Senators, Penguins Takes Leads In NHL Playoffs


Published on April 28 2017 6:24 am
Last Updated on April 28 2017 6:24 am


Erik Karlsson was hoping for a good bounce. He got a great one.

Karlsson's shot from an almost impossible angle beat Henrik Lundqvist with 4:11 left in the third period, sending the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the opener of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.

Karlsson's first attempt was blocked by Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, but the second -- the shot leaving his tape from below the goal line -- somehow found its way past the Swedish goaltender, who had been nearly unbeatable to that point.

"Those are always nice to get," Karlsson said. "And I think that the amount of pucks that we put at the net we deserved one of those."

It was the last of 43 shots at Lundqvist and the first goal of the playoffs for the Ottawa captain.

"There's three guys in line with that puck and I pick it up, but it just hit me in the head and it's in," Lundqvist said.

It was Karlsson's first goal and seventh point of the playoffs. The 26-year-old defenseman, who has been playing with a foot injury, also logged more than 28 minutes in the win.

Senators coach Guy Boucher was almost at a loss for words to describe a player who he believes is deserving of Hart Trophy consideration as league MVP this season.

"It's been so consistent that I guess I got used to it," Boucher said. "I don't know if that's good or bad, but I don't think you should ever get used to that. I think our fans have to appreciate what we have here. It's more than a star right now. That's what I think is unbelievable. He's a skilled player that became a star and now he's a winner."

Ryan McDonagh scored for New York, and Lundqvist finished with 41 saves.

Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa, which eliminated Boston in six games in the first round.

Game 2 is Saturday.

The Senators, playing in front of several empty seats, had a chance for a fast start, but went 0 for 3 on the power play during a scoreless first period.

The 35-year-old Lundqvist was terrific, especially early on. He made 21 saves in the first, including a pair of stops on Mark Stone during a flurry around the net on Ottawa's first power play.

Lundqvist had a 1.70 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in the first round against Montreal.

"He made some big stops for us and kept it tight and we always know he's going to be there," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "You knew they were going to push in their building in Game 1 and we have to find a way to answer in Game 2. Playoffs come down to a bounce and one shot here or there and Thursday we were on the wrong side of it."

Anderson wasn't tested nearly as much at the other end, but was forced to hang tough when McDonagh walked past a row of Senators during a New York power play and made an attempt on goal that went wide.

The captain of the Rangers made the most of another power-play opportunity in the second, beating Anderson at 7:10 with pesky winger Chris Kreider camped out in front. New York went 1 for 15 with the man advantage in the first round.

Slumping through the first half of the middle period, the Sens grabbed momentum by punishing the Rangers with a series of heavy shifts down low in the offensive zone. The speedy Viktor Stalberg nearly scored when he slipped behind the New York defense at one point, but he was turned away.

Ottawa finally broke through with another power play -- on the second of two minor penalties for rookie Brady Skjei.

Lundqvist brushed aside Kyle Turris' shot from the left face-off circle, but the rebound came right to Dzingel and he converted the Sens' 33rd shot.

It was more Lundqvist in the third. He denied Clarke MacArthur on a redirection from the slot, and then turned away Dzingel, who had gotten behind the New York defense. Lundqvist snatched his shot with the glove as the Canadian Tire Centre crowd murmured in frustration.

Penguins 3, Capitals 2

Sidney Crosby outdueled Alex Ovechkin in a vintage goal-for-goal showdown between the NHL's top teams, and Nick Bonino and Marc-Andre Fleury put the finishing touches on a playoff classic.

Crosby scored two goals in 52 seconds, Bonino had the winner in the third period and Fleury made dazzling saves with and without his stick, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 Thursday night in Game 1 of their highly anticipated second-round series.

Almost eight years after their "dueling hat tricks" game, Ovechkin answered Crosby with his fourth goal of the playoffs, but his team couldn't compensate for the Penguins captain's greatness.

"They're special athletes, both those guys, and they look for those big moments and they capitalize on those big moments," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "They're special players."

Crosby scored twice in the first 64 seconds of the second period to give him as many goals as he had points in the Penguins' series against the Capitals a year ago.

"That's how it goes sometimes," Crosby said. "You don't get some for a while and then they come in bunches."

With linemates Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist playing a game of "Get Crosby the puck and watch him do his thing," the 2016 playoff MVP capitalized on a couple of Washington mistakes and looked as if he had a third goal in him a few more times.

"He was a threat all night," Penguins center Matt Cullen said. "He was dangerous. He was attacking."

In a postseason full of blown multi-goal leads, the Capitals rallied on goals by Ovechkin late in the second and Evgeny Kuznetsov early in the third. Then another Capitals mistake allowed Scott Wilson to find Bonino in some open ice, and the third-line center beat Braden Holtby with 7:24 left for the Game 1 winner.

"Bones is a guy that's a high-stakes player," coach Mike Sullivan said. "He brings his best game when the games are most important, and we've got a lot of guys on our roster that we can say that about."

Fleury qualifies, especially after he flailed around and almost actually stood on his head to preserve the victory. He made 15 of his 32 saves in the third period, including a flurry of four with 3 minutes left long after he had lost his stick.

"I couldn't see the puck for a little while there, I had no stick, so I was trying to make some stops," Fleury said. "It was fun. ... Try to rise up to the challenge and try to keep the team in the game. Saving that lead, when you can do it, it's a good feeling."

The Capitals weren't feeling so good about a game in which they didn't have a single power play. Pittsburgh went 0 for 2 with the man advantage, but Trotz thought there were opportunities for his team to get at least one chance.

"No penalties against their side," Ovechkin said. "You just have to fight through it."

The Capitals outshot the Penguins 35-21 -- Holtby made 18 saves and Fleury was the difference. With Game 2 in Washington on Saturday night, Bonino knows it will be difficult to take a 2-0 series lead with the same showing.

"I think we can play better," Bonino said. "There's no perfect games. I think we weathered their storm there. I think we're happy to get the win, but they played a great game and we know they're going to get better too, so we've got to match that."

Thursday, April 27 Scoreboard

Ottawa 2, New York Rangers 1

Game 1 -- Senators lead 1-0

PIttsburgh 3, Washington 2

Game 1 -- Penguins lead 1-0


Friday, April 28 Schedule (All Times Central)

Nashville at St. Louis, 7 p.m.

Game 2 -- Predators lead 1-0

Edmonton at Anaheim, 9:30 p.m.

Game 2 -- Oilers lead 1-0


Saturday, April 29 Schedule (All Times Central)

New York Rangers at Ottawa, 2 p.m.

Game 2

Pittsburgh at Washington, 7 p.m.

Game 2


Sunday, April 30 Schedule (All Times Central)

St. Louis at Nashville, 2 p.m.

Game 3

Anaheim at Edmonton, 6 p.m.

Game 3