Penguins eliminate the Blue Jackets, Kings and Wild force Game Seven in their respective series, Flyers and Rangers prepare for crucial Game Six tonight, and more.
TRIBLIVE.COM/COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Evgeni Malkin tallied a hat trick as the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 4-0 lead, then hung on for a 4-3 victory in Game Six to defeat the plucky Columbus Blue Jackets, eliminating them in six games. The Penguins now await the winner of the New York Rangers-Philadelphia Flyers series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give the Blue Jackets credit, they weren’t intimidated by the Penguins powerful offense and never quit no matter how far behind in a game. They threw a scare into the favored Penguins and have a bright future ahead of them. The Penguins, meanwhile, must improve their defensive play and work ethic if they’re going to go deep in this year’s playoffs. As with the Islanders last season, the Blue Jackets exposed Pittsburgh’s weaknesses.
LOS ANGELES TIMES/SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: A three-goal third period outburst by the LA Kings, sparked by a controversial goal by Justin Williams, lifted them to a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, tying their best-of-seven series at three games apiece, forcing a seventh and deciding game in San Jose on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks felt they were cheated on the Williams goal, believing goalie Alex Stalock had covered the puck and the play was dead. Regardless, the Sharks must now prevent the Kings from becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to rally back from an 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
TWINCITIES.COM/DENVER POST: After the Minnesota Wild blew a 2-0 lead, Zach Parise restored their lead as his game-winning goal sparked them to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, tying their best-of-seven series and forcing a seventh game in Denver on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series has been a real see-saw affair. Should be an exciting finish on Wednesday.
PHILLY.COM/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Flyers coach Craig Berube continues to tinker with his roster in hopes of finding a winning combination, while the Rangers battle history as they hope to avoid losing a twelfth straight time when leading in a series. A win for the Rangers tonight will close out the series.
DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will miss the upcoming World Championships as he intends to continue rehabbing his back.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes have made it official: Jim Rutherford has stepped down as general manager and replaced by Ron Francis.
NHL.COM: Boston’s Zdeno Chara, Chicago’s Duncan Keith and Nashville’s Shea Weber are your finalists for the 2014 Norris Trophy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that Minnesota’s Ryan Suter didn’t make the cut this time.