Friday, February 23, 2018
Sports

Kings advance to final in West

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored in an overwhelming first period, and the Kings advanced to their third straight Western Conference final with a 6-2 victory over the Ducks in Game 7 of their semifinal series Friday night.

Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves to help the Kings claim the first postseason freeway series in thrilling style, winning back-to-back elimination games.

The Kings advanced to a conference final rematch with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. The series begins Sunday in Chicago.

The Kings improved to 6-0 when facing elimination this spring, shredding rookie goalie John Gibson for four goals in the first 23 minutes in Game 7.

The defeat likely ended the career of the Ducks' Teemu Selanne, 43, who has said this season would be his last.

Rangers respect Habs

The Canadiens can rest easy. They won't be disrespected by their next playoff opponent.

If anything, the Rangers are giving them too much respect heading into today's opener of the Eastern Conference final.

The Canadiens enter following a bitter matchup with the Bruins that concluded with harsh words in the series-ending handshake line.

"I know they went into the Boston series saying that they felt Boston didn't respect them. We respect Montreal quite a bit," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Friday before traveling to Montreal for Games 1 and 2.

"They're the favorites. Against Tampa Bay and against Boston, they were the underdogs, they didn't have home ice. Now they're going into this series very likely expected to win. Pressure does funny things to different people. I'm anxious to see how we're going to react. I'm sure they're anxious to see how they're going to act."

Montreal coach Michel Therrien, who replaced Vigneault as Canadiens coach during his first stint with the team in 2000, knows his counterpart well. He didn't engage in a debate over which team is the favorite.

"The favorite? That's a media game," Therrien said. "You go in the New York paper and they're the favorite. You go in the Montreal paper, we're the favorite. I'm not paying too much attention to those things."

Penguins fire GM: The Penguins hired Ray Shero as general manager eight years ago with the mandate to build a roster around two of the game's brightest stars and turn ticker-tape parades through Pittsburgh into an annual rite of spring. Nearly a decade — but just one Stanley Cup later — Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are on a perennially underachieving team. And Shero is out of a job.

The Penguins fired Shero three days after another early playoff exit, this one a seven-game loss to the Rangers. Coach Dan Bylsma remains in charge at least until Shero's replacement gets a chance to evaluate the organization top to bottom.

"As we looked at this team as a whole, the whole year and not Game 7 (against the Rangers), we don't think we've got a team that's got all the ingredients we'd need to have for a championship team," co-owner Ron Burkle told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Assistant general manager Jason Botterill will serve as interim general manager.

Lucic not sorry: Bruins forward Milan Lucic said he isn't sorry for saying something that angered the Canadiens' Dale Weise in the handshake line after Montreal won Game 7 on Wednesday. No one involved has repeated what Lucic said. Media reports have said it was "I'm going to (expletive) kill you next year."

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