One night after every road team was victorious, the home teams showed how to get it done. In doing so, Pittsburgh ushered the New York Rangers out of the 2016 playoffs. Anaheim took control of its series and Chicago taught the true meaning of the word ‘champion’.
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Twenty minutes is all it took for the Pittsburgh Penguins to take command and emerge with a 6-3 win over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series.
With the win, Pittsburgh eliminated New York from the Stanley Cup playoffs four games to one.
After the first period, the Rangers and the Penguins were deadlocked at 2-2. Rick Nash and Dominic Moore scored for New York. Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin lit the lamp for Pittsburgh.
The floodgates opened in the second period with Pittsburgh putting the game and the series out of reach with four goals off the sticks of Bryan Rust, Matt Cullen, Conor Sheary and Rust again. When the period ended, the Penguins had a 6-2 lead.
New York added one goal by Chris Kreider in the third period but the game was all but over at that point and Pittsburgh skated to the 6-3 win.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was happy to see his team end the series at home.
“They’re (New York) a good team with a lot of experience, a lot of depth, and we didn’t want to give them any momentum to be able to go back home (to New York),” Crosby said. “It was nice to be able to close it out here (Pittsburgh).”
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray stopped 40 shots on his way to the series-clinching win.
Players who produced points for Pittsburgh were Cullen (1 goal, 1 assist), Nick Bonino (1 assist), Tom Kuhnhackl (1 assist), Sheary (1 goal), Evgeni Malkin (1 assist) Crosby (2 assists), Kessel (1 goal, 1 assist), Trevor Daley (1 assist), Kris LeTang (1 assist) and Rust (2 goals, 1 assist).
Rust became first Penguins rookie to record three points in a playoff game.
Crosby became the fourth active player to record 80 career playoff assists. He trails Jaromir Jagr (123), Marian Hossa (97) and is tied with Patrik Elias (80).
Brady Skjei (1 assist), Raphael Diaz (1 assist), Marc Staal (1 assist), Dan Girardi (1 assist), Nash (1 goal), Moore (1 goal), Kreider (1 goal), Jesper Fast (1 assist) and Derick Brassard (1 assist) garnered points for New York.
Pittsburgh improved to 5-2 in all-time series versus New York. This was the third consecutive postseason meeting between the two clubs.
Pittsburgh now awaits the winner of the Washington vs Philadelphia series.
Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks
When the teams stepped onto the ice for Saturday’s tilt in Anaheim, the series was tied 2-2 with each game being won by the road team and for the first 20 minutes, it appeared this game would follow suit but in the second period, the Ducks found their game and went on to skate to a 5-2 win.
After losing the first two games of the series, Anaheim now leads the series 3-2.
The Ducks looked like a team that would not be able to get untracked and giving up the game’s first goal to Nashville’s Ryan Johansen at the 14:13 mark of the second period did not dissuade any detractors but David Perron changed that when he tied the game at 1-1 only 22 seconds after Johansen’s goal.
Ryan Garbutt added a goal to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead 1:47 after Perron’s lamplighter and suddenly, the night belonged to the Ducks.
The Predators Miika Salomaki scored to make it a 3-2 game but Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Ryan Kesler answered for the Ducks to put the game out of reach for Nashville.
“When it goes nothing-nothing for such a long time and you get a goal, you think it’s going to be a 1-0 or 2-1 game, at most,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said after his team’s win. “We were feeling good with our record going into the third period.”
Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 27 Predators shots en route to his third postseason win.
Predators forwards Colin Wilson and Mike Ribeiro were credited with one assist each. Defenseman Shea Weber also assisted on a goal.
Kesler (1 goal), Garbutt (1 goal), Fowler (1 goal), Corey Perry (1 assist), Ryan Getzlaf (2 assists), Jakob Silfverberg (2 assists), Perron (1 goal, 1 assist), and Vatanen (1 goal, 1 assist) garnered points for Anaheim.
With his two assists, Getzlaf (29 goals, 70 assists) moved within one point of becoming the first player to record 100 playoff points for the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks and Predators will return to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for Game 6 on Monday, April 25th. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET. (CNBC, FS-W, TS, TVAS)
St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks
The Blues held a 3-2 series lead entering Game 6 in Chicago looking to put the finishing touches on the series.
After the first period, it looked like St. Louis was on its way to eliminating Chicago from the playoffs but a funny thing happened on the way to winning the game, after jumping out to a 3-1 first period lead, the Blues gave up five unanswered goals over the next two periods to lose 6-3 and be forced to return to St. Louis for Game 7.
Andrew Ladd started the scoring for Chicago 3:47 into the game.
The Blues struck for the next three goals. Scottie Upshall, Alex Pietrangelo, and Vladimir Tarasenko lit the lamp for St. Louis before the first period ended.
When the second period began, Chicago took control and scored three goals of their own with Artem Anisimov, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, and Dale Weise finding the back of the net.
Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa closed out the scoring for Chicago in the third period.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 25 shots on the way to the victory.
Chicago’s comeback to win the game coupled with their tying the series after trailing St. Louis 3-1 are a testament to the experience of winning three Stanley Cups in six years. There are not many situations the Blackhawks have not incurred and they are drawing on their experiences to be successful in this series.
“At the end of the day, we’ll give (the Blues) credit,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. “They’re a tremendous hockey club. (There’s) been no easy moments against that team throughout this series. But it’s a testament again to our experience and to the guys who haven’t been here too long to really buy in and play the right way when we’ve been in this do-or-die position the last couple games, and you see what can happen when we all buy in, we all play the right way.”
Picking up points for the Blackhawks were Richard Panik (1 assist), Anisimov (1 goal), Ladd (1 goal, 1 assist), Toews (2 assists), Marcus Kruger (1 assist), Weise (1 goal), Van Riemsdyk (1 goal), Shaw (1 goal), Artemi Panarin (2 assists), Hossa (1 goal, 1 assist) and Patrick Kane (1 assist).
Weise scored his sixth career playoff goal and the fourth that held up as the game-winner.
St. Louis point producers were Steve Ott (1 assist), Upshall (1 goal), Jori Lehtera (1 assist), Jaden Schwartz (1 assist), Paul Stastny (1 assist), Pietrangelo (1 goal), Troy Brouwer (1 assist) and Tarasenko (1 goal).
The Blackhawks forced Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in a best-of-seven playoffs series for the fourth time in 14 such scenarios.
Chicago overcame a multi-goal deficit to win when facing elimination for the second time in team history. The first time occurred in 1965 versus Detroit.
Game 7 will be played at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center at 8:30 pm ET on Monday, April 25th (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-CH).
Stat of the Night:
Most goals through 19 career playoff games (since 1990) belong to Joe Sakic (15 goals, 1993-96), Alex Ovechkin (14 goals, 2008-09) and Vladimir Tarasenko (14 goals, 2013-16).
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.