Ducks show no exhaustion after triple-OT Game 2, squeeze Hawks 2-1 & reclaim series lead

Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen grabs the puck as teammate Francois Beauchemin and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews collide in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final Thursday in Chicago. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Ducks and Blackhawks played nearly two full hockey games Tuesday in “Game” 2 of their Eastern Conference Final, and many expected there might be a physical letdown when they squared off again Thursday in Chicago. But after losing home ice advantage in that triple-overtime 3-2 loss to the Hawks, Anaheim got it right back by locking down the opposition’s offense in a 2-1 Game 3 victory that marked Chicago’s first home defeat of the 2015 post-season.

The Blackhawks weren’t awful – they were the stronger possession team and outshot Anaheim 28-27 on the night – but other than one-man gang/star winger Patrick Kane (who scored their only goal in Game 3), they couldn’t solve Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. The 25-year-old posted a .964 save percentage Thursday and improved his playoff goals-against average in 12 games this year to a sparkling 1.75 and his SP to .935, and is quietly making a very good case as a candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the post-season’s most valuable player.

Andersen’s resolve in net meant the Ducks’ offense didn’t have to get much past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford to win the game, and other than Patrick Maroon’s goal that opened the scoring at 12:55 of the first period and Simon Despres’ game-winner and first career playoff goal with 55 seconds left in the second frame, they didn’t. But they did block more shots than the Hawks by a 3:1 ratio (a total of 27 to Chicago’s 9) and their special teams were sharp: although they were undisciplined, their penalty kill successfully defended against all five Blackhawks power plays, and they capitalized on their only man advantage of Game 3 when Maroon scored.

In other words, it wasn’t perfect, but after the Ducks believed they deserved to win that three-overtime game, they probably believe they had a little good fortune coming. Read more

Pro wrestler-turned-UFC fighter CM Punk isn’t shy to show his true colors – Blackhawks’ red

UFC star, former pro wrestler and diehard Hawks fan CM Punk reacts after shooting the puck between periods of an NHL game between his favorite team and the L.A. Kings March 30 in Chicago. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

You’ve got to understand this about Phil Brooks, professionally known as CM Punk: he was never handed anything as a blue-collar kid coming out of Chicago, as a student, as a pro wrestler who rose to the pinnacle of the industry or in his current line of work as a nascent mixed martial arts fighter. Punk, 36, has had to grind and scrape for everything he’s earned, and he’s plied his trade (often injured) in hockey arenas across North America and around the world.

No wonder Punk has a love for the NHL, and no wonder he’s come to be acquaintances with many NHL players. There’s a camaraderie at play here, an understanding of serious and constant physical sacrifice and a respect for performing through pain that both parties endure on the regular. “A lot of the physicality is the same, and I was always drawn to hockey because of that physicality,” Punk said. “There’s definitely similarities between what I did, what I’m currently doing, and what hockey players do. And there’s an appreciation there that goes both ways.” Read more

Patrick Kane’s no-look backhand goal will blow (a) your socks off & (b) your mind

Hawks winger Patrick Kane celebrates with teammates Brad Richards and Duncan Keith after his first-period goal against Anaheim in Game Three of the Western Conference Final Thursday. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the first two games of the Western Conference Final between his Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks, superstar right winger Patrick Kane did not have a point. If you know him, that’s kind of unlike him. So he was probably due for a spectacular goal or setup of one – and sure enough, in Game 3 Thursday, Kane added to his already-impressive playoff scoring total with a no-look, backhanded goal most of us couldn’t perform on a video game.

The host Hawks were trailing Anaheim 1-0 late in the first period at United Center when Kane picked up the puck between the faceoff dots and directly in front of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen; in one fluid motion, he took the puck on his backhand, and, without glancing toward the net, perfectly fired it between Andersen’s right arm and hip for his eighth goal of this post-season: Read more

Perry on Milbury comments: “It’s not something that’s been taken lightly”

Jared Clinton
Corey Perry (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry isn’t happy with comments made by NBC Sports Network’s Mike Milbury during the Wednesday night broadcast of Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

During an intermission, Milbury, teeing up Thursday’s Game 3 between Anaheim and the Chicago Blackhawks, said that if he were playing against Perry, Milbury would, “probably want to hurt him in some painful and permanent way.”

Ahead of Thursday’s game in Chicago, Perry was asked about the comments and told reporters that he wasn’t the least bit pleased with what was said. Read more

Capitals’ playoff run, beards raised more than $33,000 for American Special Hockey Association

Jared Clinton
Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby were two players who helped the Capitals Beard-A-Thon. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As has become post-season tradition across the NHL, the Washington Capitals grew playoff beards as part of their run to the Stanley Cup. And while Washington’s post-season trip ended in the second round, the beards helped the team raise more than $33,700 for the American Special Hockey Association.

As part of what was called the Capitals Beard-A-Thon, and through a process similar to the popular Movember campaign, fans were requested to grow beards along with the team, while others could donate money to those growing facial hair for the playoffs or to the Capitals players themselves. All the proceeds were then donated to the ASHA. Read more

Los Angeles Kings named 2015 Sports Team of the Year

Jared Clinton
Los Angeles Kings celebrating their 2014 Stanley Cup championship. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

They’re not playing for the Stanley Cup this season, but the Los Angeles Kings have been named the 2015 Sports Team of the Year at the eighth annual Sports Business Awards.

The Kings, who won their second Stanley Cup in the past three seasons in 2014, won the Sports Team of the Year award for the first time in franchise history and beat out the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy, NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and IndyCar and NASCAR’s Team Penske. Read more

Leafs get their guy in Mike Babcock; now he needs his guys on the ice

Ryan Kennedy
Mike Babcock (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

When elite hockey writers began scanning flight plan websites, you knew this was going to be a different kind of circus. And when it was finally confirmed that the Toronto Maple Leafs had hired Mike Babcock as their new head coach, the corresponding media bomb went off. Less than 24 hours later, the former Detroit Red Wings bench boss has his first press conference out of the way and the table has been set…somewhat.

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Julien coach of Bruins “as of today,” says GM Sweeney

Jared Clinton
Claude Julien (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

There has been much speculation about the status of Bruins coach Claude Julien’s position with the team and new Boston GM Don Sweeney did little to put those questions to rest during his introductory press conference Wednesday.

Sweeney, who was named the eighth GM in Bruins history early Wednesday, met with media to discuss his vision for the club, what he likes about the squad and what will need changing when he was asked about Julien. His response was one that was more wait-and-see than he’s-our-guy.

“He’s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today, for sure,” Sweeney said. Read more