Avalanche

Penguins beat Senators in double OT thriller, advance to Stanley Cup Final
PITTSBURGH — Chris Kunitz spent a portion of the spring nursing a lower-body injury and wondering if his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins was over. The veteran forward’s contract is up this summer and he’s been around long enough to know how these things go, particularly when you’re 37. “It’s not fun thinking about the future,” Kunitz said. He found a pretty compelling way to put it off for at least four more games and push his team to the brink of history in the process. Kunitz’s knuckling shot from outside the circle fluttered past Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending Stanley Cup champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night. Thrust alongside old linemate Sidney Crosby as the game wore on, the two reconnected for a goal that moved the Penguins closer to becoming the first team since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings to win back-to-back titles. Crosby sent a soft backhand pass from the right faceoff circle to Kunitz and for a moment, it seemed like old times. “With the way he was holding the stick you could tell he wanted it bad,” Crosby said. “I just tried to lay it there for him. I’ve seen him score from there pretty often. It was a huge goal for us, and a great reward for him for the way he played all night.” Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 27 shots on his 23rd birthday. The Penguins will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night. Boxscore: Pittsburgh 3, Ottawa 2  Not bad for a team that watched so many of its core players — from defenseman Kris Letang to Evgeni Malkin to Crosby — deal with some serious bumps along the way. And yet here they are on the doorstep to a title once again. “If you look at the amount of guys who have played on this roster throughout the course of the year, it’s a lot of guys,” Crosby said. “The biggest step is ahead.” Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation. Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn’t get a handle on Kunitz’s shot as the Senators fell to 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history. Just don’t call them cursed. A year ago, Ottawa didn’t even make the playoffs yet they found a way to push the Penguins to the 85th minute of Game 7 of the conference finals. “We wanted to make then earn it and they earned it, rightfully so,” said Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, who assisted on both of Ottawa’s goals and played the entire postseason with a pair of hairline fractures in his left heel. “We got to give it to them. They were the better team.” The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh — where they lost 7-0 in Game 5 on Sunday — by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory. Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to within a victory of the franchise’s second Cup appearance. The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the Final since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson’s brilliance. Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, and is now 13-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team for just its ‘sticktoitiveness,'” Sullivan said. “The last four games of this series, we found our game.” Related ArticlesMay 24, 2017 Avalanche prospects helped Colorado Eagles reach the upcoming ECHL Finals May 24, 2017 Game 7 offers chance at history for Penguins and Senators May 24, 2017 Pekka Rinne has Nashville in 1st Stanley Cup Final with smothering run May 23, 2017 Mike Hoffman’s goal helps Senators beat Penguins to force Game 7 May 22, 2017 Nashville Predators beat Anaheim Ducks, advance to 1st Stanley Cup Final Kunitz ended a 25-game playoff goal drought when he completed a 2-on-1 with Conor Sheary — a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 — by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period. The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone — who stretched his left skate to stay onside — fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray . Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zip [...]
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NHL royalty vs. the rowdy neighbors in Stanley Cup Final
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins kept getting by even as their star players kept skating off the ice in pain. Even as the targets on their back as Stanley Cup champions kept getting bigger. Even as Columbus and Washington and Ottawa kept pushing and prodding, poking and pinching. “Just play,” coach Mike Sullivan kept telling his players. Over and over and over again. So the Penguins did. And the team that found itself uncharacteristically on its heels for long stretches as it fended off the Blue Jackets in the first round, shut down the Capitals in the second and outlasted blue-collar Senators in the third is back where it was a year ago: heading to the Stanley Cup Final with confidence, momentum and more than a little bit of swagger. Next up: “Smashville.” Frederick Breedon, Getty ImagesPontus Aberg of the Nashville Predators celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period in Game Six of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 22, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn. Pittsburgh earned a return trip to the Cup with a thrilling 3-2 double-overtime victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday. Chris Kunitz provided the winner, a knuckler from just outside the circle that made its way past Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second extra period and moved the Penguins a step closer to becoming the first team in nearly 20 years to repeat. And here’s the scary part: after a season pock-marked by the loss of do-everything defenseman Kris Letang and significant absences by Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Kunitz, goaltender Matt Murray and a host of others, the Penguins are starting to look like the team that picked apart San Jose last June to capture the franchise’s fourth title. “Our last four games in this series for me, we really found our game,” Sullivan said. The result is a potentially intriguing final between NHL royalty and the rowdy neighbors next door. The Penguins have the experience, the leadership and the star power. The Predators have defenseman P.K. Subban, a bunch of country music A-listers in the stands and absolutely nothing to lose in their first appearance on hockey’s biggest stage. Game 1 is Monday night in Pittsburgh. The teams split their two meetings during the regular season, with each winning on home ice, with Nashville overwhelming Pittsburgh 5-1 back in November and the Penguins returning the favor with a 4-2 victory in January. Don’t let the flimsy resume fool you. Though they tied for the fewest points in the 16-team playoff field (94), the Predators are dangerous and very much for real after steamrolling through the Western Conference playoffs, never trailing at any point in series wins over Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim. “We haven’t dominated the play that maybe we wanted to,” Kunitz said. “Maybe we’ve done a better job these last couple of games. But it’s something we’re going to have to get better at playing a 60-minute game if we’re going to have a chance to beat Nashville.” The meeting marks the first time in NHL history the coaches of both teams are Americans. Nashville’s Peter Laviolette first turned a team in the deep south into a champion 11 years ago when he guided the Carolina Hurricanes to their first and only Cup. Sullivan took over in Pittsburgh in Dec. 2015 and provided the edge the Penguins so desperately needed, becoming the sixth U.S.-born coach to win it all. Their teams in some ways have become reflections of them. The Predators aren’t nicknamed “Smashville” just for kicks. They were the last team to qualify for the playoffs but have caught fire in the last six weeks, sweeping Chicago in the first round then proving it wasn’t a fluke by putting away the Blues and the Ducks. “It should be some exciting hockey as far as back and forth and fast and physical,” Crosby said. “I think both teams like to play a pretty similar style.” Related ArticlesMay 25, 2017 Penguins beat Senators in double OT thriller, advance to Stanley Cup Final May 24, 2017 Game 7 offers chance at history for Penguins and Senators May 24, 2017 Pekka Rinne has Nashville in 1st Stanley Cup Final with smothering run May 23, 2017 Mike Hoffman’s goal helps Senators beat Penguins to force Game 7 May 22, 2017 Nashville Predators beat Anaheim Ducks, advance to 1st Stanley Cup Final With a handful of familiar faces on both sides. One of Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford’s first moves when he was hired in 2014 was to trade forward James Neal to the Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. It’s worked out for nearly all involved. Hornqvist’s relentless energy a [...]
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Former Avalanche assistant Tim Army not surprised he was let go
Departing Avalanche assistant coach Tim Army, who has been with the team for six seasons under three head coaches, said Wednesday night he wasn’t surprised when general manager Joe Sakic told him Tuesday that the team wasn’t exercising the club option for the second year of the two-year contract he signed in 2016. “I honestly expected something would happen, based on the year that we had,” Army said from his off-season home near Portland, Maine. “You have to make some changes. I get it. But even though you expect it, it still stings and it still hurts and it’s disappointing. But when you win 22 games, something has to happen and I understand that part of the sport. … I’ll be angry at some point, but right now it’s too new.” Coming off a 22-56-4 season, the worst in the NHL since the expansion Atlanta Thrashers in 1999-2000, the Avalanche announced Tuesday that three assistants — Army, Dave Farrish and goaltending guru Francois Allaire — wouldn’t return to head coach Jared Bednar‘s staff next season. Farrish is believed to have one year remaining on a three-year deal. All three were holdovers from Patrick Roy‘s staff, under contract and remaining with the Avalanche after Roy’s sudden departure last August. The Avalanche said Sakic wouldn’t comment on the changes until replacements were hired, and Bednar wasn’t made available to discuss them, either. Army, previously an assistant at Anaheim and Washington and a head coach in the AHL and at Providence College, said he believed he got along well with Bednar, including in their discussions this week, even after Sakic told Army he wouldn’t be back. “As much as it hurts and I would like to come back, I get it,” Army said. “I think it’s more Joe and upper management. I think Jared had to be comfortable with it. But I think we worked really well together and the staff worked well together. It obviously didn’t show in the wins, but it always takes time to get used to somebody new. I’m talking about a head coach, it takes some time to get used to his rhythm and simple things like where to place pucks in the practices. “From my standpoint, I think we worked well together and fit well together and it even was positive since the end of the season. But I think, ultimately, upper management felt like they needed to make a change.” What went wrong this season? “I don’t think there was any one thing,” said Army, who then mentioned the decent 9-9 start and the 0-4-1 homestand that started the downward spiral. “It started there for us,” he added. “We never seemed to be able to get any traction after that, we never seemed able to build on anything.” He also cited the injuries to defenseman Erik Johnson (broken leg), goaltender Semyon Varlamov (groin muscle issues and season-ending hip surgery) and even a Matt Duchene concussion that, in retrospect, seemed to derail his season. “We were better over the last 20 games, though it didn’t show in a lot of wins, but I think the young guys gave us a spark,” Army said. “I think that youth movement added more speed to our lineup late. We were not a quick lineup and it’s tough now, you watch the games now, you even watch the first round of the playoffs, the teams are so fast. We weren’t fast enough and it’s a speed game now. We weren’t quick enough. … I think there were a lot of balls in the air, with the injuries and then we didn’t have the depth to compensate for it. We didn’t tighten up and we always found a way to let the games get away from us.” Under Army’s watch, the Avalanche’s power play was the worst in the league, and Colorado got a baffling lack of production from “core” forwards Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog. Related ArticlesMay 24, 2017 Avalanche prospects helped Colorado Eagles reach the upcoming ECHL Finals May 23, 2017 Avalanche assistants Tim Army, Dave Farrish and Francois Allaire won’t be back May 21, 2017 Sweden, with Avs Gabe Landeskog and Carl Soderberg, wins world ice hockey championship on penalty shots over Canada May 20, 2017 Nathan MacKinnon, Calvin Pickard help spark Canada to 4-2 comeback win over Russia, claiming spot in gold medal game May 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” “We weren’t necessarily a possession team and I think the speed issue hurt us and we had a little lack of depth on the back end with E.J. out,” he said. “That affected our transition game, our breakouts, our play in the neutral zone. I think a lack of foot speed hurt us from a possession standpoint. Yeah, [...]
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Avalanche prospects helped Colorado Eagles reach the upcoming ECHL Finals
LOVELAND — The Avalanche’s American Hockey League affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, didn’t make the playoffs, either. So as the season wound down, the Avalanche maneuvered to dispatch four of its young prospects to the ECHL Colorado Eagles, in the Loveland-based franchise’s first year of a working agreement with the NHL team from down the freeway. More than six weeks after the organization’s NHL and AHL seasons ended, the four — defensemen Mason Geertsen and Sergei Boikov, plus forwards Shawn St-Amant and Julien Nantel — are playing major roles in the postseason as the Eagles chase after the ECHL’s Pat Kelly Cup. The Cup Finals, matching the Western Conference champion Eagles against the Eastern Conference’s South Carolina Stingrays, open Friday night at the Budweiser Events Center. Related ArticlesMay 24, 2017 Former Avalanche assistant Tim Army not surprised he was let go May 23, 2017 Avalanche assistants Tim Army, Dave Farrish and Francois Allaire won’t be back May 21, 2017 Sweden, with Avs Gabe Landeskog and Carl Soderberg, wins world ice hockey championship on penalty shots over Canada May 20, 2017 Nathan MacKinnon, Calvin Pickard help spark Canada to 4-2 comeback win over Russia, claiming spot in gold medal game May 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” “It’s been seamless,” Eagles coach Aaron Schneekloth said Wednesday after practice. “The guys that came to our roster spent some time with us in the regular season. I think the biggest adjustment was for Game 1 in the first round (against Idaho), when we inserted four or five players that we had seen, but hadn’t been with us for an extended period. But after that, you could see the chemistry starting to build each and every day. “The guys we received from our affiliates are happy to be here and they’ve worked hard for the team and their teammates and they’re not just concerned with their own play, and that’s why we’re having success. This experience is so valuable for them, whether they think it is now or not. This playoff experience and winning is valuable to their careers.” Here’s my NHL Report from during the season, explaining the Avalanche affiliation. In short, the Eagles have a hybrid roster, with a handful of players with contractural connections to the NHL/AHL organization, but mostly talent under ECHL contracts to the Eagles in the cost-controlled “AA” league. In this case, the Avalanche jumped on the chance to get those four prospects — plus goalie Kent Simpson and center Alex Belzile, both under AHL contracts with San Antonio — extended work in the ECHL playoffs. They also spent regular-season stints with the Eagles amid the organizational shuffling, but getting them back to Loveland for the ECHL playoffs wasn’t automatic. I’ve used the term “prospects” here, but let’s be realistic: These are not potential Avalanche stars. The upside is that they can be solid organizational players and perhaps even crack and stick in the NHL at some point — whether with Colorado or anyone else. But they’re playing well, and one more series win will lead to them hoisting a trophy overhead. That’s never a bad thing. The biggest mystery is why Belzile, 25, now the Eagles’ best player, didn’t get more of a serious look at San Antonio as the Rampage tried to force him into a plugger’s role around the more highly valued draft choices. He had only five goals in 45 games with the Rampage this season, but now has 24 goals in 31 regular-season and playoff games with the Eagles. Here’s a look at the major Avalanche/Rampage-connected players on the Eagles’ playoff roster: Defenseman Sergei Boikov, 21 Avalanche’s sixth-round pick, 2015 The Russian played with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League This season at San Antonio: 63 games, 3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points With Eagles in regular season: 7 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points. Playoffs: 14 games, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points. Schneekloth on Boikov: “Young, hungry defenseman, and it’s fun seeing him walking into the arena. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s putting in the work to be a complete player. He’s got an edge to his game on the ice. He’s got a hard, quick shot from the point.” Defenseman Mason Geertsen, 22 Avalanche’s fourth-round pick, 2013 Played major junior with Edmonton and Vancouver of the Western League This season at San Antonio: 36 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points With Eagles in regular season: 9 games, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points. Playoffs: 15 games, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points. Schneekloth on G [...]
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Mike Hoffman’s goal helps Senators beat Penguins to force Game 7
OTTAWA, Ontario — Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators bounced back nicely two days after a blowout loss put them on the brink of elimination. Anderson stopped 45 shots, Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 Tuesday night to force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The 36-year-old Anderson was coming off a pair of rough outings, including Sunday when he was pulled after yielding four goals in Ottawa’s 7-0 loss in Game 5 at Pittsburgh. “You can’t change what happens in the past,” said Anderson, who has credited work with a sports psychologist early in his career for helping him manage the mental side of the game. “From that moment on you have to look forward and get ready for the next one.” Hoffman fired a slap shot through traffic off a pass from Fredrik Claesson to put the Senators ahead at 1:34 of the third. Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa. It was quite a response after the drubbing in the previous game. “I think the biggest message for us was if somebody told us back in training camp in September that we’d have an opportunity to win Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final at home in front of our fans we would’ve taken it,” Ryan said. “So let’s not dwell, let’s not kick ourselves and put our heads down. Let’s embrace this opportunity to extend this for two more days together and go from there.” Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, vying for its second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the lead early in the second period and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves. Jana Chytilova, Freestyle Photo/Getty ImagesMike Hoffman #68 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates with his teammate after scoring a goal on Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final at Canadian Tire Centre on May 23, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. “I thought we played a real good game,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought we dominated zone time. We had lots of chances. We didn’t score tonight. The puck didn’t go in the net, but if we continue to play the game that way, then I believe we’ll get the result.” Game 7 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators for the championship. Ottawa was primarily looking for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start — which they got. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills, one of which saw Viktor Stalberg get the best opportunity short-handed. Pittsburgh had four shots with the man advantage, but Anderson stopped them all. It was evident early that he had his game back in this one. He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave the puck away. Anderson then stopped 22 of 23 shots in the second period. Boxscore: Ottawa 2, Pittsburgh 1 “I think Anderson was the reason that they got this one, he played big for them,” Murray said. “But in our room we just focus on what we need to do. We played really well, we just didn’t get the bounces and weren’t able to put one home.” Anderson’s performance was a reminder for Senators coach Guy Boucher of why he took the job with Ottawa in the first place last May. “I’ll be honest with you, if I didn’t have a No. 1 goalie, I didn’t want the job,” Boucher said. “I’ve lived it for quite a few years, and it’s hell when you don’t have it because everything you do turns to darkness, and there’s nothing that really matters when you don’t have a real No. 1 goaltender. “It’s like a quarterback in football and a pitcher in baseball, and we have it,” Boucher added. Murray was also sharp. The 22-year-old, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 3, made maybe his finest save of the first on Derick Brassard, who found an open lane down the middle of the ice following a pass from Ryan. Related ArticlesMay 22, 2017 Nashville Predators beat Anaheim Ducks, advance to 1st Stanley Cup Final May 22, 2017 Desperate Ottawa Senators tries to avoid elimination by Pittsburgh Penguins May 21, 2017 Penguins strike early, destroy Senators 7-0 to take 3-2 lead May 20, 2017 Pontus Aberg’s goal puts Predators past Ducks in Game 5 May 19, 2017 Sidney Crosby, Penguins beat Senators 3-2 to tie series The Penguins appeared to have opened the scoring just over three minutes into the second, but Trevor Daley was deemed to have interfered with Anderson following an Ottawa challenge. Less than two minutes later though, Pittsburgh took the 1-0 [...]
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Desperate Ottawa Senators tries to avoid elimination by Pittsburgh Penguins
OTTAWA, Ontario — Guy Boucher has typically kept his team off the ice on off-days during the postseason. Not Monday. The Ottawa coach opted for a half-hour practice ahead of Game 6 on Tuesday night to help his team “refresh” and “reload” after a 7-0 beating by Pittsburgh, one of the worst losses in team playoff history. Players thought the practice, as well as an encouraging chat beforehand, helped wipe the slate clean as they prepare for an elimination game. The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference final 3-2 and can return to the Stanley Cup Final with a win. “We can’t be sitting in our mud puddle,” Boucher told The Canadian Press after practice. “We’ve got to get up and go.” Reloading against an opponent vying for back-to-back Stanley Cups means reverting back to strengths of the club. In Sunday’s blowout loss, Boucher said, he thought his team tried to trade goals with the high-scoring Penguins — an odd choice for a Senators team that thrives on shutting down opponents. “If we stay away from our strengths there’s no chance,” Boucher said on Monday. “We’re aware of that. We got slapped — hard enough. The reality sets back in.” Veteran Marc Methot said the team needs to stay tight on defense “because any opportunity where there’s a lapse in judgment or a mistake on the ice there’s a good chance one of those top two lines will capitalize on you.” The Penguins suddenly have three lines operating at full power once more with Sidney Crosby returning to form (two goals, two assists in his last two games), Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel firing effectively in tandem and the just-united trio of Nick Bonino, Carter Rowney and Bryan Rust spurring three goals in Game 5. “I think we’ve done a better job of playing on our toes and managing the puck” Crosby said Monday. “Probably our fore-check creates a lot more. Rather than spending time in our end, we’ve created more opportunities, and we’ve played a little bit faster and gotten some momentum.” As for the 7-0 win, Crosby shrugged it off: “I think it’s about how you play the next game, and I think we expect a pretty desperate group. You don’t get to the Eastern Conference Finals without having that ability to bounce back. We know that tomorrow night’s going to be their best game, and it’s going to be our best as well.” Ottawa forward Zack Smith said the Senators have been giving the Penguins a lot more room to operate, putting them on the defensive. The Senators managed just 51 shots over two games against Matt Murray, scoring twice. Central to their woes is a power play that is 0-29 over the last 10 games. Ottawa last scored a power-play goal in Game 1 of a second round series against the New York Rangers. “If we had an answer we would’ve done it already,” Ottawa winger Mark Stone said. Boucher had one possible answer. He believed the power play was trying to make plays that weren’t there. Better poise under pressure was required. Not only haven’t the Sens scored with their power play, but they’ve allowed five in the series on 15 opportunities (67 per cent), including three against in Game 5. Related ArticlesMay 22, 2017 Nashville Predators beat Anaheim Ducks, advance to 1st Stanley Cup Final May 21, 2017 Penguins strike early, destroy Senators 7-0 to take 3-2 lead May 20, 2017 Pontus Aberg’s goal puts Predators past Ducks in Game 5 May 19, 2017 Sidney Crosby, Penguins beat Senators 3-2 to tie series May 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” Coming back to topple the Penguins means shutting those efforts down and reclaiming the staunch defensive approach which got the Ottawa far further than anyone could have expected. That includes a better performance from Craig Anderson, who’s posted an .857 save percentage in the last two losses (seven goals on 49 shots) after stopping 80 of 83 shots in the opening three games. Boucher recalled the message he delivered before the postseason began. “It’s about the ability to reload as fast as you can,” Boucher said. “And if you can’t do that then you’re in the wrong business because that’s what it’s about.” Notes: Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson, Derick Brassard and Cody Ceci did not skate Monday after leaving Game 5 early with injuries, but all are expected to play Tuesday night. Mark Borowiecki is also a possibility to draw back in for the first time since the opening round against Boston. [...]
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Nashville Predators beat Anaheim Ducks, advance to 1st Stanley Cup Final
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Different players just keep stepping up for the Nashville Predators, and now their magical postseason run has an even bigger destination: the franchise’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Colton Sissons scored his third goal with 6:00 left, and the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks with a 6-3 win in Game 6 on Monday night in the Western Conference finals. “In the back of your head, you’ve been thinking about the Finals and then when the buzzer goes off, it’s an amazing feeling,” Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. The Predators, who’ve never won even a division title in their 19-year history, came in with the fewest points of any team in these playoffs. They lost their top center, Ryan Johansen, for the playoffs after Game 4 because of emergency surgery on his left thigh. Captain Mike Fisher has missed two games with an upper-body injury. Related ArticlesMay 22, 2017 Desperate Ottawa Senators tries to avoid elimination by Pittsburgh Penguins May 21, 2017 Penguins strike early, destroy Senators 7-0 to take 3-2 lead May 20, 2017 Pontus Aberg’s goal puts Predators past Ducks in Game 5 May 19, 2017 Sidney Crosby, Penguins beat Senators 3-2 to tie series May 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” “We went through a tremendous amount of adversity the last 72 hours losing two key guys in our lineup,” Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said. “I mean, I said it before earlier in the playoffs that this team’s got tremendous amount of composure. There is so much confidence in this dressing room what we can accomplish together if we play the right way.” They’ve swept the West’s No. 1 seed in Chicago, downed St. Louis in six in the second round and now the Pacific Division champs. Peter Laviolette is the fourth coach to take three different teams to the Final, and the first since the playoffs split into conference play in 1994. Laviolette joked that probably means he’s been fired a lot. “Our guys know the big picture,” Laviolette said of his Predators. “They understand what it is that we’re trying to do here. And when that time comes, we’ll be ready.” BOX SCORE: Predators 6, Ducks 3 The Predators will play either defending champion Pittsburgh or Ottawa for the Stanley Cup. Game 1 is Monday. Anaheim lost in the conference finals for the second time in three years. “Our effort was there and we were a desperate hockey club right from the opening faceoff, and we didn’t quit until they scored the second empty-net goal,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. Cam Fowler tied it 3-3 at 8:52 of the third for Anaheim as the Ducks tried to rally for the fifth time this season when trailing by multiple goals. But Sissons, who scored on the third shot of the game, scored twice in a wild third period to give the Predators a 3-2 lead at 3:00 and then 4-3 three minutes later. “I don’t think I even dreamt of this moment, scoring a hat trick in the Western Conference clinching game, but I can’t speak enough for just our whole group,” Sissons said. “We’ve been through some challenges together and we stuck together no matter what, just always believed and here we are.” Austin Watson scored on Nashville’s first shot and had an empty-netter with 1:34 to go. Filip Forsberg also had an empty-net goal. Rinne made 38 saves to improve to 12-4. Ondrej Kase scored his second career goal — both in this series — giving Anaheim a chance to tie the NHL record with a fifth rally when trailing by multiple goals. Chris Wagner banked the puck off Rinne’s head for a goal at 5:00 of the third to keep the Ducks close. But this has been the best postseason ever for Rinne, a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, a stretch ranking among the NHL’s best. And the 6-foot-5 Finn used his big body to turn away shot after shot even with the Ducks trying to crash the net every opportunity. Music City buzzed all day leading up to the puck drop waiting for one of the biggest sports parties this town has ever seen. Superstar Garth Brooks spoiled the usual mystery of who would sing the national anthem with Twitter hints hours before the game. Sure enough, his wife Trisha Yearwood became the latest to handle the honors. Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George waved the rally towel to crank up the fans. That didn’t even include the throngs packing the plaza outside the arena’s front doors and the park across the street. The Ducks, who came in 2-1 when facing elimination this postseason, peppered Rinne with pucks. But they had goalie Jonathan Bernier making his first career playoff start after John Gibson was scratched with a hamstr [...]
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Sweden, with Avs Gabe Landeskog and Carl Soderberg, wins world ice hockey championship on penalty shots over Canada
COLOGNE, Germany — Sweden won the ice hockey world championship with a 2-1 victory on penalty shots over two-time defending champion Canada on Sunday. Canada failed to get the puck past Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on its four attempts in the shootout, from Nathan MacKinnon, Brayden Point, Ryan O’Reilly and Mitch Marner. O’Reilly’s shot hit the post and Lundqvist, the New York Rangers’ veteran, made saves on the other three. At the other end, against Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard, the Swedes got penalty-shot successes from Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Pickard also made a save on William Nylander and saw Avalanche teammate Gabe Landeskog’s shot go wide for the Swedes. The gold at the world championships was the first for the Swedes since 2013, and it ended Canada’s hopes for a third straight title. Victor Hedman’s unassisted goal gave the Swedes a 1-0 at 19:39 of the second period before O’Reilly, the former Colorado center, tied it up at 1:58 of the third for Canada. After a scoreless overtime, it went to penalty shots. The result there meant four Avalanche players (MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Pickard and Tyson Barrie, who was injured and didn’t play after Canada’s third game) received silver medals; and Landeskog and Colorado teammate Carl Soderberg earned gold. Colorado prospect defenseman Andrei Mironov won a bronze with Russia, which beat Finland 5-3 in the bronze-medal game. Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist in the loss for Finland. Related ArticlesMay 21, 2017 Penguins strike early, destroy Senators 7-0 to take 3-2 lead May 20, 2017 Pontus Aberg’s goal puts Predators past Ducks in Game 5 May 20, 2017 Nathan MacKinnon, Calvin Pickard help spark Canada to 4-2 comeback win over Russia, claiming spot in gold medal game May 19, 2017 Sidney Crosby, Penguins beat Senators 3-2 to tie series May 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” World Hockey Champions By The Associated Press 2017 — Sweden 2016 — Canada 2015 — Canada 2014 — Russia 2013 — Sweden 2012 — Russia 2011 — Finland 2010 — Czech Republic 2009 — Russia 2008 — Russia 2007 — Canada 2006 — Sweden 2005 — Czech Republic 2004 — Canada 2003 — Canada 2002 — Slovakia 2001 — Czech Republic 2000 — Czech Republic 1999 — Czech Republic 1998 — Sweden 1997 — Canada 1996 — Czech Republic 1995 — Finland 1994 — Canada 1993 — Russia 1992 — Sweden 1991 — Sweden 1990 — USSR 1989 — USSR 1988 — USSR (Olympic year) 1987 — Sweden 1986 — Soviet Union 1985 — Czechoslovakia 1984 — Soviet Union (Olympic year) 1983 — Soviet Union 1982 — Soviet Union 1981 — Soviet Union 1980 — United States (Olympic year) 1979 — Soviet Union 1978 — Soviet Union 1977 — Czechoslovakia 1976 — Czechoslovakia 1975 — Soviet Union 1974 — Soviet Union 1973 — Czechoslovakia 1972 — Soviet Union 1971 — Soviet Union 1970 — Soviet Union 1969 — Soviet Union 1968 — Soviet Union 1967 — Soviet Union 1966 — Soviet Union 1965 — Soviet Union 1964 — Soviet Union 1963 — Soviet Union 1962 — Sweden 1961 — Canada 1960 — United States 1959 — Canada 1958 — Canada 1957 — Sweden 1956 — Soviet Union 1955 — Canada 1954 — Soviet Union 1953 — Sweden 1952 — Canada 1951 — Canada 1950 — Canada 1949 — Czechoslovakia 1948 — Canada 1947 — Czechoslovakia 1939 — Canada 1938 — Canada 1937 — Canada 1936 — Britain 1935 — Canada 1934 — Canada 1933 — United States 1932 — Canada 1931 — Canada 1930 — Canada 1928 — Canada 1924 — Canada 1920 — Canada NOTE: All Olympic Ice Hockey tournaments between 1920 and 1968 also counted as World Championships, and in Olympic years 1980, 1984 and 1988, no IIHF Championships were held. [...]
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Penguins strike early, destroy Senators 7-0 to take 3-2 lead
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan calls it “getting to our game.” It means he wants his team to attack opponents with speed, aggression and a dash of responsibility. Physically translated, it looks like the 60 minutes the defending Stanley Cup champions put together Sunday in a 7-0 demolition of the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Dominant from the opening faceoff to the final whistle, the Penguins moved within one game of a return trip to the Cup final by overwhelming the Senators with wave after wave of pressure, the kind that became the club’s trademark during its sprint to a fourth championship last spring. Seven players scored and 11 finished with at least one point to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 on Tuesday in Ottawa. Seemingly on the ropes after getting pummeled 5-1 in Game 3, the Penguins have outscored the Senators 10-2 over the last six periods to gain control. “When we play the type of game we play tonight it allows us to dictate the terms and play the style and the identity of this Penguins team,” Sullivan said. One well aware that despite how easy it looked during its most lopsided playoff victory in five years, much work remains to be done. “They have a good ability to respond, so we’re going to be challenged here in Game 6,” said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who scored for the third straight and became the 22nd player in NHL history to reach 100 career playoff assists when he sent a slick backhand no-look pass to Phil Kessel early in the third period. “We know that and we’ve got to be at our best.” The Penguins might already be there. The power play went 3 for 3. The penalty kill turned the Senators away four times and extended Ottawa’s power play drought to 0 for 29. Matt Murray stopped 21 shots for his first playoff shutout in Pittsburgh’s most complete performance of the postseason. Kirk Irwin, Getty ImagesPenguins goaltender Matt Murray celebrates with his teammates after defeating the Ottawa Senators 7-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final in Pittsburgh. “I think that was a big part of our success last year was that we had all four lines going and chipping in offensively,” forward Matt Cullen said. “But more than that, spending time in the offensive zone and grinding and playing some good hockey and I think the last couple games, especially, that’s been key.” The Senators quieted the Penguins early in the series, holding them to three goals through three games by playing disciplined hockey. It collapsed in the first period on Sunday, as turnover after turnover kept giving Pittsburgh the kind of chances that makes it such a difficult out this time of year. The Penguins chased Ottawa’s Craig Anderson by beating him four times in the first period, the last a “why not” flip from behind the goal line by fourth-line forward Scott Wilson that banked in off the goalie. Related ArticlesMay 20, 2017 Pontus Aberg’s goal puts Predators past Ducks in Game 5 May 19, 2017 Sidney Crosby, Penguins beat Senators 3-2 to tie series May 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” May 19, 2017 NHL nearing record for one-goal games this postseason May 18, 2017 Ducks even Western finals at 2, beating Predators in OT Replacement Mike Condon didn’t fare much better. When Cullen beat him 1:54 into the second to make it 5-0, the competitive portion of the afternoon over. As if to raise the white flag, Ottawa coach Guy Boucher held defenseman Erik Karlsson, forward Derick Brassard and defenseman Cody Ceci out of the final 20 minutes to help them get rested up for Game 6. Karlsson, who is playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel, said he will “absolutely” be ready for Game 6. The rest of the Senators insist they’ll be ready too. They became the third team this postseason to lose by at least six goals. The other two — Edmonton in the first round against San Jose and Anaheim in the second round against the Oilers — came back to win the next game and eventually the series. “Just like a plumber wakes up one day, is having a great day, the other day he’s not having a good day,” Boucher said. “Just one of those bad days.” NOTES: Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist in his return from a concussion that sidelined him for Games 3 and 4. … Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley also scored for Pittsburgh. … The margin of victory was the largest in a conference final since Detroit beat Colorado 7-0 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. … Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin played in his 141st postseason game, surpassing Jaromir Jagr for the most in [...]
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Pontus Aberg’s goal puts Predators past Ducks in Game 5
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Pontus Aberg spent most of the season in the minors, and he had a part-time depth role for the Nashville Predators in these Stanley Cup playoffs until injuries thrust him into a key role in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. And now the unassuming Swede has another new role for Nashville: He’s the hero of the latest clutch victory in the Predators’ increasingly irresistible Stanley Cup push. Aberg scored his first career playoff goal with 8:59 to play, and the Predators moved to the brink of their first Stanley Cup Final with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks to take a 3-2 series lead Saturday night. Aberg had to send himself flying across the crease to swat home a rebound of Filip Forsberg’s shot for the Predators, epitomizing Nashville’s persistent effort through a defensive victory. A moment before he scored the biggest goal of his life, Aberg was upended during a scramble. He had to be taken off the ice for medical evaluation immediately after his celebration, but his teammates hung on to move one win away from playing for hockey’s ultimate prize. Boxscore: Nashville 3, Anaheim 1 “I face-planted there and lost my tooth, but it didn’t hurt my head,” Aberg said with a smile. Not much seems to wound these resilient Predators, who overcame the injury absence of top scorer Ryan Johansen and captain Mike Fisher. Nashville leaned heavily on stalwart goalie Pekka Rinne and got barely enough offense to survive, with Colin Wilson scoring the tying goal late in the second period and Austin Watson adding an empty-netter. “We knew coming into tonight that we’ve just got to come together, play well defensively and grind it out,” Rinne said. “I thought that’s what we did. We showed a lot of character. For us, the first couple of rounds was fairly smooth sailing. Things were going our way. You deal with adversity, but right now, it’s something that every team is going to face, and I feel like we handled it really well.” Game 6 is Monday night in Nashville. Aberg, who also has one career NHL regular-season goal, was only in position to win it because the Predators were on a counterattack after a prolonged scramble in front of Nashville’s net. Rinne, who made 32 saves, ended that frantic sequence prone in the starfish pose, frustrating the Ducks for the umpteenth time and earning his fifth victory in Nashville’s seven playoff games at Honda Center over the past two seasons. Chris Wagner scored the only goal on a frustrating day for the Ducks, who began the game without injured 30-goal scorers Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves before losing starting goalie John Gibson to a lower-body injury during the first intermission. Anaheim’s collection of veteran stars and up-and-coming talent will have to win back-to-back elimination games to avoid crashing out in the conference finals for the second time in three years. “I thought we had energy coming out, and it deteriorated throughout the game,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “We’ve got to do a better job maintaining what we want to do with our game plan, because they played hard tonight.” Jonathan Bernier took over for Gibson and stopped 16 shots in his first appearance in nearly two weeks for the Ducks, calling it a “weird situation.” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Gibson wants to play in Game 6, but will be re-evaluated. “We have a lot of areas of concern off our performance tonight,” Carlyle said. “We’re not going to hang our head with doom and gloom. We’ll get ourselves ready. We’ll re-energize our group, and we’ll look forward to playing a better game. We’ve won in that building before, so it doesn’t really matter where we go.” The Predators still haven’t lost back-to-back games at any point in what’s looking like a charmed playoff run for an 18-season-old franchise that’s finally one game from playing for the Stanley Cup. Related ArticlesMay 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” May 19, 2017 NHL nearing record for one-goal games this postseason May 18, 2017 Ducks even Western finals at 2, beating Predators in OT May 18, 2017 2018 Olympic Games head says NHL not being greedy, will cooperate May 18, 2017 NHL nearing record for one-goal games this postseason Aberg and several other role players all came up big in the Predators’ first game of the season without Johansen, their top-line center and leading postseason scorer. Johansen had emergency surgery shortly after Game 4 and was ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. Fisher missed his first game of his scoreless postseason with an undisclosed injury after taking a hit to the [...]
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Sidney Crosby, Penguins beat Senators 3-2 to tie series
OTTAWA, Ontario — Matt Murray was back — and so was Sidney Crosby. Crosby had a goal and an assist, Murray made 22 saves in his first start of the playoffs and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Friday night to even the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2. Crosby had only one point as the defending champion Penguins dropped two of the first three, leading to questions about his health following a jarring concussion in the second round. Murray started for the first time in more than six weeks. “All I can really do is kind of jump in and try not to think about it,” Murray said. “Just try and play with the flow of the game and kind of let yourself get lost in the game a little bit. I thought I did a pretty good job of that tonight. There’s a lot of ways I could have been a lot better I thought, but all together felt good about the game.” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan turned to Murray after Marc-Andre Fleury was chased in the first period Wednesday night in the Penguins’ 5-1 loss in Game 3. “I thought Matt was solid,” Sullivan said. “He made some timely saves for us when we needed it. He has a calm demeanor about him. I thought he was tracking the puck extremely well. And certainly, he made a couple of key saves for us at key times.” Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta added goals to help Pittsburgh take a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. Clarke MacArthur and Tom Pyatt scored for Ottawa. “They were the better team tonight for two periods and they deserved the game,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. Game 5 is Sunday in Pittsburgh. Boxscore: Pittsburgh 3, Ottawa 2 Murray made a strong stop on Mike Hoffman less than two minutes into the game and denied Viktor Stalberg on a pair of follow-up opportunities. The goalie made maybe his best stop on Derick Brassard’s backhander, kicking the shot away with his right pad. “He made a really big save early on with his leg save when the guy kind of went around him after a rebound and I think right after that our team went into the offensive side and really played at the puck and gave us that momentum,” teammate Chris Kunitz said. “I think we did an all-around good job tonight.” Fleury started the first 15 games for Pittsburgh with Murray mostly sidelined by injury. “I don’t want to make this about myself,” Fleury said after the game. “We scored some goals. That was nice. We won. It’s good.” Pittsburgh opened the scoring with 46 seconds left in the first period when Maatta went down the left side and fired a short-side shot past on goalie Craig Anderson. Crosby set up the play. Pittsburgh’s already battered defense took another blow late in the first when Bobby Ryan hit Chad Ruhwedel. Ian Cole immediately throttled Ryan, as Ruhwedel was down on the ice. Ryan somehow escaped a charging penalty on the play, and Cole drew the only call for roughing. The Pens are already without Kris Letang, who is done for the playoffs, and Justin Schultz, who missed the last two games with an upper-body injury. Crosby’s brilliance showed up again midway through the second on a power play after Jean-Gabriel Pageau ripped off the Pittsburgh star’s helmet in a scrum around the net. Crosby stationed himself right on the doorstep to Anderson’s left, his right leg hugging the post for support. That didn’t allow him to score on the initial setup from Jake Guentzel, but helped him to bang in the follow-up for the 2-0 lead. Guentzel had two assists. Related ArticlesMay 19, 2017 Frei: 2000-01 Avalanche deservedly makes the cut to to the “Top 20 Greatest NHL Teams” May 19, 2017 NHL nearing record for one-goal games this postseason May 18, 2017 Ducks even Western finals at 2, beating Predators in OT May 18, 2017 NHL nearing record for one-goal games this postseason May 17, 2017 Senators chase Marc-Andre Fleury, rout Penguins in Game 3 Dumoulin made it 3-0 less than four minutes later with a shot from the left point that caromed in off Ottawa defenseman Dion Phaneuf’s skate. Ottawa had mostly neutralized the high-powered Penguins in the first three games, holding them to just three goals — a mark they equaled in less than 32 minutes of Game 4. Pittsburgh seemed to find more speed, got more shots in tight and capitalized on opportunities around the net. Following that initial flurry in the first, the Senators had little going right until the last two minutes of the second when Ryan found MacArthur with a crafty backdoor pass for Ottawa’s first goal. The Sens pulled within one with five minutes left when Pyatt got a skate on Erik Karlsson’s already-deflected point shot. Minas Panagiotakis, Getty ImagesOlli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins cele [...]
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Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen has winning goal as Finland beats U.S. in world championships
Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen had the decisive goal in Finland’s 2-0 win over the United States and Colorado goalie Calvin Pickard had 19 saves to help Canada beat host Germany, 2-1, Thursday in the quarterfinals of hockey’s world championships in Cologne. In the other quarterfinals in Paris, Sweden got by Switzerland 3-1 and Russia defeated the Czech Republic 3-0. Related ArticlesMay 16, 2017 Avalanche’s Matt Duchene breaks scoreless string, has goal in Canada’s win over Finland May 15, 2017 Nathan MacKinnon collects three more assists in Canada’s rout of Norway May 13, 2017 Frei: Good news is, Avalanche reps doing well in world championships. Bad news is, they’re there. May 12, 2017 Avalanche signs Russian defenseman Andrei Mironov May 11, 2017 Nathan MacKinnon, Canada get to 4-0 at World Championships with win over France Saturday’s semifinals, both in Cologne, will be Sweden vs. Finland and Canada vs. Russia. Rantanen, 20, beat USA goalie Jimmy Howard on a power play at 1:01 of the second period to open the scoring, and Joonas Kemppainen had the other goal as the Finns advanced and the Americans were eliminated from the tournament. Avalanche center J.T. Compher didn’t have a point. In the second game in Cologne, Jeff Skinner and Mark Scheiefele scored for Canada and Pickard allowed only a Yannic Seidenberg short-handed goal at 13:21 of the third period. That made it 2-1 and gave the German crowd hope of an upset. But the Canadians had little trouble holding on, finishing with 48 shots on German goalie Philipp Grubauer of the Washington Capitals and dominating most of the game. Pickard alternated starts with Calgary’s Chad Johnson through the round-robin Group B play, but it would have been Johnson’s turn Thursday. Colorado’s Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon didn’t hit the scoresheet. At Paris, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Edler and William Nylander had the goals in Sweden’s win over Switzerland, while Avalanche forwards Gabe Landeskog and Carl Soderberg were pointless. Avalanche prospect Andrei Mironov was a scratch for the Russians in their win over the Czech Republic. [...]
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Ducks even Western finals at 2, beating Predators in OT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Corey Perry just keeps finding the net in overtime this postseason, and his third goal in extra time helped the Ducks tie the Western Conference finals at 2-2. Perry’s shot deflected in off Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban’s stick 10:25 into overtime, and the Ducks snapped the Predators’ 10-game home playoff winning streak with a 3-2 victory Thursday night. “I was just trying to create traffic or create a balance and create havoc in front,” Perry said. “And that’s what they say in overtime: You throw it on net, never know what’s going to happen.” Perry matched Teemu Selanne’s franchise record with his ninth winning goal and moved past Selanne for sole possession of second in Ducks’ history with his 36th postseason goal. John Gibson made 32 saves for Anaheim, which was the last team to beat the Predators in Nashville in the playoffs last spring in Game 4 of their first-round series. The Predators had matched the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings with their 10-game winning streak but missed matching Colorado’s 11-0 playoff run in 1996-97. Rickard Rakell and Nick Ritchie staked the Ducks to a 2-0 lead. But Subban scored with 6:27 left, and Filip Forsberg tied it with 34.5 seconds remaining in regulation with his fourth goal in four games. Boxscore: Anaheim 3, Nashville 2 Perry ended the second overtime in the series with a goal originally credited to Nate Thompson. Perry stopped the puck as the Predators tried to clear and shot from the right boards at a severe angle. Subban stuck out his stick trying to poke-check the puck away only to re-direct it past goalie Pekka Rinne. “They caught a lucky bounce tonight on the redirect that ended up being a difference maker,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. The goal finally was credited to Perry after the Ducks appealed to the NHL. “I don’t really care at this point as long as it goes in the net,” Thompson said. The Ducks have matched their franchise record with their fourth overtime win this postseason. They are 4-1 with the lone loss in this series opener to Nashville. They went 4-0 in OT on their way to winning the 2007 Stanley Cup. Game 5 is Saturday night in Anaheim. “We thought we were outcompeted last game, so it feels good to take care of business and get a split on the road and now it’s best out of three,” Ducks center Andrew Cogliano said. The Ducks killed off five penalties, including a 5 on 3 in the third. But the Predators outshot them 11-5 in the third with the late flurry forcing overtime. Subban scored off a blast from the blue line to revive the standing-room only crowd with Forsberg helping screen Gibson. Forsberg, who started Nashville’s comeback win in Game 3, ensured overtime crashing the net with two teammates and smashing the puck across the line. “Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Forsberg said. “I don’t think we showed up in the first, and then after that we played better. It’s tough. They’re a good team. We can’t give them a two-goal lead like that.” Nashville brought out inaugural American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson as the latest big name to sing the national anthem, and rock group Kings of Leon stirred up the crowd by waving from the bandstand in Music City’s latest show of star power. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also was on hand with a franchise-record 17,423 fans. The Ducks looked much stronger after a day off Wednesday from coach Randy Carlyle, and they pounded the Predators up and down the ice. Defenseman Josh Manson even checked Rinne against the boards behind the net late in the second period. They also dominated the play early and caught the Predators in a line change with a long pass to Rakell leading to a slap shot that beat Rinne at 11:30 of the first. It was the seventh goal this postseason for Rakell, who led the Ducks with 33 goals during the regular season. Anaheim wound up outshooting Nashville 14-2 in the first period thanks to the Predators being credited for a shot during the intermission. It was the fewest shots ever allowed by the Ducks in a period. Related ArticlesMay 18, 2017 NHL nearing record for one-goal games this postseason May 17, 2017 Senators chase Marc-Andre Fleury, rout Penguins in Game 3 May 16, 2017 Predators rally, beat Ducks to take 2-1 Western finals lead May 15, 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins knot series with Game 2 victory over Ottawa Senators May 14, 2017 Energized Anaheim Ducks even Western finals, beat Nashville Predators The Predators opened the second with a bit more energy, matching what they put on net in the first period within a minute. But Ritchie gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead at 10:22 with a wrister from the right circle, beating Rinne’s blocker for his fourth thi [...]
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