• Despite another resilient rally, Wild again exit early

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Heard this one before? Their season on the verge of expiration, the Minnesota Wild stormed back with a vengeance. The thrilling third-period rally against Dallas ended a fraction of an inch short, though, triggering another earlier-than-expected vacation despite a 4-0 deficit that ended in a 5-4 defeat on Sunday and gave the Stars the Western Conference quarterfinal series in six games. "We can't be happy walking away, that's for sure," interim coach John Torchetti said. "We should be playing, and it makes it tough for the summer." The resiliency the Wild have displayed ought not to be dismissed, a trait when mixed with elite talent that can lead to a Stanley Cup title.

  • Penguins goaltender Fleury still dealing with concussion

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury skated alongside some of his teammates on Monday, but says he's still dealing with concussion symptoms and is uncertain on when he will return. Fleury hasn't played since sustaining his second concussion of the season on March 31. He skipped Pittsburgh's first-round win over the New York Rangers and appeared to experience a setback when he missed a pair of skates last week. Rookie Matt Murray filled in capably as the Penguins closed out the Rangers in five games. Fleury said Monday the concussion is one of the toughest things he's been through. The 29-year-old added he's had good days and bad days when he wonders if "it's ever going to get fixed.

  • At ease in Pittsburgh, Kessel making impact for Penguins

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — Phil Kessel speaks in a polite whisper, as if he's worried talking too loudly might inadvertently attract the spotlight and well, he doesn't want that. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward dealt with it plenty during six bumpy seasons in Toronto, where he served as the flashpoint for an underachieving franchise no matter how many goals he scored or All-Star teams he made, his natural reticence sometimes coming off as petulance for the cameras. The Maple Leafs made the playoffs just once during Kessel's tenure before shipping him to Pittsburgh last summer, a departure that wasn't exactly met with tears on either side. The transition from a personal standpoint was easy.

  • Panthers came far in 2015-16, now eyeing the future

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — There was a stretch in the regular season where the Florida Panthers seemed like they were getting every break, helping them put together what became a franchise-record 12-game winning streak. And then came the postseason, when it seemed like no bounces went Florida's way. The Panthers played a six-game series against the New York Islanders, found themselves trailing in only two of those games — and lost the series anyway, doomed by three overtime losses and three games where Florida could not hang on to leads. So with that, the season came to an end in April once again for the Panthers. Except this time, the sense of optimism about what's coming might be more real than ever before.

  • Flyers finish another empty season without Stanley Cup

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Just as it has in every season since winning it all in 1975, Philadelphia heads home without a Stanley Cup. Under rookie coach Dave Hakstol, the Flyers were never expected to contend. But the vanishing act by the their top goal scorers in the six-game playoff series loss to the top-seeded Washington Capitals left the Flyers wondering if they could have gone deeper had their top two lines produced at anywhere close to their normal rate. Or, it could simply be time to move ahead and look at trading a player or two out of the core mix of Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. Giroux (67 points in the regular season) had one assist in the series. Simmonds

  • Islanders beat Panthers 2-1 in 2OTs to end playoff drought

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Islanders' long playoff drought is over. John Tavares tied the score in the final minute of regulation and got the winner at 10:41 of the second overtime, leading the Islanders past the Florida Panthers 2-1 Sunday night and into the second round for the first time since 1993. "It's time we had to get over this hump and push forward," Tavares said. "I don't think we tried to put too much pressure on ourselves knowing we weren't here for all of that, but certainly a lot us have been here for a while and it was time for us." Tavares skated in and fired an initial shot that Roberto Luongo saved, but the New York captain got the rebound, wrapped around the net and stuffed the puck in before the

  • Blackhawks, Ducks try to close out series on road

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks have big-time momentum heading into Game 7. It's not a must-win situation yet for the Anaheim Ducks, who'll also be trying to wrap up their first-round series on the road. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks are trying to climb back from a 3-1 series deficit. They erased an early two-goal deficit in Game 6 and then some, scoring five unanswered goals in a rout that evened the series against the Blues. Plus, they've won two straight in St. Louis. "We put ourselves in an awful spot a little while ago," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. "We put ourselves exactly where we want to be (now).

  • Stars survive close 1 vs Wild, advance with lessons learned

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's dormant arena had jolted awake, with two goals in a 16-second span by the previously slumbering Wild early in the third period. The Dallas Stars had their 4-0 lead sliced in half, and coach Lindy Ruff called his team over to try to stem the momentum with 15-plus minutes to play. "Probably one of the most useless timeouts I've taken, because they couldn't hear a word I said anyway," Ruff said, "But I was just trying to tell them, 'Listen, we've got to play.' You've got to live that environment to get better at it.

  • Capitals set for rare postseason rematch against Penguins

    Updated: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It's Ovie vs. Sid the Kid in the postseason, take II. OK, Sidney Crosby isn't called a kid much at all these days, and he already has one Stanley Cup title. And for Alex Ovechkin, well, it had been more like Ova and out in a postseason history littered with early exits. But seven years after Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated Ovechkin's Washington Capitals in the lone playoff meeting between the two greats, they are ready for the rematch. "Pittsburgh is huge," Ovechkin said. "It's going to be a hard series. We'll see what's going to happen." The NHL world can't wait.

  • Stars escape with 5-4 win, eliminate Wild after big rally

    Updated: Sun, Apr 24, 2016

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jason Spezza scored his fourth goal of the series and added three assists, and goalie Kari Lehtonen and the Dallas Stars needed every last one of them to hold off the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Sunday to wrap up the first-round series in six games. Jared Spurgeon scored two of Minnesota's four third-period goals and the Wild came within a fraction of an inch of tying it with 34 seconds remaining when Nino Niederreiter whacked at a loose puck in the crease. Freeze-frame replays showed it in the net, but not quite fully across the goal line as it connected with Lehtonen's right pad, an oh-so-close call that was upheld by review. The Stars moved on to face the winner of the Chicago-St. Louis series, which is

  • Panthers C Nick Bjugstad out for Game 5 against Islanders

    Updated: Sun, Apr 24, 2016

    NEW YORK (AP) — Florida center Nick Bjugstad is out for Game 6 of the Panthers' first-round series against the New York Islanders on Sunday night after sustaining a head injury in the last game. Bjugstad was injured during the first extra period of the Panthers' 2-1 double-overtime loss at home Friday night when he lost his footing after being hit by an Islanders player and going head-first into the boards. He needed stiches to close a cut on his head. Bjugstad did not travel with the team to New York and Florida coach Gerard Gallant said he was day to day. The Panthers trail 3-2 in the series and need a win to force a deciding Game 7 on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Florida. Bjugstad had two goals and two assists i

  • Kings' Vincent Lecavalier to retire after 17-year NHL career

    Updated: Sun, Apr 24, 2016

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Vincent Lecavalier intends to retire this summer, ending his 17-year NHL career after one last revitalizing season with the Los Angeles Kings. Lecavalier confirmed his long-stated plans Sunday as the Kings left their training complex. Their season ended Friday with a five-game loss to the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs. "It's the same plan since I first got here a few months ago," Lecavalier said. "Getting a chance to play on this team, and obviously we didn't get to go where we wanted to go at the end of it, but to get a chance to play and to have fun and to learn is just a great time.

  • Capitals close out Flyers in 6 games with 1-0 victory

    Updated: Sun, Apr 24, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Early in the third period, a Flyers fan held up a sign directed at Washington that read, "You'll choke." Not these Capitals, and certainly not against punchless Philadelphia. Nicklas Backstrom scored, Braden Holtby had 26 saves, and the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 on Sunday in Game 6 to win the series 4-2 and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Capitals will play the Pittsburgh Penguins, setting up a marquee matchup of Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. "It's going to be a hard series," Ovechkin said. The Capitals scored two goals over the final three games of the series and clearly need more from Ovechkin and Co. to have a chance against the Penguin

  • New faces making instant impact during Penguins' surge

    Updated: Sun, Apr 24, 2016

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sidney Crosby danced through the neutral zone, slipped across the New York Rangers' blue line and waited for help. It arrived in the form of a blurring No. 43 black-and-gold jersey, the one worn by a player whose speed and relentlessness propelled him from prospect to unlikely catalyst for a Stanley Cup contender in all of five months. On the surface, it would seem impossible that Conor Sheary would call for a pass from one of the best players in the world and deliver a sizzling wrist shot that sailed over Henrik Lundqvist's glove and into the top corner of the net to help the Pittsburgh Penguins exorcise two years of postseason misery, which is just what the 23-year-old did in Saturday's playoff series-clinchin

  • Islanders on brink of ending 23-year playoff drought

    Updated: Sun, Apr 24, 2016

    New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano knows he doesn't need to say a lot to motivate his players. Coming off a grueling double-overtime win in the last game, the Islanders have a chance to accomplish something the franchise hasn't done in 23 years: Win a playoff series. "I think the guys know exactly how they have to play," Capuano said. "It's a situation where we're not going to say too much as coaches. We're just going to let them play within the team concept, go out and have some fun and try to close them out if we can.

  • Shaw's smile requires no lip-reading as Game 7 looms

    Updated: Sun, Apr 24, 2016

    CHICAGO (AP) — No lip-reading was required this time to gauge Andrew Shaw's mood. After serving a one-game suspension for a gay slur yelled from the penalty box — as well as apologizing for his "hurtful" remarks — the Blackhawks center returned to the lineup for Game 6 Saturday night and delivered a crucial third-period insurance goal in Chicago's series-extending 6-3 win. "Obviously, it's a weight off my shoulders," Shaw said afterward. No sooner had he beaten goalie Brian Elliott with little more than 3 minutes to go than Shaw raised both arms and began yelling "Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!" Even after returning to the Chicago bench to congratulatory taps and smacks from teammates, Shaw was careful not to mouth a word, exh

  • Blackhawks force Game 7 with 6-3 victory over Blues

    Updated: Sat, Apr 23, 2016

    CHICAGO (AP) — Dale Weise struggled after he was traded to Chicago in February. Then he was a healthy scratch for the playoff opener. On Saturday night, when the Blackhawks needed him the most, he was in the right place at the right time — continuing a postseason tradition for the rugged winger. Weise capped Chicago's dominant second period with the winning goal in the Blackhawks' 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues, sending their first-round playoff series to Game 7. "Weiser scoring, you know it took a while, but nothing bigger than the one he got tonight," coach Joel Quenneville said.

  • Ducks beat Predators 5-2 for 1st win by home team in series

    Updated: Sat, Apr 23, 2016

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Coming home worked out just fine for the Anaheim Ducks. They beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Saturday for the first victory by a home team in their first-round series, taking a 3-2 lead and all but forgetting their earlier losses on home ice. "Those first two games we lost at home were rock bottom for us," said Ryan Garbutt, who scored the go-ahead goal in the second period. "We definitely want to finish it off in six." The Ducks had rallied to tie the series with two wins in Nashville, where Game 6 is Monday. "We have a chance to go there and close it, and we've got to do it," said David Perron, who had the tying goal in the second and assisted on Garbutt's goal along with Ryan Getzla

  • Surprise goaltenders make big impacts on playoffs' 1st round

    Updated: Sat, Apr 23, 2016

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Michal Neuvirth, Thomas Greiss and Martin Jones were sitting on the bench as playoff backups a year ago. Jeff Zatkoff and Matt Murray were in the minors. Yet all five goaltenders have been difference makers in the first round of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. Neuvirth has singlehandedly gotten the Flyers back into their series, Thomas Greiss has been a rock for the Islanders, Jones beat his former team to lead the San Jose Sharks into the second round and Zatkoff held down the fort before Murray returned from injury to get the Penguins back on track. "They've bounced around, they've been traded, they had to do their due diligence behind other goalies that are high caliber," analyst Justin Goldman

  • Penguins close out Rangers 5 games with 6-3 rout

    Updated: Sat, Apr 23, 2016

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — The end of two springs' worth of playoff angst for the Pittsburgh Penguins came suddenly, crammed into 14 minutes of pure exhilaration, one highlight-reel sequence piled atop another. And perhaps it's fitting that Pittsburgh's relentless five-game demolition of the New York Rangers — completed during a raucous 6-3 on Saturday that ushered New York to an early offseason — wasn't sealed by the familiar faces atop the Penguins' star-laden roster but the pieces brought in to help return Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to their spot among the league's elite. Conor Sheary. Bryan Rust. Matt Murray. All in their early 20s.




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