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Top Line: Sharks get to 7; MacKinnon's draft stock soars; more links

The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will play a Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series The Kings' defense of their Stanley Cup title now rests on holding serve at home. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• Needless penalties derailed the Kings' bid to eliminate the Sharks and it's all on the line in Game 7.

• Anything can happen in a Game 7, right? Not in this series, writes Allan Maki. All signs point to the Kings jumping the Sharks in the decisive match Tuesday.

• As the pressure has grown on the Sharks, Antti Niemi has responded with his sturdiest hockey of the year.

• San Jose extended the series to a seventh game with the win. Now they have to extend themselves if they hope to do something they've yet to manage in this series: win on the road.

Nathan MacKinnon muddied the conversation in Colorado with a spectacular five-point performance om Sunday to lead Halifax to its first-ever Memorial Cup championship. And while fans shouldn't overrate the impact of one game, no one can deny that MacKinnon is an equally viable option for the first-overall pick.

• MacKinnon scored nine points (!) in two games against Seth Jones and the Portland Winterhawks at the Memorial Cup. Can the Avs afford to pass on him after he left the highly touted Texan in his dust?

• Adrian Dater says the Avs are damned if they do, damned if they don't when it comes to choosing Jones over MacKinnon.

• The Red Wings proved they could come back in their first-round series against Anaheim. But can they close against Chicago? It's time for Detroit to play like champions, writes Drew Sharp.

• So apparently the injury Niklas Kronwall suffered from the Bryan Bickell hit was to his hand. Not to sound like a skeptic here, but you don't suppose that could be a little subterfuge to hide the real problem do you?

• The Blackhawks ran up a streak of at least three wins in a row five times this season. No sweat doing it now against the Red Wings, right?

• Nailed to the bench for much of Game 4, Brent Seabrook responded with a strong effort in Game 5. If he's clear of his slump, he could be an impact player in Game 6.

Sidney Crosby will boast a new/old look when the Penguins open their Eastern Conference Final series against the Boston Bruins.

• Despite a 6-1 record in the playoffs, Pittsburgh goalie Tomas Vokoun says every game feels like a tryout. Probably a good approach for a guy who could be one bad outing away from going back to wearing a ball cap on game nights.

Milan Lucic says the Penguins are the Miami Heat of hockey. I guess that's supposed to be a compliment, right?

• Boston GM Peter Chiarelli says signing pending free agent Tuukka Rask will be easier in the wake of his postseason success. Sounds like a guy whistling past the graveyard to me.

• John Tortorella's inability to adjust his approach to the players at his disposal doomed the New York Rangers. If he can't figure out how to do that moving forward, he won't be coaching the team much longer.

• Yesterday, we noted that Don Cherry wasn't happy with Hockey Canada's decision to ban bodychecking at the peewee level. Today, Jack Todd explains why the body didn't go far enough.

• Here's what teams are hoping to uncover as they poke, prod and interview some of the top prospects one last time at this week's Scouting Combine.

• Bruce Garrioch offers his suggestions to improve the Ottawa Senators during the offseason.

• While the ax is still out in Vancouver, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that GM Mike Gillis might want to swing it in the direction of his scouting department.

• Sounds crazy, but the Canucks and Stars could end up settling for each other's leftovers with their new coaching hires.

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