JustinWilliams

Kings’ Williams: ‘We’re using all our lifelines’

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What is it about the L.A. Kings and playing in Game 7s in these Stanley Cup playoffs?

For the third time this post-season, the Kings will be play in a series pushed to a deciding seventh game. They dispatched the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks in the opening two rounds. Now standing in the way of a berth in the Stanley Cup Final is the defending Stanley Cup championship team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to the NHL, the Kings are only the third team in the league’s history to play all 21 possible games through three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs since all four rounds went to the best-of-seven format in 1987.

The Blackhawks trailed 3-1 in the series, but have since rallied to force a Game 7 on Sunday thanks to their victory over the Kings on Friday.

“If we have to play 28 games this year to win, that’s what we have to do. We’re using all our lifelines so far. We plan on getting the job done yet again,” Kings forward Justin Williams told reporters.

“I think most guys on our team treat Game 7s as an opportunity, an opportunity to do something special, an opportunity to prove yourself, an opportunity to advance and get the better of a team that you battled with for six games. It’s going to be no different tomorrow. We obviously have a huge bone to pick with them. We’re going to leave it all out there because there’s no more after that.”

When it comes to elimination games, both the Blackhawks and Kings have been clutch – to the point where they’re almost unbeatable.

The Kings are so far 6-0 in these playoffs when facing elimination. Apart from their experiences in Game 7s this year, they have a number of players who have been in similar situations throughout the course of their careers.

Take the aforementioned Williams for example. Williams is 6-0 in Game 7s, as are Marian Gaborik and Mike Richards, according to the NHL. In those six games, Williams has six goals and 12 points.

He came up big again when the Kings ousted the Ducks in the final game of the second round.

“I just think what it does, it can take you away from the anxiety. I don’t look even look at it like it’s Game 7. I look at it we have to do everything we can do to beat Chicago, just like last night, just like the night before,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.