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  • NHL roundup: Oilers take 2-0 lead on Ducks
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, April 29, 2017

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Patrick Maroon scored the decisive goal and Cam Talbot stopped 39 of 40 shots as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on Friday at the Honda Center.

    • The Oilers now head home to Edmonton for the next two games with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series is Sunday.

      Anaheim outshot Edmonton 40-23, including 16 shots in the third period, but Talbot was the difference. Anaheim's lone goal came off the stick of Jakob Silfverberg. John Gibson made 21 saves for the Ducks.

      The Oilers took a 1-0 lead on defenseman Andrej Sekera's unassisted goal, his first of the playoffs, at 1:05 of the first period. Edmonton extended its lead to 2-0 on Maroon's power-play goal, his second of the playoffs, at 6:41 of the second period.

      Blues 3, Predators 2

      ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko scored a power-play goal late in the first period and then connected for the game-winner with 3:51 left in the third period to lift St. Louis over Nashville.

      The loss was the first in the playoffs for the Predators this season and left the second-round series tied at one game apiece heading into Game 3 on Sunday in Nashville.

      James Neal and Ryan Ellis scored to give the Predators a 2-1 lead. The Blues tied the game at 2 on a goal by Jori Lehtera at 7:39 of the third period before Tarasenko took over. Jaden Schwartz started the play with a pass that deflected off the skate of Joel Edmundson directly onto Tarasenko's stick, and he blasted a shot past goalie Pekka Rinne.

  • Senators playing underdog entering Game 2 vs. Rangers
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    OTTAWA -- Even after taking a series lead, the Ottawa Senators were still trying to portray themselves as the underdog in an Eastern Conference semifinal battle against the New York Rangers.

    • "Their window to win a Stanley Cup is right now, and they have an opportunity right now to win the Cup," Senators winger Alex Burrows said on Friday of the Rangers. "They're not coming in just to play and see what happens."

      What happened in Game 1 on Thursday was a 2-1 Ottawa win, thanks to captain Erik Karlsson's tiebreaking goal from behind the goal line that went in off the head of goalie Henrik Lundqvist with 4:11 left in the third period.

      Afterward, Senators coach Guy Boucher said his team was motivated by the fear of being swept by the favored Rangers.

      "It's a pretty good line," New York coach Alain Vigneault said with a smile Friday. "I'll remember it next time. It's a great line."

      Burrows maintained the Senators feel like they're up against a juggernaut.

      "They really have the mindset that they have the team to do it and I do believe they have the team to do it," Burrows said. "For us, we had some fear playing them (Thursday). We saw them play against Montreal (in the first round), the best team in our division, and they were able to win that series. We know what to expect. We know they're great team, but yes, we had some fear."

      Ottawa outshot the Rangers 43-35 in the opener, with Lundqvist stopping all 21 shots he faced in the first period.

      The Senators believe they have to keep firing the rubber at Lundqvist in Game 2, which is set for Saturday afternoon (3 p.m. ET) at Canadian Tire Centre.

      "Did we get more shots than we expected to get? Yes," Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. "But that was our plan. We know we can't beat this guy with 20 shots. We can't even beat him with 30 shots. We're going to need 40 shots and above. Even with over 40 shots and so many high-end scoring chances, we only got two in. That's how it's going to be."

      Vigneault indicated he was satisfied with the way his team played 5-on-5, but while both teams were 1-for-4 on the power play, he felt the Senators picked up more momentum during their man-advantage situations.

      Vigneault also said he may make lineup changes for Saturday, while Boucher is leaning toward sticking with the same group, even though winger Tom Pyatt has been cleared to return.

      Pyatt could have ample opportunities to get back in the lineup over the next two weeks.

      "We're prepared for a long series," Rangers center and former Senator Mika Zibanejad said. "We're prepared for a good series. We know it's a good team. If they want to try and low-ball themselves that's up to them, but they're good team, It's going to be a tough team to beat and we've got to make sure we really step it up and bring our A game

      "It's an unlucky bounce that turns the game to 2-1 and a win for them. We've got to be on top of our game and make sure the bounces go our way."

  • Hurricanes acquire G Darling from Blackhawks
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    The Carolina Hurricanes acquired goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday in exchange for a third-round pick in this year's draft.

    • The Hurricanes will have exclusive negotiating rights with Darling until July 1, when the netminder will become an unrestricted free agent if he doesn't sign before then.

      The third-round pick was previously acquired by Carolina from the Ottawa Senators.

      "Scott had a very successful season in Chicago and was a big part of the Blackhawks finishing with the best record in the Western Conference," Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said. "He played a critical role on Chicago's 2015 championship team."

      Darling, 28, went 18-5-5 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 32 games for Chicago in 2016-17. His save percentage ranked tied for fourth among all NHL goaltenders who started more than 25 games this season.

      "We could count on Scott in any situation as he was always reliable," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. "We appreciate his contributions to the Blackhawks organization -- including a Stanley Cup championship team -- and we wish him well as he continues his career in Carolina."

  • Speedy Penguins look to keep down Capitals
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    WASHINGTON -- The rich could be getting richer as the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins look to take a 2-0 lead over the Washington Capitals in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series when they play Game 2 on Saturday night.

    • Carl Hagelin, who missed the last 16 games of the regular season and all six playoff contests thus far due to a lower-body injury, was a full-contact participant in Friday's practice.

      The forward will be a game-time decision for Saturday's contest.

      Hagelin's return would add more speed to a Pittsburgh offense that was outshot 35-21 in a 3-2 win over the Capitals on Thursday night. The Penguins have won 11 of their last 14 playoff games going back to last season.

      "It was fun to be out there and it felt good," Hagelin said after Friday's practice. "It's a step in the right direction. It's a day-to-day thing. Hopefully it feels even better (Saturday)."

      Hagelin had only six goals and 16 assists in 61 games during the regular season, but recorded three goals and four assists in last season's playoff series win versus Washington.

      "Hagy's a great two-way player," teammate Phil Kessel told the team's website. "He's a fast player. He brings speed."

      The Capitals, meanwhile, had won five straight series openers before Thursday's setback. They started slowly in Game 1 and eventually fell behind 2-0 when Sidney Crosby opened the second period with two goals in 64 seconds.

      Washington rallied to tie the score in the third period and appeared to have the momentum before Pittsburgh's Nick Bonino netted what proved to be the game winner.

      "What I like about our group is it was 2-0 and there was no panic," Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said. "There was absolutely no panic and you saw us building momentum and keep coming and coming. I thought we generated enough chances to not only tie it up, but maybe go ahead."

      Including shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots, the Capitals totaled 83 attempts to 41 for Pittsburgh. The Penguins mustered only 21 shots on net and Braden Holtby said that two of the goals were ones he is capable of stopping.

      "I thought he was fine, but he didn't think he was as good as he could be," Trotz said, "But I do know this. Hh is guy who responds and he's going to be better, he's going to be better (Saturday). That's good for us."

      Eighty-seven times an NHL team has lost the first two games of a series at home, and only 18 of those teams came back to win the set.

      The Penguins will be looking to create more scoring chances Saturday night and therefore keep the puck away from Alex Ovechkin, who scored his fourth goal of the playoffs in Game 1.

      "We think we're at our best when we control territory and that's something that we've been working on with our players and talking to our players about," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "And just doing a better job of hanging onto pucks in the offensive zone and forcing teams to have to expend energy defending us."

      The Capitals are 14-11 all-time in Game 2 of a series and have posted a 10-6 record in Game 2 when trailing a series.

      "They are the Stanley Cup champions so we have to dictate the game," Ovechkin said following the Game 1 defeat. "From the first minute of the game, we have to make a statement. We have to make a push."

  • Ducks D Bieksa out of Game 2 versus Oilers
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa has been ruled out of Friday's Game 2 of the Western Conference second-round series versus the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

    • Bieksa is nursing a lower-body injury sustained after colliding with a teammate in the first period of Wednesday's series-opening 5-3 setback to Edmonton.

      "He should be available late in the series," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said Friday after the morning skate.

      Bieksa collected three goals, 11 assists and 63 penalty minutes in 81 games this season. The 35-year-old has four assists and a plus-5 rating in five playoff contests for the Ducks.

      Fellow defenseman Sami Vatanen is a game-time decision after missing four contests with an upper-body injury. Korbinian Holzer is likely to dress if Vatanen isn't ready to play.

  • Canadiens sign Waked to three-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    The Montreal Canadiens agreed to terms on a three-year contract with free agent forward Antoine Waked on Friday.

    • The deal runs through the 2019-20 season.

      Waked, 20, recorded 80 points (39 goals, 41 assists) and 67 penalty minutes in 67 games for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2016-17. He ranked tied for ninth in the QMJHL in goals and 12th in points. Eleven of his goals were scored on the power play and six were game-winning goals.

      The 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, played 224 career games with the Huskies since making his junior debut in 2013-14. Waked registered 157 points (68 goals, 89 assists) and 215 penalty minutes. He added four goals and two assists in 27 career playoff contests.

  • Draisaitl gives Oilers another weapon against Ducks
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The majority of the talk regarding the Anaheim Ducks' strategy to defeat the Edmonton Oilers in their Western Conference semifinal series focused around stopping Hart Trophy candidate Connor McDavid.

    • The Ducks may want to consider refocusing their attention to another young Oilers standout if they plan to even the series in Game 2 on Friday night at Honda Center.

      Second-year winger Leon Draisaitl has feasted on the Ducks all season, scoring six goals in five regular-season games between the teams and adding a goal and three assists in Edmonton's 5-3 win in Game 1.

      The German forward's empty-net goal capped a four-goal, third-period outburst for the Oilers. Edmonton handed the Ducks their first loss of the postseason and first regulation loss since March 10.

      With 12 points overall (seven goals, five assists) against the Ducks this season, Draisaitl is garnering more focus from both the opposition and the media, but he is not shying away from either.

      "The attention is on McDavid, and rightfully so," Draisaitl said. "He's the best player in the world. For me, whether it's 10 guys asking me questions or two, it doesn't matter.

      "It's a dream. I think every hockey player dreams of playing in the NHL and dreams of playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It wasn't any different for me. So far, it's been a lot of fun."

      Edmonton coach Todd McLellan believes Draisaitl's role as a support player for McDavid should not reduce the attention Draisaitl deserves as one of the game's developing stars.

      "Leon doesn't mind stepping up and putting himself out there," McLellan said. "The fact is that Connor does get most of the shadowing and checking and that type of stuff, and in turn that leaves Leon open. He has that ability and broad shoulders to accept that role."

      While Draisaitl was a constant point-producer this season, the Oilers got an additional boost from an unexpected source in Game 1. Defenseman Adam Larsson scored four goals in 79 regular-season games, but he found the back of the net twice in the third period in Game 1, including the decisive goal.

      "You need depth scoring in the playoffs if you want to get really far," Larsson said. "You need your top guys, too, if you want to go a long way."

      The Ducks quickly lost home-ice advantage after Game 1, in which coach Randy Carlyle was dissatisfied with the effort of his players after Anaheim dispatched the Calgary Flames in a four-game sweep.

      "We need more physically and emotionally from some players in the next game," Carlyle said.

      The Ducks' lack of discipline was the deciding factor in Wednesday's loss. The Oilers converted 2 of 5 power plays.

      Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler, who returned to the lineup after missing the entire Calgary series, knows that the path to victory needs to come by giving the talented Oilers fewer chances to score with the man advantage.

      "Discipline is something we talked about. You can't give a team with that offensive firepower that many looks on the power play," Fowler said after practice Thursday. "Even if they don't capitalize on it, it gives them momentum.

      "We can clean that up by taking less penalties, but we also gave them a couple of easy chances at full strength as well."

      An injury likely will change the lineup for Anaheim.

      Defenseman Kevin Bieksa sustained a lower-body injury in the second period of Game 1 and did not return. Bieksa has been ruled doubtful for Game 2, which could signal the return of Sami Vatanen, who has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since Game 1 against Calgary.

      If Vatanen cannot go, Korbinian Holzer should draw in as the sixth defenseman.

      "When I feel like I can help to team to win, I'll return to the lineup," Vatanen said. "I'm really close to returning."

  • Predators, minus Fiala, plan to push on vs. Blues
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, April 28, 2017

    ST. LOUIS -- The Nashville Predators faced the reality Thursday that they will have to play the rest of the playoffs without left winger Kevin Fiala, who sustained a broken left leg on Wednesday night in their series opener against the St. Louis Blues.

    • "Kev was playing so well for us," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis told NHL.com. "He became a dominant player on the ice, and it's a big loss for our team. It hurts right now, hurts for Kev, too, but we have to move forward. He's going to be missed for sure, but we have to find a way to get past it."

      The Predators will try to do that starting Friday night, when they take on the Blues in Game 2 of the Western Conference second-round series, trying to stay undefeated in this year's postseason.

      After sweeping the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, the eighth-seeded Predators won Game 1 against the Blues 4-3 on Wednesday. Nashville got a goal and two assists from P.K. Subban and the game-winning goal from Vernon Fiddler with 5:05 left in the third period.

      Colin Wilson also scored for the Predators in his first game of the postseason, having missed the Chicago series because of a lower-body injury, and he likely must play a major role if the team is going to overcome the loss of Fiala.

      Wilson led the Predators in playoff points a year ago, when they lost in the second round to the San Jose Sharks. They are trying to advance to the first Western Conference finals in franchise history.

      "He's awesome in the playoffs," Ellis said of Wilson. "He's been good for us all year, so he's adapted to his role on the team, and he's one of the guys we lean heavily on. Now losing Kev, we're going to rely on him even more than ever."

      Wilson does not believe he will be able to carry the load alone.

      "Throughout the year, I think we're a little bit inconsistent, but when we played our game, we were always unstoppable," Wilson told NHL.com. "We have a lot of talent, great D, great goaltending, all-around strong team with a lot of depth. Watching them was fun, but being a part of it is a lot better."

      The Blues saw ways they can be better after the Game 1 loss, primarily by avoiding penalties that helped put them in a 3-1 hole in the second period. Two of the Predators' goals came on power plays.

      "They put us on our heels, put us behind, created a lot of momentum," St. Louis goalie Jake Allen said. "When we didn't have to kill any penalties, it changed the game. I thought we played really well five-on-five."

      That performance did not result in a win, however, which is becoming a problem on home ice for the Blues. They are now 1-2 at home this season, compared to a 3-0 record on the road.

      "We have to be better at home," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "We put ourselves in a tough position by not coming out and putting our best game in front of us (in Game 1). We have to be a little more focus and committed to playing a 60-minute game. For me, this time of year, you should definitely feel some momentum and energy from your crowd.

      "There were some things (Wednesday) we can build off, things we certainly learned about their team and things we need to do to be successful."

  • NHL roundup: Penguins, Senators win series openers
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    WASHINGTON -- Nick Bonino scored the go-ahead goal with 7:24 remaining, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots and the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday night to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

    • Bonino's second goal of the playoffs came 4:31 after Washington tied the score on Evgeny Kuznetsov's goal. Fleury then withstood a barrage of shots in the final minutes to hold the lead.

      Sidney Crosby scored two goals 52 seconds apart to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Patric Hornqvist assisted on both. Crosby has four goals and nine points in six playoff games this season and 10 goals and seven assists in 14 playoff contests versus the Capitals.

      Washington's Alex Ovechkin scored his fourth goal of these playoffs to cut the deficit to 2-1 late in the second period.

      Senators 2, Rangers 1

      OTTAWA -- Erik Karlsson's shot from the goal line with 4:11 left in the third period snuck past Henrik Lundqvist to give Ottawa a victory over New York.

      Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 34 saves, beaten only by Ryan McDonagh in the second period. Ryan Dzingel also scored for Ottawa, which leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal 1-0.

      Lundqvist was exceptional in the scoreless first period, stopping 21 shots while the Rangers tested Anderson 12 times.

  • NHL notebook: Predators' Fiala out for rest of playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala sustained a broken left femur during Game 1 of the Western Conference second-round series and has been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs, the team announced Thursday.

    • Fiala was injured after being checked into the boards by St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo at 1:46 of the second period of Wednesday's contest, which Nashville won 4-3. The 20-year-old Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher and brought to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, where he he underwent surgery.

      Fiala scored two goals in the Predators' first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, including the overtime tally in Game 3.

      --Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner will miss his fifth straight contest Thursday when he sits out the Eastern Conference second-round series opener against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

      Alzner, who participated in the optional morning skate on Thursday, has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since Game 2 of the first-round series versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

      --Dallas Stars forward Mattias Janmark signed a one-year, $700,000 contract extension.

      Janmark, who missed the entire 2016-17 season due to a knee injury, collected 15 goals, 14 assists and a plus-12 rating in 73 games in 2015-16. The 24-year-old Swede also registered five points (two goals, three assists) in 12 career postseason contests.

      --Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Nick Foligno, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano were named the three finalists for the 2016-17 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.

      Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and NHL personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier's alone. The winner will be announced June 20 in Las Vegas.

  • Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano named Messier Award finalists
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Nick Foligno, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano were named the three finalists for the 2016-17 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award on Thursday.

    • Serving his second season as captain, Foligno led Columbus to a 32-point improvement and its best campaign in franchise history. Off the ice, Foligno and his wife, Janelle, committed $1 million split between Nationwide Children's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital in support of pediatric congenital heart care in honor of their daughter, Milana.

      Getzlaf, Anaheim's captain since 2010-11, powered the Ducks to their fifth straight Pacific Division title and became the first player in franchise history to lead the team in scoring for five consecutive seasons. Away from the rink, he and teammate Corey Perry continued their roles with the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play program, which they launched together in 2013 to provide equipment and classes for first-time hockey players ages 4-12.

      Calgary's captain since 2013-14, Giordano guided the Flames to their second playoff berth in the last three years. The reigning NHL Foundation Player Award winner also maintained his longstanding contributions in the local community and beyond. Team Giordano, launched in 2014 with the Calgary Board of Education, has donated $300,000 to high-needs schools to promote improved physical fitness and academics.

      Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and NHL personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier's alone. The winner will be announced June 20 in Las Vegas.

  • Capitals D Alzner to miss fifth straight game
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner will miss his fifth straight contest on Thursday when he sits out the Eastern Conference second-round series opener against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

    • Alzner, who participated in the optional morning skate on Thursday, has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since Game 2 of the first-round series versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

      "We're not going to put him at risk. He's improving, day to day," coach Barry Trotz said of Alzner, who collected three goals and 10 assists this season while averaging just under 20 minutes of ice time per game.

      The lack of game time is somewhat of a foreign concept for the 28-year-old Alzner, who had played in 540 consecutive regular-season contests and 599 overall prior to his current absence.

      Nate Schmidt has seen an uptick in playing time with Alzner on the mend. The 25-year-old scored three goals and set up 14 others in 60 games this season for Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington.

  • Stars F Janmark inks one-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Dallas Stars forward Mattias Janmark signed a one-year, $700,000 contract extension on Thursday.

    • Janmark, who missed the entire 2016-17 season due to a knee injury, collected 15 goals, 14 assists and a plus-12 rating in 73 games in 2015-16. The 24-year-old Swede also registered five points (two goals, three assists) in 12 career postseason contests.

      "Mattias is a player that we missed as much as anyone last season with the unfortunate injury he suffered," general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. "We look forward to him returning to our group and getting him back for training camp."

      Janmark was originally selected by Detroit in the third round (79th overall) of the 2013 draft. He was acquired by Dallas from the Red Wings on March 1, 2015.

  • Predators' Fiala has broken femur, done for playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala sustained a broken left femur during Game 1 of the Western Conference second-round series and has been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs, the team announced Thursday.

    • Fiala was injured after being checked into the boards by St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo at 1:46 of the second period of Wednesday's contest, which Nashville won 4-3. The 20-year-old Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher and brought to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

      "He underwent successful surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and is resting comfortably," general manager David Poile said in a statement Thursday. "He is extremely disappointed that he will not be able to help his teammates in their quest for the Stanley Cup, but is looking forward to starting his rehabilitation upon his return to Nashville.

      "The Predators' organization would like to thank the St. Louis Blues medical team, especially head trainer Ray Barile, Drs. Rick Wright and William Ricci, as well as the nurses and personnel at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital for their outstanding care."

      Fiala scored two goals in the Predators' first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, including the overtime tally in Game 3. The 11th overall pick of the 2014 draft, Fiala scored 11 goals and added five assists in 54 games during the regular season.

  • NHL roundup: Predators remain undefeated in postseason
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, April 27, 2017

    ST. LOUIS -- Vernon Fiddler's goal with 5:05 left in the third period broke a tie and gave the Nashville Predators a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night in the first game of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

    • Fiddler, playing his first game in the postseason this year, kept the eighth-seeded Predators undefeated in the playoffs. Game 2 of the series will be Friday night in St. Louis.

      Fiddler scored when he was able to direct the puck past goalie Jake Allen after Allen failed to poke it away following a botched St. Louis attempt at a clearing pass.

      Oilers 5, Ducks 3

      ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Adam Larsson and Mark Letestu each scored two goals, and Leon Draisaitl added a goal and three assists as Edmonton defeated Anaheim in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

      Cam Talbot made 33 saves for the Oilers.

      Draisaitl's empty-net goal at 18:55 of the third period sealed the victory.

      Ryan Getzlaf registered a goal and an assist for the Ducks, and Ryan Kesler added two assists. John Gibson made 27 saves.

  • Predators winger Fiala stretchered off in St. Louis
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    ST. LOUIS -- Nashville Predators left winger Kevin Fiala had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher after being injured early in the second period of Game 1 in the second-round series against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

    • Fiala appeared to suffer a serious injury to his left leg when he was checked hard into the boards behind the Blues net by defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.

      The Predators said Fiala is alert and in stable condition and will be evaluated further at the hospital.

      The injury came just 1:46 into the second period, with the Predators leading 1-0.

      Fiala, 20, scored two goals in Nashville's first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, including the overtime goal in Game 3. He scored 11 goals and added five assists in 54 games during the regular season.

      Fiala was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The game was delayed until a second ambulance could return to the arena in case of another serious injury.

  • Brassard, Zibanejad insist focus should be on Senators-Rangers
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    OTTAWA -- Try as he might, Derick Brassard could not change the storyline for Thursday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers at Canadian Tire Centre.

    • "It's not about me and Mika," the Senators center said after Wednesday's practice, referring to Rangers center Mika Zibanejad -- the player he was traded to Ottawa for last summer. "There are other guys on the teams. It's about the 23 guys on both rosters."

      True enough, but they were the scoring leaders of their respective squads in the first round, with Brassard racking up eight points (two goals) in Ottawa's six-game elimination of the Boston Bruins and Zibanejad picking up four points (one goal, an overtime winner) in New York's six-game bouncing of the Montreal Canadiens.

      It has been a particularly strong resurgence for Brassard, the 29-year-old who had a disappointing regular season (14 goals, 39 points in 81 games) but also owns the reputation of being a strong playoff performer.

      "There's always pressure," said Brassard, who led the Rangers in postseason scoring three of the last four springs and now has 20 goals and 52 points in 65 playoff games. "I think I can handle it pretty well. I've always showed up on the big stage.

      "At this time of year, you expect guys to step up and be better players. You see a lot of players on our team doing that and that's why we're here today."

      The Senators moved the promising 24-year-old Zibanejad because, after missing the playoffs two of the last three seasons, they had a must-win now mentality. In his first season on Broadway, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Swede had 14 goals and 37 points while being limited to 56 games because of a broken fibula.

      "When I saw the schedule and I saw the playoff tree, I knew it was a possibility that it was going to be them," Zibanejad told the Rangers website of facing the team that made him the sixth overall pick of the 2011 entry draft. "It's like any other team now and I just want to get to four first.

      "For me, it's just winning this series. Taking a game at a time and winning. It's all about the team right now. I knew it was going to come up and be brought up a lot, but for me, try and just win."

      The Rangers are favored to advance, but fully expected is a low-scoring, close series. New York will have to deal with Ottawa's suffocating 1-3-1 defensive structure and the Senators will have their hands full with a veteran blue line that will pose bigger problems than they faced against the Bruins, who had three regular defensemen injured.

      Senators coach Guy Boucher, a psychology major, reached into his background while addressing the media Wednesday.

      "From what I hear from everybody, we don't seem to have much of a chance," Boucher said. "The odds are 10/1 in Vegas against us. Everybody seems to think they're going to roll all over us so I guess they're a pretty good team.

      "They don't have many flaws, but I also know they're getting urgency now to win that Cup because they've been talking about it for many years now. That's how we consider those guys, Stanley Cup contenders year after year, and that's what they're after now so that's what we're up against."

      The Senators could get a boost from the return of Tom Pyatt, a defensively sound winger who was knocked out of the Bruins series with an upper-body injury in Game 4. But ruled out Wednesday was Mark Borowiecki, a physical defenseman who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 2.

      The Rangers have no injuries.

  • Penguins, Capitals set to renew rivalry
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    WASHINGTON -- The NHL playoffs might be peaking too soon as the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals host the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday night.

    • The top two teams left in the postseason are meeting in the conference semis for the second straight year. Pittsburgh defeated top-seeded Washington in six games in last year's conference semifinals en route to capturing the fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history.

      The Penguins are 8-1 in playoff series vs. the Capitals, and have won both meetings during the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin era.

      "We lost in Game 6 (in 2016) and Game 7 (in 2009). You just have to move forward," said Ovechkin, who has 10 goals and 13 assists in the 13 games. "You don't have to be afraid. You know you play against Stanley Cup champion and they are a very good team, but so are we. This battle has to be done if we want to get success."

      The Penguins, who finished second behind the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division by going 50-21-11 (111 points), ousted the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in the first round, while Washington 55-19-8 (118 points) bested the stubborn Toronto Maple Leafs in six.

      This will be the first time since the 2001 Stanley Cup Final (Colorado Avalanche vs. New Jersey Devils) that the NHL's top-two teams from the regular season will meet in a playoff series.

      Five of Washington's first-round games went to overtime and the speedy Maple Leafs likely were a good test before facing the fast-paced Penguins.

      "They're a high-pressure team with their skating, their speed," Washington head coach Barry Trotz said of the Penguins. "They pressure on the forecheck, they try to create turnovers. (They get) 50-50 pucks, and they turn that into opportunities and that's sort of what Toronto does."

      Pittsburgh enters the series minus defenseman Kris Letang, who is done for the season, and (for now) goaltender Matt Murray. Forward Carl Hagelin, who had three goals and seven points in last year's playoff series, has been out since March with a lower-body injury, but practiced Wednesday.

      "Big step today, getting involved in team practice," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's getting eager. Take it day-to-day. He's a lot closer."

      Two injured Penguins, forward Chris Kunitz and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, will be game-time decisions.

      Washington defenseman Karl Alzner (upper body) remains day-to-day, though Nate Schmidt has stepped in and performed extremely well.

      Depth is a strength for both teams and while it is billed as Crosby vs. Ovechkin, the series could easily come down to Marcus Johansson or Jake Guentzel. Johansson was one of six Capitals -- led by Ovechkin and Oshie with 33 -- to score 19 or more goals.

      "They're a good forechecking team. They can create offense off the rush," Sullivan said. "They've got some dynamic forwards in their lineup and we're going to have to be aware when they're on the ice."

      Guentzel, a rookie, scored five goals vs. Columbus in the first round. During the regular season, he was one of seven Penguins to score 16 or more goals. Crosby led the team and league with 44.

      Braden Holtby finished the Toronto series with a 2.36 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. After allowing four goals in each of the first three games, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner stopped 61 of 63 shots in Games 5 and 6.

      Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a 2.52 GAA and .933 save percentage against Columbus that included a 49-save effort in a 5-2 series-clinching win.

      Washington went 2-0-2 against Pittsburgh in the regular season, outscoring the Penguins 21-14.

      "It is going to be a battle," Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said. "They are a great team and have a lot of great players and everyone here is excited for that. We ended up winning last year, which is great, but everyone here knows the margin of error is very small come playoff time.

      "A couple bounces here or there and they very easily could have won that series. We know we need to be at our best every shift that we're out there."

      Nicklas Backstrom recorded 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in four games against the Penguins, and Oshie ranked second with 10 points (three goals, seven assists). Holtby was 2-0-1 with a 2.74 GAA and .912 save percentage.

      Evgeni Malkin had five goals and one assist against Washington, while Crosby had a goal and four assists. Fleury was 1-1-0 with a 4.02 GAA and .884 save percentage in two games.

      "I think we both know what to expect," Washington's Brooks Orpik said. "It's just a matter of who executes better within the series."

  • Babcock, McLellan, Tortorella named Jack Adams finalists
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers and John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets are the three finalists for the 2016-17 Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL's coach of the year.

    • Babcock guided the Maple Leafs (40-27-15, 95 points) to a fourth-place finish in the Atlantic Division and the second Wild Card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

      The Maple Leafs, who finished 30th in the NHL standings last season, became the first team since the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers to qualify for the postseason the year after ranking last in the overall standings. Toronto recorded 26 more points than last season, while also becoming the first team in NHL history to have six different rookies each appear in at least 70 games. Babcock is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the third time.

      McLellan led the Oilers (47-26-9, 103 points) to a playoff berth for the first time since 2005-06, their first 100-point campaign since 1986-87 and a league-leading 33-point improvement over 2015-16. McLellan is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the second time.

      Under Tortorella the Blue Jackets (50-24-8, 108 points) set franchise records for wins, points, home wins (28) and road points (51). The club posted a 32-point gain over 2015-16, jumping from 29th to second in team defense. Tortorella is a Jack Adams Award finalist for the fourth time, tying Ken Hitchcock and Alain Vigneault for the most among active coaches. He won the trophy in 2003-04 with Tampa Bay.

      Members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season. The winner will be announced June 21, during the 2017 NHL Awards at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

  • NHL notebook: Bruins bring back Cassidy
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Boston Bruins removed the interim tag from Bruce Cassidy's title on Wednesday, announcing he will be back as head coach next season.

    • Bruins general manager Don Sweeney officially named Cassidy as the 28th head coach in franchise history.

      The Bruins went 18-8-1 under Cassidy, who replaced the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 7, and finished third in the Atlantic Division.

      Boston qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. The Bruins were eliminated on Sunday, losing to the Ottawa Senators in six games in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

      Since Cassidy assumed head coaching responsibilities on Feb. 9, the Bruins ranked first in the NHL in goals per game (3.37), first in the NHL in fewest shots allowed (741), tied for second in the NHL in wins (18), tied for second in the NHL in power-play percentage (27.8), tied for third in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.30), tied for fifth in the NHL in faceoff percentage (53.6) and tied for sixth in the NHL in takeaways (229).

      Before joining Boston as an assistant prior to the start of the 2016-17 campaign, Cassidy spent five seasons (2011-16) as head coach of the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. He spent the three previous seasons (2008-11) with the club as an assistant.

      --The Vancouver Canucks officially named Travis Green as their coach.

      Green replaced Willie Desjardins, who was fired as coach on April 10 after Vancouver (30-43-9) finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Desjardins went 109-110-27 in three seasons.

      "It's a proud day for me, something I've been working at for a long time," Green told the team's website. "To get the opportunity here in Vancouver is extra special. I'm confident I'm ready and I'm really excited for the challenge."

      Green served as the coach of the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets, for the last three seasons. The 46-year-old British Columbia native guided the Comets to a 120-78-20 record and an appearance in the Calder Cup Final two seasons ago.

      --Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected to be ready for training camp in September, general manager Jim Nill said.

      "It's something that bothered him all season, and he could have waited to do it sometime after next season and tried to play through it," Nill said of Seguin's decision to have surgery, which was performed Tuesday. "But with the time we had, we decided it was best to get it fixed."

      Seguin is expected to spend the next two to four weeks in a sling and have another month of rehab before he can resume skating.

      Seguin collected 26 goals and 46 assists for a team-leading 72 points while playing in all 82 games this season for the Stars, who finished with a 34-37-11 mark. The 25-year-old has scored 133 goals and set up 173 others in four seasons with Dallas.

  • Canucks officially name Green as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Vancouver Canucks officially named Travis Green as their coach on Wednesday.

    • Green replaced Willie Desjardins, who was fired as coach on April 10 after Vancouver (30-43-9) finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Desjardins went 109-110-27 in three seasons.

      "It's a proud day for me, something I've been working at for a long time," Green told the team's website. "To get the opportunity here in Vancouver is extra special. I'm confident I'm ready and I'm really excited for the challenge."

      Green served as the coach of the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Utica Comets, for the last three seasons. The 46-year-old British Columbia native guided the Comets to a 120-78-20 record and an appearance in the Calder Cup Final two seasons ago.

      Before coaching Utica, Green was the bench boss for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League during the 2012-13 season, going 37-8-2 en route to the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a Memorial Cup final appearance.

      "Travis is a talented head coach who's played a key role in the development of our young players through four seasons with (Utica)," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. "He has an intense desire to win and build a team identity that is hardworking, responsible on both ends of the ice and competitive. He has an excellent understanding of where we are as an organization and we're confident in his ability to help build our team and develop a winning culture.

      "We're pleased to welcome Travis and his family and truly excited about the future."

      As a player, Green totaled 193 goals and 262 assists over 970 career games from 1992 to 2007 between the New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks/Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

  • Stars' Seguin undergoes shoulder surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected to be ready for training camp in September, general manager Jim Nill said Wednesday.

    • "It's something that bothered him all season, and he could have waited to do it sometime after next season and tried to play through it," Nill said of Seguin's decision to have surgery, which was performed Tuesday. "But with the time we had, we decided it was best to get it fixed."

      Seguin is expected to spend the next two to four weeks in a sling and have another month of rehab before he can resume skating.

      Seguin collected 26 goals and 46 assists for a team-leading 72 points while playing in all 82 games this season for the Stars, who finished with a 34-37-11 mark. The 25-year-old has scored 133 goals and set up 173 others in four seasons with Dallas.

      A Stanley Cup winner with Boston, Seguin has recorded 189 goals and 238 assists in 508 career games with the Bruins and Stars.

  • Bruins bring back Cassidy as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The Boston Bruins removed the interim tag from Bruce Cassidy's title on Wednesday, announcing he will be back as head coach next season.

    • Bruins general manager Don Sweeney officially named Cassidy as the 28th head coach in franchise history.

      The Bruins went 18-8-1 under Cassidy, who replaced the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 7, and finished third in the Atlantic Division.

      Boston qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. The Bruins were eliminated on Sunday, losing to the Ottawa Senators in six games in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

      Since Cassidy assumed head coaching responsibilities on Feb. 9, the Bruins ranked first in the NHL in goals per game (3.37), first in the NHL in fewest shots allowed (741), tied for second in the NHL in wins (18), tied for second in the NHL in power-play percentage (27.8), tied for third in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.30), tied for fifth in the NHL in faceoff percentage (53.6) and tied for sixth in the NHL in takeaways (229).

      Before joining Boston as an assistant prior to the start of the 2016-17 campaign, Cassidy spent five seasons (2011-16) as head coach of the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. He spent the three previous seasons (2008-11) with the club as an assistant.

      The 51-year-old Cassidy, a native of Ottawa, compiled a 207-128-45 overall record in 380 games, including winning seasons in all five years and postseason berths in each of his final four seasons at the Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence. In 2015-16, Cassidy helped lead the P-Bruins to a 41-22-13 record.

      Cassidy's previous NHL experience includes coaching the Washington Capitals from 2002-04. He led the Capitals to a 39-29-8-6 record and a postseason berth in his first season with the team. Following his exit from Washington, he served as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2005-06 season.

      As a player, Cassidy recorded 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 36 games during parts of five NHL seasons after being selected by the Blackhawks with the 18th overall pick in the 1983 NHL draft.

  • Sharks announce that Thornton knee surgery 'successful'
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    The San Jose Sharks announced Tuesday that captain Joe Thornton underwent successful surgery to repair two damaged ligaments in his left knee.

    • Thornton underwent the surgery Monday. The Sharks said he is expected to make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of his 21st season.

      Thornton's next season might not be with the Sharks. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer and the surgery requires about a six-month recovery.

      The Sharks announced Thornton's injuries Monday after reports surfaced that he played four postseason games against the Edmonton Oilers with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial collateral ligament.

      The 37-year-old was injured April 2 against the Vancouver Canucks. He missed the rest of the regular season games and the first two games against Edmonton.

      Thornton, who won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player in 2006, totaled seven goals and 43 assists in 79 regular-season games this season.

  • Goaltending figures to be key as Blues host Preds
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues know how well goalie Jake Allen played in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, but they have one sobering fact staring them in the face as they prepare for round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    • As good as Allen was, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was even better in his first-round series, leading the Predators to a four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, the top seed in the Western Conference.

      Rinne shut out the Blackhawks in two of the four games and allowed a total of three goals in the series on 126 shots.

      Whether the Blues can have more success against Rinne than the Blackhawks did likely will determine which team wins the series and advances to the Western Conference final. Game 1 is Wednesday night in St. Louis.

      The Blues are trying to reach the conference final for the second consecutive year, while Nashville has never advanced that far, losing in the second round to San Jose a year ago. The Blues then lost to the Sharks in the conference final.

      This is the first time the Blues and Predators have met in the playoffs.

      One of the keys to the Blues' win over the Wild in the first round might have been some inside knowledge from coach Mike Yeo, who spent five years behind the Minnesota bench before he was fired 14 months ago.

      They could have another source for information on the Predators in backup goalie Carter Hutton, who spent three years as Rinne's backup before signing as a free agent with the Blues last summer.

      "Knowing some guys and their mentalities, the way they handle games, the ins and outs of every guy is important," Hutton told NHL.com. "Before each series, we try to analyze it the best we can, and obviously, they're playing good hockey. It's going to be a tough challenge for us, but I think we're pretty pumped for it."

      Each team is quite familiar with the other's goalie. Rinne has started 39 games against the Blues in his career, including three this season. Allen has logged 10 games against the Predators in his career, four of them coming this year.

      "Chicago didn't get much in four games, which is very impressive," Blues center Paul Stastny said of Rinne's performance. "We have to get second- and third-chance opportunities, try to get in front of him so he doesn't see the puck."

      Stastny returned to the lineup for the final game against the Wild, his first since sustaining a broken foot on March 21. The Predators could be getting a key player of their own back for this series in forward Colin Wilson, who missed the Chicago series. Wilson led Nashville with 13 playoff points last year.

      "I think that (the Blues) are a heavy team, so you have to have some heavy players down low, and that's why my game can work well against them, to battle their attributes," Wilson told NHL.com. "I think I've always played well against the Blues."

      There is no question, however, the most important player for the Predators will be Rinne, just as he was against the Blackhawks.

      Rinne thinks having lost in the second round last year is serving as motivation for the Predators' attempt to advance further this season.

      "In anybody's career, you're going to have your ups and downs, and you're going to learn from your defeats," Rinne told NHL.com. "You're going to go through those things, and I think when you go through it as a team, it's good for you. Last year, it was an empty feeling after that Game 7 loss in San Jose. Now we're in the same situation, going back to the second round.

      "The biggest thing, too, even though there's a lot of fans going crazy and the whole city is supporting us, I feel like us players stay pretty even-keeled, and I think that's a good sign. That's a great thing, and that's how it should be. We haven't done anything yet, and I think that's the mindset we've been having."