2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Justin Williams wins 2014 Conn Smythe

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The player known as “Mr. Game 7” can now be called “Mr. Playoff MVP.”

In what must have been a tough call for voters, Los Angeles Kings winger Justin Williams was named the 2014 Conn Smythe winner on Friday after his team survived a double-overtime thriller against the New York Rangers.

As flattering as the “Mr. Game 7” nickname must be, there was the chance that such a specific moniker might obscure the fact that he is much more than just a “closer” to the Los Angeles Kings. You can probably put that to bed now, though.

Williams praised his teammates over and over again after receiving the Conn Smythe, yet you could tell it was a proud moment for a player who fought through tough times earlier in his career, particularly with injuries.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Williams said. “To get that award and to get the ovation that I got from my teammates was pretty special and emotional for me. ”

The 32-year-old scored nine goals and 25 points in 26 playoff games, including the opening tally in Friday’s Game 5 thriller, which ended with the Kings prevailing 3-2 against the New York Rangers in double-overtime.

Williams scored big goals with aplomb, including the overtime-clincher in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He’s long been a quality scorer, especially with lights shining the brightest, yet he made the leap from an under-the-radar star to a household hockey name during the Kings’ incredible (and grueling) run.

Beyond providing quality offense, one of the things that really stands out about Williams is that he’s the kind of two-way player who might begin to draw serious Selke consideration. Like Patrice Bergeron, this high-profile run might grab mainstream attention for a player whose brilliance is a little on the subtle side.

Sneaky or not, Williams is enjoying quite the outstanding career already. He’s already a three-time Stanley Cup champion who routinely seems to put his team in a position to prevail in must-win games.

In other words, he might have a shot at another Conn Smythe Trophy before he hangs up his skates.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.