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NHL Game Updates:
Toronto Maple Leafs @ New York Islanders, Auston Matthews scores with less than four minutes left to break a tie game. The Maple Leafs, who clinched a playoff spot, won 5-4.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ New York Rangers, The Lightning score five straight goals to win 7-3 over the Rangers. This was a homecoming of sorts for Lightning players Ryan MDonagh, Dan Giardi, and J.T. Miller, but it Cederic Paquette and Brayden Point who each had two goals in the winning effort.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Washington Capitals, The Capitals are in the playoffs, but they lose a big game against the Hurricanes. While this had little playoff implications for Carolina, the Caps could had added to their Metro Division lead.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Colorado Avalanche, Not as good of a night for the Blackhawks as Thursday night (where emergency goalie Scott Foster came in and stole the show). Colorado continues their playoff push with a 5-0 victory. Bad news: Semyon Varlamov gets hurt with just a few minutes remaining.
St. Louis Blues @ Vegas Golden Knights, Vegas inched closer to a Pacific Division crown in this one, winning 4-3 in overtime. A loss by the San Jose Sharks tomorrow and the Golden Knights clinch their first ever division title. They did it again on the strength of William Karlsson (41st goal) and Jonathan Marchessault (2 goals, 75th point).
Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks:
The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have been fighting for the third spot in the Pacific Division all season. Tonight's match-up features two teams from southern California facing off in what might decide which team takes on the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs.
John Gibson made the start for the Ducks. He has had a real strong season for Anaheim when healthy. Gibson sits 8th in the NHL among goalies who have played more than 20 games this season with a .926 save percentage. The Ducks, who at times struggle to score, will look to lean on their talented goalie to make the playoffs and hopefully make a deep run.
The Ducks goalie was superb in this one, as the Ducks won to maintain their playoff spot. Gibson stopped 28 of 29 shots. The lone goal against was on a first period shot by Drew Doughty. Doughty gets the puck at the point, and is able to skate in to the faceoff circle and fire a puck that John Gibson never sees thanks to a huge screen in front.
The Kings, who occupy the third spot in the Pacific Division, also rely on their goalie for their success. Jonathan Quick was equally as good in this game for the Kings. Quick made 31 saves, including several strong scoring chances when the Kings turned the puck over.
The biggest save of the game by Quick was a sprawling save off Jakob Silfverberg in the second period. Quick makes an initial save off a Ducks' shot, and the puck find Silfverberg all alone just a few feet outside of the Kings' crease. Quick slides over and gets his catching glove on the puck to thwart the Ducks scoring chance.
The Ducks were able to tie the game in the second period, when Nick Ritchie is able to put home a rebound. Francois Beauchemin takes a shot from the point. Quick makes a good save, but leaves a rebound in front that finds Ritchie, who out muscles a couple of Kings players to tap the puck into the Kings' net.
The whole play starts with a great effort by Ondrej Kase. Kase, a second year forward for the Ducks, is strong on the puck below the goal line against several Kings defenders and gets the puck safely to his teammate Beauchemin at the point. Kase really impressed me with his speed and strength on the puck this season, and I think his role on the Ducks will only increase moving forward.
Neither team would find the net in the third period, so we head to overtime. Both teams would pick up a point by heading to overtime, but it would be the Anaheim Ducks who would pick up the extra point. Rickard Rakell darts into the zone and lasers a puck past Quick to win the game.
I'm excited to see both of these teams in the playoffs. Both are fast and physical, and have lots of playoff experience. Either team could make a deep run in this year's playoffs.
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