Sharks eliminate the Kings, game recaps and more in today’s collection of NHL morning headlines.
NHL Playoff Recaps.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS/LOS ANGELES TIMES: Two years after blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Los Angeles Kings, the San Jose Sharks avenged that upset on Friday night with a 6-3 victory in Game Five to eliminate the Kings in five games. Sharks rookie Joonas Donskoi scored twice, including the game winner, as his club blew a 3-0 lead but rallied with a strong third period to put the Kings away. This was likely the final game in the NHL career of Kings forward Vincent Lecavalier, who stated his intent to retire after this season. Pending UFA winger Milan Lucic remains hopeful of re-signing with the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If revenge is a dish best served cold, this series victory must taste like ice cream to the Sharks. This was a significant win for a club that has a history of being dominant in the regular season but coming up short in the playoffs. As for the Kings, while they bounced back from missing the postseason in 2015, they lacked the depth this season (especially on defense and their checking lines) that they had between 2012 to 2014, when they advanced to the Western Conference Final three times and marched to two Stanley Cup championships. Salary cap constraints has made it difficult for management to bolster that depth and could remain an issue next season.
PHILLY.COM/THE WASHINGTON POST: Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth had a 44-save shutout to carry his club to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals, narrowing the latter’s lead in the best-of-seven series to three games to two. Flyers forward Ryan White scored the game winner, as his shot deflected past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby off the left skate of Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals completely dominated this game but they couldn’t put a pea past Neuvirth, who flat-out stole this one for the Flyers. And now, right on time, comes the creeping doubt among Caps followers who’ve seen their club blow many a series lead over the years. Do the Caps share those doubts? We’ll find out in Game Six, but if the Flyers win that one to force a seventh and deciding game back in Washington, all bets are off.
NEWSDAY/MIAMI HERALD: Alan Quine scored in double overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series. Isles goaltender Thomas Greiss made 47 saves. he series moves back to Barclays Center for Game Six on Sunday, giving the Isles an opportunity to win their first playoff series since 1993.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Panthers, putting their hopes of winning their first playoff series in 20 years into jeopardy.
TWINCITIES.COM/THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu scored the game-tying and overtime goals to lift his club to a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars, cutting their series deficit down to three games to two as the series returns to Minnesota for Game Six on Sunday. It remains to be seen if Annti Niemi will return in goal for the Stars or if they’ll return to Kari Lehtonen for that game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars got off to a poor start in this game, falling behind 2-0. Though they rallied back to take a 4-3 lead, their last collapse will raise questions once again about their goaltending. I expect they’ll go with Lehtonen for that game.
NHL Playoff Series Headlines
STLTODAY.COM/CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The St. Louis Blues must prove they no longer choke in the playoffs in Game Six tonight of their best-of seven series against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues hold a 3-2 series lead. Meanwhile, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews acknowledges now is the time for him to end his scoring drought in this series.
NEW YORK POST/PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The New York Rangers will look toward veterans Derick Brassard, Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Keith Yandle and Eric Staal as they try to stave off elimination by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five this afternoon. That could be a difficult task for the Blueshirts, as the Penguins are getting scoring from throughout their roster in this series.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/THE TENNESSEAN: Having rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to tie their best-of-seven series against the Nashville Predators, the Anaheim Ducks hope to keep their momentum rolling tonight in Game Five at home. The Predators, meanwhile, hope to regain the offense that worked well for them in the opening two games.
Other Notable Headlines.
ESPN.COM: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman strongly discourages fans from throwing objects onto the ice, other than hats to celebrate a player’s three-goal performance during a game.
THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei is no fan of the recent late start times for this season’s NHL playoff games
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Joakim Nordstrom to a two-year, $2.55 million contract extension.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Eric Duhatschek believes Las Vegas will get an NHL expansion team but not Quebec City.