Penguins eliminate the Rangers, Blackhawks tie series with Blues and more in today’s collection of NHL morning headlines.
NHL Playoff Recaps.
TRIBLIVE.COM/NEW YORK POST: A four-goal second period powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers, eliminating the latter in five games. Penguins rookie forward Bryan Rust led the way with two goals and an assist, breaking a 2-2 tie and carrying the Pens to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. For the Rangers, Stanley Cup Finalists in 2014 and Eastern Conference Finalists in three of the last four seasons, it’s an end of an era as their Cup window slams shut. Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle, expected to retire after this season, was a healthy scratch from this game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This really was a series between two clubs heading in different directions. Buoyed by an infusion of promising young talent, the Penguins appear to be a team on the rise. The Rangers, with several core players showing four seasons of wear and tear, looked old and slow by comparison. For Boyle, it was a sad end to his long and largely productive NHL career, winning a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004 and anchoring the San Jose Sharks defense corps for several years.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE/STLTODAY.COM: On the brink of elimination, the Chicago Blackhawks rallied from a 3-1 deficit with five unanswered goals to defeat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 in Game Six of their best-of-seven series. Trade acquisitions Dale Weise (who scored the game winner), Andrew Ladd (one goal) and Richard Panik were big factors for the Blackhawks in this game. The win sets up a seventh and deciding game back in St. Louis on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the second straight game, the Blues failed to close the deal. And now, the specter of previous playoff failures is planting seeds of doubt among Blues fans. There’s also questions over how Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is handling the ice time of his best players, particularly top scorer Vladimir Tarasenko, who saw less than 17 minutes of ice time in this game.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/YAHOO SPORTS: Frederik Andersen made 27 saves while Ryan Getzlaf, David Perron and Jakub Silfverberg each collected two points to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators, giving the Ducks a 3-2 series lead and a change to close out the series in Game Six on Monday in Nashville. Offensive production remained an issue for the Predators, struggling to score for the third straight game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That lack of offense has adversely affected the Predators in the last three games. It’s the main reason why they’ve blown a 2-0 series lead and now face elimination on home ice against the surging Ducks. If they don’t resolve this issue in Game Six tomorrow night, they’ll be cleaning out their lockers on Tuesday.
Notable NHL Headlines.
THE WASHINGTON POST/CSNPHILLY.COM: The Washington Capitals hope to generate more traffic in front of Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth in Game Six this afternoon in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the Flyers hope to use the pressure of having forced a sixth game will hamper the Capitals, who have a long history of blowing playoff series leads. Down 3-0 in this series, the Flyers rallied to win the last two games.
STARTRIBUNE.COM/THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Minnesota Wild hope to use Game Six tonight against the Dallas Stars to force a seventh and deciding match back in Texas. The Stars, meanwhile, are expected to start Kari Lehtonen in goal. He replaces Antti Niemi, who received the start in the last two games..
MIAMI HERALD/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: As the Florida Panthers try to stave off elimination in Game Six tonight against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center, the Isles hope to win their first playoff series since 1993.
TSN: NHL participation at the 2018 Winter Olympics appears to be in doubt. The International Olympic Committee has refused to cover the league’s expenses for involvement in the Games, which includes transportation, insurance and accommodation.
OTTAWA SUN: New Senators GM PIerre Dorion is working hard to find the right coach for his club. The Sens hope to have a new bench boss hired before the 2016 NHL Draft in late June. Improving their defensive game is a must. Dorion has already interviewed former Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo.