Best of NHL: Maple Leafs fall to Blackhawks in OT, but move 9 points ahead of Flyers

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs fall to Blackhawks in OT, but move 9 points ahead of Flyers

TORONTO -- Ryan Hartman scored with 17 seconds left in overtime to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Saturday night.

John Hayden notched his first NHL goal, and Corey Crawford stopped 25 of 26 shots for Chicago, which holds the top spot in the Western Conference with 97 points following their fourth straight win.

Auston Matthews had a goal to snap a seven-game drought, while Frederik Andersen made 37 saves for the Maple Leafs, who hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 79 points.

Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the first period when William Nylander took a quick pass from Matthews and then sent it right back to Matthews, who crashed the front of the net and redirected a shot through Crawford's pads.

Matthews inched within two goals of Wendel Clark's franchise rookie record (34 in 1985-86) with the goal. The 19-year-old rookie hadn't registered a goal or point since Feb. 28 in San Jose (see full recap).

Skinner helps Hurricanes stay hot against Predators
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jeff Skinner scored in each of the first two periods and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Nashville Predators 4-2 Saturday night.

Jordan Staal added a goal and an assist while Jaccob Slavin had two assists for Carolina, which swept the two-game season series and snapped Nashville's three-game winning streak. Elias Lindholm scored a short-handed empty-netter with 25.6 seconds to go.

Carolina won the teams' other meeting, 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 5 in Nashville.

Skinner had his fifth multi-goal game and sixth multi-point effort of the season.

Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack, starting his second straight game, stopped 27 shots for his first two-game winning streak with Carolina. The Hurricanes improved to 4-0-2 in their last six games.

Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros had 33 saves (see full recap).

Capitals clinch playoff spot by beating Lightning
TAMPA, Fla. -- T.J Oshie had three goals and an assist, Justin Williams and John Carlson had early third-period goals, and the Washington Capitals clinched a playoff spot by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 on Saturday night.

Oshie scored twice, including an early power-play goal, as the Capitals took a 2-0 lead midway through the first. He completed the hat trick with an empty-netter during the final minute. Oshie has 10 goals and 19 points in 14 games against Tampa Bay.

Williams had a redirection goal 3:14 into the period before Carlson swatted a thigh-high puck home to make it 4-2 at 5:30.

Washington also got four assists from Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots.

Nikita Kucherov had two goals, and Alex Killorn had the other goal for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves (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."