Pittsburgh and Nashville move into second round
PENGUINS 5, BLUE JACKETS 2
When the Pittsburgh Penguins blew their chance at a sweep Tuesday, Coach Mike Sullivan emphasized the need for everyone to reset their mind-set.
Sullivan’s team had to do that a few times Thursday, but the Penguins ultimately got the result they desired, a 5-2 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 5 of their opening-round series at PPG Paints Arena that pushed Pittsburgh through to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-1 series victory.
After what could turn out to be a substantial break, the Penguins will play either the Washington Capitals or Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bryan Rust scored a pair of goals, Evgeni Malkin contributed three assists, and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 49 of 51 shots to make this one happen.
Jake Guentzel led the Penguins in goals against the Blue Jackets with five this series, followed by Rust’s four.
PREDATORS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1: Roman Josi scored twice, Pekka Rinne had 30 saves, and the host Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks to complete a surprising sweep of the Western Conference’s top seed.
Colton Sissons also scored and Viktor Arvidsson added an emptynet goal as Nashville completed the franchise’s first playoff sweep. Led by Rinne and a terrific defensive performance by their lines and defensive pairings, the Predators limited the high-scoring Blackhawks to just three goals in 13 periods.
Nashville will face the winner of the St. Louis-Minnesota series in the second round. The Blues have a 3-1 lead heading into Game 5 on Saturday in Minnesota.
RANGERS 3, CANADIENS 2: Mika Zibanejad scored at 14:22 of overtime to give New York a victory over host Montreal in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.
The Rangers grabbed a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and will look to advance when they host Game 6 on Saturday.
Chris Kreider’s shot on a rush went off Alexei Emelin’s stick right to Zibanejad for a shot into an open side. Jesper Fast and Brady Skjei also scored for New York. Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves.
Sabres fire GM, coach
General manager Tim Murray ran out of time to rebuild the Buffalo Sabres into a contender. The team will need a new head coach, too.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula cleaned house by firing Murray and coach Dan Bylsma on Thursday amid questions over player accountability during a season in which Buffalo extended its franchise-worst playoff drought to a sixth year. Pegula reached the decision after spending the past two days holding season-ending meetings with Murray and some 10 days after Buffalo closed its season by finishing last in the Atlantic Division.
Murray completed his third full season as GM and was responsible for overseeing a top-to-bottom overhaul that began under his predecessor Darcy Regier, who was fired in November 2013. Bylsma completed his second season. Both had three years left on their respective contracts.