save%.

— The Kings converted two of their three power play opportunities in Game 4 and are now 5-for-12 in the series (41.7%). They rank third in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and first among remaining clubs, with a 26.7% overall PP conversion rate (16-for-60). The Kings have allowed two power play goals in their last five games, both to the Blackhawks in Game 1 and 2, but were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in Game 3 and 3-for-3 in Game 4. After going 44-for-48 (91.7%) on the PK in their first 13 games this postseason, the Blackhawks have yielded five PPG in 10 times shorthanded (50.0%) over their last three outings.

— The Blackhawks tinkered with their lines somewhat in Game 4, moving Patrick Kane, who has three points (one goal) in his last nine games, to the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell. The trio played together on 18 shifts (Toews had 26 total shifts, Kane had 26 and Bickell had 23), combining for a goal, two assists, and five shots. Afterwards, head coach Joel Quenneville said, ―I thought they were good. They were alright. They generated enough. They were fine.‖

— The Kings have the top four active scorers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Anze Kopitar (5-17—22), Jeff Carter (8-12—20), Marian Gaborik (10-6—16) and Justin Williams (6-9—15) – Williams is tied for fourth with Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf. Kopitar has registered at least one point in 15 of the team’s 18 playoff games and has been held without a point in consecutive games only once since December 21, a span of 64 regular season and playoff games. Only Wayne Gretzky (15-25—40 in 24 GP in 1993) and Tomas Sandstrom (8-17—25 in 24 GP in 1993) have collected more points in a single postseason in Kings history (two others tied with 22). Elias Sports Bureau

— The Kings’ second line of Tanner Pearson, Carter and Tyler Toffoli are each riding five-game point streaks, combining for 22 points and a +16 rating in that span (Pearson: 2-4—6, +6; Carter: 5-6—11, +6; Toffoli: 3-2—5, +4).

Predators are one Johansen deal away from a salary cap work of art

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If you need to kill some time, play this game: which Nashville Predators contract is the biggest steal?

If Viktor Arvidsson is as much of a difference-maker as his limited NHL reps indicate, his $4.25 million cap hit over seven years is certainly in the running. Still, there are plenty of choices.

  • The defense alone is bargain-filled, making P.K. Subban‘s $9 million cap hit easy to stomach.

Ryan Ellis‘ $2.5 million cap hit doesn’t run out until after 2018-19. Mattias Ekholm‘s less of a “well-kept secret” following Nashville’s run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, yet his $3.75M steal runs through 2021-22. Roman Josi can be a bit polarizing but at $4M for three more seasons, it’s not controversial to say that he’s probably at least worth the money.

  • The offensive bargains begin with the top line.

Arvidsson has the makings of a legit first-line winger, and that deal is highly likely to be regrettable … for his agent and accountant.

Filip Forsberg‘s $6M isn’t as audacious as some of those defensive steals, but it’s still pretty nice. That total also makes it easier for the Predators to try to control costs for their one remaining big consideration: Ryan Johansen, who still needs a deal as an RFA.

  • Calle Jarnkrok is a pretty nifty get at $2M per season, especially if he grows with a contract that runs through 2021-22.
  • Scott Hartnell took quite the homecoming discount at $1M for 2017-18.
  • As you go deeper, the Predators enjoy some nice deals on players who are under ELC’s or second contracts: Kevin Fiala ($863K), Frederick Gaudreau ($667K), Ponuts Aberg ($650K) and Colton Sissons ($625K) could all be helpful contributors at low costs.

This tweet really sells the point, in case this post hasn’t: GM David Poile hasn’t been slowing down much since being named GM of the Year. And he might just be the best executive in the NHL right now.

  • It’s all pretty immaculate; even if you’re not a fan of Pekka Rinne, his $7 million cap hit expires in two seasons. By then, the Predators could very well transition to Juuse Saros, possibly echoing the Penguins with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray along the way.

Overall, it’s an enviable situation, as Nashville’s clean cap ranks with Pittsburgh and few others as the best-looking in the NHL. That’s especially true when you consider the fact that the Lightning are allocating $8.8 million to the shaky duo of former Rangers in Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

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Still, the Predators aren’t done for the summer, as Johansen stands as a tricky situation. They don’t have the helpful deadline of arbitration looming, so the two sides are just going to have to figure something out … eventually.

Even so, Cap Friendly pegs them at $13.43 million in cap space, so they have room to work with their first-line center.

While teams like the Penguins and Blackhawks stocked up on high draft picks, the Predators’ greatest moves have largely come through shrewd drafting, savvy trades, and forward-thinking contract extensions. One can debate which setup is the best, but Poile’s work places Nashville in the upper crust, and their built to stay there for years to come.

Related: Matt Murray, Jake Guentzel could help Penguins compete for years.

Okposo to fans: ‘Thinking about your support brings a tear to my eye’

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In a lengthy and heartfelt letter, Kyle Okposo thanked the hockey community – especially but not only Buffalo Sabres fans and teammates – for their support after his hospitalization.

Okposo also shared some personal details about how a seemingly innocent hit affected his sleep and caused alarming weight loss, dropping him below 200 lbs. for the first time since he was 17. He said he checked into a hospital expecting to get help sleeping, only to go to ICU after a negative reaction to medication.

As scary as that experience was, it helped him put his career and life in perspective. Okposo also realized just how much fans, teammates, and people associated with the sport can help each other in times of need.

It’s a really great letter and worth reading in full (especially considering his praise for new Sabres management), but here’s one of the more inspiring excerpts:

When I turned my phone on, I had 500 messages waiting for me. Current players, former players, former coaches – everyone reached out. Even now, fans see me in Minnesota or Buffalo and say, ‘I’m just really glad you’re doing OK.’ It’s overwhelming, and it makes me proud to be a part of the hockey community. We’re a tight-knit group and we stick together. Thinking about your support brings a tear to my eye.

The messages from my Sabres teammates meant a lot in particular. I’ve only played with those guys for one year, with Matt Moulson being the exception, and we didn’t have the type of season that we wanted. The fact that all of them were so supportive through this shows that the bond between teammates really does transcend what happens on the ice.

Okposo noted that he appreciated playing in “Da Beauty League” last week, even though his team got “whacked.”

Read more about him being involved in that here, and how happy Zach Parise and others were to see him play in this article. Okposo also reaffirms the belief that he’ll be ready to go for Sabres training camp in that letter.

No surgery for Dumoulin, who broke hand during Penguins’ Cup run

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If you’re feeling jealous of Brian Dumoulin for signing a robust (if fair) contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, take heart: at least he earned it. He even checked the “Hockey players are insanely tough” box during the Penguins’ latest Stanley Cup run.

MORE: Dumoulin signs for six years, with a $4.1 million cap hit.

The 25-year-old revealed that a David Savard slapper broke (or “damaged?) his right hand in Game 5 of that first-round matchup. After that, his hand would heal up, only “I’d do a cross-check then it would break again,” as he told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Dumoulin seemed to deal with that as the postseason went along, but the good news – at least as he claims – is that it’s all healed and he won’t require surgery.

“It was tough to play with it, but obviously everybody had injuries,” Dumoulin said, via Mackey. “It’s all healed up now. They were deciding on surgery or not at the end of the season, but doctors saw a little bit of healing. We gave it about three weeks, and I kind of have been testing it out the last week. I’ve skated, and there have been no problems. I’m happy about it.”

With any “no surgery needed” story, there are us hand-wringers who wonder if that will merely increase the odds of future re-breaks.

That, not to mention years of taxing schooling, is why doctors are doctors, though, so this seems like a mostly positive bit of information regarding another Penguins player who fought through injuries during the playoffs.

Considering how many Penguins players were sidelined, especially on defense, it makes Dumoulin’s toughness that much easier to appreciate. For all we know, losing him might have been the last straw for that thinned out group.

Instead, the Penguins are repeat champions, and Dumoulin enjoys long-term security.

If his play on the ice didn’t already convince you that he earned that extension, perhaps this detail did.

Islanders’ D getting crowded with four-year deal for Adam Pelech

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If nothing else, quantity probably won’t be much of an issue for the New York Islanders’ defense in 2017-18.

GM Garth Snow locked down another blueliner on Monday, as he signed Adam Pelech to a four-year contract. The deal is worth $1.6 million per season ($6.4M overall), according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

Pelech, 22, played 44 games at the NHL level in 2016-17, collecting 10 points and struggling from an analytics standpoint. He also appeared in nine games with the Islanders in 2015-16.

Staple notes that this could make for a logjam – or, to put a positive spin on it, make for a lot of competition – particularly if the Isles can strike a deal with Calvin de Haan soon. If that pans out, they’d have eight defensemen who would need to go through waivers.

On the bright side, the Islanders’ defense looks respectable on paper, and that’s assuming that Pelech doesn’t take a step forward. If he does, this could be another respectable, under-the-radar move by Snow.

At the moment, it mainly seems like adding depth and flexibility, which isn’t the worst thing, either.