Rangers avoid elimination, Blackhawks and Sharks pushed to the brink, Penguins and Senators prepare for Game Five, and the latest on the Phoenix Coyotes.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/BOSTON GLOBE: Chris Kreider scored in overtime as the New York Rangers edged the Boston Bruins 4-3 to stave off elimination and force a fifth game in Boston on Saturday. Following the game, Rangers coach John Tortorella defended his benched star Brad Richards (a healthy scratch in Game Four), saying he wasn’t to blame for the club’s earlier struggles in this series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact a player earning $12 million this season is sitting in the press box for the most critical game of the Rangers season is going to attract attention and fuel considerable questions over his future, as well as criticism of Tortorella. Regardless, in this instance, Tortorella’s move seemed justified. It remains to be seen if the Rangers can rally back and do something done only three times in NHL history (overcoming a 3-game deficit in a best-of-seven series to win), but they showed a pulse in Game Four, which was lacking in the previous three games in this series.
DETROIT NEWS/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jimmy Howard made 28 saves as the Detroit Red Wings shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series to Chicago for Game Five on Saturday. The loss prompted growing criticism of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who’s been held scoreless in this series thanks to the suffocating defensive play of Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the battle of captain vs captain, the experienced Zetterberg holds a distinct advantage over Toews, neutralzing the Blackhawks captain. The Red Wings captain did the same thing quite effectively against Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, other stars (like Evgeni Malkin) stepped up, which is what the Blackhawks now need. Since Game One, Patrick Kane has two goals, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith have been held scoreless, while Patrick Sharp has one assist.
LOS ANGELES TIMES/CSNBAYAREA.COM: Jonathan Quick kicked out 24 shots and Anze Kopitar broke his scoreless drought as the LA Kings blanked the San Jose Sharks 3-0 to take a 3-2 series lead with Game Six back in San Jose on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every game in this series has been won by the home team so far. The Sharks and their fans hope that trend will continue on Saturday.
POST-GAZETTE.COM/OTTAWA SUN: The Pittsburgh Penguins can wrap up their best-of-seven series against the Ottawa Senators tonight in Game Five in Pittsburgh, leaving the Senators a tough hill to climb to avoid elimination.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators will need to play their best game of this series tonight to shut down a Penguins offense which roared to life in Game Four’s 7-3 victory.
AZCENTRAL.COM: A source reports the Phoenix Coyotes are close to re-signing general manager Don Maloney to a new contract.
SPORTSNET.CA: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman denied rumors he was speaking with media giant Quebecor about relocating the Coyotes to Quebec City, remaining hopeful of finding a buyer to keep the club in Glendale, Arizona.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good news for the Coyotes regarding their GM, which in turn could also result in progress in re-signing head coach Dave Tippett. As for the Coyotes future, that needs to be determined soon, as the 2013-14 schedule has to be completed.