NHL Playoffs: Canadiens overcome Lundqvist, Rangers to tie series in OT

NHL Playoffs: Canadiens overcome Lundqvist, Rangers to tie series in OT

MONTREAL -- Alexander Radulov scored at 18:34 of overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday night in Game 2 of the first-round series.

Radulov jammed the puck in from the edge of the crease after a feed from Max Pacioretty to tie the best-of-seven series 1-1. The victory was the first for a Canadian team in the playoffs since 2015.

Game 3 is Sunday night in New York.

Trailing 3-2 in the third period, the Canadiens pressed hard and finally scored with 18 seconds left, with goalie Carey Price pulled for an extra attacker. Tomas Plekanec redirected Radulov's feed past goalie Henrik Lundqvist to force overtime.

Jeff Petry and Paul Byron also scored for Montreal, which wasted early leads of 1-0 and 2-1. Michael Grabner, Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash scored for New York.

Montreal had a 45-30 shots advantage in regulation and a 58-38 overall edge (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins edge Jackets for 2-0 series lead
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists, Marc-Andre Fleury stayed sharp in his second straight playoff start and the Pittsburgh Penguins pulled away for a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

Jake Guentzel added a goal and an assist for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Evgeni Malkin scored his first goal of the postseason, and Patric Hornqvist pushed in an empty-net goal.

Fleury finished with 39 saves while filling in for the injured Matt Murray, and received plenty of help. Pittsburgh blocked 23 shots before they even got to Fleury.

Brandon Saad scored for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots.

Game 3 is Sunday night in Columbus (see full recap).

Schwartz goal gives Blues win for 2-0 lead on Wild
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jaden Schwartz scored with 2:27 remaining during a 4-on-4 situation and the St. Louis Blues beat the Wild 2-1 on Friday night to leave Minnesota with a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.

Joel Edmundson had the first goal for the Blues after winning Game 1 in overtime, Jake Allen was as steady as ever in the net again with 23 saves and coach Mike Yeo devised another shrewd plan against his former team.

Zach Parise scored again for the Wild, on a 5-on-3 late in the second period, but goalie Devan Dubnyk simply hasn't been as dominant as Allen at the other end. Screened by David Perron, Dubnyk didn't track Schwartz's deep shot from the slot. He made 20 saves.

The best-of-seven shifts to St. Louis for Game 3 on Sunday (see full recap).

NHL Notes: Rangers ink Mika Zibanejad to 5-year extension

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Rangers ink Mika Zibanejad to 5-year extension

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have signed center Mika Zibanejad to a $26.75 million, five-year deal.

Zibanejad will count $5.35 million against the salary cap through 2021-22 as the Rangers count on him to take on a bigger role following the trade of Derek Stepan. General manager Jeff Gorton announced the contract Tuesday morning, before the team and Zibanejad were set to go to arbitration.

The 24-year-old Swede had 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in 56 games last season, his first with New York. The Rangers acquired Zibanejad from the Ottawa Senators for Derick Brassard a year ago.

Zibanejad has 188 points in 337 NHL games with the Senators and Rangers since Ottawa drafted him sixth overall in 2011 (see full story).

Team Canada names Sean Burke GM for 2018 Olympics
Sean Burke will be the general manager and Willie Desjardins the head coach for Canada at the first Olympics without NHL players since 1994.

Hockey Canada named its management and coaching staffs for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics on Tuesday. St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Martin Brodeur will work under Burke on the management side, while Desjardins will be assisted by Dave King, Scott Walker and Craig Woodcroft.

Canada has been grooming Burke for this responsibility for some time as he served as assistant GM for the 2017 world championships, GM for the 2016 Spengler Cup and Deutschland Cup and director of player development for the 2016 worlds. Desjardins coached Canada's 2010 world junior team and assisted in 2009.

USA Hockey has not yet named its GM or coach (see full story).

Sabres re-sign goalie Lehner to 1-year deal
BUFFALO, N.Y.  -- The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a $4 million, one-year contract.

The team announced the deal Tuesday. Lehner was a restricted free agent.

The 26-year-old Swede showed he could stay healthy last season, setting career highs with 59 games played, 23 wins and two shutouts. He ranked third in the NHL with 1,758 saves and finished with a .920 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average.

Bothered by injuries and concussion problems, Lehner had never before played more than 36 games in his NHL career. The Sabres took a chance on Lehner when they traded a first-round pick to the Ottawa Senators for him at the 2015 draft.

Lehner will again be a restricted free agent next summer when this contract expires.

Devils re-sign 3 restricted free agents
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Mirco Mueller, forward Joseph Blandisi and goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

Mueller got a two-year deal worth an average of $850,000 a season, Blandisi a two-year, two-way deal worth an average of $680,000 in the NHL, and Wedgewood a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 in the NHL. General manager Ray Shero announced the contracts Tuesday.

Re-signing Mueller for two years was the most significant move after New Jersey acquired the 22-year-old from San Jose before the Vegas expansion draft. The Swiss defender has just six points in 54 NHL games with the Sharks, but still is considered a good prospect after being a first-round pick in 2013.

Mueller will make $775,000 next season and $925,000 in 2018-19.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.