NHL podcast with Daniel Dullum: Islanders return to Uniondale next season; Thornton was hoping to be traded from Sharks; plus more

photo from masslive.com: Boston Bruins center Sean Kuraly (52) skates the puck behind the New York Islanders net against defenseman Scott Mayfield (24) during the first period an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Uniondale, NY.

NHL podcast with Daniel Dullum:

1 Islanders return full-time to Nassau Coliseum for next season

2 Sharks’ Thornton said he was disappointed that no trade happened at the deadline

3 Rangers’ Chris Kreider signs extension, breaks ankle

4 YouTube TV reaches agreement on temporary extension with Sinclair, Fox regional sports networks; Ticket companies back removal of hidden fees

5 Blues’ D Jay Bouwmeester to sit out remainder of the season

6 CBS News correspondent not impressed with Zamboni driver’s feat

Daniel Dullum hosts the NHL podcast each Sunday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Better Effort Not Enough As Sharks Lose 3-1 to Rangers

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE– The New York Rangers defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Saturday. New York goals were scored by Martin St. Louis and Chris Kreider in the first period, and Rick Nash in the third. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 30 of 31 shots for the win. The win completed a sweep of the California NHL teams, as the Rangers beat the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings in back to back games earlier this week.

Joe Thornton returned to the Sharks lineup Saturday in time to face his old teammate Dan Boyle.It was Boyle’s first time playing against the Sharks as a Ranger, since he was out with an injury when the teams first met this season. In Saturday’s game, Boyle had one shot on goal for the Rangers, one hit and one blocked shot in 18:58 of playing time.

Thornton talked about the Sharks loss afterwards: “It was a competitive game, it really was. It felt like we got our chances, they got their chances but our compete level was high, it was a good hockey game.”

If that sounds maddeningly sensible and insufficiently agitated for someone who just lost 3-1 at home, it isn’t. To my eye, the Sharks showed more poise, better effort and energy than they have in a couple of games. All they seemed to lack is confidence. Despite winning two of their last four games, they have had some truly stunning losses. Games like that take time to recover from.

Joe Thornton thought that the way the Sharks played Saturday was a good sign, and Todd McLellan said much the same thing:

The moral victory is the commitment level and the effort went way up. I twas evident. I thought that if we apply ourselves that way most nights, we’ll give ourselves at least an opportunity to win.

Melker Karlsson scored the Sharks’ only goal, extending his scoring streak to five games. It was a little more memorable for the Swedish rookie because he had to beat Henrik Lundqvist to score that goal: “It’s huge. I mean, he’s a big player in Sweden and I was looking forward to this game. And I scored today so it’s, yeah it’s unreal.”

Make no mistake, Karlsson had his priorities in order about the loss. Asked if scoring against Lundqvist took the sting out of losing, he answered: “I don’t know, I want to win. It sucks to lose. So…”

The Rangers took the lead after the ten minute mark had passed, after being outplayed in most regards by the Sharks. Martin St Louis scored off the faceoff, it was his team’s second shot of the game. Assists went to Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan.

Chris Kreider took an interference penalty at 11:34 of the period. The Sharks’ power play was effective at setting up chances but unable to finish them.

With just under five minutes left in the period, Chris Kreider extended the Rangers’ lead, again right off the faceoff.  The Rangers’ push back was in full swing. Assists went to Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan.

Despite dominating in the faceoff circle (winning 74%) and earning good chances in the offensive zone, the Sharks’ finished the period down by two goals and just one shot ahead of the Rangers.

The second period was going very like the first one, with the Sharks starting well and the Rangers coming back late. The big difference was that the Sharks had given up no more goals. With 3:29 left in the period, Matt Tennyson was called for high-sticking and received a four minute penalty. Almost a minute into that, the Sharks drew a penalty to even things out. Martin St Louis went to the box for interference against Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

With no scoring in the second, the teams finished the second period even in shots on goal. The Sharks penalty kill had not given up any shots to the Rangers’ power play so far.

The Sharks completed the penalty kill to start the third period, but the Rangers did not go away. At 4:24 of the third, a Mats Zuccarello shot ended up in Niemi’s glove but the shot was reviewed at length. That the puck crossed the line, in or out of Niemi’s glove, was probable, but Toronto took their time determining that they could not overturn the call. After the long rest and a bit of good luck, the Sharks had every reason to get back in the game.

That opportunity was amplified with a penalty to Dominic Moore for interference at 5:31. The Sharks power play started inauspiciously with a won faceoff, a stray pass that left the zone, followed by a short handed chance for the Rangers. All of that transpired in the first ten seconds of the power play. The Sharks did get set up after that. After a tentative shot or two, the Sharks dug in. A keep in from Matt Tennyson turned into a pass to James Sheppard along the boards. Sheppard and Karlsson converged on the net and Karlsson scored to cut the lead in half.

Logan Couture was called for holding at 11:58. The Rangers again got credit for no shots on their power play, but the Sharks had one short handed shot that ended with Vlasic and St Louis tangled up in Lundqvist’s net.

In the final three minutes, the Rangers used their time out after a very good shift from the Sharks. The Sharks did not get their mojo back after the time out, and after the Sharks pulled Niemi for the extra skater, Rick Nash was able to ellude the Sharks defense to score the game-clincher.

Patrick Marleau, James Sheppard, Tye McGinn and Logan Couture each had four shots on goal, no Shark had more. Tommy Wingels had the most hits with three. Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the team in ice time with 25:18, while Justin Braun blocked five shots. Antti Niemi made 29 saves on 31 shots.

Rick Nash led New York in shots on goal with seven. Dan Girardi and Jesper Fast each had four hits, no Ranger had more. Ryan McDonagh led the team in ice time with 23:54.

The Sharks next play in Arizona against the Coyotes, at 6:00 PT on Tuesday the 13th.

Los Angeles Kings Win Stanley Cup Again

By Mary Walsh

The Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons. The game winner was scored in double overtime by the Kings’ fourth line. Alec Martinez actually scored it, but he gave his linemates credit:

I just saw there was a loose puck in my own end, I just tried to get it in a forward’s hands. And I think Toffoli had a great shot, far pad, and fortunately the rebound came to me and I was able to put it in. It was a great play by them, I was just the benefactor.

It was Martinez’ second overtime game winner in these playoffs. The first was in the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. This time, it was 15 minutes into a second overtime period, to win the Stanley Cup. He talked about the team’s mindset after they fell behind at the end of the second period on a short-handed goal by Brian Boyle:

I mean, the New York Rangers are a hell of a hockey club and we knew that this was going to be a tough series. There’s a lot of guys who’ve been around, a couple years ago, we know the fourth one’s definitely the hardest one to get, So that’s what we were talking about in the locker room, we just had to dig deep and just keep grinding away. We believed we were going to win this game.

The Conn Smythe trophy was awarded to Justin Williams. To many, Williams was flying under the radar when these playoffs started. As the leading scorer in the Final and a now three-time Stanley Cup winner, it is hard to believe he was very far under the radar. In any case, he is on everyone’s screen now.

The Kings scored before the Rangers even had a shot on goal. That would not be very unusual except that it wasn’t a goal in the first two minutes. Over six minutes had gone by. The goal came after a scramble in front of the Rangers’ net, after several tries. The successful shot was taken by Justin Williams. Assists went to Dwight King and Jarret Stoll.

Martin St. Louis took the Rangers’ first shot of the game, just shy of eight minutes in. For his trouble, Dustin Brown hauled St. Louis down and gave the Rangers a power play. The Rangers started pretty strong and got a few shots in, but the power play fizzled in the last 30 seconds or so, with the Kings getting a step on them before they could get set up.

It took the Rangers well over 20 minutes to tie the game. The goal came on a power play earned by Mats Zuccarello, who took a stick to the face from Dwight King. It started out badly, with a misfired pass from McDonagh to Richards, and then another pass to the other team, this time from Martin St. Louis. After almost a minute wasted, the Rangers were finally set up, with Brad Richards at the point.

One of the knocks on Richards has been that he overstays on the power play. This time was one of those extended stays, a minute and 29 seconds had elapsed and he had started it. Of course, no one else had gone off either so perhaps the criticisms are unfairly specific.

Ryan McDonagh shot a puck in from the wall, and it went neatly to Kris Kreider’s on the far side of the blue paint. It went by Quick and Kings defenseman Greene and landed right on Chris Kreider’s stick. Kreider got the goal, McDonagh the primary assist and the secondary assist went to Brad Richards.

Before the Rangers were done, they took the lead to end the second period. They set themselves up by taking a penalty and playing short handed. Dominic Moore got called for a subtle stick infraction. The Kings had a good chance early in that power play but the Rangers kept them to the outside and only allowed one shot on goal.

In the final three seconds of the penalty, Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin went the other way when Slava Voynov could not hold the puck in. After Hagelin corralled the puck and kept it away from Voynov near the Kings’ blue line, he passed it in Boyle’s direction. Boyle had to hustle and reach for it but he got it before Drew Doughty could. Boyle skated around Doughty in the slot and shot from a wide angle, skating left and shooting at the top right corner. Quick slid just a little too far to the right.

The Rangers started the third period pretty well but nearing the midpoint, the Kings had the Rangers pinned in their zone and scrambling. Lundqvist made some desperate saves but a tripping call on Zuccarello put the Kings on the power play. The call could have gone either way, as Zuccarello was chasing the puck to the blue line and Jake Muzzin did nothing to avoid having his leg run into. Logically, he should have, if he had any intention of chasing the puck the other way instead of letting it go right by him. So that call was mysterious.

The Kings only needed 17 seconds of power play time to tie the game. Henrik Lundqvist had stopped the shot but it was sitting just between his legs. Marian Gaborik was right in front of him, having squeezed in front of Anton Stralman. With a quick poke he shot the puck under Lundqvist. The shot had plenty of momentum in case of snow piles.

The Kings had consistently led on the shot clock, almost doubling the Rangers in total shots. In the third, however, the Kings were shooting the Rangers to pieces. The period totals were 12-3 for Los Angeles. The Kings finished with a very dangerous play. Anze Kopitar picked up the puck near the circle at the Rangers’ end, carried the puck into the corner and back out, despite being harassed by Ryan McDonagh. He held it long enough to find the late-arriving Jake Muzzin with a perfect backhand pass for a final shot through traffic. The shot went wide but it was a strong finish from the Kings.

Near the four minute mark of the first overtime, the Rangers drew a power play when Voynov went to the box for hooking. The Rangers, led by an impressive forecheck from Brad Richards, made a good start to the power play but it lost some steam when Ryan McDonagh’s shot beamed its way through some traffic only to hit the post.

The middle minutes of the period consisted of grueling up and down play, with the Kings continuing to outshoot the Rangers. With about six minutes left, Tanner Pearson had two tries at Lundqvist, a shot and then a wrap-around but Lundqvist got across to stop both.

A couple of minutes later, the Kings pinned the Rangers in their zone again. For the first time, the Rangers looked weary, losing battles on the boards and unable to get the puck out. Finally, Dominic Moore did get it out with a careful play off the boards. It was still an icing but his team needed the air.

The Kings were leading the period in shots 13-6.

Jonathan Quick showed uncanny tenacity in the last 90 seconds of the period, when the Rangers overwhelmed the Kings and peppered him with a couple of shots before crashing the net en masse. The referee took his time with the whistle but Quick did find the puck. Two more chances, one for each team ended the first OT. Chris Kreider had a breakaway stopped by Quick, and Jeff Carter had a chance thwarted by Rangers defenders.

It took the Kings almost 15 minutes of the second overtime to finish off the Rangers. They had to kill a penalty 5:43 in when Kyle Clifford went to the box for boarding. After some difficulty getting the puck away from his own net, Alec Martinez, Clifford and Toffoli went the other way in a three on two against Kevin Klein & John Moore. Martinez sent the puck across the neutral zone to Toffoli, who carried it in and took a shot from the half wall. Brian Boyle tried to get back to help but he was too late.  Lundqvist kicked the puck out right to Martinez who did not miss the open net.

It was a disappointing finish for Lundqvist after making 49 saves through almost five periods.

For all the talk of puck luck in this series, it is hard to ignore what looks like a special relationship between the Kings and Friday the 13th. The Kings also played a playoff game on Friday the 13th in 2012. That day, they beat the Vancouver Canucks. That was just a first round game, the second in the series. What are the odds they would win twice on Friday the 13th, and win the Cup both seasons?