Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/18/14 at 11:08 AM ET
REMATCH: BLACKHAWKS, KINGS OPEN WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks face the Kings, the 2012 titleholders, in a rematch of last year's Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks won in five games in 2013; in the fifth and deciding contest, Mike Richards scored the tying goal with 9.4 seconds remaining in regulation before Patrick Kane completed his hat trick with the series-clinching marker at 11:40 of double-overtime.
Other Series Notes:
* This marks the first time a Conference Final series has featured the same opponents in consecutive years since 1999 and 2000, when the Stars twice defeated the Avalanche in the Western Conference Final.
* The Blackhawks swept the three-game, regular-season series between these teams in 2013-14, outscoring the Kings 9-4.
* This series pits the NHL’s second-highest scoring offense during the regular season (CHI: 261) against the League’s stingiest defense (LA: 174).
* This marks the ninth time in the past 11 seasons a California-based team has advanced to the Western Conference Final (and third consecutive trip for the Kings, a franchise first). The Kings are the first team to make three consecutive trips to the Conference Finals since the Red Wings from 2007-09.
* The Blackhawks are playing in the Western Conference Final for the fourth time in the past six seasons. They advanced in 2010 (vs. SJ) and 2013 (vs. LA) en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but lost in 2009 (vs. DET).
* Jonathan Toews (4) and Patrick Kane (3) and have combined for seven of Chicago's eight game-winning goals in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The other Blackhawks player to score one: Brandon Saad in Game 2 of the Second Round vs. MIN.
* Anze Kopitar has registered at least one point in 13 of the Kings’ 14 postseason games, leading the NHL in assists (14) and points (15). He also has found the scoresheet in 16 of his past 17 outings dating to the regular season, totaling 9-15—24 in that span.
* The trade deadline acquisition of Marian Gaborik kick-started a Kings offense that had struggled to score goals in 2013-14. After being blanked six times in 63 games prior to his arrival, the Kings were not shut out once in their final 19 regular-season contests with Gaborik in the lineup. He finished the season with 12 points in his last 10 games (3-9—12) and now has 31 points in 33 regular-season and playoff contests with the team (14-17—31), including a League-leading nine goals in the postseason.
RANGERS OFFENSE EXPLODES IN GAME 1 WIN
Ryan McDonagh was one of seven Rangers with multiple points, pacing the club with 1-3--4, as New York won 7-2 in Montreal in their first playoff meeting since the 1996 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. McDonagh, who was selected 12th overall by Montreal in the 2007 NHL Draft but never played with the team, matched a Rangers franchise record for points by a defenseman in a playoff game, tying Brian Leetch (1-3--4 twice - Jun. 7, 1994 vs. VAN and May 9, 1994 vs. WSH), Brad Park (2-2--4 - May 4, 1972 vs. BOS) and Dave Maloney (0-4--4 - Apr. 9, 1983 vs. PHI).
* McDonagh's three assists and four points are both playoff career-highs. He is the second defenseman to post at least four points in a game this postseason, joining Chicago’s Duncan Keith who also posted 1-3--4 in Game 6 of the Blackhawks' First Round series against St. Louis on Apr. 27.
* The Rangers scored at least seven goals versus Montreal for the first time in their playoff history, topping the previous high of six, first established on Apr. 9, 1972 with a 6-4 win in Game 4 of the Quarterfinals at Montreal and again on Apr. 14, 1974 in Game 4 of the Quarterfinals in New York. The last time the Rangers scored at least seven goals against Montreal in a regular-season game was Jan. 3, 1996 (7-4 win).
* New York scored seven goals in a playoff game for the first time since a 7-0 victory over Atlanta in Game 3 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The last time the Rangers tallied at least seven goals in a playoff game away from Madison Square Garden was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on May 8, 1995 at Quebec (8-3 victory).
* The five-goal margin of victory was the Rangers’ largest against the Canadiens in the postseason (previously three goals).
* The nine goals scored in Game 1 were five more than the combined total from the three regular-season meetings between the clubs (MTL 3, NYR 1).
* The Rangers scored two goals in less than two minutes three separate times in Game 1: Martin St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello, 1:52 span in first; Chris Kreider and Brad Richards, 0:49 span in second; Derek Stepan and Rick Nash, 0:25 span in third. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the first time the Rangers have scored two goals in a two-minute span three different times in a playoff game.
* Martin St. Louis (1-1--2) now has 2-2--4 on his current three-game point streak and has 4-6--10 in 15 games in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He posted 1-7--8 in 19 regular-season games after joining the Rangers at the trade deadline. St. Louis now has 1-7--8 in five career postseason games versus Montreal and 19-29--48 in 54 total games against the Canadiens (regular-season and playoffs).
* Dominic Moore assisted on both first period goals for his second multi-point game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs (1-1--2 in Game 5 vs. PHI). Moore was a member of the Canadiens when the club last played in the Eastern Conference Final, posting 4-1--5 with Montreal in the 2010 playoffs.
* Henrik Lundqvist entered Game 1 with a 3.87 goals-against average and .876 save percentage in 12 career games at the Bell Centre (4-5-2), but made 20 saves for his first victory in the building since Mar. 17, 2009 (0-3-1 since). He ranks first in the NHL with nine wins and is second with a 1.99 goals-against average (tie) and .929 save percentage.
* Rick Nash scored his first goal since Apr. 10 to snap a 15-game goalless drought (regular-season and playoffs) and a 17-game skid in the playoffs. He finished with 1-1--2 and now has 1-6--7 this postseason.
New York has won four straight playoff games for the first time since their sweep of Atlanta in the first round of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs . . . The Rangers have now won two Game 1s on the road in the same postseason (also vs. PIT in Second Round) for the first time since 1986 (Patrick Division Semifinals vs. PHI and Patrick Division Finals vs. WSH) . . . Dan Girardi played his 79th career playoff game, all with the Rangers, tying Rod Gilbert for fifth on franchise’s all-time postseason games played list . . . The Rangers improved to 8-2 when scoring the first goal in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Teams that score first are now 27-1 (.964) since the start of the Second Round . . . The Rangers and Canadiens are meeting in the postseason for the 15th time, the most New York has ever faced an opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs . . . Rene Bourque scored his fifth goal of the playoffs (12 GP). He had 9-7--16 in 63 regular-season games in 2013-14 . . . Lars Eller had 1-1--2 and now has 5-6--11 in 12 games this postseason.
SNEAK PEEK AT SUNDAY'S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Los Angeles @ Chicago, Game 1, 3:00 p.m., NBC, TSN, RDS
Thanks to the NHL PR department for the above information
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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