PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sidney Crosby scored his fifth goal of the series and became the Pittsburgh Penguins’ career postseason points leader in a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.
The Penguins lead the first-round playoff series 3-1 as its shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 5.
Matt Murray stopped 26 shots for his second shutout of the series and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are a win away from playing in the second round for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Nikita Kucherov scored two goals, set up another and knocked New Jersey’s top defenseman out of the game with a big hit, and the Tampa Bay Lightning moved within a game of making the Devils’ first trip to the playoffs in six years a short one.
J.T. Miller also scored and had two assists, and Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped three breakaways in making 27 saves as the Lightning bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to tale a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
DENVER (AP) — Filip Forsberg scored another creative goal, Pekka Rinne rebounded from a rocky performance with 31 saves, and the Nashville Predators withstood a furious rally by the Colorado Avalanche for a 3-2 win in Game 4 on Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
Colton Sissons and Craig Smith also added goals for the Predators, who can close out the series Friday when it shifts back to Nashville for Game 5.
Rinne was solid early after being pulled from the last game. Cruising along and up 3-0, the Vezina Trophy finalist allowed Gabriel Landeskog’s 5-on-3 power-play goal in the third and another on Alexander Kerfoot’s tap-in off a rebound.
Colin Wilson nearly tied with about 2 minutes left when his shot appeared to hit the post. The Avalanche pulled backup goalie Andrew Hammond late, but couldn’t get the tying goal.
Forsberg worked his puck-handling magic in the first period by dancing around defenseman Duncan Siemens and juking Jonathan Bernier for his third goal of the series. The ever-creative Forsberg had an artistic goal in Game 1 as well, when he sent the puck through the defenseman’s legs before scoring.
Bernier allowed three goals on 26 shots before being replaced by Hammond to start the third period due to a lower body injury. Hammond had eight saves.
Forsberg and his crew came out with a little more spring in their skates for Game 4. This may have played a role: The team went through a spirited practice the day before. It was a way to avoid a sluggish start like Monday when Colorado scored three times in the first period of Game 3.
The strategy worked. Nashville controlled the tempo except for a frenzied stretch in the third.
There was a scary moment in the second period when MacKinnon’s stick caught teammate Mikko Rantanen near the eye. Rantanen left with a towel pressed against his face, only to return a few minutes later.
But not before the Predators scored another goal as Smith zoomed out of the penalty box and beat Bernier with a wrist shot to make it 3-0.
From there, things turned a little testy. Landeskog hit a tumbling Ryan Johansen, who headed to the dressing room. He returned in the third period.
P.K. Subban got the crowd fired up early by shooting a puck into Colorado’s net in the pregame warmups. He’s stepped into the villain’s role after delivering a blow to the side of MacKinnon’s helmet during Game 3. Subban was booed each time he touched the puck.
The Predators came out firing on all cylinders, even going on an early 5-on-3 power play for 1:20. They but couldn’t get anything past Bernier, but they did knock Bernier’s mask momentarily out of commission when Viktor Arvidsson’s slap shot caught him square him in the cage. Bernier skated over to the bench to grab his backup one. He later returned to his original one.
NOTES: Predators F Calle Jarnkrok returned after missing the last 16 games with an upper-body injury. ... Rinne felt honored to be a finalist for the award that goes to the league’s top goaltender. He deflected the credit after a regular season in which he went 42-13-4. “Even though it’s an individual award, I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” he said. ... Avs D Samuel Girard missed a third straight game with an upper-body injury.
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