Jake Guentzel scored four straight goals to help send the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 on Sunday in Philadelphia.
The Penguins will play the winner of the Washington-Columbus series in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Washington leads that series 3-2.
Sean Couturier also had a hat trick for the Flyers, who haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975.
Guentzel, not Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel or the injured Evgeni Malkin, won the game for the Penguins with goals off costly Flyers turnovers, leading them to their ninth straight playoff series win.
He tied it at 4 with 54 seconds left in the second period off a Flyers turnover. He scored 30 seconds into the third for the lead off another giveaway, and sealed one more lopsided win over the Flyers with two goals 10 seconds apart late in the period.
It was 2-2 after one period, 4-4 after two, and nothing was decided in the fiercest game of the series between the longstanding rivals until Guentzel took control.
Crosby, Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust also scored for the Penguins.
Scott Laughton and Andrew MacDonald scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers lost all three games at home and not even a solid start could help them get out of the first round for the first time since 2012.
Predators 5, Avalanche 0: Mattias Ekhom ignited the offense early with the first goal by a Nashville defenseman in the series, Pekka Rinne stopped 22 shots and the top-seeded Predators advanced to the second round with the win in Denver.
Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg, Nick Bonino and Viktor Arvidsson also scored to help the Predators move on to face Winnipeg. They were 3-1-1 against the Jets in the regular season.
Nashville removed any sort of drama with two goals in the opening period and two more in the second to hush the capacity crowd. Rinne was on his game in notching his fourth career postseason shutout.
Andrew Hammond ran out of magic in net, allowing five goals. The third-string goaltender nicknamed “Hamburglar” had 44 saves during a Game 5 win in Nashville to extend the series. But he couldn’t turn back a formidable Nashville offense that won a second straight playoff contest in Denver.
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