Henrik Lundqvist, Kyle Clifford

PHT Morning Skate: Rangers look to tie series before heading home

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Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final drops the puck tonight at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Kings would like to replicate the success they had on Wednesday night but with a few more pucks getting past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

The Rangers, meanwhile, hope Lundqvist can hold down the fort just as strong while the rest of the team uses their speed and skill to send the series to New York knotted up at a game apiece.

Game 2: Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers [Los Angeles leads series 1-0] (7:00 p.m. ET — NBC)

One thing the Kings were able to do in Game 1 was dominate in shots on goal. In all they put 43 shots on Lundqvist and thoroughly dominated the third period outshooting the Rangers 20-3.

With that brand of puck control and the quality of scorers the Kings have up front and on the blue line, chances were good they were going to find a way to come out on top. If Los Angeles has their puck control game going strong again, the Rangers could be in for another long night.

The Rangers want to change that up. Coach Alain Vigneault, in essence, called out his team saying they can’t bring their “B” game against L.A. While that means finding ways to turn the game and the shot counter against the Kings, it also means getting stronger games from guys like Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, and Brad Richards.

Part of solving that issue is finding ways to get Stepan’s line with Nash and Chris Kreider away from Anze Kopitar. The Kings’ Selke Trophy candidate more or less shadowed Stepan in Game 1. Kopitar with Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik have been very effective at both ends of the ice and the Rangers have to find a way to get their skill guys away from them.

Thing to watch for: The Rangers’ speed game. One thing that threw the Kings off in Game 1 was how fast many of the Rangers forwards were, especially Kreider and Carl Hagelin. Can Vigneault find a way to use that to their advantage in Game 2 or will Darryl Sutter already have a solution plotted for his defense?

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.