Kings eliminate Blues, Red Wings force Game 7 with Ducks, Maple Leafs stave off elimination, Capitals push NY Rangers to the brink, the 2013 Hart Trophy finalists are announced, and more.
LOS ANGELES TIMES/STLTODAY.COM: A long shot late in the second period by Dustin Penner turned into the series-winning goal as the Los Angeles Kings downed the St. Louis Blues 2-1 to win their best-of-seven conference quarterfinal four games to two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the tightest series of the opening round, with each game decided by one goal between these two evenly-matched clubs. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Blues, blowing a 2-0 series lead.
DETROIT NEWS/LOS ANGELES TIMES: Henrik Zetterberg’s overtime goal capped a wild 4-3 win for the Detroit Red Wings over the Anaheim Ducks, sending this series back to Anaheim for the seventh and deciding game on Sunday. The Wings had 3-1 lead late in the game but the Ducks forced overtime with two quick goals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings certainly didn’t make it easy for themselves in that game, setting up what could be a thrilling final game in Anaheim.
TORONTO STAR/BOSTON GLOBE: James Reimer made 43 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Boston Bruins 2-1 to stave off elimination and force Game Six back in Toronto on Sunday. Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur were the goalscorers for the Leafs, while Zdeno Chara tallied for the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a statement game for Reimer, who stole this game for the Leafs, outplaying Boston’s Tuukka Rask for the first time in this series.
WASHINGTON POST/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Mike Ribeiro scored in overtime as the Washington Capitals nipped the NY Rangers 2-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the series with a chance to wrap things up in Game Six on Sunday in New York.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ribeiro had been quiet offensively in this series so this goal was huge for him. Adding insult to injury for the Rangers was the loss of gritty forward Ryane Clowe to an undisclosed injury in the first period.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/NEWSDAY: The Pittsburgh Penguins hope to wrap up their series with the NY Islanders as Game Six goes tonight on Long Island. The Islanders will start veteran Evgeni Nabokov, who struggled in Game Five and was pulled for the second time in the series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It only makes sense for the Isles to start Nabobov, as they really don’t have anyone else with his experience and skill in their system. As for the Penguins, Tomas Vokoun is expected to start his second straight game after backstopping the Penguins to a shutout in Game Five.
NHL.COM: Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and NY Islanders John Tavares are the finalists for the 2013 Hart Trophy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Western fans took to Twitter yesterday to accuse the voters of “eastern bias”, blithely overlooking the fact two of the last three Hart Trophy winners came from the Western Conference (Henrik Sedin in 2010, Corey Perry in 2011), while half of the last dozen winners were from the Western Conference (Sedin, Perry, Joe Thornton, Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Chris Pronger).
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is unconcerned over being passed over for the Hart Trophy this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I was surprised Toews or Patrick Kane didn’t get a nomination.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Shane Doan doesn’t regret his decision to re-sign with the Phoenix Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kinda late for regrets at this stage anyway.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson will be sidelined 4-6 months recovering from shoulder surgery.
DENVER POST: Joe Sakic was promoted yesterday to executive vice president of hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche. The move was part of a front office shakeup which saw team governor Josh Kroenke succeed Pierre Lacroix as team president. Greg Sherman remains the general manager but is no longer executive vice president.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sherman’s now on a short leash. If the club struggles again next season and fails to make the playoffs, I expect he’ll be replaced.