Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Five

Video: Goaltending optional for the first period of Game 7

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The 2014 Western Conference finals have been rough at times on Jonathan Quick and Corey Crawford. The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings didn’t make life easier for those two struggling netminders in the first period of Game 7.

The Blackhawks rushed out to a 2-0 lead, with Patrick Kane collecting two more assists to continue his absolutely ridiculous run since Chicago has been on the brink of elimination. Here’s his assist on Brandon Saad’s fourth goal of this series.

Jeff Carter’s outstanding feat of hand-eye coordination made it 2-1 with about three and half minutes left in the first period, which is when this game shifted from “hectic” to “flat-out wacky.”

Here’s video of all five goals from that wild first period:

Consider the stream of goals beginning with Carter’s tally, when he avoided the crossbar:

  • Carter scores his ninth goal of the playoffs at 16:31 of the first period.
  • Justin Williams (pictured) redeems his first period penalty (which led to the Toews goal) with another Game 7 goal at the 17:22 mark of the opening frame. Williams’ 13 points in Game 7’s now ties Doug Gilmour for the NHL record while his his seven goals ties Glenn Anderson.
  • That tie only lasted 11 seconds for the Kings, however, as Patrick Sharp gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead at the 17:34 mark.

Like Saad’s goal, Sharp’s tally came from an angle that might leave Quick soul-searching for some time. (Video coming soon.)

To review, the two teams scored two goals in 11 seconds and three in one minute and 13 seconds (give or take). Kane has been involved in nine of the Blackhawks’ last 12 goals, which is all that much more amazing being that the stakes are so high.

It’s tough to imagine these two teams topping that opening 20 minutes, but considering the level of play between the Kings and Blackhawks, do you really feel safe doubting them?

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

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As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.