Cam Tucker

Sharks (just barely) beat L.A. to take 3-1 series lead

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Fans at SAP Center got their wish: The San Jose Sharks beat the L.A. Kings on Wednesday. Just barely.

The Sharks, who scored all three of their goals on the power play, held on for a 3-2 victory, and now lead the series 3-1.

Once again against the Sharks, the Kings are on the brink of elimination. They were in the same position two years ago, albeit they had to dig out of a deeper 3-0 hole.

According to LA Kings Insider, coach Darryl Sutter was asked post-game if the Kings can draw on the experience of being down 3-0 in the series to San Jose two years ago and coming back to win.

Sutter was blunt: “No. We’re not down three to nothing, and it’s a different team.”

There were plenty of anxious moments in the third period because apparently that’s what the script calls for between these two teams. The Sharks, on an early third-period goal from Patrick Marleau, grabbed a 3-0 lead. With 18:20 remaining in the third period. And that’s when this game took a most interesting turn.

That’s when the Kings started their comeback attempt. First, it was Trevor Lewis getting L.A. on the board 2:49 into the period. The Sharks used a coach’s challenge on the basis of possible goalie interference. After a review, the call on the ice stood. Good goal, 3-1 Sharks.

Less than four minutes later, Luke Schenn scored on a point shot to cut the San Jose lead to just one goal and with plenty of time remaining.

Nervous times in San Jose, as the chants of ‘Beat LA! Beat LA!’ continued.

The Kings pressed and pressed for the tying goal. Sharks goalie Martin Jones appeared to get away with a trip at the side of the net on Dustin Brown late in the period.

Despite giving up 26 shot attempts in the final 20 minutes, as per hockeystats.ca, the Sharks didn’t break, holding on for the win.

“Our penalty kill wasn’t near good enough tonight, and special teams were obviously the huge difference,” said Schenn. “They got three power play goals, and we obviously didn’t get any. Special teams needs to improve, for sure, if we’re going to climb back into it.”

This series shifts back to L.A. The Sharks have three chances to move on.

Stars send Wild to brink of elimination after comeback win

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The Dallas Stars are now one win away from advancing to the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.

They will have the chance to do that on home ice.

After overcoming the Wild in a back-and-forth second period that saw the two teams exchange a total of five goals, the Stars were able to hang on for the 3-2 victory, having to kill off a six-on-four Wild advantage in the final minute of the third period. Dallas now takes a 3-1 lead in the series.

The Wild looked to be in good shape midway through Game 4.

Twice, Minnesota grabbed a lead in the second period. Jason Pominville opened the scoring, and Charlie Coyle busted out of a 21-game scoring drought with a beautiful individual effort, regaining the Wild’s lead just 1:03 after Ales Hemsky got Dallas on the board.

The always dangerous Stars struck back, however, on goals from Patrick Eaves and Jason Spezza, who gave Dallas the lead with just over a minute remaining in the period.

Antti Niemi, who was making his series debut as Lindy Ruff opted to sit veteran Kari Lehtonen for Game 4, made 28 saves.

The Stars can now close out the series with a win in front of their home fans Friday.

 

Video: Coyle snaps scoring drought with brilliant individual effort

Charlie Coyle ended his 21-game scoring drought with an absolutely beautiful, determined individual effort during the second period of Game 4 between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars.

Coyle forced a turnover from Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski at the Minnesota blue line, then made a dash to get open for a potential breakaway pass. Having to contend with Goligoski on the back check, Coyle managed to corral the bouncing puck as he entered the zone and quickly deked to his left, beating Antti Niemi.

That was quite a response for Minnesota, too. Coyle’s goal came just 1:03 after the Stars got on the board, tying the game at 1-1 courtesy a rocket of a shot from Ales Hemsky.

You Can Play Project ‘reaching out to the NHL’ after Shaw incident

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The You Can Play Project has stated its intention to reach out to the National Hockey League after Chicago forward Andrew Shaw appeared to use a homophobic slur during Game 4 versus St. Louis.

The You Can Play Project launched in 2012 with the purpose of ensuring equality and respect for all athletes and that they should be judged on talent and work ethic, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to its website.

One of its founding members, Patrick Burke, now works in the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

The alleged incident occurred late in the third period of Chicago’s loss to St. Louis, as Shaw was in the penalty box.

The league is looking into it, and Shaw could face discipline, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“I mean, emotions are high, I really don’t know what’s said,” Shaw also told the Chicago Tribune. “I was obviously upset with the call being that late in the game (as) it doesn’t give us a chance to tie it up.”

There have been numerous incidents of obscene comments or gestures made by NHL players in the past.

Former NHLer Sean Avery, while playing for the New York Rangers, said in 2011 that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called him a homophobic slur during a pre-season game, as per ESPN.

In 2010, James Wisniewski was suspended two games after making an obscene gesture toward Avery.

Blues hold on to beat Blackhawks, push defending champs to brink of elimination

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The defending Stanley Cup champions are one defeat away from having their title defense come to an end in the opening round.

The Chicago Blackhawks now trail the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in their best-of-seven series, following a 4-3 loss on home ice in Game 4 on Tuesday. Tensions between these Central Division rivals have been growing throughout this series and there were a few eruptions over the course of this game.

First, it was Chicago goalie Corey Crawford going after Blues forward Robby Fabbri after a collision in the crease, causing a massive melee in the corner. The referees decided the Blackhawks should get the power play out of it and Chicago took the lead on a Duncan Keith goal with the ensuing advantage.

The controversy subsided, however, as the Blues tied the game before the end of the middle period. Vladimir Tarasenko continued adding to his list of impressive playoff performances, scoring twice, including the tying goal on a St. Louis power play late in the second.

The Blues then opened up a two-goal lead less than five minutes into the third period. Jaden Schwartz capitalized on the power play and Alexander Steen scored 3:10 later.

Despite getting to within a goal, and having a St. Louis empty-net goal called back after it was determined the play was offside, the Blackhawks couldn’t score the equalizer in the third period.

When the clock ran out, another gathering occurred with Andrew Shaw in the midst of it. A total of 11 game misconducts were handed out at the end, as per NHL.com.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The Crawford incident was just the start, as the game devolved into post-whistle scrums and facewashes and shoving matches. In the ugliest moment, Shaw, after taking his penalty for pushing Jay Bouwmeester in front of the goal, appeared to yell a homophobic slur from the penalty box.

Shaw, who flashed both middle fingers on his way to the box, neither denied nor admitted saying it.

“Emotions were high, I don’t know what I said,” Shaw said. “Obviously, I was upset with the call.”