LA'S KEY PLAYER: Jonathan Quick. The Stanley Cup-winning goaltender gave up a total of just two goals over the last three games against the Sharks, making a rare comeback possible. Quick led the Kings with his play, his words and actions in Game 7. If he can come close to sustaining his recent success, his team will likely get past its Southern California rival in their first postseason matchup.
GAME 1: Saturday at Anaheim, 8 p.m.
PREDICTION: Kings in 6.
CHICAGO vs. MINNESOTA
FIRST ROUND: Blackhawks beat St. Louis in six games. Wild beat Colorado in seven games.
SEASON SERIES: Minnesota won 3-2.
STORY LINE: Both teams know they can come back from a deficit in the series because each just did it. The Blackhawks opened with two overtime losses to the Blues, then won the next four games. The Wild lost their first two games against Colorado and were on the brink of elimination in Game 6 before scoring three goals to force a decisive matchup in which they sent the game to overtime with a late goal and won early in the extra period.
CHICAGO'S KEY PLAYER: Duncan Keith. The defenseman led the Blackhawks with five assists against St. Louis and tied Jonathan Toews with a team-high seven points. When Chicago won the Stanley Cup last year and four years ago, Keith was a pivotal player. He had 13 points and a plus-10 rating in the previous postseason and 17 points during the 2010 playoffs.
MINNESOTA'S KEY PLAYER: Mikko Koivu. The center had the first of four game-tying goals for Minnesota against the Avs, and finished the series with six points after being held without a point last year in the playoffs. The Finn turned down a chance to play in the Olympics this year to help his surgically repaired right ankle heal, and putting his NHL team first might have helped the Wild advance in the playoffs for the first time since reaching the 2003 conference finals.
GAME 1: Friday at Chicago, 9:30 p.m.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks in 5.
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