Patrick Kane scores with six seconds left in first period on seeing-eye slapshot

PatrickKane

Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was questionable before the first-round series between Nashville and Chicago after having missed seven weeks with a broken clavicle. Surprisingly, Kane was in the lineup when the series began and his impact has been huge.

Through five games, Kane had found the score sheet in all but Game 3. Coming into a pivotal Game 6, after Chicago has scratched back from a 3-1 deficit to make it 3-2 late in the first period, the Blackhawks were set up in the Predators’ zone with next to no time remaining in the first frame. Brad Richards won the faceoff back to Duncan Keith, who touched it along to Kane. Without hesitation, Kane leaned into a slapshot that wasted no time finding the back of the net: Read more

Decision to go with Mrazek showing Babcock’s brilliance as Detroit takes Game 5

Petr Mrazek (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

There weren’t many teams that had legitimate goaltending questions heading into the post-season. Of those that did, however, were the Red Wings, but before the first-round series between Detroit and Tampa Bay, Mike Babcock named Petr Mrazek his starter. Five games later, the choice couldn’t look much more genius.

Through the first three games of the series, Mrazek allowed six goals and had completely shut down the powerful Lightning offense in Game 3, posting a 22-save shutout in the Red Wings’ first home game of the post-season. In Game 4, for almost the entire outing, it was much of the same. However, following a few defensive breakdowns after Mrazek had shut the door for nearly the entirety of the contest, Tampa Bay found the back of the net three times in quick succession and shockingly stole an overtime win.

In Game 5, though, the 23-year-old Czech netminder posted a 28-save clean sheet, his second in five games, and almost single-handedly pushed the Red Wings to a 3-2 series lead. Read more

Red Wings’ Riley Sheahan tees off on one-timer, scores game-winning goal late in first period

Riley Sheahan (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

There will eventually be a season in Detroit where there isn’t a new, young, fresh-faced forward scoring goals when the Detroit Red Wings need it most. Unfortunately for the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2014-15 isn’t going to be that season.

Late in the first period of Game 5, with the first-round series between Detroit and Tampa Bay tied 2-2, 23-year-old Riley Sheahan set up on his off-wing on the power play. And, from the spot where big time snipers like Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos usually set up to uncork one-timers with the man advantage, Sheahan received a perfect pass in his wheelhouse from Niklas Kronwall and blasted it home. Blink and you’ll miss it: Read more

Islanders refuse to quit, force Game 7 with near perfect effort in Game 6

Cal Clutterbuck is congratulated after his empty net goal. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If Saturday afternoon’s contest between Washington and New York does go down as the final NHL game played at Nassau Coliseum, the hometown fans were treated to an incredible effort from their Islanders. And in the tradition of the once-dynastic Islanders, the game was fast, physical and ended with New York coming out on top.

Down 3-2 in a series that has been as aggressive and as heated as any in these playoffs, the Islanders came out and played the kind of game they needed to against the Capitals. Aside from a few small lapses, broken defensive plays and instances of undisciplined behavior, there weren’t many moments in Saturday’s tilt where it didn’t somehow feel as though Game 6 was going to fall in favor of the Islanders. Read more

Watch Ovechkin crush Tavares from behind, Kulemin score as play continues

Nikolay Kulemin (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Entering the third period of what could very well be the final game at Nassau Coliseum, the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals were tied 1-1. Through the first 10 minutes of the final frame, the two squads traded chances, but it wasn’t until after a massive, questionable hit by Alex Ovechkin that the Islanders grabbed the lead.

Just after the midway mark of the third, with John Tavares chasing the puck into the Washington zone and dealing with back pressure from Karl Alzner, Ovechkin finished a check on Tavares that left the Isles’ captain laying on the ice. Following the violent hit, however, the puck found its way to New York blueliner Nick Leddy who made an outstanding pass to Nikolay Kulemin who patiently waited out Braden Holtby to bury what stood as the game-winning goal: Read more

The Rangers are rich and entitled; the Islanders are lucky and shameless

New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In our Playoff Preview edition, we asked one blogger following the Rangers and one following the Islanders to have some fun at each other’s expense. To our delight, they didn’t play nice.

By Dominik Jansky of Lighthouse Hockey:
To say Rangers fans were born on third base thinking they hit a triple would be an insult to nepotism: their blue-blooded forefathers have hit one triple since 1940, and even that exhausting trip required a bunch of uncles from Edmonton to do the pinch running. Yet like an embarrassing, fumbling son whose rich father pretends he doesn’t exist, Rangers fans boldly stagger around town with hollow bluster, as if their club has contributed anything to hockey over the past 75 years beyond bloated payrolls, retirement packages for fading stars, and miraculous job security for Glen Sather.

The Rangers are New York’s media darlings – if being the seventh-most-popular team in one’s home is “darling”-worthy – purely by virtue of geographic convenience. That all changes when their rivals bring their own superior, impressive history to Brooklyn, and media don’t have to trudge out to Nassau to get quotes from New York’s best player, John Tavares.

For now, Isles fans can enjoy one last hurrah in a raucous Nassau Coliseum – birthplace of the only dynasty New York will ever see, and home of the majority of New York’s Stanley Cups since the Great Depression. Rangers fans must be content to tell themselves the new sky bridge at the sterile Madison Square Garden, the “World’s Most Self-Congratulatory Arena,” is somehow worth the $1,000 tickets, the gutting of the 300s section and the loss of their soul.

At least they’ll always have Matteau…if he can still afford to get in the building.

By Mike Murphy of Blueshirt Banter:
The Islanders are giving their fans a nice treat by making the club’s last season at the Coliseum an Irish wake instead of the cataclysmic, all-consuming funeral pyre that would’ve been far more appropriate. Next season, the steadfast crew behind the Gorton’s Fisherman will leave the NHL’s second smallest arena for the new second smallest arena, in Brooklyn…where exactly zero percent of the locals admit to being a part of Long Island.

When Isles fans aren’t standing like meerkats trying to see the action in a building that in no way was designed to host hockey games, they’ll continue to make the hatred of the Rangers a load-bearing part of their identity and express a shameless pride when they manage to be louder than visiting Blueshirts fans in their own arena.

The Islanders will appear in the playoffs for the third time since the 2004-05 lockout, which will mercifully give their fans something to do other than call for the heads of their coach, GM and owner. Luckily for them, the team managed to add a top ‘D’ pair on clearance sale before the season and trade for a goalie who didn’t refuse to report to the club!

Things sure are looking up for the Empire State’s other team (even Buffalo knows that Buffalo doesn’t count), which goes to show you that if you fail long and badly enough and somehow avoid being exiled to Kansas City, you might just survive to draft a Tavares and put yourself in a position to advance past the first round for the first time in 22 years. What an inspiration.

This is feature appears in the Playoff Preview 2015 edition of The Hockey News magazine. Get fun features like this one, and much more, by subscribing now.

Blues on the brink of elimination after running into Devan Dubnyk, resilient Wild in Game 5

Adam Proteau
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk stops Alexander Steen of the Blues in Game Five of their first-round series Friday. (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues played a statement game of sorts Wednesday in Game 4 of their first-round series against Minnesota, stomping the Wild 6-1 to pull even at two games apiece. But that dynamic performance was only going to resonate in the minds of their fans if they followed it up with a series victory. And after the Wild answered back in Friday’s Game 5 with a 4-1 win to put the Blues on the brink of elimination, the likelihood of people remembering that Game 4 win is not strong.

For the third time this series, the Blues had no real answer for Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who stopped 36 of 37 St. Louis shots after he registered a rare sub-par performance Wednesday. Young star Vladimir Tarasenko beat Dubnyk for the game’s first goal eight minutes into the first period, but after that, there was nothing from any Blues player. They had some tantalizing chances – including Alex Steen’s second-period opportunity directly in front of Dubnyk – and came strongly out of the gate, but goalie Jake Allen surrendered a softie three minutes after Tarasenko scored and all their momentum evaporated, never to return. And although their strong possession meant Allen only faced 19 shots on the night, he allowed four goals for a gruesome .789 save percentage.

This consistent inconsistency is going to be the end of the Blues, and probably, of head coach Ken Hitchcock’s tenure in St. Louis. Read more

Wild’s Devan Dubnyk battles on his stomach to stop Blues’ Alex Steen at point-blank range

Blues winger Alexander Steen prepares to shoot against Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk in Game Five of their first-round series Friday. (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk is a big-bodied presence between the pipes, and in Game 5 of the Wild’s first-round series against St. Louis Friday, he used his athleticism and frame to keep Blues winger Alex Steen from scoring at point-blank range.

The teams were tied at a goal apiece nearing the 12-minute mark of the second period when Steen got a slick pass from captain David Backes that left him alone with the puck directly in front of Dubnyk, who was already sprawled-out on the ice and on his stomach. Steen couldn’t beat him, though, as Dubnyk got a pad on the puck to keep the score 1-1: Read more