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 NHL playoffs. Welcome to What You Need To Know.
Kings win 4-1| Series tied 3-3 | Game 7 Wed.
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks were getting great goaltending from first-time postseason starter Alex Stalock and were hanging with the relentless Kings for much of the game. Even after going down 1-0 early in the game, the Sharks seemed pretty controlled. When they evened the score, it looked like anyone's game. The controversial goal Justin Williams scored in the third period, which will keep popping up, changed the game and deflated the Sharks. They needed a better response after that, though. Instead, the Kings rolled and the Sharks' 3-0 lead seems like a distant memory.
Los Angeles Kings: Sure, there was a little luck on Williams' goal that gave the Kings a 2-1 lead in the third, but LA got some great goaltending out of Jonathan Quick and ridiculous penalty killing as well. They put their foot on the gas in the third, too, and scored three quick ones to leave no doubt. Coming down from 3-0 is tough to do, but the Kings showed why they have a Stanley Cup in their recent past. With or without a controversial call, the Kings earned their chance to win the series in a Game 7.
Play of the Game: I'll get to the Williams goal once more, but the Kings followed that up with two incredibly pretty goals off the stick of Anze Kopitar. The first was particularly great. Kopitar started the rush up ice by blocking a shot and getting the puck up to Williams. Dwight King then carried it into the zone and gave it back to Williams who tipped a shot on net. Kopitar was there to clean up the rebound and make it 3-1, sticking a fork in the Sharks. It all happened so fast, you almost have to marvel at its precision and then the finish from Kopitar was just terrific in stride.
Players of the Game: Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar. Both finished with three points including two goals apiece. Williams obviously scored the game-winner and continued his incredible playoff prowess. Kopitar, meanwhile, did everything for the Kings. He was particularly great on a few big penalty kills in the third period and then notched the two insurance goals that iced the game for the Kings. Honorable mention has to go to Jonathan Quick, who has really looked solid of late and made 24 saves Monday night.
Turning Point: Well, this was pretty obvious. Everything was going along pretty evenly in the third period before Williams' go-ahead goal (which has its own post here). There are two potential faults on this play. The first is whether or not referee Chris Lee should have blown the whistle to kill the play after the puck appeared to be under Alex Stalock's pads. The second is whether or not there should have been goaltender interference. A player is not allowed to push the goaltender with his stick in hopes of pushing the puck across the line. It looks like Williams may have gotten away with that, too. The wording on those loose puck rules seem to leave a little open to interpretation, so it's borderline at that point.
GIF of the Game: This is what it looks like when you realize a 3-0 series lead and Game 6 is about to slip through your fingers. There are many faces made in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but this one is rather unsettling. GIF via @myregularface:
Wild win 5-2 | Series Tied 3-3| Game 7 Wed.
Colorado Avalanche: This game, like so many in this series, and the Avs' play, like so often in this series, ebbed and flowed. Matt Duchene's return to the lineup definitely helped the Avs, particularly when down 2-0 in the first period. They mounted the comeback with a huge shorthanded goal from Paul Stastny and a dominant second period in which Colorado outshot Minnesota 14-6. The Avs didn't put together a complete game, though. They failed to respond when the Wild raised their level of play in the third period and now it's a one-game series.
Minnesota Wild: Despite a rather poor second period, the Wild minimized the damage. Their big-time players showed up in a big way, with Zach Parise leading the charge. Heading into the third period tied with everything on the line, the Wild were by far the better team, applying the pressure throughout and controlling the latter half of the period with their lives on the line. Allowing just three shots on goal in the final period of a potential elimination game is pretty incredible. The Wild definitely earned this Game 7 trip.
Play of the Game: Zach Parise's game-winning goal late in the third period couldn't have been bigger. The Wild and Avalanche were pretty even through much of the period to that point, but this goal broke it open. Some excellent work by Mikko Koivu in pursuit of the puck and a key keep under pressure at the blue line by Ryan Suter all helped make this goal happen. Parise meanwhile went to the area he seems best, right in front. He got his second tip-in goal of the night and helped send the Wild to Game 7.
Player of the Game: Zach Parise. He had to be his team's best player and he was. Two goals from right in front of the net, where Parise goes fearlessly despite his smaller stature compared to so many in the league, were huge for his team. He added two assists for good measure. Parise, as a hometown guy with the contract he is under, has mounds of pressure on his shoulders. With his team in desperation mode, Parise brought his best. If he can keep this up in Game 7, the Wild have a real chance to be the first road team to win in this series.
Turning Point: Nick Holden's game-tying goal in which the Avs put on a passing clinic ramped the game up in a big way. The Wild were flat at that point in the second period, but started to wake up after watching their 2-0 lead evaporate. They had the response they needed in the third period, allowing just three shots on goal. Sometimes swallowing a tough pill like losing another lead can harden a team. It seemed to do that for the Wild and they made sure they didn't let the game slip away from them.
GIF of the Game: Sometimes a still is better than a moving picture. Patrick Roy has had some great success pulling his goaltender early. Monday night was not one of those occasions. Here's a perfectly timed grab of his reaction after Jason Pominville gave the Wild a two-goal advantage late in the game.
Penguins win 4-3 | PIT wins series 4-2
Pittsburgh Penguins: From the drop of the puck they were better than the Blue Jackets in just about every facet of the game. The star players all showed up in a big way, perhaps none bigger than Evgeni Malkin. Then the third period happened and the Penguins almost gave this one away. Had they not dominated the first half of the game as they did, we'd be talking about a spectacular choke job. There's a lot to clean up before the next round.
Columbus Blue Jackets: A bad start did in the Blue Jackets in a game where they absolutely couldn't have afforded it. A dominant first period from the Penguins put the Blue Jackets in an early hole. They showed their fight in the third, however. Against all odds, the Blue Jackets hunkered down and did their level best to mount a seemingly impossible comeback. They came close with three goals in a five-minute span got them within one. The hole was just one goal too big to overcome. Either way, Jackets fans have a lot to look forward to after such a remarkable show of heart from this team. They'll be back.
Play of the Game: Brandon Sutter's goal just 34 seconds into the second period was as good as a dagger (or so it seemed at the time). Sutter first got in the way of James Wisniewski's attempt to get the puck deep and sprung himself on a breakaway. It wasn't the flashiest move, but Sutter made sure Sergei Bobrovsky was beaten before he flipped the puck into the top corner to make it 3-0. Sutter got hurt later in the period and he was sorely missed.
Player of the Game: This could go to a lot of players, but Evgeni Malkin getting off the schneid with a hat trick is a pretty big way to clinch the series. The Pens' stars in general were really good in this game. Early in the game, the puck seemed to find Malkin and he was making it count when he had a good look. Having him going offensively makes the Penguins a much more dangerous team and that was proven in Game 6.
Turning Point: The Blue Jackets flipped a switch it seemed in the third period. They came out flying after the 10-minute mark and got three quick goals that staggered the Penguins. They had a chance, but just ran out of time.
GIF of the Game: It was this kind of night for Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins. That is also the look of a relieved hockey player after breaking his scoring slump in the series with a hat trick. GIF vis @myregularface: