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NHL Playoffs: Historic Kings, Rangers Hang On, Wild Overtime Winners

The Los Angeles Kings came back from an 0-3 series deficit to win four straight and move onto the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Quick

Apr 30, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32, right) celebrates with defenseman Alec Martinez (27) after game seven of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. The Kings defeated the Sharks 5-1. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers – NYR wins 2-1, NYR wins series 4-3

The game started off with a very quick pace, as the two teams combined for 13 shots on goal through the first eight minutes. The period would go scoreless but would give some interesting trends. The Derek Stepan line would be a 90-percent possession line in the first period while the rest of the team was below even (via Extra Skater). Brad Richards and his line mates were getting dominated by Claude Giroux’s line but the match-ups, for the most part, didn’t change.

The Rangers would start the scoring a little under three minutes in. Daniel Carcillo would redirect a gorgeous behind-the-back, no-look pass from Mats Zuccarello for the 1-0 lead on the Rangers’ fourth shot of the period. By the second TV timeout of the second period, Mason was already at 18 saves and was the reason why the Flyers were in the game. Less than a minute after coming back, though, Derick Brassard made a nice pass from the corner to the fire side and a nice same-side one-timer by Benoit Pouliot made it 2-0. Stepan actually improved from 90-percent possession to 94.1-percent after the second period. The Flyers had attempted one shot on goal at even strength with Stepan or Nash on the ice.

There would be a lot of neutral zone hockey early in the third as the Rangers clamped down on defense. Jason Akeson would have his initial shot blocked but he fired the rebound past Henrik Lundqvist to make it 2-1. With just five shots in the third, the Rangers were sitting on their heels for most of the period.

The Rangers would hang on for the 2-1 win, though. Lundqvist would stop 26 of 27 shots. For the record, Rick Nash would finish the game without a goal again but only seven shot attempts against while he was on the ice (lowest of any Rangers forward).

Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche – MIN wins 5-4 (OT), MIN wins series 4-3

Off an early Nino Niederreiter penalty, Nick Holden would get credit with a power play goal to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. A scramble out front led to a Holden goal — which was disputed for goalie interference initially — but the play stood. After the Wild tied it 1-1, Jamie McGinn redirected a pass from Joey Hishon to give the Avalanche their 2-1 lead back. That would be Hishon’s first career point (and his story can be read here, it’s been a long road).  Colorado coach Patrick Roy managed to Paul Stastny’s line away from the top forwards from Minnesota, double-shifting them at times to do so. The Avalanche finished the period with 11 shot attempts at 5-on-5, and five of them with Stastny on the ice.

Of all players, Dany “50 in ‘07” Heatley would bang in a rebound after a Mikael Granlund blocked shot on the power play. Heatley had played less than three minutes in the first period and managed to score his biggest goal as a Minnesota Wild in the second period. Both Zach Parise (+21.4-percent) and Ryan Suter (+5.6-percent) were both good possession players relative to their team, paying some dividends on that nearly $200-million in contracts between them.

Stastny would give the Avalanche the lead just under three minutes into the third. The TSN broadcast talked about how there might be something wrong with Darcy Kuemper, as he limped around late in the second after a collision behind the net. That third goal came on his 18th shot against. Niederreiter tied the game on a beautiful shot off the rush, becoming an unlikely source for the goal as it was his first in the series and had been fairly quiet on the night.

Erik Johnson had been involved offensively all night and finally cashed his fourth shot on goal to give the Avalanche a 4-3 lead on the 21st shot against Kuemper. He would be pulled and replaced by Ilya Bryzgalov.

Jared Spurgeon would tie the game with 2:27 left in the third period. A snap shot from the slot went top corner on Varlamov, tying the game 3-3 and sending it to overtime.

Niederreiter clinched the series with another beautiful shot keeping the puck on a 2-on-1, going short side over Varlamov’s shoulder. From Dimitri Filipovic, it was a just reward for Minnesota as they were very good at even strength in this series; the Wild had nearly 100 more shot attempts at 5-on-5 through the series going into overtime.Bryzgalov earned the series-clinching win with one save in relief.

Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks – LAK wins 5-1, LAK wins series 4-3

The story of the first period was sometimes-beleaguered San Jose goalie Antti Niemi. A save off the knob of his stick from a Mike Richards shot, and then a pad save off a partial break from Anze Kopitar while short-handed kept the game tied through the first period. It would be a very even period in all regards with the edge going to Niemi for a couple of big saves.

Matt Irwin would open the scoring early in the second period. A point shot would beat a screened Jonathan Quick to give San Jose a 1-0 lead. The Sharks had really started to take control of the game, as the Kings were held without a shot on goal through the first four minutes of the period. Drew Doughty would score on a somewhat controversial penalty given to Logan Couture for elbowing. The Sharks would generate a lot of chances on a couple of power plays, leading to a 26-17 shots on goal edge at the final TV timeout of the second period. After killing three straight penalties, the Kings scored off a rush. A delay by Anze Kopitar allowed him to deke out Niemi in the slot and with under 90 seconds left, the Kings took the lead.  Drew Doughty would lead all players in ice time at 17:47, was matched against San Jose’s top two lines for most of the game, and was still a plus-possession player.

Representing how even these two teams are, the unblocked shot attempts would be even at 22-22 at 5-on-5 through two periods of a Game 7.

At 15:20 of the third period, Tyler Toffoli would have a slow-developing give-and-go with Tanner Pearson. Toffoli would finish with a shot over Niemi’s shoulder to give the Kings a 3-1 lead. The Kings would really start to tighten the defense, as they allowed just two shots on goal in the first half of the third period (including another Sharks power play).

Dustin Brown would ice the series with a little over two minutes left with an empty net goal, and Tanner Pearson would add another with under a minute left. The comeback was complete for Los Angeles. The Kings, after being outscored 17-8 in their first three losses, outscored the Sharks 18-5 in their four wins.

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