Sunday, April 14, 2019

MacKinnon scores in OT, Avalanche beat Flames to even series

Nathan MacKinnon scored 8:27 into overtime and the Colorado Avalanche tied their first-round series with the Calgary Flames at a game apiece with a 3-2 win Saturday night.

After Philipp Grubauer stopped Michael Frolik at one end, the puck went up ice, where a pass from Mikko Rantanen sprung MacKinnon down the left wing and he fired a shot into the top corner on Mike Smith.

Matt Nieto and J.T. Compher also scored for the Avalanche. Rasmus Andersson and Sean Monahan had goals for the Flames.

The series continues Monday night in Colorado.

Colorado tied it at 2 at 17:21 of the third period on Compher's first career playoff goal, the result of some fortuitous bouncing of the puck.

Rantanen's cross-ice pass banked off the skate of Gabriel Landeskog, then off both skates of Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic, before Compher shoveled a backhand over a sprawled Smith.

Monahan had given Calgary its first lead of the night at 12:27 of the third on some similar puck luck.

After winning a faceoff in the offensive zone, Monahan went to the front of the net. Johnny Gaudreau's initial shot didn't get through to the net, nor did Sam Bennett's shot attempt right after - but Monahan's third try went into the top corner, over the glove of Grubauer.

The Avs were the better team most of the night, especially in a scoreless first period, outshooting Calgary 15-10 and taking it to the Flames physically.

But like in Game 1 when he posted a 26-save shutout, Smith was excellent once again.

The Avalanche's best chance in the opening 20 minutes was Landeskog's breakaway off TJ Brodie's giveaway, in which Smith denied him when he tried to go five-hole.

In the third period with the score 1-1, Smith stared down Landeskog again on a breakaway and again denied him, this time with a blocker save. Chants of "Smitty! Smitty! Smitty!" were heard throughout the night from the crowd just like in the series opener.

In a second period of momentum swings, Calgary tied it at 1 at 12:26 on Andersson's first career playoff goal. On a power play, Bennett backed out front from behind the net before zipping a no-look backhand pass across to Andersson, who had an empty net.

Nieto gave the Avs their first goal of the series when he stripped the puck from Brodie at Colorado's blue line and raced away on a breakaway, picking the top corner over Smith's glove.

NOTES: Smith finished with 36 saves, while Grubauer had 35. .. Calgary went 1 for 5 on the power play, while the Avs' power play, which ranked No. 7 in the regular season, went 0 for 4 to fall to 0 for 8 in the postseason. ... Both teams used identical lineups from Game 1. ... Smith entered with a career .947 save percentage in the playoffs, making him the NHL's all-time leader.


The series moves to Colorado for Game 3 on Monday night.

DeRozan leads Spurs past Nuggets in Game 1, 101-96

 Nikola Jokic overcame suffocating double teams to become the fourth player in NBA history to record a triple-double in his playoff debut and the first since LeBron James in 2006.

What did it mean to him?

"To be honest, nothing," Jokic said.

It also mattered little to the San Antonio Spurs, who beat the Denver Nuggets 101-96 in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series Saturday night.

Jokic's accomplishment was rendered a footnote by LaMarcus Aldridge's suffocating defense, DeMar DeRozen's 18 points, Derrick White's clinching steal in the closing seconds and all those wide-open shots that just didn't fall for Denver.

Although Jokic pulled down 14 rebounds and dished out 14 assists, he took just nine shots, made four, and was limited to 10 points, less than half his regular season scoring average of 20.1.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called it a wash because Aldridge wasn't himself, either, going just 6 of 19 for 15 points.

"We didn't let Jokic play as he wanted and they didn't let LaMarcus play as much as he wanted," Popovich said. "It is important because they are both great players and they are going to continue to get a lot of attention throughout the series."

Aldridge said this is what everyone can expect this whole series, too.

"Both bigs kind of never really got comfortable down there. When you have two bigs that are so big for your team, it's going to be like that," Aldridge said. "We did a good job of just trying to mix it up on him. They did the same thing on me."

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he didn't wish his All-Star had taken more shots.

"Every time he put it down, there was somebody right there. They trapped him every time," Malone said. "So, I think Nikola has a high IQ. He's going to make the right play. Unfortunately, we didn't make them pay for double-teaming enough."

The Nuggets made just 42 percent of their shots, 21 percent from 3-point range, and missed eight free throws while failing to score a single fast-break basket.

"I think if we're making shots, it becomes a lot harder to double-team him consistently," Malone said. "They stayed with it because we couldn't make a shot. So, that was the tough thing about it. But I love Nikola's approach. I love his play-making. I love his passing."

The sellout crowd at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets went 34-7 for the best home record in the league, certainly wanted Jokic to take more shots. But even those calls quieted after Jokic shot an airball on a 3 at a crucial point in the fourth quarter.

White stole the ball at midcourt from Jamal Murray with 1.3 seconds left after Aldridge sank a pair of free throws following his key defensive rebound of Murray's errant shot that would have given the Nuggets the lead with seven seconds left.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver.

Making their first playoff appearance in six years, the Nuggets trailed most of the night, but they trimmed a 12-point deficit to one in the final minute.

They had the ball with 6.9 seconds left and needed a 3 even though they were just 6 for 28 from the arc. But they never got the chance to tie it because White, a second-year pro who moved into a bigger role when Dejounte Murray got hurt in the preseason, stripped Murray and drew the foul, then sank both shots.

"He was spectacular," Popovich said. "For somebody who got put in that position and to learn that position with a bunch of new players, it's really remarkable what he's done. Hopefully, he'll continue to play that way because it's going to be a long series."

Asked what adjustments he had in mind for Game 2, Malone said simply, "Make shots."


San Antonio: The Spurs have won five of six playoff series against the Nuggets with their only series defeat coming in 1985. ... San Antonio is making its 22nd straight playoff appearance, this one with a new cast that includes DeRozan, who came over from Toronto in the Kawhi Leonard trade. ... The Spurs' win marked the third by a road team on the opening day of the NBA playoffs. They joined the Nets, who won at Philadelphia, and Magic, who won at Toronto.

Denver: The Nuggets are 6-21 against the Spurs in the playoffs. ... The Nuggets have lost seven of their last 12 home games against San Antonio. ... Denver won the Northwest Division title for the first time since 2010. ... Gary Harris led Denver with 20 points and Murray had 17, but that was on 8-of-24 shooting, including 0 for 6 from the arc.


Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver.

Rask stops 30 shots, Bruins beat Leafs 4-1 to tie series 1-1

Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri temporarily went to the locker room after a knee-on-knee hit from Jake DeBrusk in the second period.

When Kadri retaliated late in the third, he was done for good.

Kadri drew a game misconduct for cross-checking DeBrusk in the face , leading to Boston's final goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots to help the Bruins beat Toronto 4-1 on Saturday night and tie the first-round playoff series at one game apiece.

"Obviously, he got frustrated," Bruins forward Chris Wagner said when asked if he thought the hit merited a suspension. "The league can take a look at that and they can decide."

Two nights after Toronto beat Boston 4-1 in the opener to steal away home-ice advantage, the Bruins took a 3-0 lead with a 29-16 edge in shots on goal into the third period. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen all scored for the Bruins.

But the main event was DeBrusk and Kadri, who mixed it up all night before Kadri took a shot at him with about six minutes left in the game, drawing a game misconduct. Bergeron scored a minute later to make it 4-1 and clinch it.

Kadri, who was suspended for three games in last year's first-round series, could be facing some missed time this year, too.

"It ain't easy, but at the same time we know that going in. You have to keep your composure," Leafs forward John Tavares said. "Not everything's going to go your way. Things aren't going to be called that you think should be called, and we just have to stay with it."

Kadri scored the Leafs' only goal midway through the third, and Frederik Andersen made 37 saves for Toronto, which returns home for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday nights. Kadri was not made available to reporters after the game.

"Things were getting pretty amped up there toward the end of the game. A lot of emotions. That's what playoff hockey is all about," Marchand said. "That's what we all look forward to, but at the same time you have to control your emotions. It's not always the easiest thing."

Severely outplayed in Game 1, the Bruins responded from the start, calling upon speed and toughness they failed to show in the opener.

Coyle made it 1-0 less than five minutes in on a feed from behind the net from David Backes, who had been a healthy scratch in Game 1.

With four minutes to play in the period, Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin failed to glove a lofted puck at center ice, and David Pastrnak retrieved it. He spun around and fed it to Marchand, who put it between Andersen's legs to make it 2-0.

Another turnover led to Boston's third goal midway through the second. After some bad passing in the Toronto zone, William Nylander wound up with the puck next to the net. He lost control of it and Heinen just poked it past Anderson's skate to make it 3-0.

Kadri deflected a shot from Travis Dermott past Rask to deprive him of the shutout.


Kadri had an eventful few minutes near the end of the second period.

He was sent off for hooking, and he came back on the ice just in time to sneak up on David Krejci from behind and poke the puck away before Kadri was knocked to the ice by a knee-on-knee hit from DeBrusk.

Kadri went to the locker room favoring his left knee.

No penalty was called.

Muzzin also knocked Bruins defenseman Torey Krug out of the game with a hit against the boards.

"The referees let a lot of stuff go, obviously," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "But in the end you can't let that get in the way of doing what you're doing."


Rob Gronkowski got a huge cheer when he vigorously waved a Bruins flag before the opening faceoff. The retired New England Patriots tight end served as a fan banner captain along with Massachusetts Special Olympian Matt Millett.


The series shifts to Toronto for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday night. Game 5 is back in Boston on Friday night.

Curry's 38 points lead Warriors to Game 1 win over Clippers

Steve Kerr preached to the Golden State Warriors to not "take the bait."

The bait being Patrick Beverley.

Stephen Curry scored 38 points and made eight 3-pointers to give him the most in postseason history, and the top-seeded Golden State Warriors began their quest for a three-peat by running away from the frustrated Los Angeles Clippers for a 121-104 victory in their playoff opener Saturday on a night tempers flared.

Kevin Durant and Beverley were ejected with 4:41 to go, just 19 seconds after they received double-technicals when Durant stripped Beverley and the Clippers guard fell into the scorer's table. They both became enraged again and official Ed Malloy immediately sent them both to the locker room. Durant high-fived fans as he exited and the home crowd went into chants of "Beat L.A.!"

Durant said Beverley has a "different type of grit" coming from Chicago.

"You know what he's going to bring to the table, just the physicality, mucking up the game a little bit with his physicality, his talking, everything. That's what he brings to each team he plays on. That's his identity," Durant said. "For me, I know that coming into the series. I thought it was fun tonight."

Like Durant, Beverley said he had fun.

"I got pushed, I got up and I got ejected. I guess the refs, I guess he saw something that I don't know," he said. "But that's all right. I give them a lot of credit."�

Perhaps this old, heated rivalry still has all the testiness of years past - just with new faces all around.

"Pat's going to talk, and that's legal," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

Curry shot 8 for 12 from deep to pass Ray Allen (385) for career postseason 3s with 386, had a postseason career-high 15 rebounds, seven assists and the 31st 30-point postseason performance of his career.

"To be in the same category and to pass a guy like Ray Allen and all the iconic moments he's had in playoff games and finals games, it's pretty surreal," Curry said. "Definitely honored and grateful for those opportunities. I always joked, if I shoot a lot of 3s I better make a lot of them."

On one of his marvelous 3s, the two-time MVP knocked one down from way back late in the third, nearly did the splits in the air and landed on his back side - still smiling all the while.

These teams are meeting for just the second time in the postseason after the Clippers took a seven-game series in the first round in 2014 when the California franchises had a deep dislike for each other.

Game 2 is Monday night back at Oracle Arena.

Draymond Green got Golden State going by making all five of his shots in the first quarter on the way to 17 points to go with seven assists and seven rebounds, while Durant scored 23 points as the Warriors ran their postseason winning streak to seven games.

Montrezl Harrell scored 26 points and fellow reserve Lou Williams contributed 25 points and nine assists as Los Angeles returned to the playoffs after missing last season following six straight appearances.

Beverley, who missed last Sunday's 131-104 loss at Oracle because of a right hip pointer and was booed during pregame introductions, didn't score in the first half and wound up with three points on 1-for-7 shooting, seven assists and seven rebounds.

He and Durant received double-technicals with 5 minutes left before they got into it again.

"We took the bait. He took the bait. That's two technicals. You get seven technicals. Your seventh one is a suspension in the playoffs," Kerr said. "He's got four to play with after one game. That's what Beverley does. ... You cannot take the bait. That's a bad trade for us. The Clippers have made a lot of good trades this year. That may be their best."

The Clippers lost their cool on a couple of occasions, and that hurt playing in an already difficult road arena.

Danilo Gallinari's technical in the final minute of the second only further fueled the home crowd, and Curry capitalized as the Warriors ran to a 69-56 halftime advantage.

"Curry has destroyed us all year," Rivers said.


DeMarcus Cousins fouled out with 7:16 left after scoring nine points in his playoff following a nine-year wait and nearly yearlong comeback from last January's devastating torn left Achilles tendon that required surgery.

Cousins, who played his first game of the season Jan. 18 at the Clippers, had nine rebounds and four assists.


Kerr challenged the Warriors - not to mention himself with a self-acknowledged temper - to be more disciplined yelling at the officials. Green was knocked down by Beverley on a no-call early and argued but avoided a technical.

"Fans need to understand, it wouldn't be possible to officiate the games the exact same way in the playoffs as the regular season. The games would take four hours," Kerr said.

The Clippers had their own costly moments arguing.

Williams and Rivers also were heated late in the first half about no fouls being called.

Rivers received a technical leaving the court at halftime and Klay Thompson shot a free throw before the third quarter began.

"All I want is consistency. That's what I got a tech for at halftime," Rivers said, noting Gallinari said nothing offensive to deserve a technical.


Clippers: The Clippers were 2 of 10 from deep in the first half, when they had only 13 assists. ... Los Angeles, which has lost four straight on the Warriors' home floor, was outrebounded 53-40.

Warriors: Curry notched his fifth career double-digit postseason rebounding game. ... Durant (3,679) passed Dirk Nowitzki (3,663) for 15th place on the career playoff scoring list. ... The Warriors have won seven straight postseason Game 1s and 14 of 15 openers in all - going 16-1 in their first game of a series dating to the 2014-15 season.

Predators beat Stars 2-1 in OT, even series 1-1

Craig Smith has a knack for timely goals in the playoffs, and he helped the Nashville Predators avoid a very big hole heading to Dallas.

Smith scored five minutes into overtime to give the Predators a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday, tying the first-round Western Conference series at 1-1.

The puck popped out around his feet, and he scored his first this postseason from the inside edge of the left circle. That goal snapped a three-game playoff skid on home ice for Nashville.

"We need people to step up when you're in a situation like that and you're down by a game in a series and you get into overtime," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "You can just weight the two results, and we needed to get a win and we needed somebody. And it was really good for Craig."

That was the first postseason overtime goal of Smith's career, and the third winner of his career in the playoffs. That ties him for the most in Predators' history, and Smith said it probably was one of his biggest goals.

"It was kind of a delayed reaction," Smith said. "I think (Stars defenseman Roman) Polak knocked it down and I just tried to get a stick on it and tried to feather it in there. I don't know how it got through but able to just get a stick on something and get some traffic and get it in there."

Rocco Grimaldi also scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 22 saves. The Predators had lost five of their last six postseason games in the place they call Smashville.

Jamie Benn scored for Dallas The Stars were outshot 43-23.

"We knew we were going to get Nashville's best and we did," Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said. "And you know they were the better team tonight, and probably not for Bish (goalie Ben Bishop) we're not in overtime. So we got to come back and we will. We'll be better."

Game 3 is Monday night in Dallas.

The teams went to overtime twice during their five-game series during the regular season, and Dallas won the opener 3-2. So it was no surprise they went past regulation yet again.

The Stars went 0 of 6 on the man advantage after being the NHL's 11th-best on the power play during the regular season.

After losing Game 1, the Predators came into this game having lost five of their last six playoff games on home ice. The Stars came in trying to join both St. Louis and Columbus as road teams taking a 2-0 advantage back home.

The teams fought to the first scoreless period of this young series to open this game, though the Predators killed a four-minute penalty on a double minor to Mattias Ekholm and outshot Dallas 15-9.

Dallas took the lead at 1:59 of the second when Tyler Seguin got the puck off a turnover, passed to Benn at the side of the net for the captain's first goal this postseason.

Stars center Mattias Janmark went straight to the locker room after a collision with Predators' defenseman Dan Hamhuis into the boards. Janmark was down for a couple minutes before being helped off the ice at 3:10, putting no weight on his left leg. Janmark managed to return later in the game.

Nashville tied it at 3:56, with Grimaldi scoring over Bishop's glove from right in front off a pass from Austin Watson. It was the first postseason goal in Grimaldi's third career playoff game and first with Nashville, and he got the call Saturday morning that he was in the lineup with forward Brian Boyle out sick.

"It's a huge goal for him personally too," Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. "First playoff goal, obviously a big moment, tied the game. I think it's a huge booster anytime he cracks in the lineup. He's always one of the bright lights out there. Again, he did a really good job."

The Predators also lost forward Wayne Simmonds in the first period after he took a one-timer from teammate Roman Josi off the inside of his left knee. He later tested his leg taking a lap during a TV timeout before going back to the locker room.

In the third, Rinne smothered a shot from Seguin off a pass from Alexander Radulov in the opening minutes. Stars center Jason Dickinson hit the top right corner of the post 5:24 in.

"We had a chance, we played pretty good tonight," Bishop said. "So obviously it goes to overtime, it's anybody's game and unfortunately they got it and just get ready for Game 3 now."

NOTES: The Predators improved to 5-2 at home in Game 2 all-time with their first home playoff win since Game 2 of their second-round series last spring against Winnipeg. Nashville improved to 8-8 in postseason overtimes. ... Smith tied James Neal, Viktor Arvidsson and David Legwand for most game-winning goals in the playoffs. ... Grimaldi played his first postseason game since April 2016 with Florida. ... Benn now has at least a point in 10 of his 11 career postseason games on the road with four goals and nine assists.


Game 3 on Monday night in Dallas.

Augustin has 25, hits winning 3, Magic beat Raptors 104-101

For the Orlando Magic, the first game of the playoffs felt a lot like the final few weeks of the regular season: high stakes, small margins, and a big win at the end of the day.

D.J. Augustin scored 25 points, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left, and the Magic beat the Toronto Raptors 104-101 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Saturday.

Kawhi Leonard got a final shot for Toronto, but missed the rim with his 3-pointer from the top.

Orlando went 22-9 over the final 31 games of the season to clinch its first playoff berth since 2012.

"I think it helps," Magic coach Steve Clifford said of his team's tough regular-season finish. "We've been playing games that we had to win and were meaningful games for a while."

Nikola Vucevic, who scored 11 points, said Orlando's stretch drive help the team's mental preparation for the grind of the postseason.

"Throughout this last month, we were able to fight through a lot of different adversity and it has kind of prepared us for the playoffs," Vucevic said.

And, when crunch time arrived in Game 1, Orlando was entirely unfazed.

"We made a bunch of big plays in the last three or four minutes," Clifford said.

Aaron Gordon had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Evan Fournier scored 16 points and Jonathan Isaac had 11 as the No. 7-seeded Magic became the latest team to beat Toronto in the opening game of a playoff series. The Raptors are 2-14 in playoff openers.

"We know who we are and this is one game," Toronto's Kyle Lowry said. "We've got to make sure we know who we are and execute what we can do. When we do what we are supposed to do, we are really, really good."

Leonard scored 25 points, Pascal Siakam had 24 and Fred VanVleet had 14 for the second-seeded Raptors, who reclaimed the lead after trailing by 16 points in the second quarter, but couldn't hold on down the stretch.

Toronto got 13 points apiece from Danny Green and Marc Gasol, but Lowry finished scoreless, missing all seven of his attempts. Lowry did have eight assists and seven rebounds.

"He had some really good looks that he's normally going to knock down," coach Nick Nurse said. "I'm sure he'll bounce back and play a little better in the next game."

Leonard hit a tying 3 with 1:35 left, then put Toronto up 101-99 with a jumper at 1:02. Augustin made a layup to tie it again with 44 seconds left, then connected from long range for the fourth time to win the game.

Gasol said he and Leonard got their defensive assignments mixed up on Augustin's decisive shot, leaving the guard wide open.

"It was a mistake made on that play," Gasol said. "We miscommunicated and he made a good shot."

Augustin's 3 was the seventh lead change of the final quarter and the 13th of the game.

"When I saw the opening, I shot the ball with confidence and it went in," he said.

Augustin made 9 of 13 attempts, going 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.

Leonard made all four of his attempts in the first and added a pair of free throws. He scored 11 points in the opening quarter as Toronto led 30-25.

Leading 42-41 with 3:46 remaining in the second, Orlando got 10 points from Augustin in a 15-0 run that put the Magic up 57-41 with 55 seconds left. Siakam stopped Toronto's drought with a jump shot, and Gasol and Green added 3-pointers but the Raptors trailed 57-49 at halftime.

Leonard scored five points as Toronto used a 12-2 spurt at the start of the third, reclaiming the lead on Gasol's 3 at 8:19. Siakam scored eight points in the third, while Leonard and Green each had seven, as the Raptors took a narrow 76-75 lead to the fourth.


Magic: F Jonathan Isaac (concussion) and Nikola Vucevic (illness) both started after missing Orlando's regular-season finale Wednesday. ...Vucevic didn't score in the first quarter, missing all three of his attempts.

Raptors: Toronto shot 3 for 10 from 3-point range in the first quarter, and 3 for 11 in the second. The Raptors finished 12 for 36 from outside. ... Siakam had nine rebounds.


Former Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas got a huge ovation when he walked to his baseline seat near the Toronto bench a few minutes before the tipoff. Valanciunas, C.J. Miles and Delon Wright were traded to Memphis in February for Gasol.


Toronto failed to score at least 110 points for the first time in 10 games. The Raptors sett a franchise record by scoring 110 or more in nine straight games to finish the regular season.


Game 2 is Tuesday night in Toronto

Orpik scores in OT, Capitals take 2-0 lead over Hurricanes

A rat falling out of the arena hallway ceiling during the Carolina Hurricanes' warmup game of soccer was just a precursor to a wacky afternoon of playoff hockey.

Long after the dead rodent was removed, Game 2 between the Hurricanes and Washington Capitals included a questionable ejection for a check to the head, a shot off one goalie's mask and another that went in off the other goalie's backside. It fittingly ended with an overtime goal from an unlikely source that sent the defending Stanley Cup champions into a wild celebration around the team's most popular player.

Veteran leader Brooks Orpik scored 1:48 into overtime Saturday to give Washington a 4-3 victory and a 2-0 lead over Carolina in the first-round series. His fourth goal in his 151st playoff game was his third winner, and Orpik became just the 11th defenseman in NHL history with two postseason overtime goals.

"I'm probably not counted on for too many goals, but I think if you want to have the long runs, you need everybody kind of chipping in and doing things they don't normally do," Orpik said. "Always feels good when the team comes out on top."

The Capitals came out on top thanks to Alex Ovechkin's two perfect passes, a 5-on-3 penalty kill and a stick shortage by Carolina that allowed Evgeny Kuznetsov to find Orpik for his goal. Afterward, owner Ted Leonsis quipped, "Just like it was drawn up."

There was no way to script the strange happenings that unfolded on and off the ice. Perhaps it was an omen for things to come when the ball used in the Hurricanes' pregame soccer ritual knocked a rat down from the ceiling.

"I saw that," Carolina's Sebastian Aho said. "First time I've seen it. Kind of odd."

Then the game happened. Just like Game 1, the Capitals jumped out to an early 2-0 lead - this time on goals by Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie - but this time the Hurricanes didn't wait until the third period to come back.

Lucas Wallmark scored late in the first after teammate Saku Maenalanen brushed Braden Holtby, which Capitals coach Todd Reirden challenged for goaltender interference. It held up because the NHL situation room and referees determined the contact wasn't significant enough to disallow the goal.

"Playing the position, you know that that's interference," said Holtby, who made 25 saves. "But there's a point in hockey where you've just got to battle, too. I'm not going to complain about a call or no-call. I know that doing that is giving me the best chance to stop that puck. We move on."

Things only got stranger in the second period. Less than a minute after exiting the penalty box, Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland hit Nic Dowd while bent over and was given a five-minute match penalty for an illegal check to the head and ejected.

After officials conferred and decided to make it a five-minute major, coach Rod Brind'Amour screamed at referee Steve Kozari that it was a clean hit, pointing to his hip to emphasize Ferland made mostly hip to shoulder contact. Dowd left to go through concussion protocol but returned.

"To be honest with you, I let up," said Ferland, who added he doesn't expect to be suspended. "I could have finished with my shoulder, but I didn't. I came, hit him with my butt. I thought it was a clean hit. I don't agree with the call."

During the ensuing power play, a one-timer from defenseman John Carlson hit Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek on the right side of his mask and knocked it off. Mrazek winced in pain but did not get pulled for concussion protocol and stayed in the game.

"It caught me a little bit on the chin there," said Mrazek, who made 29 saves. "When I fell, I didn't have the mask on and I hit the ice pretty hard with my face. That was the worst."

The worst moment for Holtby came when Aho ended a 15-game goal drought by banking the puck off him from a bad angle. Wilson and Jordan Staal traded third-period goals, and Mrazek stopped Carlson in the final seconds of regulation.

That only set the stage for Orpik's heroics. After Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce lost his stick and got one from forward Teuvo Teravainen, the Capitals had the opening they needed to take a 2-0 series lead and players mobbed Orpik to celebrate the father figure's clutch goal.

"There's really no better guy to score an OT winner," Wilson said. "We were pumped up, and he deserves it. Huge goal for us."

NOTES: Ten of the Capitals' last 14 first-round games went to overtime. ... With his 101st playoff point, Backstrom moved ahead of Daniel Alfredsson into sole possession of fourth place among Swedish players. ... Hurricanes D Calvin de Haan missed his fifth game in a row with an upper-body injury. ... Maenalanen replaced Greg McKegg in Carolina's lineup. ... Capitals C Lars Eller played after missing practice Friday for upper-body maintenance.


Game 3 Monday night in Raleigh is the Hurricanes' first home playoff game since May 26, 2009.

Russell, LeVert leads Nets to Game 1 stunner over 76ers

D'Angelo Russell rang up a scoring burst that helped Brooklyn dial up an upset and filled Philly's home court with a barrage of boos.

All-Star Ben Simmons wants to put the fans on mute - and the Sixers could stand to silence their cellphones.

"If you're going to boo, then stay on that side," Simmons said.

Russell flashed some postseason magic, playing like the All-Star leader Brooklyn needed with 26 points, and Caris LeVert scored 23 to lead the Nets to an impressive 111-102 win Saturday over the 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

"We've got the right pieces to keep it going," Russell said.

Check out this update on a mobile device: A Nets team that got hot late just to make the playoffs has the upper hand on the road over a 51-win team stocked with stars.

"I think earlier in the season, especially when we were struggling, we'd lose games like that," coach Kenny Atkinson said.

Not in April.

Russell, LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie gave the Sixers fits off the dribble, buried open looks from 3-point range (11 of 26) and smoked a Sixers team that resembled one straight out of the early Process era.

Russell got the first win of his playoff career and the last laugh, scoring 14 points in the third quarter and leading the Nets to one of the biggest wins since they moved to Brooklyn. It came days after Los Angeles Lakers executive Magic Johnson, who dumped Russell on the Nets, resigned. Russell, who scored 19 points in the second half, can safely scroll through his phone to see his Nets are trending.

The 76ers might want to keep their phones on lock.

Sixers benchwarmer Amir Johnson was caught by TV cameras sitting on the bench and scrolling through his phone late in the fourth quarter and the Sixers down big. Johnson showed All-Star Joel Embiid whatever message was on the phone and then slid it into his warmup pants pocket.

Embiid said Johnson received an update on a sick daughter. Sixers coach Brett Brown called Johnson's actions "completely unacceptable."

So was Philadelphia's performance.

Jimmy Butler scored 36 points and saved the Sixers, widely considered a favorite to at least reach the East semis, from losing by 25. Embiid slogged his way through 24 forgettable minutes on his bum left knee. Simmons was a postseason dud against Russell, his high school teammate.

The sixth-seeded Nets turned Philly in the city of 20,000 boos - and that's just counting the ones echoing throughout the Wells Fargo Center - as they phoned in one of their worst efforts of the season.

Sixers starters Simmons, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick combined to shoot 11 of 31 from the floor for 18 points. The Sixers missed 22 of 25 3-pointers.

"We all got to do a better job. Us. The fans. We have to bring the fun," Embiid said.

Poised for a postseason breakthrough, Russell flourished and hit a string of jumpers in the third that never let the Sixers seriously chip away at the lead. LeVert's third 3 in the fourth made it a 16-point game and there was no looking back - at least not for Russell as he raised his arms in celebration as he headed down the tunnel into Brooklyn's locker room.

"I trust our offense. We got great minds behind it," Russell said. "Coach set us up earlier this season with a routine and recipe for the offense and it's been flowing ever since."

Embiid was introduced to a roaring standing ovation and heard chants of "MVP!" and "Trust the Process" when he opened the game with two free throws.

But he just wasn't ready to play at an All-Star level for any serious length of time. He was hit with a technical when he shoved Jared Dudley to the ground and went back to the locker room for more treatment with about 3 minutes left in the first half. He scored 22 points - including 12 free throws - and had 15 rebounds.

Butler kept the Sixers in the game with a sensational first half that showed why the franchise surrendered so much to land the four-time All-Star. He buried a 3 at the horn to send the Sixers into the break down 62-54. He was 6 of 10 and scored 23 points while the rest of the Sixers shot 10 of 38 for 31 points.

Embiid has always fancied himself a 3-point shooter, and with tendinitis in his left knee that cost him most of the final month of the season rendering him immobile, he decided to camp out a bit more beyond the arc. He missed all five 3s in the half - and the Sixers missed their first 11.

"I thought that Joel looked like he hadn't played for a while yet was still dominant," Brown said.

With or without a healthy Embiid, the Nets were about unstoppable for much of the half with the Sixers clearly not ready to play. Dinwiddie and DeMarre Carroll hit consecutive 3s during a 12-0 run. LeVert hit two straight 3s for a 14-point lead and the Sixers - who had been the darlings of the city during the Process - were soundly booed off the court by 20,000 fans ticked off at a supposed East contender.


Nets: C Jarrett Allen was whistled for fouls on Philadelphia's first two possessions.

76ers: Butler and Tobias Harris are both eligible for free agency and could stick around after they were acquired in mid-season trades. Team owner Josh Harris said both players could be re-signed. "It's really hard to get good players of their caliber. Now that we've attracted them into our system, we're going to work really hard at keeping them around for a while," Harris said.


Harris said Brown was a "great coach" but offered no assurance he would return to the bench for another season if the Sixers failed to make a deep run in the playoffs.

"We think he's the right leader to take us where we need to go in the playoffs," Harris said. "I'm focused on the Brooklyn Nets."


Game 2 is Monday in Philadelphia.

Golden Knights tie series with Sharks with 5-3 win in Game 2

The Shark Tank was rocking after San Jose erased a three-goal deficit in the closing minutes of the first period and appeared to score again in the opening minute of the second.

Then, the referee waved it off for goalie interference and gave Vegas a power play that changed the momentum of the game and possibly the series.

Mark Stone scored the tiebreaking goal on that power play and the Golden Knights responded after the first-period collapse to beat the Sharks 5-3 on Friday night to tie their playoff series at one game apiece.

"For our power play to come out and really bear down was obviously a big swing," Stone said. "There's momentum swings in playoff games every night. Every game is a new chapter in a series and tonight was a big win for us."

The teams packed an entire game into the opening minutes with the Golden Knights scoring three goals in the first 6:11 and the Sharks rallying for three more in the final 3:01 to become the first team in NHL history to tie a playoff game in the first period after falling behind 3-0.

The craziness continued at the start of the second period when the Sharks briefly celebrated an apparent goal in the opening minute by Brent Burns. That quickly turned to frustration when the officials waved off the goal because Logan Couture interfered with Marc-Andre Fleury, giving the Golden Knights the power play that led to the game-winning goal.

"It was awesome," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "It was definitely the right call. He hit him in the head. He tried to play the puck, he was defending his goal, he's trying to play the puck and a guy skates through the blue paint and bumps him in the head. To me, it's pretty obvious. I don't know what they're saying down there."

Predictably, that wasn't the view from the Sharks side, with coach Peter DeBoer calling it a "travesty." DeBoer said he believed Fleury was outside the crease when contact was made and was upset the referee called a penalty on what he thought was incidental contact because that prevented a chance at a replay review.

"That one call is a two-goal swing and devastating for our group," DeBoer said. "It's a shame."

Stone converted from the slot after a scramble for his third goal of the series and Vegas held on from there, thanks in part to 34 saves from Fleury.

Cody Eakin, Colin Miller and Max Pacioretty all scored in the first period to stake the Golden Knights to the big lead after losing the opener 5-2. William Karlsson added a short-handed goal in the third to ice it.

Game 3 will be Sunday night in Las Vegas.

Couture, Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton scored for the Sharks, who were doomed by the lackluster start and a poor power play. Martin Jones was pulled for Aaron Dell after allowing three goals on seven shots.

Perhaps even more concerning for San Jose was the fact that defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left after blocking a shot in the second period and didn't return. Couture also missed significant time in the second period after being hit in the groin area by a shot but returned for the third.

The Sharks had chances to tie it with an early power play, but allowed a goal on a breakaway from Karlsson instead to fall behind 5-3. They finished 1 for 8 with the man advantage, along with allowing two short-handed goals.

"We just got outworked, plain and simple," forward Evander Kane said. "We can't give up two short-handed goals and expect to win in the postseason. We just got outworked."

Gallant had been unhappy with the compete level of his team in the opener, but that wasn't a problem early as Eakin scored just 58 seconds into the game after being left alone in the slot and the Golden Knights controlling the play early.

They even killed off one minute of a two-man advantage and scored a short-handed goal just after Colin Miller came back on the ice as he stole a back pass from Erik Karlsson and beat Jones on the rush to make it 2-0.

Pacioretty added his goal less than two minutes later after a turnover from Vlasic and it appeared as if the rout was on before a reckless penalty by Miller negated a Vegas power play.

The Sharks got on the board during 4-on-4 play with tic-tac-toe passing from Karlsson to Pavelski to Couture, who put the puck into an open net.

Karlsson's shot from the point on the man advantage deflected off Hertl to make it a one-goal game and Thornton tied it with 52 seconds left in the period when he redirected a pass from Brenden Dillon after Evander Kane's hustle created the scoring chance.

NOTES: Miller played in place of Nick Holden after sitting in the opener. He scored the short-handed goal, but also took two penalties. ... Jones has been pulled in five of 14 career starts against Vegas.


Game 3 is Sunday night in Las Vegas.

Sundqvist scores twice, Blues edge Jets 4-3 to take 2-0 lead

Sure, the Blues have a 2-0 series lead after road victories against the Jets. Pat Maroon and his St. Louis teammates refuse to feel anything close to satisfied.

Not yet.

Oskar Sundqvist scored twice to lead the Blues to a 4-3 win Friday night in Game 2 of their Western Conference opening-round playoff series.

"It's a hard barn to play in, but to take two is a really good sign for this team," said Maroon, who had a goal. "But that doesn't mean nothing. We've got to focus on Game 3 right now."

Ryan O'Reilly also scored for the Blues, who host Game 3 on Sunday. Rookie Jordan Binnington made 26 saves.

Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and one assist for the Jets, Patrik Laine also scored and Dustin Byfuglien had a pair of assists. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots.

"You've got to win four games to win a series," Wheeler said. "I've never met any team that won two to win a series. So, we're all right."

O'Reilly gave the Blues the 4-3 lead at 3:46 of the third when he used Jets defenseman Ben Chiarot as a screen to beat Hellebuyck on the blocker side. It was his first playoff goal since 2014, when he was with Colorado.

The teams were tied at 1 after the first period, and at 3 following the second.

The Jets went on the power play 3:58 into the first period after O'Reilly was called for tripping, but Scheifele took an interference penalty 1:03 into the man advantage. After Winnipeg defenseman Josh Morrissey bobbled the puck in the neutral zone, Sundqvist and Jay Bouwmeester capitalized on a 2-on-1 as Sundqvist beat Hellebuyck at 5:23.

Scheifele was dinged for another interference penalty two minutes later. Then, with 17 seconds remaining in the penalty kill, Jets forward Andrew Copp was sent to the box for cross-checking. The Jets killed the penalties and Scheifele made up for it when he sent a pass from behind the net out to Wheeler for the captain's goal at 12:01 to tie it at 1.

With Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo off for interference, Laine blasted a shot past Binnington to give Winnipeg a 2-1 lead at 2:49 that sparked chants of "Go Jets Go!"

But, St. Louis quieted the crowd by responding with goals by Maroon and Sundqvist to give St. Louis a 3-2 edge halfway through the second period.

"I've been playing with great players all year and pucks have been going in for me," said Sundqvist, who had 14 goals in the regular season. "Same way today, too - the puck's going in and it's giving me a lot of confidence. It's been a good start for this playoffs for me."

Scheifele tied it again with a power-play goal with 1:05 left in the second.

"They haven't won," Hellebuyck said of the Blues. "We've got a lot of heart in here and we're going to fight. Every inch. Every battle."

NOTES: The Blues held a 23-14 margin in shots on goal after two periods. ... Bortuzzo went to the dressing with a bleeding wrist midway through the third period, but returned. ... Jets forward Mathieu Perreault left the morning skate early with an undisclosed injury and didn't play, but winger Brandon Tanev returned after missing three games with a hand injury.


The Blues look to take a 3-0 series lead when they host the Jets on Sunday night.

Eberle, Bailey help Islanders beat Penguins 3-1 in Game 2

fter falling behind in the second period, the New York Islanders didn't get discouraged. They maintained their focus, tied it minutes later and then pulled away in the third period.

Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey scored less than four minutes apart in the final period and the Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 Friday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

"You can't get too emotional, get too down and get frustrated," New York captain Anders Lee said. "We were playing a good game at the time (Pittsburgh scored), but there was plenty of time left."

Anthony Beauvillier had the tying goal midway through the second and Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots to help New York open a postseason series with two wins for the first time since sweeping Edmonton in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final for the Islanders' fourth straight championship.

Mathew Barzal had two assists in a chippy, physical game that featured a lot of hard hits and some skirmishes, especially in the first two periods - and also after the final buzzer.

"We stayed with it all night," New York coach Barry Trotz said. "Both teams were knocking heads for a while there. ... We got opportunities and we capitalized on them, and we got a big save when we needed it."

Erik Gudbranson scored and Matt Murray finished with 31 saves for the Penguins, who have lost the first two games of a postseason series for the first time since the 2013 Eastern Conference finals against Boston.

Game 3 is Sunday at Pittsburgh.

"We've got to go back to our building and worry about one game," Murray said. "That's it."

The Islanders took the lead after a turnover by the Penguins near their own blue line. Barzal sent the puck up to Eberle on the right side and he skated across the front and sent a backhand in at 7:54 of the third to put New York up 2-1.

Bailey, who had the overtime winner in Game 1 on Wednesday night, then gave the Islanders a two-goal lead with a power-play score with 8:22 remaining on New York's sixth man-advantage of the night. Devon Toews fired a shot that hit Lee, and the puck came to Bailey, who put it in from the right side.

The Islanders struggled on the power play all season, going 3 for 50 over the final 22 games to finish 29th in the NHL at 14.5 percent. They had one goal on their first seven chances of this series before Bailey's score.

"We kind of talked earlier in the week, just our power play not killing momentum," Lee said. "We might not score every time, but to have a good showing, get some shots, create some buzz around us and start feeling the puck. We had a good showing with that. Guys just stuck with it."

The Penguins pulled Murray for an extra skater with 2:44 remaining, but couldn't take advantage. Lehner made a nice glove save on Phil Kessel from the right circle, drawing chants of "Leh-ner! Leh-ner!" from the raucous home crowd.

"He was stellar, he made some huge saves," Eberle said. "A couple that seemed they had an `A' chance at. He's been huge all year."

The Islanders had a 5-on-3 advantage for about a minute in the second period, but couldn't beat Murray. The Penguins goalie then had a diving stop on Matt Martin in front about 7:44 in, and a stick save on a slap shot by Ryan Pulock 10 seconds later.

Brian Dumoulin hit a goalpost for Pittsburgh at about the 9-minute mark.

Gudbranson then gave the Penguins their first lead of the series when he took a pass from Evgeni Malkin and fired a one-timer that beat Lehner's blocker side and went in off the post with 9:24 remaining in the second. It was Gudbranson's first career playoff point.

It lasted less than three minutes.

Beauvillier tied it with 6:35 left in the period with his first career playoff goal as he knocked in the loose puck in front after Murray was out of position following a save on Barzal's initial try on a 3-on-2 break

While some of the Islanders began celebrating the goal, fights broke out to Murray's left. Barzal was given a double-minor for roughing, while Pittsburgh's Marcus Pettersson received a 2-minute penalty.

The Islanders outshot the Penguins 11-7 in the scoreless first period.

NOTES: Murray has lost consecutive playoff games for the fourth time. He also did it in Games 3 and 4 of 2017 Stanley Cup Final against Nashville, and Games 2-3 and 5-6 against Washington in second round last year. ... Penguins F Jared McCann sat out due to an upper-body injury. He was replaced in the lineup by F Teddy Blueger, making his playoff debut. D Jack Johnson was back in the lineup after sitting out Game 1. He had played in all 82 games during the regular season. D Olli Maatta sat out to make room. ... New York was 38-2-2 in regular season when scoring at least 3 goals, and is now 2-0 in playoffs.


The series shifts Pittsburgh for Game 3 on Sunday and Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Blue Jackets stun Lightning 5-1 to take 2-0 series lead

The Columbus Blue Jackets are making a serious bid to knock the team with the best regular-season record out of the playoffs.

Matt Duchene had a goal and three assists, Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves, and the Blue Jackets stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Friday night to take a 2-0 first-round series lead.

Two down. Two more to go.

"It's half the wins that we need," Duchene said. "We're keeping our heads down and our eyes on the prize."

Columbus also got goals from Cam Atkinson, Zach Werenski, Riley Nash and Artemi Panarin. The Blue Jackets started the playoffs last season by winning the first two games of the first-round series with eventual Stanley Cup Washington, which won the next four games.

Mikhail Sergachev had a goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 shots for the Lightning, who lost two games in a row just twice in the regular season. Tampa Bay matched the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the most wins in a regular season with 62.

"The regular season is different than the playoffs," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Things just happen so fast. Alarms are going off. This is a five-alarm fire. But it's adversity and sometimes that's good that you have to go through stuff like this to see how we respond. One thing I do know about being with this group is, they find a way."

Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, who led the NHL with 128 points, was held off the scoresheet for the second consecutive game and picked up tripping, boarding and 10-minute misconduct penalties late in the third period.

It's likely that Kucherov will face discipline from the NHL. The league announced late Friday night that a hearing will be held Saturday regarding Kucherov's hit on Markus Nutivaara.

"I'm not going to give you any thoughts on it," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "It's self-explanatory."

The Blue Jackets rallied from a three-goal, first-period deficit to beat Tampa Bay 4-3 in Game 1 on Wednesday night as Seth Jones scored the go-ahead goal on the power play to cap Columbus' three-goal third period.

Tortorella said he's not surprised about the 2-0 series advantage even after the early hole in Game 1.

"No, and I'm serious about that," Tortorella said. "I think we're a good team. We've gone through a lot as a team. If we're going to be successful as a team, we have to play as a team. So, even when we were down 3-0, I don't think we got away as far as how we have to play."

Duchene assisted on both of Columbus' goals during the first period and put the Blue Jackets ahead 3-0 on the power play when the center scored on the rebound at 1:28 of the second after Vasilevskiy had stopped his tip-in try.

Columbus, 28th in the NHL on the power play during the regular season, converted two of four chances and is 3 for 6 overall.

Tampa Bay's top-ranked power-play unit has failed in all five opportunities in in the series.

The Lightning got within two goals at 3-1 when Sergachev's shot went into the net off Nutivaara's skate five minutes into the third. But, Nash and Panarin scored goals over a three-minute span midway through the period.

Bobrovsky stopped Kucherov's shot and got a piece of Steven Stamkos' scoring chance that also went off the crossbar during an early second-period power play.

"We're better than we're executing," Stamkos said. "There's no sense in pouting right now. We have to find a way to win."

Duchene stole the puck from J.T. Miller along the left-wing boards and sent a pass into the low slot that Atkinson redirected past Vasilevskiy 5:15 into the game.

Werenski made it 2-0 from the blue line after Duchene won a faceoff during a power play at 11:44 of the first.

Werenski also had an assist, and fought Brayden Point.

NOTES: Duchene's four points set a team playoff record. ...The Lightning outscored Columbus 17-3 in sweeping all three games between the teams in the regular season. ... Tampa Bay D Anton Stralman (lower-body injury) sat out his third consecutive game, but took part in the morning skate. Cooper is non-committal about when Stralman will be back. ... Lightning RW Ryan Callahan and D Braydon Coburn were healthy scratches for the second straight game. ... Tampa Bay scored 325 goals in 2018-19, the most by any team in 23 years.


Columbus hosts Game 3 on Sunday night.