Today is Sunday, April 22, 2018.
|Sunday, April 22, 2018|
|National Hockey League|
|Kings||vs.||Golden Knights||8:00 (EDT)|
|Penguins||vs.||Flyers||3:00 (EDT) Preview|
Banged-up Penguins look to eliminate Flyers
Sunday, April 22 at 12:11 PM (EDT)
For the Pittsburgh Penguins' second crack at clinching a spot in the second round of the playoffs, they could get a key player back, but the status of another is less clear.
Feisty winger Patric Hornqvist, a stalwart on the power play and a fount of upbeat energy, could return Sunday for Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center after missing the past two games because of an unspecified injury. He practiced Saturday with no contact restrictions.
"Got bumped around a bit," he said, adding that he hopes to play.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin did not practice, and coach Mike Sullivan did not comment on his status, saying all players are game-time decisions.
Malkin -- the Penguins' leading scorer in the regular season who has three goals and five points in the series -- left Game 5 Friday briefly because of an apparent left leg injury after getting tangled with Philadelphia's Jori Lehtera in the first period but returned.
The Flyers avoided elimination by winning that game 4-2. They trail the series 3-2.
"Our team has a next-man-up attitude, and we have capable guys," Sullivan said. "Regardless of who's in the lineup, we believe we're going to win when we play the game the right way."
Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray, who has two shutouts in the series and two Stanley Cups on his resume, remains philosophical.
"We're excited for it. It's a fun time of year to get to play," Murray said. "I'm sure we're disappointed that we didn't get the job done (Friday), but we still get to go play hockey for a living, and things are all right.
"We're looking forward to the game. We've been here before."
While the Penguins practiced before flying to Philadelphia, the Flyers traveled home after Game 5 and on Saturday held a team meeting with no formal practice.
Philadelphia got a boost from a returning player Friday. Top-line center Sean Couturier, who missed Game 4 because of an injury sustained in practice, returned and scored a goal.
"We're still down, but we've battled all year," Couturier said. "We've got to keep battling next game and play the same type of game."
The Flyers also got a strong game from their penalty killers, who snuffed all five Pittsburgh power plays and added a short-handed goal from Valtteri Filppula, and from Michal Neuvirth, one of three goalies Philadelphia has used in this series. In Neuvirth's first start in the series, he made 30 saves and would seem the likely starter Sunday.
"I like playing in the playoffs," Neuvirth said. "I like facing the pressure."
Flyers captain Claude Giroux boldly and correctly predicted his team would win Game 5, and he opened the scoring in that game with his first goal of the series. That eased mounting pressure he was putting on himself.
"You start overthinking it, trying to do much," Giroux said.
Both of the Flyers' wins in the series have come in Pittsburgh. They are 0-2 at home.
"We got two big wins on the road," Giroux said. "Now we've just got to figure out how to play at home. ... We're going to talk about it. We're excited to be back home. It's an advantage for us. It's got to be our best game."
|Predators||vs.||Avalanche||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Avs hope to delay vacation, extend series with Preds
Sunday, April 22 at 12:12 PM (EDT)
The Colorado Avalanche players were supposed to be cleaning out their lockers this weekend, talking about their return to the playoffs and speaking optimistically of next season.
At least that was the assumption when their first-round series with the Predators, the NHL's top seed, shifted to Nashville for Game 5 on Friday.
The Predators took a 3-1 series lead into their home game and were expected to close out Colorado, but the Avalanche proved to be a tough out by rallying in the final five minutes to win 2-1 and send the series to Denver for Game 6 on Sunday night.
"We've got a series again going home, and it's going to be exciting," Colorado captain Gabe Landeskog said after the win Friday.
Landeskog scored the equalizer with 4:11 left and Sven Andrighetto won it with an odd-man rush with 1:28 remaining. The late rally was made possible by the play of Andrew Hammond, the Avalanche's No. 3 goaltender who was thrust into the spotlight after injuries to Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier.
Hammond made a career-high 44 saves and outplayed Nashville's Vezina Trophy favorite, Pekka Rinne, in stunning the Predators.
It was the first time in four tries Nashville has failed to win a game with a chance to end the series dating to last year. But don't expect the President's Trophy winners to hang their heads.
"We can't be depressed in here and sit and stew," Colton Sissons told The Tennessean after Friday's game. "We've got to move on and be professionals. We've been here before and we'll be ready for Game 6, that's for sure."
Nashville still leads the series 3-2 and has already won a game on the road. It was that Game 4 victory that had everyone thinking Game 5 was a formality, but the gritty Avalanche proved to be resilient.
Colorado has made it a series despite mounting injuries. Varlamov's season ended before the start of the playoffs with a lower-body injury, top defenseman Erik Johnson was lost to a knee injury with a week left in the season and Bernier went down in the second period of Game 4.
Defenseman Samuel Girard, acquired from Nashville in November as part of the three-team deal that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa, missed the games in Denver with an upper-body injury but returned for Game 5.
Still, the Avalanche have pressed on, are playing loose hockey and have the Predators' attention.
"It's hockey," Predators forward Austin Watson told The Tennessean. "There's another team out there. I don't know if you guys see that. They're playing pretty well."
Nashville will get back forward Ryan Hartman after he served a one-game suspension for his hit on Colorado center Carl Soderberg in Game 4. His return will bolster an already deep lineup that has scored 17 goals in the five-game series.
But Colorado has shown it won't go away. The Avalanche scored the first goal in the first three games and their three losses were close. Another close game in the third period Sunday could play in their favor.
"I've said it all year long, haven't I? This is a special group," Landeskog said. "It's too early to have the season end. We have way too much hockey in us left, and way too much fight. We're not going to let this go easy. So we keep working."
|Saturday, April 21, 2018|
|National Hockey League|
Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-3, avoid elimination in Game 5
By JIMMY GOLEN - AP Sports Writer
Saturday, April 21 at 11:58 PM (EDT)
BOSTON (AP) The Toronto Maple Leafs opened another 4-1 lead in Boston, and this time they held on.
Five years after blowing a three-goal lead in a playoff elimination game against the Bruins, Toronto killed off a 5-on-3 and three more penalties to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and force the series to a sixth game.
''That was a little bit nerve-wracking,'' said Toronto forward Nazem Kadri, who returned from a three-game suspension and had an assist. ''But we were able to weather the storm. Playoff games on the road, sometimes you just have to survive.''
Connor Brown and Andreas Johnsson each scored his first career playoff goal in the first period, and Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second to make it 4-1 and chase Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Boston cut the deficit to one goal, but the Leafs survived despite a parade of penalties that left four men in the box at one point.
''When you're down a man six times - and it was six times - it's ridiculous,'' Toronto coach Mike Babcock said.
Frederik Andersen stopped 42 shots for Toronto, which returns home for Game 6 on Monday. Game 7 would be back in Boston on Wednesday, if necessary.
When the teams last met in the playoffs in 2013, Toronto twice won to stave off elimination and force the series to a seventh game. Once there, the Maple Leafs took a 4-1 into the third period before the Bruins won in overtime en route to their second Stanley Cup final berth in two years.
''That's in the past,'' Kadri said. ''I think it's time we turn the page on that one.''
Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly scored for the Bruins. After missing one game with an undisclosed injury, Selke Trophy finalist Patrice Bergeron returned to the ice but not to the scoresheet; his line, which had 20 points in the first two games, was held without a goal or assist.
''He made it through today's game healthy,'' Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. ''We always want to see how they are in the morning. I don't anticipate there being any issues going into Game 6.''
Rask was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots before skipping off to the locker room when he was pulled with 8:05 left in the second.
''Probably could have stopped more pucks with my eyes closed,'' he said. ''It's on me, but moving on to the next one and try to finish it off in Toronto.''
Anton Khudobin, making his first career playoff appearance, stopped all eight shots he saw the rest of the way.
''I didn't think he (Rask) had it tonight. So we went with Anton, who's been very good for us,'' Cassidy said. ''And then there's always that part that gets the rest of the team's attention.''
Toronto lost the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Boston by a combined score of 12-4, then won the third game at home before dropping the fourth to fall to the brink of elimination.
Leading 4-1 midway through second on Saturday, the Maple Leafs gave Boston four straight power plays but killed each one off. Kuraly made it a two-goal game with about three minutes left in the second and Noel Acciari made it 4-3 six minutes into the third.
Notes: Bergeron's absence from Game 4 was a surprise, and his upper body injury remains a mystery. He skated on the off-day Friday and again on Saturday morning and was then cleared to play. ... Grzelcyk had his first playoff point, and Acciari recorded his first playoff assist. ... Khudobin made his NHL debut in 2010 but has been a backup since then and never saw the ice in a playoff game. ... The game ended with fisticuffs in the corner. Bozak and Boston's David Backes were in the middle.
For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey
Backstrom scores in OT, Caps take 3-2 series lead on Jackets
By STEPHEN WHYNO - AP Hockey Writer
Saturday, April 21 at 7:39 PM (EDT)
WASHINGTON (AP) Overtime came at the perfect time for the Washington Capitals.
Outshot, outskated and outplayed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in a lopsided third period of Game 5, the Capitals went into their locker room at intermission Saturday with no choice but to talk about what went wrong in blowing yet another lead.
''We knew we had to be better,'' Nicklas Backstrom said.
Better they were in a dominant overtime that Backstrom ended 11:53 in with his second goal of the game to give Washington a 4-3 victory and a 3-2 lead over the Blue Jackets in the first-round series. Thanks to goaltender Braden Holtby making 15 of his 39 saves in the third period and Backstrom's first two goals of these playoffs, the Metropolitan Division champions can close out Columbus on the road Monday in Game 6.
''I think we've always regrouped at intermissions and came back,'' said Holtby, who has stopped 102 of 109 shots since replacing Philipp Grubauer in net two periods into Game 2. ''It shows our confidence and our experience in a lot of areas.''
The playoff-tested Capitals took punch after punch when they were outshot 16-1 by the Blue Jackets in the third period, including Oliver Bjorkstrand's deflection goal 2:30 in that tied it. Holtby made saves in quantity and quality, most notably on Columbus No. 1 center Pierre-Luc Dubois on a rebound and again on an attempt to bat the puck out of the air, to get to overtime for the fourth time in five games this series.
That's when everything changed. Suddenly, two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was besieged, having to stop Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson from point-blank range early in overtime.
''We just came out as a new team,'' Carlson said. ''We've went out and attacked in every game that we've won. That was our mindset, and I think we played a great overtime.''
Overtime has been the difference in this series. Artemi Panarin and Matt Calvert scored the winners in Games 1 and 2 for Columbus, Lars Eller in double OT in Game 3 for Washington and then Backstrom in Game 5, deflecting defenseman Dmitry Orlov's shot past Bobrovsky to send the sellout crowd in Washington into a frenzy.
''I got a tip on it, and it's usually what happens in the playoffs,'' Backstrom said. ''Tip goals or rebound goals. That's the way it is.''
The road team won the first four games of a Stanley Cup playoff series for the fifth time over the past 10 years. Holtby's 39 saves, including a big one on Bjorkstrand in overtime, made sure the home team won Game 5 for the fifth time.
''One of our best players, our goalie, was our best player again,'' Washington forward Brett Connolly said. ''He's come in here and he's played three amazing games. Kudos to him. He's been great for us and we obviously need him to keep playing this way if we're going to be successful.''
Bobrovsky didn't play poorly other than perhaps a soft goal allowed to Evgeny Kuznetsov early in the second period. After two goals from Matt Calvert and his team's effort wasn't enough Saturday, coach John Tortorella is betting on ''Bob'' to come up big again in Game 6.
''Two good goalies. Good game,'' Tortorella said. ''We'll be back here for Game 7.''
It's now the Capitals' goal to avoid a Game 7 at home, where they're 2-5 over the past decade in the Ovechkin era. Coach Barry Trotz, whose team has lost the past two times they've played Game 7 at home, shrugged off Tortorella's assurance of a game in Washington on Wednesday after players insisted they know what to expect from Columbus in Game 6.
''What else is he going to say?'' Trotz said. ''It's our job for that not to happen.''
NOTES: Bobrovsky allowed four goals on 29 shots. ... Thirteen of the Capitals' past 24 playoff games have been decided in overtime. ... With an assist on T.J. Oshie's power-play goal, Carlson has eight points through five games. ... Ovechkin led all players with seven shots on goal. ... Calvert scored twice in a playoff game for the second time in his career. ... Blue Jackets C Alexander Wennberg returned after missing Games 2, 3 and 4 following a hit to the head from Tom Wilson. He replaced Sonny Milano in the lineup. ... The Capitals made no changes after winning back-to-back games in Columbus, keeping Chandler Stephenson on the second line in the absence of Andre Burakovsky, who's out for at least the remainder of the series with an upper-body injury.
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
More NHL hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey
Kucherov, Lightning beat Devils 3-1, end first-round series
By FRED GOODALL - AP Sports Writer
Saturday, April 21 at 8:04 PM (EDT)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Lightning understand what it takes to be successful in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
''You need your best players to be the best players, and they rose to the occasion,'' coach Jon Cooper said Saturday after the top seed in the Eastern Conference beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1, ending their first-round series in five games.
''People are going to look at this series and say: `Oh, 4-1. Tampa took it to them.' Anybody that was actually watching these games knew clearly that's not what happened in this series,'' Cooper added. ''It was fought from the drop of the puck to the end. We just happened to get big goals at the right time.''
Nikita Kucherov scored his 27th career postseason goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots for the Lightning, who advanced to a second-round matchup against either the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kucherov, the NHL's third-leading scorer during the regular season with 100 points, had five goals and five assists in the five games, setting a franchise for points in a playoff series. He also tied Vincent Lecavalier for second-place on the club's all-time postseason scoring list.
''I thought he elevated (his play) throughout the series, no question,'' Cooper said of the 24-year-old, two-time All-Star, who has 27 goals and 25 assists in 50 career playoff games.
''He's an extreme competitor,'' New Jersey coach John Hynes said. ''When you look at a guy like Kucherov, he has talent but he's not a perimeter player. He's very strong on the puck, he competes hard, he's got good hockey sense. He's the type of offensive player you need to have success if you're going to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.''
Mikhail Sergachev became the youngest player in Lightning history to score a playoff goal and Ryan Callahan, back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury, sealed it with an empty-netter for the Atlantic Division champions with 1.7 seconds remaining.
''Feels great, especially at home in front of our fans,'' Kucherov said. ''I think we played well defensively, and teams that play well defensively move forward.''
Tampa Bay won the first two games at home before splitting a pair of the road, returning to Amalie Arena after Kucherov had two goals and an assist to key a 3-1 victory in Game 4
The right winger's sizzling shot past goalie Cory Schneider put the Lightning up 2-0 at 12:27 of the third period of the clincher.
The 19-year-old Sergachev, meanwhile, became the youngest player in franchise history to score a playoff goal, giving the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Schneider did all he could to give the Devils a chance to extend their first playoff appearance since 2012.
The goalie, who lost his starting job after being injured in January, stopped 35 of 37 shots, including Tyler Johnson's breakaway that kept New Jersey within striking distance after Kyle Palmieri trimmed Tampa Bay's lead to one goal with three minutes left.
Will Butcher and Taylor Hall assisted on the only goal for New Jersey, which played without injured defenseman Sami Vatanen.
''I felt good and enjoyed playing, but at the end of the day I didn't get the job done,'' said Schneider, who replaced Keith Kinkaid during Game 1 and started the last four games. ''I didn't extend the series, and I didn't get us the win, so a little bit for naught.''
New Jersey kept it close, killing off four consecutive penalties in the second period, when the Lightning outshot the Devils 18-4 but couldn't expand its one-goal lead.
Schneider had two more saves early in the third as Tampa Bay sputtered on a fifth power-play opportunity.
''We have to stay out of the box better than we did tonight,'' Hynes said. ''It sometimes disrupts the flow of the game, but I think if you look at the penalty kill, those guys played their hearts out. I thought Cory was fantastic. . Those guys kept us right in the game, right to the end.''
Notes: The Lightning was 0-for-10 on the power play in Games 4 and 5, yet won both games. ... Vatanen, New Jersey's top defenseman, was injured during the opening period of Game 4 when he was checked high by Kucherov. The Devils also played without RW Stefan Noesen, who was scratched with a lower-body injury. ... Callahan (upper body) returned after missing Games 3 and 4. ''It's always tough watching your team play, especially in the playoffs,'' he said. ''To be able to get back out there and play was big.''
More AP hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey