Chris Kreider’s long slap shot bounced over Louis Domingue and into the net with 1:28 left and the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-3, on Friday night to push their thrilling first-round series to a deciding Game 7.
Kreider’s second of the game and fourth of the playoffs sent the series back to New York. Andrew Copp added an empty netter for good measure in the waning seconds. Game 7 is Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Mike Zibanejad had two goals and two assists and Adam Fox had four assists. Igor Shesterkin stopped 31 shots to win at PPG Paints Arena for the first time this series after getting chased by Pittsburgh in Games 3 and 4.
Panthers close out series with Capitals
On the wrong side of a comeback effort this time, the Florida Panthers rebounded in overtime and made sure they wouldn’t need to go home to finish their first-round series.
Carter Verhaeghe scored the OT winner to send the Panthers to the second round by beating the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 6 Friday night. It’s the franchise’s first playoff series victory since 1996 when Florida reached the Stanley Cup Final.
The Panthers are still eight wins from getting back to the final, but they will have home-ice advantage for their next series against either the cross-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning or the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Florida looked to be on the verge of a regulation victory when Gustav Forsling tripped Nicklas Backstrom with 1:09 left in the third period. T.J. Oshie scored 6 seconds into the Washington power play to send the sellout crowd of over 18,000 into a frenzy.
Those fans were silent after Verhaeghe scored his sixth goal of the series 2:46 into overtime. Verhaeghe, Florida’s leading scorer in the series, missed the morning skate and was considered a game-time decision.
Trade-deadline acquisition Claude Giroux and captain Aleksander Barkov scored in the third period to put the Panthers ahead. Ryan Lomberg scored Florida’s first goal, tying it 2:29 after Nic Dowd got the Capitals on the board.
The Capitals have not won a playoff series since hoisting the Cup in 2018 and got knocked out in the first round at home for the third time in that span.
Jordan Binnington comes through
It was a Jordan Binnington type of game.
The St. Louis Blues goalie has earned a reputation as a clutch performer when the team has a chance to close out a playoff series. And he proved it again Thursday night.
Binnington made 25 saves and the Blues beat the Minnesota Wild, 5-1, in Game 6 to advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. The St. Louis goalie improved to 5-1 in potential series-clinching games.
“It’s just his demeanor, you know, he loves this kind of stuff,” Blues coach Craig Berube said.
Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in a dominant second period during which the Blues outshot the Wild, 22-5, and took control of the game.
Nick Leddy also scored, Colton Parayko added an empty-netter and David Perron had two assists as St. Louis won its first series since defeating the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.
“It was a tough, tough battle,” Bozak said. “That’s a very good team over there. It’s kind of a shame we played in the first round of the playoffs. It was two of the top teams in the West and they deserve a lot of credit for the season they had.”
The Blues will travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche in Game 1 of the second round.
Oilers stave off elimination
If a picture indeed tells a thousand words, Evander Kane holding seven fingers in the air after scoring an empty-net goal told plenty about the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
The Oilers fought off elimination and forced a deciding game.
Kane’s second goal late in the third period put an exclamation point on the Oilers’ 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 of their Western Conference first-round series.
Edmonton will host the winner-take-all game Saturday night. In a series during which the road team has won four times, Kane likes his team’s chances.
“It’s gonna be juicy,” said Kane, who also had an assist, about what type of atmosphere he expects.
Tyson Barrie scored the go-ahead goal and Connor McDavid added two goals and an assist.
Kane has seven goals in the series to tie Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov and Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel for the league lead. He is the seventh Edmonton player to score at least seven times in a series and the first since Esa Tikkanen in 1991.
Boudreau to stay with Canucks
Bruce Boudreau will return as coach of the Vancouver Canucks next season after helping to turn the struggling NHL club around as a midyear replacement.
Ted Lindsay Award finalists named
Roman Josi, Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid were named finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award on Friday.
The award is given annually to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the NHL Players’ Association.
Josi led NHL defensemen in scoring with 96 points (23 goals, 73 assists), power-play goals (11), and shots on goal (281) in 80 games for the Nashville Predators.
Matthews led the NHL in goals (60), the most in a season by a Toronto Maple Leafs player and most by a United-States born player in a season.
McDavid led the NHL in scoring for the second straight season with 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) in 80 games for the Edmonton Oilers.