Sharks on the verge of eliminating the Kings, Bruins and Rangers take the lead in their respective series, updates on the other NHL playoff clubs and more.
NOTE: Recap of Game Four of the Tampa Bay Lightning – Montreal Canadiens series can be found in “Canadian Corner”.
MERCURYNEWS.COM/LOS ANGELES TIMES: Patrick Marleau’s overtime goal lifted the San Jose Sharks to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game Three of their divisional semifinal. With the Sharks now up 3-0 in the series, the Kings are on the verge of elimination.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I confess I’m surprised by the Sharks dominance over the Kings in this series. I certainly expected a better effort from the Kings and believed goaltender Jonathan Quick gave them the edge going into this series. While the Kings did improve in Game Three, the Sharks remain the better team. I don’t see the Kings climbing out of the deep hole they’re now in. The Sharks are just too powerful.
BOSTON GLOBE/DETROIT NEWS: Patrice Bergeron had a two-point performance and Tuukka Rask turned aside 23 shots as the Boston Bruins dominated the Detroit Red Wings, shutting them out 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have done a masterful job of dictating the tempo of this series. The Wings, especially their young players, are struggling to adjust. If they don’t find an answer in Game Four, the Wings will be on the verge of elimination.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/PHILLY.COM: Martin St. Louis, Rick Nash and Dan Girardi each collected two points while Henrik Lundqvist kicked out 31 shots as the New York Rangers downed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 to take a 2-1 series lead. Flyers goalie Steve Mason (upper body) is expected to make his series debut in Game Four on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: From Jakub Voracek thumping Carl Hagelin to Dan Carcillo taunting Flyers fans after scoring the insurance goal, the nastiness I expected to see in this series certainly rose to the fore in this game. The Flyers are getting Mason back just in time, though it remains to be seen how he’ll perform coming back from his injury.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES/STLTODAY.COM: Expect the reunion of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane from Game Three which sparked the Blackhawks win over the St. Louis Blues.to continue in Game Four. The Blues, meanwhile, hope captain David Backes (concussion) can return for Game Four tonight.
DENVER POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Matt Duchene (sprained knee) is skating again but he doesn’t know when he’ll be ready to return to action. Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke will have a hearing at NHL HQ today regarding his kneeing of Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game Three, sidelining Barrie four-to-six weeks with a knee injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot of folks are calling for Cooke, a repeat offender, to be banished for the rest of the playoffs, if not longer. I expect he’ll get at least ten games.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS/LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Dallas Stars hope their matchups which resulted in a Game Three win against the Anaheim Ducks pays off in Game Four. The Ducks intend to counter the Stars “bullying tactics” with their offense.
TRIBLIVE.COM/COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin regained his confidence in his club’s Game Three victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, who face a must-win situation in Game Four to avoid falling behind 3-1 in the series.
NBC SPORTS: Patrick Marleau, Ryan O’Reilly and Martin St. Louis have been nominated for the 2014 Lady Byng trophy.
TORONTO SUN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged the league is “listening” to interest from cities like Quebec City, Seattle, Las Vegas or Kansas City in an NHL expansion team, but declined to say if the league is any closer to putting a team in any of those cities. He also speculates the salary cap for next season will be between $69-$70 million.