LAS VEGAS (AP) After just one game Womens
Niklas Hjalmarsson Jersey
, it’s already clear this Stanley Cup
Final is on thin ice. Thin, patchy, slushy, rut-riddled ice.The Vegas Golden
Knights have shocked the sporting world by playing for a championship in their
inaugural season. But their incredible playoff run has taken them straight into
summer in the Mojave Desert, where temperatures routinely soar past 100 degrees
from May to October.With sizzling heat outside and a frenzied sellout crowd
inside, T-Mobile Arena’s ice melted into an inconsistent playing surface for the
Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals in the series opener.Despite constant
sprucing from attendants during timeouts, both teams chased the puck through
dozens of weird bounces and unpredictable slides while Vegas rallied for a 6-4
victory.”It was pretty bad,” Washington forward Jay Beagle said. ”It’s so hot
outside, so it’s not like it’s a surprise.”And it’s about to get worse: The
mercury on the Strip could hit triple digits Wednesday for Game 2, when the
league is likely to see its hottest outdoor temperature ever recorded at a Final
game.But before any Canadians develop heatstroke at the prospect of their
national game being played in a Nevada swimming pool, players on both teams were
eager to make it clear the Vegas ice is absolutely playable.”It’s the same for
both teams, which is why it doesn’t matter,” Vegas forward James Neal said.
”It’s still the same game for everybody. Of course, everybody would like to play
on perfect ice ,
but that doesn’t happen at this time of year.”Middling ice quality can be a fact
of life year-round in NHL rinks, particularly for the Sun Belt teams from
Anaheim to Miami, yet their players still thrive. It’s common to see ice
deterioration in rinks at various latitudes when temperatures rise while the NHL
playoffs roll through spring.The Capitals are well aware they won’t skate onto a
pristine Nordic pond when they return to Capital One Arena for Game 3 on
Saturday – not with 85-degree temperatures and 70-percent humidity in the
Washington forecast.”It’s probably the time of the year where it’s pretty hard
to keep the ice fresh,” Washington forward Evgeny Kuznetsov said. ”But both
teams play on the same ice.”Both coaches used the Vegas ice quality to emphasize
points in their game plan that would probably be important on any surface.
Washington’s Barry Trotz and Vegas’ Gerard Gallant want a north-south approach
with crisp passes, minimal puck-handling and no turnovers.It’s all easier said
than done when the puck refuses to behave.”The pucks were bouncing pretty good,”
Trotz said. ”Unfortunately, the ice wasn’t great. There was a lot of chaos.”Dan
Craig, the NHL official responsible for masterminding and maintaining the
temporary ice sheets at outdoor games across the continent, has been working on
the Vegas ice with the in-house crew. The sheet only went down one day before
the series opener because T-Mobile had a Pink concert booked Saturday night –
again, something that happens in playoff rinks all the time.Gallant hopes the
ice will be more consistent after two more days to set up. Most of the Capitals
reported better conditions during practice at T-Mobile on Tuesday – although the
arena also wasn’t filled with more than 18,575 screaming, sweating people.”I
don’t know if it was the empty building or – just like everything – it needs to
cure a bit, but I thought it was really good (at practice),” Trotz said. ”So
hopefully ,
that will help both teams.”—More Stanley Cup coverage: LOS ANGELES (AP) A lot of things would
have been predicted when the struggling Chicago Blackhawks found themselves down
by two goals in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings.Just about
everything, but what did happen.The Blackhawks, who had lost seven consecutive
road games and 11 of their last 13 overall, rallied with four third-periods
goals to stun the Kings 5-3 on Saturday.Jonathan Toews broke a tie on a
power-play goal with 1:58 left and a Blackhawks team out of the playoff race
shocked a Kings team that had won three straight.”It’s right in front of us that
we can be the spoilers,” Toews said. ”Play loose, play smart and work hard the
way we did tonight. We can put pressure on teams like them and make them make
mistakes.”Chicago tied it with 5:36 to go when Los Angeles’ Derek Forbort failed
to clear the puck in front of the net, instead sending it right to Vinnie
Hinostroza for a shot past goalie past Jonathan Quick.Then with Los Angeles’
Tanner Pearson off for hooking, Toews beat Quick for his 17th of the
season.Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal for Chicago, Jordan Oesterle and
Artem Anisimov also scored, and Anton Forsberg made 29 saves.The Kings scored
all their goals in the second period, Pearson, Alec Martinez and Alex Iafallo
all finding the net. Quick stopped 20 shots.The Kings were called for four
penalties in the third, including a double penalty on Drew Doughty for hooking
and then unsportsmanlike conduct.”It’s pretty obvious, right?” Kings coach John
Stevens said. ”Let’s not deny the elephant in the room. Totally undisciplined
play today. We let them back in the hockey game. It’s totally
unacceptable.”You’re part of a team and everything should have the best interest
of the hockey team. We put ourselves in an undisciplined situation in the third
period and it ended up costing us.”The Blackhawks pulled within one on the
4-minute power play in third period ,
when Anisimov fired in his 19th goal off a rebound of a Toews’ shot. It was his
second goal in as many games for Anisimov.”He’s always in the middle of the ice
and that’s where goalies have the toughest time trying to stop it,” said Chicago
coach Joel Quenneville. ”It’s a high quality chance. It’s not easy to get there,
and he gets rewarded.”The Kings are just one point ahead of the rival Anaheim
Ducks for the third playoff spot in the West. The Ducks host the Blackhawks on
Sunday.”It definitely doesn’t hurt your confidence when you can find ways to win
games coming from behind on the road against a team like them,” Toews said.
”Hopefully it’s the type of thing we can keep going with that same kind of
effort.”For a struggling, injury-riddled Blackhawks team, it was a much needed
victory.”The disappointing thing these last few months is we know we’re
underachieving and we know we’re not scratching the surface as far as our
potential goes,” Toews said.”This was huge,” Hinostroza said. ”That’s a great
team over there, and says a lot about our team in here to go down like that and
come back. It feels really good.”NOTES: Kings forward Dustin Brown picked up his
300th career assist. … Chicago’s last road win came on Jan. 30th in Vancouver,
2-1. … Pearson’s goal was his second in two games, after not scoring in his
previous 15 games. … The Blackhawks had another goal waived in the first period
for goalie interference.UP NEXTBlackhawks: At Anaheim on Sunday.Kings: Host
Washington on Thursday night.—
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