On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, there were three NHL Stanley Cup Game 7's played. As it turned out, the night just got better and better as it went on. From a regulation game decided by just one goal, to a game decided in sudden death OT, to the coup de gras, which was a team completing the historic comeback from a 3 games to none series deficit. Let's take a look at the three terrific games played on this night.
Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers (Rangers win series 4 games to 3): This was an energetic game from the start. In the first period, both teams had great chances, but both goalies, Henrik Lundqvist and Steve Mason, were on top of their game. The game was scoreless after the first period. Philly outshot the Rangers 11-10. In the second period, the Rangers drew first blood when Dan Carcillo lit the lamp at 3:06. Buoyed by the 1-0 lead, the home team began to skate downhill on their longtime playoff rivals. Benoit Pouliot made the score 2-0 at 11:46. The period belonged to the Rangers, as they outshot the Flyers 18-5. With their season hanging in the balance, Philly came out strong in the third period. Jason Akeson scored at 4:32, to cut the lead to 2-1. The Flyers would go on to outshoot the Rangers 11-5 in the period, but it was all for naught. Lundqvist was able to deny every scoring chance, every flurry, and every rush. This is what big time goaltending is all about. Though King Henry was only average in Game 6, he was a monster in Game 7. Final score, Rangers win 2-1. Three stars of Game 7: #1 Dan Carcillo, #2 Henrik Lundqvist, #3 Steve Mason. New York outscored Philly 19-16 in the series. Rangers will now face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the next round.
Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche (Wild win series 4 games to 3): This was an alternately high-scoring, and tight-checking series. Strangely, it seemed to depend on location. For the series, the teams combined to score 31 goals in the four games played in Colorado, but only 11 goals in the three games played in Minnesota. Being that Game 7 was played in Colorado, it was only fitting that nine goals were scored. In the end, the Avs learned some harsh realities about playing in the postseason. Colorado scored first in this game, and would lead four times on this night, but it would not be enough. With time winding down in regulation play, and the Avs clinging to a one goal lead, the Wild pulled the goalie, and went to work. Jared Spurgeon put the puck home at 17:33. The momentum carried over into the overtime session, as Nino Niederreiter put the puck past Semyon Varlamov at 5:02, to win the game and clinch the series. Final score, Wild win 5-4. Minnesota outscored Colorado 22-20 in the series. Three stars of the game: #1 Nino Niederreiter (MN), #2 Jared Spurgeon(MN), #3 P.A. Parenteau (CO). Wild will face Chicago Blackhawks in next round.
Los Angeles Kings @ San Jose Sharks (Kings win series 4 games to 3): This series can be looked at one of two ways. Either this series belonged to San Jose, and they froze up when it mattered most, or this series really belonged to L.A. all along, and they never should have played so undisciplined as to allow the Sharks to win the first three games in the first place. Glass half empty, glass have full, at the end of the day, the Kings are moving on, and the Sharks are going to face an uncomfortable offseason. The Sharks actually managed to score first in Game 7, but then gave up five unanswered goals to ultimately lose the game 5-1, and the series, 4 games to 3. The Kings became only the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a three games to none deficit and win a seven game series. This game was tight, until it wasn't. The first period was scoreless, and then Matt Irwin scored just 22 secs into the second period to give San Jose it's only lead. Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar scored for the Kings, and the Kings never relinquished the lead. The 2-1 lead became a 5-1 final score. The Kings outscored the Sharks 26-22 in the series, and 18-5 over the last four games. Three stars of the game: #1 Anze Kopitar, #2 Jonathan Quick, #3 Drew Doughty. Quick stopped 39 of 40 San Jose shots in Game 7. Kings will face the Anaheim Ducks in the next round.