Capitals beat Islanders 5-1, take 3-2 series lead
Washington rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice to lead the Capitals to a 5-1 win against the New York Islanders on Thursday to take a 3-2 lead in their NHL first-round playoff series.
Nashville and Vancouver both staved off elimination with must-win victories over Chicago and Calgary respectively to cut the deficit in those series to 3-2, while Tampa Bay won in overtime at Detroit to square that series at 2-2.
Washington’s Karl Alzner added a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who controlled the action most of the evening after falling behind 1-0.
Dominating despite zero points from stars Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom, Washington also got goals from Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera in the third period, which it began ahead only 2-1.
The Capitals can end the Eastern Conference series by winning Game 6 at New York on Saturday.
Nashville rookie Filip Forsberg had his first career hat trick to lead the Predators to a must-win 5-2 victory over Chicago.
A triple-overtime loss in Chicago early Wednesday pushed the Predators to the brink of elimination, and the teams appeared headed for the third overtime game of this series when the second period ended with the score tied 1-1.
James Neal then got the go-ahead goal in the opening minute of the third to spark a flurry of three goals in a span of less than 2-1/2 minutes.
Forsberg finished his hat trick with an empty netter in the final minute. Colin Wilson also had a goal, and Neal had an assist.
Chicago’s Brad Richards had a goal and an assist, and Kris Versteeg also scored for the Blackhawks, who host Game 6 on Saturday.
Vancouver also came through in a must-win situation, edging Calgary 2-1.
Daniel Sedin scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and Nick Bonino had the other goal for Vancouver, while goaltender Ryan Miller had 19 saves in his first start in the series after replacing Eddie Lack in Game 4.
After the Flames were penalized for icing in the opening minutes of the third period, the Canucks put out their top line for the offensive-zone faceoff. Daniel Sedin took advantage, shoveling Dan Hamhuis’ rebound through the goalie’s pads for what proved the winner.
David Jones scored for the Flames and Jonas Hiller stopped 41 shots.
Game 6 of the series is Saturday at Calgary.
Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson led a stirring rally late in regulation, then scored 2:25 into overtime to lift the Lightning to a 3-2 series-squaring victory at Detroit.
The Red Wings led 2-0 in the third period before Johnson scored with 5:26 remaining. He then assisted on Ondrej Palat’s tying goal 77 seconds later.
Early in the extra session, defenseman Victor Hedman led an odd-man rush from the right side and slid the puck across the goal mouth. It deflected ever so slightly off the goalie, but Johnson was able to shoot into an open net from a tough angle for his fourth goal of the series.
Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson scored in the second period for the Red Wings. Andersson’s goal came in fluky fashion when goalie Ben Bishop knocked it in off the crossbar.
Game 5 is Saturday back in Tampa, Florida.