Los Angeles Kings left wing Dwight King (74) and right wing Justin Williams (14) battle for the puck against Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy (8) during the first period in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

PHT Morning Skate: Blackhawks, Kings ready for historic Game 7

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Game 7: Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks [Series is tied at 3-3] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The last series against the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks was a bit anticlimactic with Chicago taking out the then defending Stanley Cup champions in five games. When the Blackhawks claimed Game 1 of this series, it marked their eighth win over the Kings in nine meetings.

These are two of the best franchises in recent history, but it was so one-sided that it was hard to even call them rivals.

“A rivalry only exists when the other team wins,” Kings forward Justin Williams said following Game 1. “We haven’t beat them yet. We have that set for us and we need to rise to the challenge.”

Williams found the back of the net late in the second period of Game 2, starting a run of six unanswered Kings goals to even the series. Less than two weeks later, there’s no question that these teams are true rivals.

“I think this series deserves a Game 7,” Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said, per the Chicago Tribune. “I think that the crowd deserves it too. I think it’s going to be a great finish to a great series. Hopefully we’ll be the winner.”

It will be worth keeping an eye on Williams tonight. He already has six goals and 12 points in six career Game 7s. That’s one shy of the points record held by Doug Gilmour and a goal short of the Glenn Anderson’s Game 7 record, per NHL.com. The Kings can also lean on one of the best Game 7 coaches in the history of the league.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter is tied for the most career Game 7 victories (six in nine attempts) with legendary bench bosses Pat Burns and Scotty Bowman. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has plenty of success to draw on too. In fact, he has an opportunity tonight to become the fourth coach in history to record his 100th postseason victory.

Los Angeles would also become the first team to advance to the Stanley Cup Final after playing in the full 21 games through three rounds.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to become the first team to ever overcome 3-1 series deficits in back-to-back campaigns after pulling it off against the Detroit Red Wings last year. They’ll be led by Patrick Kane, who has pushed Chicago this far by scoring two goals and seven points in his last two contests. His counterpart, Jonathan Toews, is on a four-game point streak.

But most importantly, the winner tonight will go to face the New York Rangers with an opportunity to claim the Stanley Cup for either the third time in five years (Chicago) or second time in three campaigns (Los Angeles).

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.