Two Game 7s in NHL playoffs highlight TV weekend menu

It’s time for the two most exciting words in sports: Game 7.

In fact, hockey fans can double their pleasure this weekend with a pair of conference finales. The New York Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 5 p.m. today on the NBC Sports Network (Cox channel 38) in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, and the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Anaheim Ducks at 5 p.m. Saturday on NBC (3) in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

The Lightning might have squandered their best chance to beat the Rangers at home in Game 6 as New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been on a roll in Game 7s. The Swede has won an NHL-record six straight Game 7s, compiling a 0.81 goals-against average, and his six Game 7 wins are tied with Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy for the most in NHL history.

Lundqvist made 36 saves in the Rangers’ 7-3 win in Game 6 as New York won for the 15th time in the last 18 playoff games it has faced elimination. Also, in 10 games in which New York has faced elimination at Madison Square Garden, Lundqvist is 10-0 with a 0.96 GAA.

The Ducks have led their epic series — which has featured three overtime games — three times, but the Blackhawks have answered each time to keep alive their bid to win their third Stanley Cup title in six years.

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, Anaheim is 0-3 in Game 7s, with two of the losses coming at home. The Ducks — who suffered their first postseason loss in regulation this year in Wednesday’s 5-2 defeat — are staring at a possible fourth straight playoff exit after winning Game 5 of a series and having two shots at eliminating their opponents.

TODAY

NCAA baseball tournament, Cal State-Bakersfield vs. UCLA, Los Angeles Regional (8 p.m., ESPNU (320)): The march to the College World Series starts today with regional play. The 16 regional winners advance to super regionals next week, with the final eight moving on to the CWS in Omaha beginning June 13.

UCLA, which won 10 straight postseason games en route to winning the 2013 national title, is the nation’s top-seeded team.

BEST OF REST: MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels (7 p.m., FSW (49)); PGA Tour: Byron Nelson, second round (1 p.m., TGC (339)).

SATURDAY

Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals (4 p.m. Fox (5)): The Cardinals (31-16) have eliminated the Dodgers (28-18) in the playoffs the last two years and will meet Los Angeles for the first time since a 3-2 win over Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Oct. 7.

BEST OF REST: MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels (7 p.m., FSW (49)); PGA Tour: Byron Nelson, third round (10 a.m., TGC (339), noon, (CBS (8)); Tennis: French Open, third round (9 a.m., NBC (3)); Arena Football League, Las Vegas Outlaws at Philadephia Soul (3 p.m., CBSSN (333)).

SUNDAY

Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels (5 p.m., ESPN2 (31)): Angel Stadium has been the unhappiest place on earth for the Tigers (28-20), who entered their series against Los Angeles (23-24) on Thursday having gone 15-41 there since 2002.

BEST OF REST: PGA Tour: Byron Nelson, final round (10 a.m., TGC (339), noon, CBS (8)); Tennis: French Open, fourth round (9 a.m., NBC (3), 2 a.m. Monday, ESPN2 (31)).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.

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