Every night during the playoffs, we will wrap up all the exciting action and tell you what you need to know about the 2013-14 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Welcome to What You Need To Know.
San Jose Sharks: The game was probably a bit more even than the score would indicate. The Sharks kept finding a way to answer the Kings early on in the game and even looked the better team at times. Sub-par goaltending from Antti Niemi and some unfavorable bounces didn't help matters either. The Kings finally put the Sharks on their heels for good late in the second period. San Jose didn't quit though as they had a few late chances to make things interesting. They're still in the driver's seat, but the Kings are going to make them work to clinch this series.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings did what they had to do with their backs against the wall. Facing elimination, the Kings really seemed to hunker down and go to work against the Sharks in Game 4. Despite their first two leads evaporating, the Kings kept pouring it on and started to take control of the game late in the second period. Better goaltending from Jonathan Quick also helped. The Kings looked like the team many expected them to be in this series as one on equal footing with their San Jose counterparts. They still have a tall hill to climb, but the Kings extended the series and showed they still have some fight left.
Play of the Game: Justin Williams was in the right place at the right time, but he also made an awfully skillfull play to score the Kings' go-ahead goal in the second period. After Willie Mitchell's point shot bounced off the boards, Williams followed the puck with his eyes and got just enough of his stick on it to tap it into the net to give the Kings a 3-2 lead.
Players of the Game: Marian Gaborik did exactly what the Kings brought him in at the deadline to do, score goals. He had the game's first tally and scored a back-breaker just 34 seconds into the third period to help the Kings start making travel plans to San Jose for Game 5. Having a player provide that offensive spark in tight games like Game 4 was is a huge benefit. Justin Williams also scored twice, including the Kings' second and third goals, both of which gave him team the lead at one point. As always, Williams was a factor at both ends of the ice and provided the Kings his usual steady presence.
Turning Point: Though Justin Williams' goal gave the Sharks a 3-2 lead, it was Tyler Toffoli's goal with 59 seconds remaining in the second period that really changed the game. Both teams had gone back and forth with the Kings losing one-goal leads twice in the game. To finally get an insurance goal and to head into the locker room up 4-2 heading into the third allowed the Kings to breathe a bit. Marian Gaborik came right out of the gates and gave the Kings a three-goal lead just 34 seconds into the third to give the Sharks too tall a hill to climb. That goal also ended up being the game-winner.
GIF of the Game: We might be cheating with a still photo here, but with the game in LA, plenty of celebrities have made their way to Staples Center to take in a Kings game. There was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Wil Wheaton from The Big Bang Theory in Game 3, but one of the biggest and brightest stars of them all was there for Game 4, the one and only Larry David (OK, this may only be true for comedy nerds). One can only hope this was Mr. David's expression after the Kings finally broke the game open and he was in the middle of saying "Prettay, prettay, prettay good" (He probably didn't say that). Thanks to our pal Josh Gold-Smith for capturing the moment.
Doesn't get much better than this. pic.twitter.com/YMVkaNCW9L— Josh Gold-Smith (@GoldAndOrSmith) April 25, 2014
Colorado Avalanche: The scoreboard can be very forgiving sometimes, but let your eyes drift over to the shot count and it tells another story. The Avalanche managed just 12 shots on goal in the game. It's hard to believe that's even possible for a team with their skill level and a division title to their name. The Avs haven't been good in possession this year, but Game 4 got ridiculous in terms of what Colorado generated. Like always, it seems though, they had a chance thanks to some typical play from their goaltender.
Minnesota Wild: If Semyon Varlamov wasn't between the pipes on the other side, perhaps the Wild would have given the home crowd a nice tidy blow out. Instead, they simply dominated possession only quietly as only two of their 32 shots made it past Varlamov. The Wild controlled the game throughout with the tensest moments coming with a late penalty kill and Colorado's goalie pulled. The score was close, the game really wasn't.
Play of the Game: It came early, but Jared Spurgeon's goal 3:37 into the game set the tone it seemed. Some good work down low by Mikael Granlund and a perfect feed from Zach Parise set up Spurgeon's blistering one-timer off the post and in. That was a goal with some authority.
Player of the Game: Semyon Varlamov kept the game from getting out of hand. When a team is out-possessed as badly as the Avalanche were Thursday night, the red light should have gone on a lot more. Varlamov, as he did throughout the season, masked his team's inability to generate shots and put any amount of sustained pressure on the Wild. Varlamov finished the game with 30 saves and gave the Avalanche a chance to win the game to the very end.
Turning Point: The game started. The Wild were all over Colorado throughout the game, holding the Avs to just 12 shots the entire game. It shouldn't have been as close as it was, but that's the way hockey can be. The Wild's dominance in puck possession and shot generation kept Colorado on the defensive for much of the game.
GIF of the Game: Ryan Suter laid out Nathan MacKinnon with a good clean check at the Avalanche blue line. It got the super slow-motion treatement and @myregularface provided the GIF of it. Hockey hits, when delivered like this, look incredible when slowed down to this degree.
Boston Bruins: Despite getting absolutely outplayed through the first 20, the Bruins just kept chipping away. In the face of a two-goal deficit through the first half of the game, Boston never really flinched and was able to even the play on the ice and eventually the score. Tuukka Rask made sure the Bruins didn't have as tall a hill to climb as well. The Bs then dominated the overtime period and earned a 3-2 victory as a result.
Detroit Red Wings: The Wings came out the gates flying, outshooting the Bruins 15-5 in the opening period. They also got out to a two-goal lead, but like so many teams this postseason, lost it. Solid goaltending from Jonas Gustavsson and a forward group that kept Boston's D honest made a big difference throughout the game. The Red Wings didn't have much of an answer for Boston in overtime, however, and dropped an important Game 4.
Play of the Game: Carl Soderberg has done a lot of things well in this series, but until Thursday hadn't shown up on the score sheet. He showed up in a big way in the third period when he zoomed around Brian Lashoff and made a blind drop pass in a tight space right onto Milan Lucic's stick for the game-tying goal. That whole sequence was just fantastic from Soderberg.
Player of the Game: Though it came in a losing effort, Niklas Kronwall had a fantastic game for the Red Wings. He led all players in time on ice with 29:33, had a goal and an assist and blocked seven shots. He was borderline dominant through the first two periods and was consistently making things difficult for the Bruins the whole way, even as the tables turned in favor of the Bruins. Honorable mention for Tuukka Rask and Carl Soderberg.
Turning Point: Torey Krug's goal in the second period, which caught a deflection along the way, really got the Bruins back on track. The B's were dominated by the Red Wings in the first period and didn't get off to a great start in the second with Pavel Datsyuk giving the home team a 2-0 lead. Krug's goal calmed things down and the game really seemed to even out after he cut the deficit in half.
GIF of the Game: The game went to overtime, as you know. It probably wouldn't have if Brad Marchand hit this wide open net. Instead, he will have dreams of this GIF for the next few days. Via @myregularface: