Stanley Cup Playoffs: What You Need To Know, April 30
Wednesday night was all about Game 7 in the NHL with three do-or-die games across the league.
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.
Kings win 5-1 | Kings win series 4-3
San Jose Sharks: It's an all-too familiar feeling for the Sharks. An early playoff disappointment, but this one may be worst of all. The Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 series lead and let it slip away. In Game 7, it was an even contest with a scoreless first period and tightly-played second period. The Sharks looked very much in it. However a soft penalty against Logan Couture led to a game-tying power-play goal for the Kings and the Sharks never had any response. Similar to Game 6, they unraveled when a questionable call went against them. In a Game 7, despite the egregious call (which will show up later), the Sharks had to do more to overcome that. The Sharks out-shot the Kings 40-30, but scored just once.
Los Angeles Kings: For only the fourth time in NHL history, a team has come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win. This accomplishment cannot be understated. It's historic. Jonathan Quick's incredible goaltending and the brilliance of Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar, who each scored goals, all contributed to the Kings adding their names to an exclusive list.
Play of the Game: Jonathan Quick's glove save on Patrick Marleau, pulling the puck from mid air and keeping it from crossing the goal line will go down as one of the most important plays of the entire postseason. With the game tied in the second period, Quick showed why he has a reputation as a big-game performer. He made 39 saves in the contest, but this will be the one that is talked about for a long, long time.
Player of the Game: There are a few worthy Kings including Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar, but the nod has to go to Quick. Making 39 saves against one of the league's most explosive teams is no small feat. The glove save was one of those "timely saves" you always hear coaches and players talking about. You can't discount his performance in the first period, however, either. He made 14 saves as the Kings were getting out shot and made sure if his team wasn't going to score, he wasn't going to let the Sharks. From start to finish, Quick had his A game.
Turning Point: With the Sharks leading in the second period and killing a penalty, San Jose forward Logan Couture was whistled for elbowing. The call was questionable at best as Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin essentially skated right into Couture's elbow while the Sharks forward was jostling for a loose puck along the wall. It was completely incidental, but it got called. The San Jose bench, especially Couture, was irate after the call and you have to wonder if it knocked them off their game at all. The Kings scored on the subsequent power play and were a different team from that point on. LA really started pouring it on after the goal.
GIF of the Game: Might as well see what the turning point looked like. Here's the GIF from @PeteBlackburn. Nice sell job from Muzzin to get the call.
Wild win 5-4 (OT) | MIN win series 4-3
Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche were living on the edge all series long and eventually it bit them. They are not a possession team but instead generate the majority of their chances on the rush but when you do it can work the other way and ultimately that's what happened as the Wild were off on a 2-on-1 rush in overtime on the eventual game-winning play. They relied on Semyon Varlamov all season but he couldn't come up with one more save in a critical moment, though not that was entirely his fault. It's going to sting but the Avalanche are still a very young team and they will learn from this and perhaps adjust the way they approach because chasing more often than not will hurt you in the end.
Minnesota Wild: It was the same story as most of the series, the Wild were the team that was generating more chances and was controlling the game for the most part but still it was tight. This time, though, the hockey gods finally shined on them with the win, again in overtime in Denver, the second time in franchise history that's happened. Their ability to keep coming back was very impressive, falling behind by a goal four times only to even it up. From most objective measures, they deserved to win this series and they did, but only after playing in the best series of the first round. As a side note, Ilya Bryzgalov picked up the win after replacing Darcy Kuemper in the third period despite facing one shot all game.
Play of the Game: Yes, the overtime winner in a Game 7 is unbeatable, but we have that in another post so we're going with the goal that got this game to overtime in the waning minutes of regulation and this time it was the Wild with the comeback. Besides, this isn't juast a token play of the game, Jared Spurgeon made a great little drag to free up his shot and then sniped it top shelf.
Player of the Game: Yea, there's pretty much one choice in this game, Nino Niederreiter. The forward had a pair of fantastic shots to beat Semyon Varlamov that included the series winner in overtime. He also had an assist and ended up with five shots on goal in only 16 minutes.
Turning Point: This game was back-and-forth the whole way, momentum was a non-existent entity. Getting the game-tying goal from Spurgeon seen above. It evened it up and then the Wild won it in OT. It was the last ebb in a game with a lot of flows.
GIF of the Game: Dany Heatley -- who scored one of the Wild's five goals -- was having a tough time breathing in the thin Colorado air, apparently. Like, really tough time. Either that or he couldn't handle how intense this game was (via @cjzero).
Rangers win 2-1 | NYR win series 4-3
New York Rangers: That was the best game of the series, only fitting for a Game 7. Really it was a tale of three periods with the first being pretty evenly played, though the Rangers did have the better chances. In the second period, though, was where the Rangers won this game and moved to 6-0 all time at home in Game 7s. They were flying through the middle of the ice and getting clean entry after clean entry and when that wasn't happening, the Rangers were forechecking hard. The result was what felt like 15 scoring chances in the second period alone. You can't love how they sat on their lead in the third with zero forecheck, content to dump and defend but when you have Henrik Lundqvist you can get away with that a little easier than most teams. Now it's on to the Penguins.
Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers gave it all they had in the third period but it wasn't quite enough and once again the Flyers will hit the postseason with questions about their defense. For once, though, the questions won't be about their goaltending as Steve Mason was simply superb but the defense in front of him was not in the second period. They were not strong on the puck and/or were careless, a couple of bad defensive plays dooming them on the two goals against. And the power play that they relied on so much was non-existent in its two appearances.
Play of the Game: We showed you the goal from Daniel Carcillo already (see it here, it's worth revisiting) but the Rangers' second and game-winning goal was just about as nice ... and very similar. Benoit Pouliot put home a pass from the corner boards that zipped through the zone from Derick Brassard.
Player of the Game: Even in defeat, it might have very well been Steve Mason because this game almost didn't deserve to be close heading into the third period with how the Rangers were peppering the net. Henrik Lundqvist was just about as spectacular in the third period, though, for the Rangers when the Flyers turned up the heat in a big way. He didn't have to make as any many saves as Mason but the Flyers nearly got made that happen and the King kept the Flyers off the board save for one. Good goaltending on both sides. And one of the most criticized players for the Rangers, Rick Nash, was once again good even if he didn't score.
Turning Point: Special teams have been a losing battle for the Rangers all series long so it's a bit ironic that it was special teams that seemed to boost them in this game. Not the power play, that was still impotent, but the Rangers had a couple of excellent penalty kills against a Flyers power play that has tormented them this series. Both penalties in the second period against the Rangers were killed and within the next 1:15 the Rangers scored. It was enough for them to hold on when the tide was turned in the third.
GIF of the Game: One Rangers fan just won himself a Lexus in an intermission game, sneaking a puck through a hole about the exact width of the puck with a shot from center ice. He was excited. Very excited (via SB Nation).
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