PHT Morning Skate: Oliver Ekman-Larsson discusses late mom’s long battle with cancer

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–Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Toronto’s last Stanley Cup victory, so Sean McIndoe decided to compare the Leafs’ drought to the struggles other teams have had over the few years. The Panthers, Capitals, Blues and Sharks all made the list. (Sportsnet)

–Here’s the first part of an upcoming series of articles discussing John Tortorella’s views on leadership. Fun fact, the 2017 Jack Adams nominee hates when his players refer to him as “coach”. “Leadership is not about you and thinking it’s like a dictatorship. I think one of the most important aspects of being a leader is to empower people. I can’t stand when players call me coach. I hate the title because it’s all of us doing it together, first of all. And it takes you longer to peel away at being a team if they feel it’s ‘you’ and ‘us.'” (NHL.com/BlueJackets)

–After a 10-year cancer battle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s mom, Annika, passed away this year. As you’d imagine, his mother’s difficult situation really weighed on Ekman-Larsson throughout the hockey season. “She got me skating when I was a kid and when I didn’t like it at first, she kept pushing me. She and my dad were at all the games, and she was the reason I played for Leksands Idrottsförening for two years. I was going to play for another team but she wanted me to look at that team, and I’m happy I did.” (arizonasports.com)

–Thanks to last night’s 2-1 win over the Blues, the Nashville Predators are now just one win away from reaching the Western Conference Final. You can check out the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–The Dallas Stars were extremely fortunate when they landed the third overall pick in the draft lottery, but should they hang onto the pick or should they ship it elsewhere? The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin believes they need to offer it to New Jersey for Cory Schneider. Larkins writes: “The Stars are one year removed from winning the Central Division and leading the NHL in goals. They have two superstar forwards in their prime in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and they are running out of good years from No. 2 center Jason Spezza. General manager Jim Nill stuck to his guns and gave his goalie tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi a chance at redemption this year, and they flopped again. But if Nill can properly remedy his team’s crease for 2017-18, we could see the Stars competitive again.” (The Hockey News)

–The Predators have had a few famous national anthem singers this postseason. Yesterday, country singer Vince Gill sang the Star Spangled Banner with his two daughters. In a bit of a random twist, PGA Tour golfer Brandt Snedeker jumped on the ice after the anthems. (Sportsnet)

–Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha took some huge steps forward this season. From being the grandson of a former NHLer to having a decorated junior career in the Quebec junior league, here’s his story:

The Buzzer: Pacioretty continues hot streak

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Players of the Night:

Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens: Here’s a name you haven’t seen often in these parts this season. But Pacioretty had two goals tonight, the opener for the Canadiens and the game-winner with 1:18 left in the third period to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. He also added an assist on Montreal’s other goal. Truth be told, Pacioretty has been sizzling lately with six goals and an assist in his past six games.

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: Gibson had a quiet night for the most part until the third period, but he was stellar when called upon and made 23 saves, including a second-period beauty (which you will see below) to help his team to a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings.

Highlights of the Night:

James Neal had all the moves to help the Vegas Golden Knights secure a point on the road in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers.

John Gibson got just enough on this puck to redirect it off the post and out for quite the save:

Factoid of the Night:

MISC:

Scores:

Panthers 4, Golden Knights 3 (OT)

Canadiens 3, Capitals 2

Ducks 2, Kings 1


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Henrique, Kesler too much for Quick, Kings in 2-1 Ducks win

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Jonathan Quick did all he could.

The posts behind him helped on a couple occasions, but Quick was everything the Los Angeles Kings needed to break out of their five-game losing streak, which they entered Friday wearing like a ball and chain.

But while Quick was solid in the crease, making 29 saves, the men in front of him couldn’t replicate their goalie’s performance in a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

The Kings have now lost six straight and just two of their past 10 and are tied with four teams, including the Ducks, who sit on 53 points and just outside the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

The Ducks-Kings rivalry has become quite the grind ’em out slugfest over time, and despite their recent downward spiral, the Kings weren’t going to roll over and die when the puck dropped, even if they played 24 hours earlier.

This rivalry doesn’t allow for one team to not show up, despite whatever mitigating circumstances may be available.

And neither team was giving the other any allowances, evidenced by a 0-0 scoreline after 40 minutes.

The Ducks struck first in the third frame as Adam Henrique finally willed a puck behind Quick, who had puzzled Anaheim’s offense for 42 minutes and change.

Henrique’s individual effort on the goal began a few seconds earlier as he won a foot race to the puck to get it into the Ducks’ zone, dove to make sure it stayed there and they got up and went to the net, where he picked up a loose puck that and put it in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at the 17:55 mark.

That lead was shortlived, however.

The Kings struck back two-and-a-half minutes later as some extended offensive zone time by the Kings resulted in Alex Iafallo flicking a puck up and over John Gibson off a rebound to ruin his shutout bid at 4:48.

The Ducks would get the final say.

Jakob Silfverberg‘s excellent forecheck kept the Kings from clearing the puck out of their zone.

The puck found its way to the point, where Francois Beauchemin unleashed a high point shot that was redirected down and under Quick by Ryan Kesler for the eventual game-winner.

Gibson’s night may have been a little quieter than his counterpart 200-feet away, but he was on point when he needed to be, making 23 of 24 saves, including getting just enough on Iafallo’s second-period shot to steer it off the post and out to keep the game 0-0 at that point.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings vs Anaheim Ducks

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Los Angeles Kings

Adrian KempeAnze KopitarDustin Brown

Tanner PearsonTrevor LewisTyler Toffoli

Alex IafalloNick ShoreMarian Gaborik

Kyle CliffordTorrey MitchellAndy Andreoff

Derek ForbortDrew Doughty

Jake MuzzinAlec Martinez

Kevin Gravel– Christian Folin

Starting Goalie: Darcy Kuemper

NHL on NBCSN: Kings look to end losing streak vs. Ducks

Anaheim Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting Goalie: John Gibson

Red Fisher, as told by those who knew him

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Red Fisher is a mythical name in sports journalism.

Fisher’s death on Friday at 91 sent shockwaves through the National Hockey League community, and stories upon stories — snippets of Fisher and his life — began circulation around the Internet, many on Twitter by those who worked alongside him and those who had the pleasure to speak with the man.

Fisher’s life will be immortalized in print in the coming days. Michael Farber wrote this beautifully done piece for the Montreal Gazette already today. A must-read.

Here’s what his contemporary’s are saying, those that revere him and the people who Fisher made an impact on in so many ways: