Playoff game recaps and news plus arena updates in Calgary and Phoenix in today’s collection of notable NHL headlines.
NHL Playoff Game Recaps
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS/LOS ANGELES TIMES: The San Jose Sharks took a 3-0 lead and held off a late rally by the Los Angeles Kings for a 3-2 win in Game Four of their best-of-seven opening-round series, pushing the Kings to the edge of elimination. The power-play proved lethal for the Sharks, with Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau scoring with the man advantage. Trevor Lewis and Luke Schenn scored for the Kings. The series shifts back to Los Angeles for the crucial Game Five on Friday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the second time in three years, the Sharks have a 3-1 series lead over the Kings. The Sharks have a golden opportunity to close out this matchup and avenge that upset defeat in 2014.
PHILLY.COM/THE WASHINGTON POST: A goaltending change helped the Philadelphia Flyers stave off elimination, as Michal Neuvirth made 31 saves backstopping his club to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, who still hold a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series. The Capitals tendency toward slow starts hurt them in this game. Flyers forward Scott Laughton was stretchered from the game and held overnight in hospital as a precautionary measure after crashing heavily into the end boards. Medical tests have come back negative.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS/TWINCITIES.COM: Jason Spezza tallied a goal and an assist and Antti Niemi made 28 saves as the Dallas Stars edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2, giving the Stars a 3-1 series lead and pushing the Wild to the brink of elimination.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were better prepared for the desperate Wlld in this game compared to Game Three, though it was still a close one. They now have an opportunity to bring this series to a end on home ice Friday night.
MIAMI HERALD/NEWSDAY: Defenseman Alex Petrovic was the hero for the Florida Panthers, scoring the game winner to give his club a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders to tie their best-of-seven series at two games apiece. Roberto Luongo made 26 saves for the Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers right win Jaromir Jagr collected an assist for his first point of the series, which also made him only the fifth player in NHL history to tally 200 career playoff points.
NHL Playoff Headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The NHL has suspended Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw one game and fined him $5000.00 for uttering a homophobic slur during Game Four of his club’s best-of-seven series against the St. Louis Blues.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang won’t be disciplined for slashing New York Rangers forward Viktor Stalberg in the face during Game 3 of their opening round series.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings must improve their powerless power play if they hope to avoid elimination by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of their series.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators winger Craig Smith is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Other Notable NHL News.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: A press conference on Wednesday by the Boston Bruins brain trust raised more questions than answers over who’s in charge and has raised some speculation over the job security of team president Cam Neely.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Bruins having missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007, everything I’ve read and heard since yesterday suggest Neely’s now on the hot seat.
THE VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks signed Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko to an entry-level contract.
TORONTO STAR: Relax, Maple Leafs fans, assistant GM Kyle Dubas isn’t going anywhere.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames ambitious sports complex project is projected to cost a whopping $1.8 billion, with the taxpayers picking up two-thirds of the tab.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the current economic downturn in Alberta, that project will be a tough sell for Calgarians, especially when they’ll be asked to absorb most of the cost. That, in my opinion, is bullshit. The Flames ownership is wealthy enough to pick up more than just one-third. If they want this dream complex to be built, they’ll have to invest much more of the cost with private funding. Of course, they and the league will probably start dropping veiled threats of relocation if they don’t get their way. And speaking of relocation warnings…
ARIZONA SPORTS: Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton warns the Coyotes could be moving, perhaps to Las Vegas, if they’re unable to move to a downtown venue with the Phoenix Suns.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ve heard this song and dance so often for so long that most NHL fans have tuned it out. Coyotes fans probably aren’t pleased to be put through the emotional wringer every year. Move, stay, whatever, make up your minds, but quite wasting everyone’s time!