Posts Tagged ‘First Round’

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger was stellar all series long against the Calgary Flames, but he somehow saved his best performance for Game 7.

For Oettinger, his 64-save gem in his team’s season-ending loss is the type of standard he sets for himself.

“Everyone needs to step up in the playoffs. I think you can have a great regular season and then not play well in the playoffs, and it doesn’t matter to anyone,” Oettinger told reporters after Sunday’s 3-2 overtime defeat, per Bally Sports Southwest. “I’m happy that I was able to elevate my game. … That’s the level of goaltending I expect from myself, and I think I can be a great goalie for a long time.”

He continued, “I’ve never been more motivated than I am right now. I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure I get this opportunity again, and I’ll make sure I’m on the other side of it the next time.”

Oettinger’s ridiculous .954 save percentage leads all goaltenders who played at least 60 minutes in the 2022 postseason. He also paces the league in goals saved above average (9.07) and goals saved above expected (10.74) at all strengths by a long shot, according to Evolving-Hockey.

The gravity of the 23-year-old’s performance wasn’t lost on Flames head coach Darryl Sutter.

“He was the best player in this series, that’s for sure,” he said.

Jacob Markstrom, the goalie at the other end of the ice, also made sure to give Oettinger some props in the handshake line after the game.

“He said it was a fun battle and that I had a bright future,” Oettinger said. “Obviously, he’s a heck of a goalie, and it was fun for me to be able to square up against a Vezina Trophy finalist.”

Though the Stars’ offseason has just begun, Oettinger is ready to refocus for his next NHL season.

“I have a lot of stuff I want to work on. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of where I’m gonna be one day. That really excites me.”

The Calgary Flames eliminated the Dallas Stars from the playoffs with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 7 on Sunday night.

Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made an incredible 64 saves, but wasn’t able to secure the victory as Johnny Gaudreau beat him in overtime.

Oettinger’s 64-save performance is the second-most stops in a Game 7 in NHL history, according to Stats by STATS. Only Kelly Hrudey had more when he stopped 73 shots for the Islanders against the Capitals in 1987.

Jamie Benn opened the scoring for Dallas just 40 seconds into the contest. Tyler Toffoli tied things up in the second before Vladislav Namestnikov and Matthew Tkachuk traded goals to enter the third period tied at two apiece.

The Flames will now take on their rival Edmonton Oilers in the second round. It’s the first time since 1991 that the Battle of Alberta will be renewed in the postseason.

The New York Rangers are off to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime in Sunday’s Game 7. Artemi Panarin came up clutch with the game-winner.

The Rangers simply never quit.

They went down 3-1 in the series but came back in Game 5, 6, and 7 to advance. They’re the first team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to record three straight comeback wins in elimination games within the same series. They trailed 2-1 and 3-2 in Game 7 before Mika Zibanejad scored with less than six minutes left in regulation to force OT.

New York was outshot 45-30 in the contest, but Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin was sensational between the pipes, tying Ed Giacomin’s franchise record for 42 saves in a Game 7.

The Rangers now own an all-time record of 8-1 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden.

New York will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 2. The two sides squared off in the qualifying round of the 2020 postseason, which the Canes swept 3-0.

Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers advanced through to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in Game 7 on Saturday night.

Cody Ceci also scored and Mike Smith made 28 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs for the Oilers, who last won a Game 7 in 1998 and celebrated their first playoff series win since 2017.

Jonathan Quick made 39 saves for the Kings, who have not won a playoff series since they won their second Stanley Cup in 2014 — also the last year they won a series in a Game 7.

There was no scoring in a tense opening period, with the Oilers putting 10 shots on Quick, while the Kings sent seven on Smith. Quick came into the game with a 4-0 career record in Game 7s.

Edmonton came close to scoring midway though the second when a puck was heading over the goal line in a scramble, but was fished to safety just in time by Kings forward Andreas Athanasiou.

The Oilers finally broke the deadlock with 6:45 remaining in the second period as McDavid fed a pass from behind the net to a pinching Ceci, who rifled a shot over Quick’s shoulder.

Edmonton came close to extending its lead a couple times early in the third as Josh Archibald narrowly missed putting a puck through Quick’s legs and Kailer Yamamoto hit a post with most of an open net to shoot at.

The Oilers finally got some insurance with 3:53 left in the third on a terrific individual effort from McDavid, who drove behind the net before sending his second backhand attempt into it for his fourth goal and league-leading 14th playoff point. McDavid had multiple-point efforts in six of the seven games in the series.

The Oilers will now advance to play either Calgary or Dallas, who are going to a Game 7 of their own on Sunday.

Notes: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse returned after serving a one-game suspension in Game 6 for head-butting Phillip Danault in Game 5. … There was some concern after Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Brett Kulak missed the morning skate, but both were able to play, leaving the Oilers will a healthy roster to choose from. … The Kings remained without Viktor Arvidsson (lower body), Drew Doughty (wrist) and Sean Walker (knee). … There were no scoring changes in any of the games of the series, with the team that scored first winning each gamer.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are heading to the second round after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday night.

Nick Paul opened the scoring for Tampa Bay late in the first period. John Tavares thought he scored the equalizer during the second frame, but the goal was called back due to an interference call on Justin Holl.

Morgan Rielly later tied things up before Paul scored his second of the contest, which held up as the game-winner.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 of 31 shots, while Jack Campbell turned away 23 shots.

This marks the Maple Leafs’ sixth straight postseason in which they’ve failed to make it past the first round. The club hasn’t reached the second round since 2004.

Victor Hedman, who had seven points in the series, commended the Maple Leafs on a good series and sees a bright future for the club.

“Unbelievable team … close series … they’re a great group,” Hedman said postgame, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. “They’re going to get another chance at this. They’re going to go a long way in the future.”

The Lightning will now take on the Florida Panthers as they look to win a third straight Stanley Cup.

Max Domi scored twice in the second period while Antti Raanta had 27 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Saturday to win the deciding Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.

Teuvo Teravainen also scored for the Hurricanes, who finally put away a Bruins team that had ousted them from the playoffs in two of the past three postseasons. That ended a series in which neither team could manage a road win, with the Hurricanes eventually getting the final word backed by yet another rowdy and loud home crowd.

Carolina advanced to the second round to face the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Domi was an unlikely star in this one. Carolina acquired him ahead of the March trade deadline, and he rewarded them by scoring the first postseason goals of his career. He also assisted on Teravainen’s goal with a perfect pass to the top of the crease for the first-period putaway.

Raanta, who had never started a postseason game before this series, was again steady in net. He had probably his best stop on a full-split save to deny Taylor Hall near the left post in the first period of a scoreless game.

Jake DeBrusk scored a second-period goal for the Bruins, while David Pastrnak had one with 21.7 seconds left with Boston having pulled Jeremy Swayman for the extra attacker.

From there, the Hurricanes had to hang on through one final clock-killing shift to protect the lead before they could finally celebrate.

Swayman finished with 28 saves for Boston.

The Bruins found themselves playing catch-up after Domi’s first goal, which had him skating in on the left side to bury a redirect attempt from Jordan Staal at 3:14 of the second.

Later, after DeBrusk had beaten Raanta from the top of the crease, Teravainen whipped a pass to Domi for a one-timer that blasted the puck past Swayman at 10:33 of the second for the 3-1 lead.

The Bruins, a tested veteran squad, were in the playoffs for the sixth straight season. That run included a sweep of the Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals, as well as a five-game win in the first round of the Toronto bubble a year later.

This time, the Hurricanes never trailed in the series before finally grinding through after dominating the Bruins in three regular-season meetings. And the Bruins head into an offseason with some uncertainty about the future of captain and longtime No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron, who can become an unrestricted free agent after 18 seasons with the team.

SIX STRAIGHT

The Hurricanes improved to 6-0 in Game 7s since the former Hartford Whalers relocated to North Carolina in 1997. That includes the 2006 Stanley Cup finals against Edmonton, as well as a second-round series win on the road at Boston in 2009.

EARLY EXIT

This marks the first time Boston exited from the playoffs without winning a series since falling in a six-game series to Ottawa in 2017.

PACKED HOUSE

The Hurricanes had their biggest home crowd in franchise history for this one with an attendance of 19,513. That surpassed the previous mark of 19,495, set during the final win in a second-round sweep of the New York Islanders in 2019.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is about to suit up for his fourth career Game 7, and he’s learned a couple lessons along the way.

“I think we came out a little flat in those games – like we were a little bit scared to lose,” Nylander said of Toronto’s previous Game 7 struggles, according to ESPN’s Kristen Shilton. “We don’t need to be scared to lose. We’ve got a great team.”

Toronto hasn’t closed out a series in a Game 7 since 2004, against the Ottawa Senators. The Maple Leafs have an all-time record of 12-13 in Game 7 and were outscored 15-6 in their last three (Montreal Canadiens in 2021, Boston Bruins in 2018 and 2019).

Heading into Saturday’s Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Sheldon Keefe is staying calm under pressure.

“This is as confident as I’ve been coaching this team,” Keefe said.

He added, “It’s because of how we’ve played in this series. … The confidence has grown through the series. The players are going to be relaxed and play with energy. We’re going to give ourselves every opportunity to win the game.”

Keefe is in his third season as head coach of the Maple Leafs. He boasts a regular-season record of 116-50-19 but hasn’t helped his team break out of the first round.

Toronto will face a tall task while trying to eliminate a talented Lightning team chasing its third consecutive Stanley Cup.

“We’re standing here on the cusp of greatness, and why the hell wouldn’t we charge through that door? Let’s go get this. Let’s go attack this,” Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said, per team beat writer Gabby Shirley. “If fear is the motivator, then so be it – but I don’t want there being any excuse if it doesn’t go well for us tonight.”

Game 7 kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going the distance.

Chris Kreider broke a tie with under two minutes left in the third period of Game 6 on Friday. The Rangers added an empty-netter for a 5-3 victory to set up a winner-take-all finale.

Penguins goaltender Louis Domingue got a piece of Kreider’s harmless-looking, long-range slapper, but the puck trickled by him and into the net.

Kreider was initially credited with the goal before it was changed to Mika Zibanejad‘s. It was ultimately switched back to Kreider’s goal, taking a hat trick away from the Swede.

Nevertheless, Kreider and Zibanejad were two key offensive catalysts for New York. Zibanejad registered four points and Kreider potted two goals. Defenseman Adam Fox was all over the scoresheet with four assists, too.

Igor Shesterkin was stellar between the pipes for the Blueshirts, stopping 31 of 34 shots. He also helped set up Kreider’s first goal with a brilliant saucer pass from his own goal line that found Zibanejad right on the tape at the far blue line.

The Rangers went down 2-0 early before scoring five of the game’s last six goals. They’re just the third team in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to produce consecutive multi-goal comeback wins to stave off elimination, joining the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers and 1950 Detroit Red Wings.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was without captain Sidney Crosby, defenseman Brian Dumoulin, and their top two goalies, Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith. The Penguins also lost veteran Brian Boyle to a lower-body injury during the contest.

Games 7 goes Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Joe Pavelski and the Dallas Stars were skating with urgency in the third period. If not, it could easily have been their last one of the season.

Miro Heiskanen scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period and the Stars recovered after blowing an early two-goal lead, beating the Calgary Flames 4-2 on Friday night to force a deciding Game 7 in their first-round Western Conference series.

“The message was we’ve got to have a good third. We haven’t always had good thirds at times with the lead, and we wanted to kind of try to turn that,” Pavelski said. “The other night, they came out hard in the third and we didn’t handle it well enough. And tonight was one of those situations where I think everyone bought in. We took a step in the right direction of doing it.”

Calgary was in position to close out the wild-card Stars after a 3-1 home win in Game 5 on Wednesday night, when the Pacific Division champions scored all of their goals in the third period.

This series instead is going back to the Saddledome for a deciding Game 7 on Sunday night.

“A hell of a game. We couldn’t get the equalizer,” a rather-terse Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said.

The first goal in these playoffs for Heiskanen came on a 40-foot shot with a bunch of traffic in front of Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom. That came with 2:28 left in the second period, in which both teams scored twice.

With their season on the line, the Stars didn’t give in during the third period.

“We went after them instead of sitting back. … That was one of our better third periods of the year, and it was a timely one,” Michael Raffl said.

“That was NHL playoff hockey at its best. That was a great hockey game,” coach Rick Bowness said. “Both teams, both goalies, were great.”

Calgary will host a Game 7 for the first time since 2006, when it lost its first-round series to Anaheim. This is the third consecutive playoffs that the Stars will play a Game 7 — they beat Colorado in the second round in the NHL bubble in Canada two seasons ago, and lost at St. Louis in a second-round series that went the full distance in 2019.

“We have a confident group,” Pavelski said. “Every game’s been tight, been competitive and fun to play in.”

Roope Hintz and Raffl also scored for Dallas, and Tyler Seguin added an empty-netter in the final minute. Jake Oettinger, their 23-year-old goalie who had never started a playoff game before this series, stopped 36 shots.

Markstrom also had 36 saves.

Calgary tied the game at 2 with 8:01 left in the second period on a goal by Mikael Backlund, which came 1 second after the end of what officially went down as another unsuccessful power play in this series when both teams have struggled with a man advantage.

That made the Flames 0 for 2 on the power play in the game, to match Dallas at 2 for 21 in the series.

The Stars made it 2 for 22 midway through the third period when Joe Pavelski had an almost point-blank shot that ricocheted off Markstrom’s skate that was on the line.

Backlund’s third goal of the series came on a slap shot that Oettinger had deflected before it bounced off Heiskanen and into the net. That was about four minutes after Johnny Gaudreau’s nifty crossing pass to Michael Stone for the easy tip-in.

“They get two, and we climb back. It’s a tight game but I’d say that 3-2 goal late in the second was tough,” Flames center Elias Lindholm said. “Obviously, we’d like to win this game, but it’s a new day tomorrow and a game on Sunday, and that’s why we fought so hard all year to have home ice on Game 7.”

The Stars had a 2-0 lead about six minutes into the second period when Raffl finished off a wild play in front of the net.

Joel Kiviranta was trying to follow up his own shot, even reaching back after skating past the net, while two Calgary skaters and Markstrom all went down on the ice. Defenseman Christopher Tanev was one of the ones down, and tried to push the puck away with his hand before Raffl was able to stuff it just inside the post

Hintz got his second goal of the series with 5:08 left in the first period, right after Oettinger withstood a flurry of shots at the other end.

Matthew Tkachuk and Gaudreau, both 100-point and 40-goal scorers in the regular season, got off quick shots in succession that had Oettinger scrambling and diving across the crease.

Once the Stars had the puck going the other way, Pavelski had a drop-back pass for the charging Hintz, who sent a quick wrister under the legs of Markstrom.

Tkachuk took a backhander off his knee early in the first period that ricocheted off the post.

GAME 7 HISTORY

Calgary is 5-7 in Game 7s, but has lost six of the last seven it has played. The only Game 7 victory for the Flames since 1990 was in the first round against Vancouver in 2004, before they then advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and lost to Tampa Bay in the seventh game.

Dallas is 6-8, including a Game 7 win over Colorado in the second round of the 2020 playoffs, when the Stars went on to make the Stanley Cup Final in the postseason played in a bubble in Canada because of the pandemic.

When the Florida Panthers faced their first real adversity of the season trailing their playoff series against the Washington Capitals, players held a meeting to set things straight.

They talked about what they needed to do better and got on the same page.

“After that, we just started playing the right way,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. “We held each other accountable, worked really hard for each other and for the guy next to you. That’s how you win.”

The Panthers won the franchise’s first playoff series since 1996 by relying on a familiar recipe from the regular season when they were the NHL’s best team and led the league with 29 comeback victories. Each of their final three wins against Washington was in come-from-behind fashion, once erasing a three-goal deficit and twice getting some overtime heroics from Carter Verhaeghe.

Initial nerves at home early in the series faded when Florida started to feel the pressure. Then the Panthers started to look and play like themselves and moved on to face the winner of the series between the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.

“As the series went on, I felt they loosened up a little bit,” interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “They found their mojo and got going.”

That mojo provided the confidence the Panthers needed to withstand a tying goal by Washington’s T.J. Oshie with 1:03 left in Game 6 and a series-long 0-for-18 drought on the power play. They joined only a handful of teams in NHL playoff history to win a best-of-seven series without scoring a power-play goal but could still get a chuckle out of it in the aftermath of an emotional victory.

“We just got to stick with it and, obviously, maybe work on our power play because we haven’t scored a goal,” top winger Jonathan Huberdeau said.

No team scored as many goals as the Panthers during the regular season — a rate of 4.11 a game not seen since Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Florida didn’t have a team yet at that point.

Success came early in the organization’s existence with a trip to the Cup Final in its third season. After the Panthers were swept by the Colorado Avalanche, they hadn’t won a playoff series since and the reputation of losing in the first round latched on to the franchise and, particularly, cornerstone players Barkov, Huberdeau, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

Verhaeghe was the team’s leading scorer with 12 points on six goals and six assists, but Florida’s core players were a big part of moving on and got a chance to soak it all in.

“We’re all happy and (it is) a big relief for us,” Huberdeau said. “Having this feeling, we didn’t know how it felt. The last time I felt that was junior. It’s just good to have that feeling again about winning a series, and now we just go to work and think about second round, and who knows, win this one as well.”

Newcomers played a major role, too. Trade-deadline acquisition Claude Giroux scored in the third period of Game 6 and set up Verhaeghe for the overtime winner, which was some level of redemption for the longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain after losing a key faceoff late in regulation when Washington tied it.

“When they tie it up, maybe some guys are down a little bit,” Giroux said. “I was probably one of them. But the mood was great. Guys were excited. Guys had a feeling that if we play our game we’re going to get our chances and we’ll be able to score.”

Even amid their power-play struggles, the Panthers showed they could score at 5-on-5 and got solid goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky to keep playoff hockey going in South Florida. Even though his team had made good on the “Comeback Cats” nickname again, Brunette saw the series as more of what the Panthers did well all year.

“I see a group of guys that get hit and they don’t fall down and then they start hitting back,” he said. “To give up a late goal, those are heartbreaking moments. They could really affect you, it could kill momentum, it could do a bunch of things and again we took the punch, we stood up, and then we started punching back. That epitomizes what the whole season was.”