Canucks beat Blues 4-3 in OT to take 2-0 series lead

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Bo Horvat scored on a breakaway at 5:55 of overtime Friday night to give the Vancouver Canucks a 4-3 victory over the defending champion St. Louis Blues and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference series.

Horvat took a stretch pass from Quinn Hughes and chipped the puck through Jordan Binnington’s legs.

“I’m feeling pretty good about my game, but the most important thing is it takes an entire team to win a hockey game, and we’re pretty solid right now from our goaltending all the way up,” Horvat said. “We’re playing some pretty good hockey right now. We’ve got to keep it going.”

Game 3 of the best-of seven series is Sunday.

St. Louis overcame a 3-1 deficit in the third period to tie it, with Jaden Schwartz tying it with eight seconds left. With Binnington pulled for the extra attacker, Alex Pietrangelo shot the puck from the point, and it was redirected past Markstrom. It was initially waved off as a high stick but ruled a goal on review. David Perron was initially credited with the goal.

“Some people would say that it could help that there are no fans in the stands for that, because if you’re the home team and you score a late goal that building erupts,” Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson said. “We regrouped in the room (before overtime) and came out strong and finished it off.”

Horvat opened the scoring in the first with an end-to-end, short-handed rush. Wheeling and picking up speed in his own faceoff circle, Horvat hit high gear through the neutral zone, blew past Brayden Schenn, turned Jaden Schwartz inside out and fired a wrist shot low past Binnington’s blocker.

Horvat also scored twice in the opener and has six goals in the postseason.

“We’ve just got to be harder on him one on one, simple as that,” Pietrangelo said. “He’s a strong player, gets up the ice well … We’ve just got to find a way to take away his space. We all know that. It’s going to be a collective effort.”

Pearson and Elias Pettersson also scored for Vancouver, and Markstrom made 34 stops. Ryan O’Reilly and Sammy Blais added goals for the Blues, and Binnington turned back 21 shots.

Pearson made it 2-0 on a power-play midway through the second, and O’Reilly countered on another power play late in the period. Pettersson connected in a power play early in the third, and Blais made it a one-goal game with 10:58 to go.

NOTES: In the third period, Schenn hit Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers from behind. Meyers fell awkwardly head-first into the boards, stayed down for a few minutes and went to the dressing room under his own power. … Vancouver was 2 of 3 on the power play. St. Louis was 1 of 6.


AVALANCHE 3, COYOTES 2 (Colorado leads series 2-0)

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche expected a big push from Arizona after the Coyotes spent most of Game 1 on their heels.

Colorado withstood the early blows, counter punched with a couple of goals and delivered the late knockout shot to take a commanding lead in the series.

Andre Burakovsky scored late in the third period, Philipp Grubauer stopped 30 shots and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on Friday to take a 2-0 lead in their Stanley Cup playoff series.

“I thought today we were a little too distracted as the game went on and kind of reeled it back in after the second period, kind of got back what we needed to do,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “The third wasn’t perfect either, but at least we were focused on what we had to do.”

The Coyotes were far more aggressive after being tentative against Colorado’s offensive firepower to in the opener.

The Avalanche still found ways to score early in the opening two periods on goals by Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost.

Arizona responded each time, tying it on a goal by Clayton Keller in the first and Michael Grabner in the second.

The Avalanche revved up in the third period and Burakovsky scored with 2:53 left when a shot by Kazem Kadri hit Arizona defenseman Jakob Chychrun’s shin pad, leaving left goalie Darcy Kuemper out of position.

Colorado, the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, is 13-1 all-time in playoff series with a 2-0 lead as the best-of-seven series heads to Game 3 Saturday in the Edmonton bubble.

“They outworked us in our D zone,” MacKinnon said. “I actually thought we played well offensively, had some good looks, so good possession time. Definitely, our compete level will go up tomorrow.”

The Coyotes had the early jump, fought and back both times the Avalanche scored and Kuemper stopped 25 shots. Better than the opener, just not good enough with a short turnaround before Game 3.

“Played a good hockey game. That’s more like it,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “I’m proud of the way they played. They were in their faces. That’s more like the way we need to play, but we would like to get that next goal.”

Colorado won the opener with three late goals in 1:23 after being stymied by Kuemper for more than 2 1/2 periods.

The Coyotes spent most of the game on their heels, managing just 14 shots.

Arizona buzzed early in Game 2 with some big hits and some good scoring chances.

One mistake gave Colorado the lead.

Taking advantage of a neutral zone turnover, MacKinnon had a clear run up the left side of the ice and beat Kuemper with a wrister to the glove side.

The Coyotes stuck to their attacking game plan after the goal and tied it when a shot by Keller caromed off Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard’s stick past Grubauer.

The Avalanche scored another early goal in the second period, when Jost tipped a shot by Cale Makar that was going well wide past Kuemper.

“Me and Cale kind of made eye contact, I presented my stick, I was hoping he would shoot for it there,” Jost said. “It was a great play by him, that’s what great defensemen do. I was lucky to get a stick on it and redirect it in.”

The Coyotes responded again, tying it less than two minutes later when Colorado failed to pick up Grabner, who skated freely into the crease and beat Grubauer to the glove side.

Arizona had some good chances in the third period, including a shot that clanged off the post, but the Avs scored the last goal to take a commanding lead in the series

“The effort was better, we got a lot more pucks to the net, we played more like we wanted to, but the result’s still the same,” Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. “We’ve got to figure it out for tomorrow.”

Notes: Colorado C Vladislav Namestinikow left with an injury late in the second period and did not return. … C Nick Schmaltz, Arizona’s leading scorer during the regular season, missed his sixth straight game with a head injury. … Colorado RW Joonas Donskoi participated in warmups, but was deemed unfit to play. … Antti Raanta returned as Kuemper’s backup for the first time since suffering an injury before Game 2 against Nashville the previous series.


Game 3 is Saturday.


CANADIENS 5, FLYERS 0 (Series tied 1-1)

TORONTO (AP) — Montreal won this playoff game for its absent coach.

Kirk Muller and the rest of the Canadiens just had to dedicate the Game 2 victory to Claude Julien.

“To Claude, I’m sure you’re listening, this win’s for you,” Muller said.

Tomas Tatar and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each scored twice, Carey Price stopped 30 shots and the Canadiens rebounded without Julien to rout the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 on Friday and tie the series at a game apiece.

“We have a job and he would expect that as well,” forward Max Domi said. “So we were just trying to stay focused here and get ready to go. And I think we did a great job of that.”

Julien was home in Montreal a day after a stent was placed in a coronary artery. The team said doctors expect a full recovery.

Julien was rushed to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto overnight Wednesday with chest pain. He had surgery Thursday. Because Julien left the NHL bubble in Toronto, he will have to follow quarantine protocol if he wishes to re-enter it. Muller will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

“Claude steers the ship for us and he guides what we do out there,” defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “We’ll just play as hard as we can for him.”

Game 3 is Sunday night.

The Canadiens roughed up Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who turned 22 on Thursday, and scored four goals through two periods to send him to the bench.

The Canadiens continued their sensational surge through Toronto hockey and bounced back fine after a 2-1 Game 1 loss. Montreal was the last team in the East to qualify for the expanded playoffs, and then needed four games to win its best-of-five series over Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hart grew up in Alberta and was a long-time fan of Price, who dazzled in the NHL restart. Price had a shutout against the Penguins and had an elite series that keyed the series win. Hart was just 6 years old when the Canadiens made Price a first-round pick in the 2005 draft. He was 22 for just a day when he got benched against idol.

“At this time of the year, with the importance of the game, we certainly don’t expect that,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said.

Tatar needed only 1:02 into the game to score, and Kotkaniemi connected later in the period. Tatar again just 1:30 into the second period. Joel Armia knocked out Hart with his fourth goal.

“I think we really played the right way from the get-go. We jumped on them right out of the gate,” Tatar said.

Hart allowed four goals on 26 shots. He allowed just two goals on 59 shots in the round-robin series that helped the Flyers go 3-0 and clinch the top seed in the East. His .914 save percentage was tied for eighth in the regular season.

The Flyers continue to get little production from their top stars. Travis Konency, Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk — their top-five goal scorers – have yet to score in the Toronto bubble.

Kotkaniemi beat backup Brian Elliott in the third for a 5-0 lead.

“You can’t win the series by winning one game,” Hayes said. “They handed it to us pretty badly tonight.”

Notes: Konency was helped off the ice with an unspecified injury in the third period. … Tatar scored 22 goals and had a career-high 61 points in 68 games headed into the NHL break. He had yet to score in the playoffs. … The Canadiens took the first 12 shots. … Hart was pulled from a game for the first time since Jan. 4.


ISLANDERS 5, CAPITALS 2 (New York leads series 2-0)

TORONTO (AP) — Long after Brock Nelson scored on a breakaway to restore the New York Islanders’ lead, he and his teammates hemmed the Washington Capitals in their zone for a long shift that can wear an opponent down.

Then Cal Clutterbuck tipped Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s shot past Braden Holtby to break the Capitals’ will. It was the kind of sequence that coach Barry Trotz beamed at and was on display two years ago when he led Washington to the Stanley Cup.

Trotz is on the other side now, and his Islanders beat the Capitals 5-2 Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series. New York played Trotz’s trademark structured, suffocating style perfectly, from responding to a Capitals goal in the first minute to controlling the puck when it mattered most.

“That’s how you win, and guys are committed to that effort,” Trotz said. “We didn’t back off. We just stayed to our game, and we got the result we wanted.”

Given 86% of teams that go up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series in NHL history have gone on to win it, Trotz is well on the way to beating the team that let him walk rather than give him a raise after delivering the first title in franchise history. The Capitals instead promoted assistant Todd Reirden to head coach and have not since won a playoff series.

Trotz showed his value behind the bench when the Islanders reached the second round last year and again in these playoffs. The Islanders won a penalty-filled, physical Game 1 and handled a different style in Game 2 without looking fazed.

“We’re just trying to play the way that we know how to play,” Clutterbuck said. “That’s the strength of our team is getting back to that game that’s successful for us. They’ve got a lot of different ways they can play, and that’s a great team. We’re trying to focus on ourselves here and do what we can.”

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin registered his first point of the NHL’s restart when he scored 56 seconds in. He scored again in the second period to tie it and missed out on a second career playoff hat trick when he hit the side of the net on a prime chance on the power play in the third.

“I just missed the net,” Ovechkin said.

Washington’s penalty kill that was a perfect 14-for-14 finally allowed a goal when Nick Leddy scored a power-play goal in the second period. A turnover by Lars Eller led to a goal by Matt Martin before Ovechkin tied it.

Then another Capitals mistake wound up in their net. Jakub Vrana coughed up the puck at the offensive blue line, springing Nelson for his breakaway goal 15 seconds after Ovechkin scored. Vrana was benched for the final 13 minutes of the period, and he’s not the only Washington player who’s struggling.

“We have some adversity,” Reirden said. “We have to fight through. It’s not going to happen easily, it never does, and we have to put more work in and match that compete to give ourselves a chance to have some of our skill be more present in the game.”

Knowing Trotz’s experience and looking at the talented Capitals on the other side, the Islanders also know they’re not going to move on to the second round without a fight.

“It doesn’t get any easier from here,” Martin said. “They have a championship pedigree over there. It’s just going to get harder and harder from here, so we’ve got to be ready and we’ve got to stay true to our game as much as possible and hopefully at the end of the day that’s enough.”

NOTES: Islanders D Johnny Boychuk missed his fifth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. … Backstrom was out after going into concussion protocol. … Ovechkin scored his 66th and 67th playoff goals to move into sole possession of 20th on the NHL’s career list. … Eller returned after missing the last three games for the birth of his son.


Game 3 is Sunday at noon.


FLAMES 2, STARS 0 (Calgary leads series 2-1)

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Mikael Backlund scored Calgary’s second short-handed goal in as many nights, Cam Talbot stopped 35 shots in his second shutout this postseason and the Flames beat the Dallas Stars 2-0 on Friday night to take a 2-1 series lead in their Western Conference playoff series.

The goal by Backlund in the second period hit the stick of goalie Anton Khodobin, who couldn’t get the puck in his glove before it fell back onto the pads of his left leg, hanging there briefly before falling to the ice and rolling over the line.

“We’ve been really aggressive this whole tournament,” said Backlund, who had a rush after a Stars skater fell down. “We’ve just been playing within our system and when the chances are there, we’ve been going for it, and we’ve been successful.”

TJ Brodie scored on a 50-foot slap shot through traffic midway through the third period for Calgary.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday.

“I felt pretty good from the get-go. They had some chances early, I was able to feel the puck and make some saves and just kind of gained confidence from there,” said Talbot, who got his fourth career postseason shutout. “It was nice to get some shots early and feel the puck, especially after last night.”

Khudodbin, who stopped 21 shots, was pulled with just over 3 minutes left so the Stars could have an extra skater, soon after one of several near misses by Tyler Seguin.

Dallas also came up empty when birthday boy John Klingberg was unable to convert on a power play in a strange sequence when the Stars were about to go on a power play with 38 seconds left in the second period before a delay because of some broken glass.

Officials sent both teams to the locker room for the second intermission while arena workers replaced the glass near the Dallas bench. It was shattered when frustrated Stars forward Blake Comeau slammed his stick against it when coming off the ice.

“Just frustrated with myself that shift,” Comeau said. “That wasn’t my intention. I just kind of let my emotions get the better of me there.”

After the intermission, the final 38 seconds of the second period were played, with Klingberg’s miss coming before the horn. The teams then had a short break to switch sides for the third period.

Calgary became the first team since the San Jose Sharks in 2008 to score short-handed goals in consecutive playoff games.

“We’re losing the battle of the specialty teams,” Stars interim head coach Rick Bowness said. “Giving up two shorties, and you have your best players on the ice, that’s really upsetting.”

Tobias Rieder scored the short-hander in Game 2, which finished about 22 hours before the start of Game 3, which was delayed briefly because it was the third game of the day in Edmonton. Rieder’s goal came when the Flames erased a two-goal deficit to tie the game late before Jamie Oleksiak’s goal in the final minute gave Dallas a 5-4 win.

Dallas had some early chances Friday, with Seguin’s shot only two minutes into the game hitting the crossbar at the top of the left post and Alexander Radulov then missing the open net on the right side with Talbot still not back in position.

“A lot of good looks. Just didn’t find the back of the net. A lot of positive to look at. Just got to put more shots on net,” Seguin said. “I think we missed the net a couple of times. And I missed high and wide a few times. We’ve got to be getting some more rebounds”.

Seguin came close again later in the first period, with a shot up and off the arm of Talbot and over the net. That was the second of four shots the Stars had during a power play that start with Klingberg, on his 28th birthday, taking a quick slap shot into the gut of the goalie.

NOTES: The Flames played without LW Matthew Tkachuk, who seemed out of sorts when he skated off the ice and then left the bench early in the third period of Game 2. He banged heads with both Jamie Benn and Oleksiak after getting caught in a collision between the two. …. After the Stars didn’t have a shot on goal in the final eight minutes of the first period, they had a 16-4 advantage in the second period, when Calgary didn’t get a shot in the final 11 minutes.

Photo credit – Jason Franson / The Canadian Press via AP / Edmonton, AB