Cam Tucker

Montreal Canadiens v Los Angeles Kings
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Kings send a message after thumping Blackhawks, Stars in back-to-back road games

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A brief two-game trip through the Central Division that included a back-to-back situation against formidable opponents from Chicago and Dallas? No problem, apparently, for the L.A. Kings.

The Kings took out the Blackhawks 5-0 on Monday, prompting some stern comments from Chicago’s captain Jonathan Toews in the aftermath. The following night, the Kings thumped the Stars 5-2 after a strong opening period.

That’s a statement.

Two teams — Chicago and Dallas — that could definitely be considered Stanley Cup contenders at this point, and the Kings, leaders in the Pacific Division by four points over rival Anaheim, beat them by a combined score of 10-2 in this two-game road swing.

“We’re trying to make the playoffs. Easy. Show some desperation in your game,” said coach Darryl Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider. “Other than odd shifts or odd periods or nights we’ve struggled when we can’t score. Not much you can do about that one.”

Kris Versteeg opened the scoring 23 seconds into Tuesday’s game. Anze Kopitar danced around recently acquired Dallas defenseman Kris Russell and scored to restore the Kings’ two-goal lead late in the opening period.

The Kings, Stanley Cup champs in 2012 and 2014, didn’t make the playoffs last year.

But they’re on their way this year, once again a physical and fast puck possession juggernaut with the top even strength Corsi For percentage in the league. A Stanley Cup contender? Put them on the list — if you haven’t already.

This latest two-game sample reinforces just how difficult an opponent they could be later this spring.

 

Flyers inch even closer to Wild Card spot with win over Red Wings

Flyers Red Wings Hockey
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The Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t have asked for a better start to Tuesday’s game.

Playing the Detroit Red Wings with a chance to move within a single point of the final Eastern Conference Wild Card spot, the Flyers came roaring out of the starting gates. They outshot the Red Wings 23-3 and dominated puck possession.

The Flyers also gained a two-goal lead and eventually held on for the 4-3 regulation victory despite a furious comeback attempt from Detroit in the third period.

Michael Raffl scored twice for Philadelphia. Wayne Simmonds also scored and now has 25 goals this season. The Flyers’ impressive rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere notched his 16th goal of the season, as his pass attempt deflected in off a Detroit defender late in the second period.

That goal counted as the winner.

Winners in seven of their last 10 games, the Flyers have moved to within a single point of the Red Wings and that final Wild Card spot. The regulation win was key. And now Philadelphia has two games in hand on Detroit.

Ovechkin scores OT winner, Capitals become first team to clinch a playoff spot

Ottawa Senators v Washington Capitals
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All the Washington Capitals needed to clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday was a single point.

Mission accomplished.

The Capitals have punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup post-season, thanks to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Alex Ovechkin scored the winner for his 42nd goal of the season.

The winner was subject to a review for a potential offside.

From the NHL Situation Room blog:

At 1:38 of overtime in the Hurricanes/Capitals game, the Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Evgeny Kuznetsov had possession and control of the puck when Washington entered the attacking zone prior to Alex Ovechkin’s goal. 

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that the Capitals entered the attacking zone legally prior to the goal.

Therefore the original call stands – good goal Washington Capitals. 

The Capitals now have 50 wins this season. They’ve lost only 14 times in regulation, and lead the NHL’s overall standings with 105 points. The second-place Dallas Stars have 91 points.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Sharks

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The Boston Bruins look to maintain the top spot in the Atlantic Division, while the San Jose Sharks try to keep pace with Anaheim and L.A. for top spot in the Pacific Division on Tuesday at the SAP Center. You can catch the game on NBCSN (10 p.m. ET), or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some links to check out for this game:

Corsi aside, the Bruins head to California on a roll

NHL on NBCSN Doubleheader: Red Wings at Flyers; Bruins at Sharks

Video: Flyers dominate Red Wings in opening period, grab lead in pivotal game

Detroit Red Wings v Philadelphia Flyers
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In a pivotal Eastern Conference game, it was the Philadelphia Flyers that jumped out to the first-period lead after dominating the opening 20 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds scored 1:14 apart to give Philadelphia a 2-0 lead early in the period.

Here is the Raffl goal — his 11th of the season:

Here is the Simmonds goal — his 25th of the season:

The Flyers outshot the Red Wings 23-3 and held a 38-10 edge in shot attempts after that first period, too, as per hockeystats.ca.

 

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The Red Wings responded in the second period with two goals of their own, but the Flyers were able to maintain that two-goal lead heading into the final period.

A regulation win for Philadelphia would be huge. The Flyers would move to within a single point of the Red Wings for the final Wild Card spot in the East.