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Jake DeBrusk scored his second goal of the game to break a third-period tie, and the Boston Bruins came from behind to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 – again – winning 7-4 on to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Penguins and Capitals say they are different teams as they meet in the second round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year. It’s still Sidney Crosby versus Alex Ovechkin, but plenty of things are different about the supporting casts. The Penguins won the previous three series, twice winning Game 7 in Washington on the way to capturing the Stanley Cup. Game 1 is Thursday night in Washington.
The San Jose Sharks knew early on this season that the expansion Vegas Golden Knights were not a fluke. Vegas used its blistering speed to race to a Pacific Division title and first-round sweep against Los Angeles. That sets up a second-round showdown between the Golden Knights and a Sharks team playing its best hockey after sweeping Anaheim.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without center Evgeni Malkin and forward Carl Hagelin when the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions open their Eastern Conference semifinal series Thursday night in Washington. Coach Mike Sullivan says Malkin and Hagelin will be scratched from the lineup because of injuries. Malkin got tangled with Philadelphia Flyers forward Jori Lehtera in Game 5 of the first-round series. Hagelin collided with Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux in Game 6.
Criticism of suspensions and non-suspensions for head shots in the playoffs led the NHL’s department of player safety to release a video outlining its rationale on four different incidents. The Kings were perhaps the loudest critics after Drew Doughty was suspended for a hit on Vegas forward William Carrier. Commissioner Gary Bettman approves of the job George Parros and his department is doing, calling it consistent.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have beaten the Washington Capitals nine times in 10 playoff series. Still, captain Sidney Crosby stressed past performance will not play a factor when the two teams meet yet again in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Penguins have beaten the Capitals in each of the last two seasons on their way to the Stanley Cup. They split their four meetings during the regular season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in another Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. They are hoping for a different ending. Five years ago, Toronto blew a three-goal lead in the third period and lost in overtime. The Leafs have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in this year’s first-round series to force a seventh game on Wednesday night in Boston. The Bruins are 12-8 at home in Game 7s. Toronto is 5-9 on the road in Game 7s.
After rolling over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Washington Capitals can look toward avenging some playoff disappointments. The Capitals beat the Blue Jackets 6-3 on Monday night in Game 6 to cap the opening-round series. Now they’ll face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat them in the Eastern Conference semifinals in each of the past two seasons.
Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Toronto Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 and avoid playoff elimination.
Nicklas Backstrom scored his second goal of the game 11:53 into overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets and a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series. Braden Holtby made 16 of his 39 saves in the third period to help Washington get to overtime.
Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning are moving on in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Kucherov scored his 27th career postseason goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots as the top seed in the Eastern Conference beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 to end the first-round series in five games.
Sven Andrighetto scored with 1:28 left to give the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 victory over Nashville Predators 2-1, sending the first-round series back to Denver for Game 6. Gabriel Landeskog tied for the Avs with 4:11 to go.
Jacob Trouba, Bryan Little, Brandon Tanev and Joel Armia scored in the first 11:59 to chase Minnesota goalie Devan Dubynk and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Wild 5-0 to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for his second shutout of the series, and Mark Scheifele added a goal in the third to help the Jets finish off the Wild in five games.
Sean Couturier’s long shot from the point got past Matt Murray with 1:17 left and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 night to force sixth game in the first-round series. The Flyers cut the Penguins’ series lead to 3-2 going into Game 6 on Sunday in Philadelphia.
The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Capitals’ Braden Holtby are making big saves when it matters to help their teams in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Boston can close out Toronto, Tampa Bay can close out New Jersey and Washington is tied with Columbus behind some standout work in net.
Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy says it will be a game-day decision whether forward Patrice Bergeron will play against Toronto in Game 5. Bergeron missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury. He was back on the ice at the team’s practice facility on an off-day. The Bruins lead the Maple Leafs 3-1.
The NHL playoffs are filled with players that were put on waivers only to find a revamped role with a new team. Colorado defensemen Patrik Nemeth has made the most of his opportunity after being waived by Dallas in October. He played in a career-high 68 games for Colorado, with three goals, 12 assists and a plus-27 rating, which was the highest by an Avalanche defenseman since Adam Foote in 2002-03.
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights were long shots at the start of the year to make the playoffs. Now the team is one of the best bets to hoist the Stanley Cup. Other expansion teams to find unusual early success include the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, two NFL teams that reached the conference title games in their second seasons.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists assist to lift the Washington Capitals over the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 to even their playoff series at two games apiece. Tom Wilson and Alexander Ovechkin each had a goal and an assist for Washington. Braden Holtby had 23 saves for the Capitals in the first game of the series to be decided in regulation. The first three games were decided in overtime. The series moves back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday.
Brad Marchand scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and Tuukka Rask made 31 saves as the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series. Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk also had goals for the Bruins, who can win the Eastern Conference quarterfinal when they host Game 5 on Saturday at Boston’s TD Garden. Tomas Plekanec scored the lone goal for the Leafs