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Crosby, Penguins get even with 4-3 win over Rangers

NEW YORK (AP) Sidney Crosby scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins evened their first-round playoff series with the New York Rangers with a 4-3 win Saturday night. The Rangers won Game 1 by making Crosby virtually invisible and keeping Evgeni Malkin out of the danger zone. On Saturday, both of them and the Penguins as a whole showed more jump, possessing the puck and keeping New York off-balance. Forcing turnovers in the decisive second period, shutting down the Rangers' power play and generally controlling the pace, the Penguins got even. Crosby, naturally, was at the center of the turnaround. He broke a 1-1 tie by knocking in a rebound of Patric Hornqvist's shot in the second period. Then Crosby made a diving deflection past Henrik Lundqvist of a pass from Chris Kunitz on the right wing boards following a Rangers giveaway in their zone. Game 3 is Monday night in Pittsburgh.

Sun, 19 Apr 2015 03:06:00 +0000
Lightning rebound to even series against Red Wings

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop stopped 24 shots for his first NHL playoff victory Saturday, a 5-1 win over Detroit that evened their opening-round Eastern Conference series at one game apiece. Tyler Johnson had two goals for the Lightning, who dropped Game 1 while outplaying the Red Wings for most of a 3-2 loss. Alex Killorn and Andrej Sustr scored in second period before Johnson's breakaway goal finished a three-goal flurry that put Tampa Bay up 4-0. Bishop lost his bid for a shutout when Detroit's Tomas Tatar scored at 5:49 of the third period. The 6-foot-7 goaltender won a career-best 40 games during the regular season and is one of the reasons the Lightning feel good about their chances of making a deep run in the playoffs. Despite the loss, the Red Wings return home for Game 3 on Tuesday night feeling fortunate the series is tied. They did not play particularly well in either of the two games at Amalie Arena, but escaped with the opener thanks to an outstanding playoff debut by young goalie Petr Mrazek. The 23-year-old Mrazek was pulled Saturday after Tampa Bay's three-goal second period, replaced by the struggling, but much more experienced Jimmy Howard, who gave up Tampa Bay's final goal to Valtteri Filppula on a power play in the closing minutes. Johnson scored on the power play just over three minutes into the game, giving Tampa Bay its first lead of the series. He beat Mrazek again in the second period, less than five minutes after Sustr's first career playoff goal made it 3-0. The Lightning, who haven't won a playoff series since 2011, ended a six-game postseason losing streak after dominating the series opener - outshooting the Red Wings 46-14 - but also going 0 for 7 on the power play and yielding a short-handed goal that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 loss. Detroit was outshot 30-24 this time, but still didn't put much pressure on the Lightning defense. Mrazek was superb in his NHL playoff debut with 44 saves, but couldn't replicate that success again, stopping just 14 of 18 shots in the first two periods. Notes: The Lightning went 32-8-1 at home during the regular season. ... Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos had two assists. ... Howard had 11 saves in the final period for Detroit. ... The Red Wings were 0 for 4 on the power play after scoring two goals on special team in the opener.

Sat, 18 Apr 2015 22:07:00 +0000
Blues whip Wild 4-1, even series at game apiece

ST. LOUIS (AP) Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals in the first period and then had an empty-netter for his first career playoff hat trick, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday that evened their playoff series at a game apiece. Tarasenko had an assist and no shots in a 4-2 loss in Game 1, but responded with an impressive performance more in line with his play in the regular season. The dynamic winger ran his playoff total to seven goals in nine games. Patrik Berglund's unassisted goal past Devan Dubnyk made it a two-goal cushion with 1:58 to go for the Central Division champions, who will carry momentum to Minnesota for Game 3 on Monday night.

Sat, 18 Apr 2015 22:18:00 +0000
Oilers win NHL draft lottery and chance to select McDavid

The Edmonton Oilers won the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. The Oilers bucked the odds Saturday night in Toronto by winning the NHL draft lottery for the No. 1 pick. The former World Hockey Association franchise, which introduced Wayne Gretzky to the NHL in 1979, is in position to draft the Erie Otters center described as a once-in-a-generation talent. "I can't tell you how exciting it is for us to win this lottery," Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said during a telephone conference call. "Any team would be just over the moon about winning the lottery. We're the same. It's a game-changer." The Oilers had an 11.5 percent chance of winning based on their 28th-place finish this season. At 20 percent, the Buffalo Sabres had the best odds to win, followed by the Arizona Coyotes at 13.5 percent among the 14 non-playoff teams The Sabres will pick second and the chance to land a highly touted consolation prize in Boston University freshman center Jack Eichel. Arizona will pick third. McDavid was first and Eichel second in the final rankings of North American skaters issued by the NHL's Central Scouting bureau 10 days ago. Oilers assistant general manager Bill Scott declined several chances to guarantee Edmonton would select McDavid at the NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida, on June 26. He explained he wants the player and his family to have the chance to enjoy the draft process and hear his name called. MacTavish said there was "zero" chance he'd entertain trading the No. 1 pick. "It's an amazing organization and a true honor to be going there," said McDavid said, who noted he was nervous while NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was revealing the draft order. "When they were pulling up the cards, I think that was as fast as my heart's ever beated. It was sure exciting." This marked the second straight year Buffalo lost the lottery, after Florida won last year. The Oilers will pick first for the fourth time in six years. They drafted Taylor Hall in 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011 and Nail Yakupov in 2012. Despite all that top-end talent, the Oilers missed the playoffs for a ninth straight season, a drought that dates to 2006, when they lost in the Stanley Cup finals to Carolina. "It's been some pretty lean times over the last number of years," MacTavish said. "But this is going to go a long way of ending those." The Oilers have the go-ahead to build a new arena which is scheduled to open in downtown Edmonton for the start of the 2016-17 season. The last-place-finishing team has won the first pick six times in the 20 years the lottery was held. Edmonton in 2010 was the last to do so, capping a three-year run of 30th-place teams landing the No. 1 pick. At 6 feet and 195 pounds, McDavid is regarded as a more talented and creative play-maker than Eichel, who brings a more physical element to his game with a 6-2, 200-pound frame. Central Scouting director Dan Marr called McDavid "a craftsman with the puck." "His hockey sense with his vision, his anticipation, his sense of timing and the ability to do those things at top-end speed: You're looking at the best skilled player in the draft." McDavid had 44 goals and 120 points in just 47 games with Erie this season. He still finished third in the Ontario Hockey League scoring race despite missing a few weeks with a hand injury, and another few weeks to help Canada win the world junior tournament in January. He has added 11 goals and 23 points in nine playoff games - including a five-goal outing April 10. Overall, McDavid has 285 points (97 goals, 188 assists) in 166 career games with Erie. Erie has advanced to face Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL semifinals, which open Thursday. Eichel showed no signs of youth playing against older players during his freshman season at Boston University. He led the nation with 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in becoming college hockey's second freshman to win the Hobey Baker award on April 10. The only other freshman to do it was former NHL star forward Paul Kariya in 1993 with Maine. "He is proving to be such an amazing game-breaker," Marr said of Eichel. "He's relentless and driven on the play and has the smarts, speed and skills to deliver a needed scoring drive to tie up or win a game." Eichel missed an opportunity to win an NCAA title last weekend, when Boston University lost 4-3 to Providence. Eichel intends to wait until after the draft to determine whether he'll return to school or make the jump to the NHL. "It's my dream to play in the NHL, but I don't think there's a rush to go anywhere," he said. As for the potential of playing in Buffalo: "Nothing's set in stone right now. But obviously, it would be really nice to play there. There's so much tradition there."

Sun, 19 Apr 2015 02:06:00 +0000
Silfverberg's last-minute goal puts Ducks past Jets 2-1

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Jakob Silfverberg scored the tiebreaking goal with 21 seconds to play, and the Anaheim Ducks rallied from another third-period deficit for a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Patrick Maroon scored the tying power-play goal midway through the third period and Frederik Andersen made 28 saves for the top-seeded Ducks, who came back from a final-period deficit for the second straight game and the 14th time this season. Silfverberg sealed it moments before overtime, taking a puck off the boards and wheeling into the faceoff circle for a shot past Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped 37 shots in an outstanding performance. Game 3 on Monday night will be the first NHL postseason game in Winnipeg since 1996. Adam Pardy scored his first NHL goal in more than four years in the second period for the Jets, but they're still looking for the first playoff victory in the history of a franchise that moved north to Winnipeg in 2011 after 11 fruitless seasons as the Atlanta Thrashers. Pardy's first career playoff goal ended his personal 172-game goal drought and put the Jets in front in a tense game, but the Ducks finally were rewarded for another productive offensive effort. Cam Fowler's long shot deflected off Maroon's body to even it with 9:17 left. Silfverberg then finished it with his fifth career playoff goal. After a bone-jarring series opener, neither team let up at all in the rematch. A series between two large, bad-tempered teams produced bruising hockey from the opening faceoff, with Winnipeg's hulking defensemen delivering an array of brutal hits and the Ducks answering every time. The Jets shut out Corey Perry after his four-point performance in Game 1, but captain Ryan Getzlaf picked up an assist, giving him four points in two games. Pardy was an unlikely offensive hero for the Jets after being a healthy scratch in Game 1. The defenseman with four career goals in 315 regular-season games got the start in Game 2 largely for his penalty-killing acumen. Instead, he put the Jets ahead with an astonishing skill move by a sometimes lumbering defenseman who hadn't scored since Jan. 26, 2011, when he was with Calgary - three uniforms ago in his peripatetic career. Pardy nimbly circled the Anaheim net, avoided Hampus Lindholm and slid the puck just inside Andersen's post. He also got help from Lee Stempniak, who had been inside Andersen's net an instant earlier after contact with Ryan Kesler. Stempniak appeared to impede Andersen's left skate while leaving the crease, but the goal stood after a lengthy review. The Ducks pressed with their usual third-period ferocity, but Pavelec made several outstanding saves before captain Andrew Ladd took a high-sticking penalty with 10:15 left. When Fowler flung a shot into traffic on the ensuing power play, the puck pinballed through the crowd and deflected off the body of Maroon, the big power forward screening Pavelec. Former Ducks center Mathieu Perreault returned to Winnipeg's lineup after a lower-body injury kept him out of Game 1. He went to the Jets' dressing room early in the third period after colliding with Pavelec's post while clearing the puck, but returned 10 minutes later. NOTES: The Jets scratched D Ben Chiarot to make room in the lineup for Pardy. ... The Ducks lost rookie center Chris Wagner at the start of the second period due to an upper-body injury. Anaheim already is playing without third-line center Nate Thompson, who has missed both playoff games with an injury. ... The Ducks recalled D Josh Manson from their AHL affiliate in Norfolk during the game.

Sun, 19 Apr 2015 05:36:00 +0000