Best of NHL: Maple Leafs blank Lightning, gain in wild-card chase

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs blank Lightning, gain in wild-card chase

TAMPA, Fla. -- Morgan Rielly and Matt Martin scored 15 seconds apart during Toronto's four-goal second period, Frederik Andersen made 33 saves and the Maple Leafs moved into the lead for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-0 on Thursday night.

Roman Polak, Connor Brown and James van Riemsdyk also scored for Toronto, which was coming off a 7-2 loss Tuesday night at Florida. The Maple Leafs hold a one-point advantage over Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders.

Tampa Bay, 12-3-3 over its last 18 games, pulled Andrei Vasilevskiy six minutes into the second after he allowed four goals on 15 shots. The goalie had gone 6-0-1 over his previous seven games.

After Rielly scored 2:24 into the second, Martin made it 3-0 on the next shift. Brown, on the power play, and van Riemsdyk added goals later in the period (see full recap).

Little scores twice, Hellebuyck solid as Jets beat Isles
NEW YORK -- Bryan Little scored twice, Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves and the Winnipeg Jets beat the New York Islanders 4-2 on Thursday night to snap a four-game skid.

Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry also scored for the rested Jets, who had their game Tuesday in Newark, New Jersey, against the Devils postponed because of a snowstorm.

Little scored twice in the first period after Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech opened the scoring 38 seconds in. Perreault and Lowry each scored in the second.

The Jets came into the game 0-3-1 in their last four games and 2-8-2 against Metropolitan Division opponents this season. Winnipeg had also lost four straight to the Islanders.

But after Pelech scored his second goal of the season on a floating shot that eluded Hellebuyck, the Islanders couldn't capitalize on momentum generated by their 3-2 comeback win in overtime at Carolina on Tuesday a night after they lost 8-4 at home to the Hurricanes (see full recap).

Rask leads Hurricanes to win over Wild
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Victor Rask scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:24 to play and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 Thursday night.

Teuvo Teravainen added an empty-net goal with 1:24 remaining. Derek Ryan also scored for the Hurricanes and Eddie Lack stopped 21 shots. Carolina has points in five straight games (3-0-2).

Mikael Granlund scored for Minnesota and Devan Dubnyk finished with 31 saves. The Wild had won six straight overall against the Hurricanes, who improved to 6-1-2 against Minnesota at home.

The Wild finished a 1-4 road trip to give them five losses in their last six (see full recap).

Arvidsson scores as Predators buck OT trend to beat Capitals
WASHINGTON -- Viktor Arvidsson scored 1:05 into overtime and the Nashville Predators bucked their season-long trend of OT struggles by beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Thursday night.

Arvidsson's goal improved the Predators to 4-7 in the 3-on-3 period this season and 7-19 over the past two years. Pekka Rinne made 22 saves but didn't face a shot in overtime from the Capitals, who lost for just the eighth time in 36 home games.

James Neal also scored his 21st goal for Nashville, which extended its winning streak to three and its point streak to five.

Brett Connolly scored the Capitals' regulation goal, and Braden Holtby stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced. Washington fell to 7-3 in overtime this season (see full recap).

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

WASHINGTON -- Phil Kessel scored twice, Sidney Crosby set up more goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins chased Braden Holtby on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 Saturday night that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant again in stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced for Pittsburgh, which also got goals by Matt Cullen, Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins scored three goals on 14 shots on Holtby, who was pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer after the second period.

Grubauer didn't fare much better, allowing two goals on nine shots. Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who outshot the Penguins 36-23 but still face an uphill task of trying to become just the 19th team to win a series after losing the first two games at home.

Guentzel added an empty-net goal to seal it for the Penguins, his playoff-best seventh (see full recap).

Pageau gets 4th goal in 2OT to lift Sens over Rangers
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau got his fourth goal of the game in the second overtime after scoring twice late in regulation, lifting the Ottawa Senators over the New York Rangers 6-5 Saturday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ottawa leads the series 2-0 despite trailing by two goals after Brady Skjei's score with 14:50 left in the third. Pageau cut it to 5-4 with 3:19 left in the period, then tied it with 1:02 remaining.

Pageau scored again 2:54 into the second OT, snapping in a shot during a 2-on-1 rush alongside Tommy Wingels. Pageau is the first Senator ever with four goals in a playoff game.

Marc Methot and Mark Stone also scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson had 43 saves.

Skjei had two goals for New York and Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan also scored. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots.

The series heads to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday night (see full recap).

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

You remember the 2007 NHL draft?

The Flyers were robbed that year in the draft lottery and were forced to settle for the No. 2 overall pick later that June.

They chose James van Riemsdyk and the Chicago Blackhawks — drafting first — tabbed Patrick Kane.

Well, the Flyers got some needed payback Saturday night in Toronto at the 2017 draft lottery.
 
While the Flyers didn't win the top overall pick in this year's draft, they pretty much won the lottery just the same, moving from 13th overall to the No. 2 selection (see story).

"This is a big day for our franchise," said general manager Ron Hextall, who was an assistant general manager with Los Angeles in 2007 when it was Paul Holmgren's team in Philadelphia.

"When the 13th pick went by there and we knew we were one, two or three, that was a huge move for our franchise. We couldn't be more excited."

New Jersey will pick No. 1 and Dallas will pick third. Neither Colorado, the worst team in the NHL, nor Vegas, the newcomer to the NHL, made the top three.

The Flyers bucked enormous odds to advance from 13th to No. 2. They had a 2.4 percent chance of pulling it off. They were nearly 89 percent certain to remain at 13.

Maybe their luck is changing.

"We had a lot of bad luck this year," Hextall said. "I'm hoping this is a turning point for some of that to be turned around. This is a big point for our franchise. We're obviously going to get a very good player and hopefully in years, we'll look back on this as a turning point for us."

Depending on what the Devils do, the Flyers, who need offensive pop, are expected to select either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, both promising forwards who are considered impact players.

While this draft is nowhere near as deep as last year's with Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine, it still holds quality in the first round and the Flyers are guaranteed a player who should make a difference.

"This isn't as bad as a draft as people say it is," Hextall said. "We felt with the 13th pick, we would get a good player. It's probably an average draft.

"The last couple drafts have been bumper but this is a good draft. Obviously, moving up to No. 2, we're going to get an even better player."

Patrick, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League and was named the top skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau despite missing parts of the season with a lingering groin/abdominal injury.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound center had 20 goals and 46 points in 33 games and still was a consensus No. 1 or 2 player by most scouts. His lineage is excellent, as his uncle, James Patrick, played 1,280 games.

Hischier is trying to become the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history. Nino Niederreiter was taken fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2010.

The 6-foot, 176-pound Hischier led the QMJHL rookie class with 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games this season.

Can either Patrick or Hischier play right now?

"I don't know who that player is going to be," Hextall said. "Any player, as you know from my history, they've got to come in and earn it.

"If we draft a player at No. 2 and he comes in and earns it, then he'll be on our team. If he needs more time, he needs more time."

That said, Hextall admitted his scouting staff had paid attention to pick anywhere from No. 1 to 13th or worse, especially after things started going south for the Flyers in late winter and the playoffs began slipping away.

Hextall would not compare this year's draft-eligible players, talk about them individually or indicate which player he felt might be available at No. 2.

For now, Hextall envisions keeping the second pick but wouldn't rule out trading down if the right offer was there.

"You can't say no to anything because you don't know what will come your way," Hextall said.

The Avalanche, who had the best shot at winning the No. 1 pick, will draft fourth. Vancouver is fifth and Vegas will pick sixth.

Hextall watched the draft lottery on TV after returning home from Finland.

"Sometimes you get some good luck and sometimes you get some bad luck," Hextall said. "This was a fortunate day for our franchise. This was a big one."