Cam Tucker

Sharks do what they couldn’t in 2014 and that’s close out the Kings


The San Jose Sharks have done it. They have eliminated the L.A. Kings.

The events of the past provided a compelling storyline heading into this series. The Sharks had the Kings on the ropes in 2014, up 3-0 in the series, before the Kings marched all the way back to win in seven games. Even Drew Doughty couldn’t resist referencing it following his team’s only win of this round.

The Sharks have exorcised whatever demons they might’ve had brought on by their collapse two years ago against their California rivals, doing so with a 6-3 road victory in Game 5 and a 4-1 series win.

“Throughout the last couple of years, things have been said by players on that team that to me, personally, I take it as disrespectful,” said Sharks forward Logan Couture, as per Associated Press.

“So it was nice to stick it back to them and beat them in this series. Even this series, someone was saying on their team that they had us right where they wanted us. I wonder if they’ve got us where they want us right now? So it was nice to beat them.”

On Friday, the Sharks jumped out to a three-goal lead and could’ve made it four but Patrick Marleau flubbed his attempt on a penalty shot.

Moments later, the Kings once again started the comeback attempt. It began with an Anze Kopitar goal and ended with Kris Versteeg tying it with just over three minutes remaining in the second period.

The Sharks didn’t crumble. Instead, they took back the lead for good in the third period. Joonas Donskoi, a force throughout this series, powered his way around Doughty, then buried the pass from Brent Burns. That turned out to be the winner.

Then, the dagger. Joe Pavelski scored his fifth goal of the series, sliding a puck through the legs of Jonathan Quick on a shot the Kings goalie should’ve stopped.

In the end, San Jose’s best players were better. Pavelski had five goals, Burns had three assists in Game 5 and has six helpers and eight points in these playoffs. Goalie Martin Jones outplayed his former teammate Quick.

As for the Kings, their blue line was stretched thin with the injury to Alec Martinez early in the series. And could this be the final game for 36-year-old Vincent Lecavalier? It was reported after the Kings acquired him from Philadelphia that Lecavalier would retire at the end of this season.

Winning a Wild one: Minnesota staves off elimination with OT victory


The high-scoring Dallas Stars forged a third-period lead with a quick-strike offense and were just over three minutes away from securing their spot in the second round of the playoffs.

Then, Mikko Koivu struck for the equalizer. And then he struck again early in overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory, despite being outshot 41-24, to force a Game 6.

The Stars trailed by a goal in the third period, before Jason Spezza and Alex Goligoski changed that in a hurry with goals 28 seconds apart, suddenly giving Dallas the lead with a chance to end this series on home ice.

The Wild, however, managed to come back.

Now, will this result prompt another change in the crease for Dallas?

Kari Lehtonen sat on the bench in Game 4 of this series, despite helping the Stars to a 2-1 series lead with three straight starts. Stars coach Lindy Ruff chose to go with Antti Niemi in Game 4 and again Friday.

But after Niemi made only 19 saves on 24 shots, it will be interesting to see which direction the Dallas coach goes for Game 6.

“I’ve been asked this almost 82 games this year,” Ruff said of his goalie situation prior to Friday’s game. “I’m tired of explaining our two goalie thing, but it’s been working and it’s been a good option for us.”

Alan Quine plays unlikely double OT hero, Islanders push Panthers to brink of elimination


Alan Quine’s NHL career to date now consists of seven games combined between regular season and playoffs — all this month, too — and one Stanley Cup playoff overtime winner.

Quine, 23, may not be a household name. But he’s put the New York Islanders one victory away from advancing to the second round, after he scored in double overtime to give his team a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 5 on Friday.

Not a bad time to get your first NHL playoff goal.

Besides the actual winner, arguably the biggest moment of this game occurred in the first overtime period. After New York defenseman Calvin de Haan was called for closing his hand on the puck in the crease, his goalie Thomas Greiss calmly denied Aleksander Barkov on a rare penalty shot in playoff OT.

If Barkov scores there, this series shifts back to Brooklyn with the Islanders on the ropes. Instead, Greiss made that save — and many more — and Quine scored the winner and the Islanders will go home looking to eliminate the Panthers.

Scary incident in the second overtime, as Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad left the game and didn’t take another shift after awkwardly crashing into the boards.

Video: Greiss denies Barkov on rare playoff overtime penalty shot


Penalty shots in NHL playoff overtime are rare. But one was awarded to the Florida Panthers in Game 5 against the New York Islanders on Friday.

Play was whistled after Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan closed his hand on the puck in the crease, as seen from the overhead view on the replay, leading to the call. With the game — and the lead in the series — on the line, it was Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss versus Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov, one on one.

Greiss calmly stayed with Barkov the entire way to make the save, keeping this game tied, for the moment, at one goal apiece.

This game now heads to double overtime. The series is tied 2-2.


Been there, done that? Rangers will again try to rally from a 3-1 series deficit

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) watches from the bench alongside center Derick Brassard (16) during the second period after giving up four goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, Thursday, April 21, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
AP Photo

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) Trailing 3-1 in a series is nothing new for the New York Rangers.

It’s the third consecutive year it’s happened.

They rallied against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference semifinals in 2014. They did the same thing against Washington last season, becoming the first NHL team to overcome 3-1 deficits in consecutive seasons.

The Rangers have won 15 of the past 19 playoff games in which they faced elimination, going back to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2012 against Ottawa. New York has also won nine of 11 playoff games when facing elimination since the start of the 2014 playoffs.

Once again the Rangers face a win-or-else scenario, and it’s the Penguins again this season. The difference is this is the opening round of the postseason, and these are two different teams, although many of the faces are the same.

This Penguins team is playing two-way hockey under Mike Sullivan. The Rangers, who went to the Stanley Cup finals in 2014 and the Eastern Conference finals last season, don’t seem as sharp this season. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been a little off, the defense has been lacking and no one is carrying the offense.

Lundqvist said that overcoming 3-1 deficits in the past means nothing heading into Game 5 at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

“It’s now,” said the 34-year-old said Friday after practice. “It’s what we do this year, in this series.”

Lundqvist, who was lifted in Thursday’s night’s 5-0 blowout after giving up four goals on 18 shots in 26 minutes, feels the experience of coming back in recent seasons will be useful, but it will be more important for the Rangers to play their game.

For him, personally, it involves being more focused emotionally and technically. While he is quick to add that Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and most of everyone on the Penguins is playing well, confidence is not something the Rangers lack.

“You can’t look at the big picture, that’s when you get lost,” Lundqvist said. “You just have to break it down and focus on your process. We know we are playing a good team and we know they are confident. But last time there we managed to win. We just need to do everything right.”

Coach Alain Vigneault said the most important thing for the coaching staff is to make sure the team has a short memory after consecutive bad performances and to narrow their focus and stay in the moment during games.

“What is in front of us is a must game,” Vigneault said. “We’re aware of it if we want to continue. To a man in that room, I know they all know they can play better than they have so far.”

Special teams have killed the Rangers in the series. New York is 1 for 16 on the power play. Pittsburgh has converted 7 of 19 chances with the extra skater, including 3 of 6 in Game 4.

New York also has to make sure Penguins goaltender Matt Murray works a little harder than he has in the past two games. He has faced 48 shots, but most of them were not difficult. The Rangers’ best chances ended with shots that missed the net.

“Just because we have done it before does not mean it is going to happen again,” Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello said. “It’s not going to work without hard work and dedication from everyone. At the same time we have to believe that it can happen. It’s our only chance right now. I think we are a confident group and we are going to work hard.”

NOTES: Vigneault said D Dan Girardi remains day to day. He has not played since Game 1. … The coach said rookie Oscar Lindberg played well in his postseason debut. … Vigneault is considering using D Raphael Diaz to add some punch to the power play.