NHL Wrap: Caps rally, top Red Wings in shootout

slideshow-capitals-team-uspresswire.jpg

NHL Wrap: Caps rally, top Red Wings in shootout

DETROIT -- Nicklas Backstrom scored the only goal of the shootout, and the Washington Capitals rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Friday night.

Brooks Laich, and Alex Ovechkin added goals, and Michale Latta scored his first in the NHL for Washington. Braden Holtby made 30 saves.

Johan Franzen had two goals and an assist, and Danny DeKeyser had a goal and an assist for Detroit, which lost its seventh straight at home and its 11th consecutive overtime decision there. Jakub Kindl had two assists, and Jimmy Howard made 34 saves.

Latta tied it 3-3 with 8:06 left in regulation when he poked in a loose puck from just outside the slot.

Ovechkin had brought Washington within 3-2 at 3:19 of the third period with his 15th goal. He beat Howard with a one-timed shot from the bottom of the left circle (see full recap).

Penguins snap three-game skid
PITTSBURGH -- James Neal and Brandon Sutter each had a goal and an assist, and the Pittsburgh Penguins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday night.

Playing in his fourth game of the season, Neal -- a former 40-goal scorer -- netted his first of the season late in the first period to give the Penguins a lead they didn't relinquish against the road-weary Predators.

Nashville lost the final four of a franchise-record, 17-day, seven-game trip. Gabriel Bourque scored 2:28 in but the Predators were held to fewer than two goals for the fourth consecutive game.

Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang also scored, and Evgeni Malkin extended his point streak to six with two assists for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves to improve to 8-2 at home.

The Penguins have held opponents under three goals in seven of eight games (see full recap).

Kings shut out Devils
NEWARK, N.J. -- Dwight King and Anze Kopitar scored third-period goals and Ben Scrivens made 26 saves to lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

King's sixth goal of the season came at 13:08. Defenseman Jake Muzzin's drive from the left point was redirected by King, standing in front of goalie Cory Schneider.

Kopitar scored an empty-net goal with 2.9 seconds left. Schneider made 19 saves.

Friday's game was the Kings' first visit to the Prudential Center since playing the Devils in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals (see full recap).

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Derek Stepan also scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots to help New York get past the first round for the fifth time in six years. The Rangers won three straight after falling behind 2-1 to beat Montreal for the ninth time in 16 postseason series.

The Rangers will face the winner of the Ottawa-Boston series, which the Senators lead 3-2.

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal and Carey Price finished with 20 saves. The Canadiens, winners of the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs last year, were bounced from the postseason by the Rangers for the second time in four years. In 2014, it was in the conference finals (see full recap).

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild.

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round.

Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.

Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago.

Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period (see full recap).

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

As the Flyers packed up for the offseason much earlier than they had hoped, the focus started shifting to the outlook for 2017-18.

There was some optimism provided by Valtteri Filppula.

It wasn't anything he said. Instead, it was what he did in 20 games.

Make that a full sample size and the Flyers are excited about the possibilities.

Filppula, a well-rounded, 33-year-old center, was acquired at the March 1 trade deadline in the Mark Streit deal. He added five goals and three assists in his 20 games.

"I felt like later in the year, we had more bullets in our gun," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week as the team held exit interviews and cleanout day. "(Jordan) Weal comes in and does a good job. Filppula comes in and really gives us stability. Really upgraded our top nine. So when you're talking 5-on-5 play, just to depend on five or six guys, all of a sudden you have nine guys you can count on."

The Flyers were 27th in the NHL with 128 goals at 5-on-5 -- a significant factor in their postseason absence.

But Filppula should bring more than simply a 5-on-5 boost.

The Flyers desperately needed depth at the center position to relieve some pressure from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Filppula, who came from the Lightning and played seven seasons with the Red Wings -- winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 -- is a sound matchup center and plays on the penalty kill, too.

"I think with Fil coming in this year, it really helped our depth," Giroux said. "He brings a lot to the team. He kills penalties, power plays, very good defensively and he's a smart player. When you bring a guy in like that, you kind of get excited a little bit."

From Filppula's first game on March 2 to the end of the regular season, the Flyers scored 56 goals, 12th most in the NHL over that span and 2.80 per game -- both improvements from their ranking of 21th on the full season and 2.59 per game.

"Now that we feel like we have nine guys that are legit top-nine forwards," Hextall said, "we've got good balance."

Couturier saw immediate benefits when the Flyers acquired Filppula. Couturier started playing with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn, which turned out to be the team's best line combination to finish the regular season.

"I think it just brought some depth to our lineup," Couturier said of Filppula acquisition. "I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well."

It provided head coach Dave Hakstol greater flexibility.

"The addition of Val Filppula to our group up front made our group of forwards better," Hakstol said. "Not just his presence, which I think he's an outstanding hockey player, a good hockey player and a real good veteran, but it just allowed some of the others to come together. I think there's real substance there."

The Flyers hope it shows with a full season of Filppula.

"I think when Filppula came in, the balance that seemed to come with him entering our lineup helped us both with and without the puck," Hakstol said. "Will that cohesion help us generate more offensively on an 82-game basis, not just a short-term basis? I think the answers to those things are yes."