Bulls

Carter's strange journey puts him on Game 2 throne

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Carter's strange journey puts him on Game 2 throne

NEWARK, N.J. Every life has its strange, tumultuous twists. Jeff Carters had plenty of his own in just one year, one in which he went from Philadelphia to Columbus to Los Angeles.

So when the good moments come, theyre savored. And after scoring one of the biggest goals of his career on Saturday night, Carter gets the chance to do that now.

Carter scored his first career overtime playoff goal as the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings take a 2-0 lead in the series and have now won 10 straight road playoff games. Theyve won 12 in a row dating back to last postseason.

For Carter, it was especially sweet. A year of tumult and team moves landed him in Los Angeles, where he could get a fresh start and the Kings could get an offensive boost. Its worked out for both, and Carter came through with a big one on Saturday night.

You just want to put it on net as much as you can. (Dustin Penner) did a great job to get in front of Marty (Brodeur). I dont know if he saw the shot, Carter said. Its a pretty special moment. Obviously any time you play in the finals its exciting. But scoring an overtime goal to get up 2-0 is pretty special.

Drew Doughty put the Kings up in the first period, darting through the Devils on a move that was highlight-reel worthy. But Ryan Carter redirected a Marek Zidlicky shot to tie in the third period, setting up overtime. The Kings outshot the Devils 11-3 in the extra frame. On the game-winner, Carter came from behind the net and circled wide as the Devils converged down in front. It looked like Carter was going to pass it off at first but instead took the shot, which beat Brodeur low, stick side.

Our defensemen were open, too. But you could tell he wanted to shoot that, and hes got a great shot. Beauty shot, low blocker and found a hole, Jarret Stoll said. Hes been in the media a lot, lot of story lines, but hes been a great addition to our team. Hes solidified our lineup and made us a lot better. Thats a big goal, a huge goal for him.

Carter now has 10 points this postseason.

That was a huge effort on that goal, defenseman Matt Greene said. Its good to get a guy like him going. He scores in bunches. Hopefully he gets hot and we ride him a little bit.

Carter has found a good niche with the Kings. He scored, arguably, the biggest goal of his career on Saturday night. And hes gotten the Kings that much closer to their ultimate goal.

I think this is by far the biggest for sure, Carter said of his goal. Its a huge one, a big one for the team. We get this to where we wanted it to be.

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
 
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.” 
 
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
 
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
 
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
 
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne. 
 
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
 
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
 
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
 
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
 
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.