NHL: Capitals’ Lundqvist ‘looking great’ six weeks after heart surgery



FILE PHOTO: July 13, 2020; Greenburgh, NY, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist during a NHL workout at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Nick Homler/New York Rangers via USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

February 18, 2021

(Reuters) – Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist said on Wednesday his recovery from open heart surgery six weeks ago is going well and that he even felt good enough to go for a run.

The 38-year-old Swede, who enjoyed huge success with the New York Rangers before signing with the Capitals last October, previously announced he would sit out the entire NHL season due to a heart condition.

“The checkup with the doctor this morning reaffirmed what I’ve been feeling last few weeks, everything looking great,” Lundqvist wrote on Twitter. “It energized me so much I had to go out for a run (FYI, I’m not a runner) Today is a good day!”

The Rangers bought out the final year of Lundqvist’s contract in September, ending the Swede’s 15-season run as the face of the NHL’s most valuable franchise.

Lundqvist holds more than 50 Rangers franchise records, including the all-time mark for wins, appearances by a keeper, shutouts, playoff appearances and playoff wins.

Known as “The King”, Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender for the 2011-12 season and was a finalist for the award in four other years.

Lundqvist, who helped Sweden claim the Olympic gold medal in 2006, has earned more career NHL wins (459) than any other non-North American born goalkeeper and reached the 400-win mark faster than any other in his position.

Lundqvist’s playing time with the Rangers decreased last season with the emergence of then-rookie Igor Shesterkin.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)



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Ontario permits indoor dining for NHL teams while province under stay-at-home order


The Ontario government announced Monday that teams competing in the NHL’s all-Canadian North Division will be permitted to dine inside certain Ontario restaurants despite ongoing stay-at-home orders within the province.

When asked why it is considered safe for NHL personnel to dine indoors but not the public, Premier Doug Ford yielded to the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, who pointed to the league’s strict COVID-19 testing policy.

“The rules of the NHL are very much strict with their protocols, with their frequent testing, their isolation of their players to the extent, and especially very tight transport within Canada,” Williams said. “They do not leave the country, so they’re staying in this country the whole time. There are some players, of course, this is not their home, and [they] require some place to have some eating and food facilities.

“The NHL has procured that in a tight level of restriction and control. So that’s all part of their bubble, if you may use that term, which they have strictly laid out in their protocol. And so far, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve been adhering to it.”

Canadian-based NHL players say they have had an easier time avoiding COVID-19 due to tighter rules and restrictions compared with those in the United States. There are currently no Canadian-based players on the league’s protocol list, but that has largely been the result of limiting potential exposure and following strict routines.

WATCH | Ontario announces it will allow indoor restaurant dining for NHL players:

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams on why the provincial government is allowing NHL staff and players to eat inside restaurants while the remainder of the province remains under stay-at-home orders. 1:15

Prior to the Ontario government’s decision, travelling players and coaches in Canada were only permitted at the hotel, arena or airport during the division-only season.

The league will submit a plan for approval to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health that will specify a full list of Ontario businesses and places that will be used by the NHL.

Along with certain restaurants, the list will include selected bars and facilities for recreational fitness.

Every business or establishment listed in the NHL’s plan must comply with certain conditions, including not allowing spectators. Hotels must also ensure that their facilities are open only for the use of NHL personnel.

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NHL plans to have Canadian teams play in home venues



FILE PHOTO: Jan 27, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly addresses the media prior to the the 2018 NHL All Star Game skills competition at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

December 25, 2020

The NHL anticipates the league’s Canadian teams will be able to play games in their home venues when the season starts on Jan. 13.

“On the basis of our discussions (with provincial health authorities) in the past week, as well as our exchange of correspondence over the last 24 hours, we believe we are aligned and in agreement on the conditions on which each of our Canadian franchises can begin play in their own buildings for the start of the 2020-21 NHL season,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

The seven Canadian teams will be grouped into the North Division and only play each other for the duration of the 56-game schedule, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 13.

Toronto will host Montreal while Edmonton will welcome Vancouver on Jan. 13. The next day, Winnipeg hosts Calgary and Edmonton hosts Vancouver for a second straight night, according to the CBC. Ottawa opens on Jan. 15 hosting Toronto, and the same two teams will play at the same site the next day.

The teams were placed in four divisions to minimize travel and the potential for the coronavirus to disrupt the season.

The East Division includes the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning are in the Central Division.

The Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights make up the West Division.

The top four teams in each division make the playoffs, and teams won’t play outside of their divisions until after the second round of the postseason.

The top-seeded team would play the fourth seed while the second and third-ranked teams would face other in the first round. The winners of the first-round series would meet to determine a division champion.

–Field Level Media





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Devils name Prudential as first helmet sponsor in NHL history



FILE PHOTO: Mar 10, 2020; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (76) plays the puck defended by Pittsburgh Penguins center Jared McCann (19) during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

December 22, 2020

(Reuters) – The New Jersey Devils have named longtime naming rights partner Prudential Financial as the first helmet ad sponsor in National Hockey League history, the team said on Tuesday.

The agreement between the Devils and the U.S. life insurer is for the coming season which is scheduled to run from Jan. 13 until July. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“For as long as we have called Newark home, Prudential Financial has been with us every step of the way,” New Jersey Devils President Jake Reynolds said in a news release.

“Over a decade later, with our Prudential Center and their headquarters based in our shared home city, Prudential Financial was our first and only call when such a significant opportunity for brand placement and association was made available by the NHL.”

The news comes two weeks after Forbes said COVID-19 took a toll on NHL teams and triggered a drop in the average value of franchises for the first time since 2001 as a chunk of regular season games and the entire post-season was held without fans.

The Devils were valued at $530 million, down 4% from last year, and 15th among the NHL’s 31 teams, according to Forbes.

In 2016, the National Basketball Association became the first major North American sports league to announce plans to put ads on jerseys in a move that opened up a significant new revenue stream.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)





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Ovechkin named EA Sports NHL 21 cover athlete



FILE PHOTO: Aug 16, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) during warm up before game three of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

August 24, 2020

Alex Ovechkin was named the EA Sports NHL 21 cover athlete on Monday, making the Washington Capitals superstar captain just the second player to appear on the game’s cover on two occasions.

The game is set to be released to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Oct. 16.

“It’s a huge honor to be on the cover of NHL 21 for the second cover in my career,” Ovechkin said. “More importantly, I’m glad I’m looking just as good on the cover this year as I did in 2007.”

Ovechkin joins Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews as the lone two-time cover athletes for the game. Toews appeared on the cover in the NHL 11 and 16 editions.

NHL 21 overhauled its Be A Pro Mode which, per the news release, “enhances the game’s narrative and quality of life, giving players the chance to live the life of an NHL star, both on and off the ice.”

“Our community has been asking for an invigorating Be A Pro experience that puts them in the same spotlight as their favorite NHL stars, like Alex Ovechkin,” said Sean Ramjagsingh, executive producer of NHL 21.

“Ovechkin’s gameplay legacy, on and off the ice, is helping us to bring the next generation of EA SPORTS NHL gameplay to life with NHL 21.”

Ovechkin shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2019-20 as the NHL’s leading goal scorer with Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak, with both totaling 48. Ovechkin won the trophy for the third straight year, the seventh time in eight years and the ninth time overall, all of which are records since the trophy was introduced in 1998-99.

A three-time Hart Trophy recipient, Ovechkin ranks eighth in NHL history with 706 career goals.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews was the cover athlete for NHL 20.

–Field Level Media





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NHL: Capitals sack coach Reirden after Stanley Cup playoff elimination



FILE PHOTO: Aug 12, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden talks from behind the bench against the New York Islanders in the second period in game one of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

August 23, 2020

(Reuters) – Washington Capitals have sacked coach Todd Reirden after a second consecutive first-round playoff exit, the National Hockey League team announced on Sunday.

Reirden’s two-year coaching stint ended just three days after the Capitals bowed out of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-1 series defeat by the New York Islanders.

“We have higher expectations for our team, and we felt a fresh approach in leadership was necessary,” Brian MacLellan, senior vice president and general manager of the Capitals, said in a statement.

“We would like to thank Todd for all of his hard work and efforts with our organization.

“Todd has been a big part of our team for more than half a decade, including our Stanley Cup run in 2018, and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”

Reirden, 49, led Washington to a 89-46-16 record over two seasons.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson)





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NHL TV commentator Mike Milbury in hot water with NBC over ‘women’ comment


The NHL bubble may keep its players safe from COVID-19, but not its fans from Mike Milbury’s “insensitive and insulting” commentary.

The NBC Sports analyst came under fire on Friday (AEST), while calling the Islanders and Capitals game, for suggesting that women were a distraction to NHL players.

“If you think about it, [the bubble is] a terrific environment with regard to — if you enjoy playing and enjoy being with your teammates for long periods of time, it’s a perfect place,” play-by-play man John Forslund said.

“Not even any women here to disrupt your concentration,” Milbury replied.

The NHL issued a statement Friday condemning Milbury’s remark.

“The National Hockey League condemns the insensitive and insulting comment that Mike Milbury made during last night’s broadcast and we have communicated our feelings to NBC,” the league said. “The comment did not reflect the NHL’s values and commitment to making our game more inclusive and welcoming to all.”

NBC Sports said it was “disappointed about Mike’s insensitive comment and have addressed it with him.” Milbury also issued an apology Friday.

“I sincerely apologise for making the comment. It was not my intention to disrespect anyone,” he said in a statement.

“I was trying to be irreverent and took it a step too far. It was a regrettable mistake that I take seriously.”

Milbury was stood down from his scheduled TV appearance to call Game 6 of the NHL Playoffs series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens in Toronto on Saturday (AEST).

It’s not the first time the former Islanders coach has been called out for his commentary in the bubble, though. Last week, he questioned Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask’s decision to leave the bubble for family reasons. It has since been reported there was a family emergency.

“Nobody has simply opted to leave the bubble just because they didn’t want to be here and they needed to be with their family,” Milbury said at the time. “I would not have done it, the rest of the league’s players have not done it.”

Milbury’s suspension comes after Cincinnati Reds TV caller Thom Brennaman begged for forgiveness after video showed him using a homophobic slur on a hot mic earlier in the day.

“One of the f** capitals of the world,” Brennaman could be heard saying before introducing the Fox Sports Ohio TV Major League Baseball broadcast between the Reds and Royals in Kansas City.

The 56-year-old later exited the second game of the scheduled double-header after videos of the incident made the rounds on social media.

“I made a comment earlier tonight that, I guess, went out over the air, that I am deeply ashamed of,” Brennaman said during the fifth inning.

“If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart, I am so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith. … I don’t know if I’ll be putting on this headset again. I don’t know if it’ll be for the Reds, I don’t know if it’s going to be for my bosses at Fox, I want to apologise to the people that sign my paycheck — for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody I’ve offended tonight. I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am, it never has been. I’d like to think that I have some people that could back that up. I am very, very sorry and I beg for your forgiveness.

“Jim Day will take you the rest of the way,” Brennaman said, referring to another Fox Sports Ohio broadcaster.

It was unclear whether Brennaman was removed from the broadcast, or left on his own accord



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NHL roundup: Lightning get revenge, send Jackets home



Aug 19, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) shoots to score a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the overtime period in game five of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

August 20, 2020

Brayden Point’s overtime goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a series-clinching, 5-4 victory in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday in Toronto.

Point scored 5:12 into the extra frame to send Tampa Bay into the second round for the fourth time in six seasons. Point also scored the winner during the Lightning’s epic five-overtime victory over Columbus in Game 1 of the series. The victory provides some revenge for the Lightning, who were eliminated by Columbus in a four-game sweep in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Trailing 4-2 with 10:27 left in regulation, the Lightning forced overtime on goals from Kevin Shattenkirk and Anthony Cirelli. The equalizing score from Cirelli came with only 98 seconds remaining in regulation. Nikita Kucherov recorded three assists to break the Lightning record for career postseason points. Kucherov has 70 points (31 goals, 39 assists) in the playoffs, topping Martin St. Louis’ old milestone of 68 points.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 37 of 41 shots to improve to 6-2-0 in this year’s playoffs. Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo stopped 20 of 25 shots as Columbus went 1-3 in overtime games and 1-5 in one-goal games in these playoffs.

Avalanche 7, Coyotes 1

Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals and added two assists as Colorado handed Arizona a second straight 7-1 shellacking in Edmonton and advanced to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs with a five-game victory.

Goalie Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves and Nazem Kadri also scored twice for the Avalanche, who emphatically won the opening round best-of-seven series. Colorado will await its opposition next round.

With a chance to go for the kill, the Avalanche came out strong and were rewarded when Kadri opened the scoring with his fifth goal since action resumed, a power-play goal at 4:39. MacKinnon’s two goals came 58 seconds apart in the second period, and Colorado chased Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper after two periods and six goals.

Bruins 2, Hurricanes 1

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored on power plays late in the second period to lift Boston past Carolina for a series-clinching victory against in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference’s first round in Toronto.

Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 shots to improve to 3-0 since taking over for departed teammate Tuukka Rask. The outcome means the Bruins move to next week’s conference semifinals, avoiding what would have been a quick turnaround for a Game 6 on Thursday. Krejci and Bergeron also each posted an assist.

Boston eliminated the Hurricanes for the second season a row, with last year’s accomplishment coming with a sweep in the Eastern Conference finals. This time, four of the games were decided by one goal and other had a two-goal spread because of an empty-net goal. Haydn Fleury scored in the first period for the Hurricanes, who generated only a few chances and had six shots in the third period.

Canucks 4, Blues 3

Tyler Motte scored twice and Vancouver rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat St. Louis in Game 5 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series at Edmonton, taking a 3-2 series lead.

J.T. Miller and Jake Virtanen also scored for the Canucks, and goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 36 of 39 shots. Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford scored for the Blues, and goalie Jake Allen made 26 saves.

The Blues led 3-1 after Sanford’s power-play goal at 5:51 of the second period, but the Canucks came back with three goals in a span of 6:23 later in the middle period. Virtanen tied the game by banking a shot off Allen at 16:08, and Motte converted a clean break-in with 1:43 left in the period for what turned out to be the game-winner.

Canadiens 5, Flyers 3

Nick Suzuki notched the game-winning goal, Montreal finally solved hot Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart, and Montreal staved off first-round elimination by beating Philadelphia in Toronto.

Montreal’s Game 5 win tightened the best-of-seven series at 3-2, with Game 6 set for Friday. Canadiens fourth-liner Joel Armia had two goals, Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault scored, and Brett Kulak and Jonathan Drouin posted two helpers each. Goaltender Carey Price recorded 26 saves.

Jakub Voracek netted two goals and had an assist, Joel Farabee scored and Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier had two assists for Flyers, who were 3-for-7 on the power play. Hart, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts, made 28 saves.

–Field Level Media





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NHL roundup: Knights KO Blackhawks in Game 5



Aug 18, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates scoring a goal with Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) and defenseman Shea Theodore (27) during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks in game five of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Gerry Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

August 19, 2020

Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist, and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 5 of their Western Conference series on Tuesday night in Edmonton, becoming the first team to advance through the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Mark Stone, Alec Martinez and Alex Tuch also scored, William Karlsson had two assists, and Robin Lehner made 23 saves for top-seeded Vegas. Tuch scored the winning goal at 1:34 of the third period.

Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane scored, and Corey Crawford made 35 saves for eighth-seeded Chicago.

The Golden Knights won the first three games of the best-of-seven series before the Blackhawks earned a 3-1 win on Sunday.

Flyers 2, Canadiens 0

Carter Hart made 29 saves for his second consecutive shutout as Philadelphia defeated Montreal in an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series in Toronto.

Michael Raffl and Philippe Myers scored for the top-seeded Flyers, who took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Philadelphia can advance with a victory on Wednesday in Game 5.

Carey Price made 20 saves for the Canadiens, who have outscored the Flyers 6-5 in the series but have suffered 2-1, 1-0 and 2-0 losses.

Capitals 3, Islanders 2

Alex Ovechkin scored the tying goal in the second period and the go-ahead goal early in the third for Washington, which staved off elimination in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals by coming back to beat New York in Toronto.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the first goal for the Capitals, who fell behind 2-0 fewer than 10 minutes into the first period before storming back. Goalie Braden Holtby made 24 saves as Washington avoided being swept for the first time since the 2011 conference semifinals.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal scored for the Islanders, who are trying to advance beyond the first round for a second straight season — something the franchise hasn’t done since 1982-83 and 1983-84.

Stars 2, Flames 1

John Klingberg scored the go-ahead goal at 1:12 of the third period, and Dallas held on against Calgary Flames in Game 5 of a Western Conference first-round playoff series in Edmonton.

The third-seeded Stars took their first lead in the best-of-seven series, going ahead three games to two. They can advance with a victory in Game 6 on Thursday.

Jamie Benn scored a short-handed goal for Dallas, and goaltender Anton Khudobin made 28 saves. Mikael Backlund scored for sixth-seeded Calgary, and goalie Cam Talbot stopped 30 of 32 shots.

–Field Level Media





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NHL roundup: Avs swamp Coyotes for 3-1 series lead



Aug 17, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal by center Nazem Kadri (91) during the first period against the Arizona Coyotes in game four of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Gerry Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

August 18, 2020

Nazem Kadri scored a pair of power-play goals and had an assist as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Arizona Coyotes 7-1 Monday in a Western Conference first-round playoff series in Edmonton, Alberta.

Matt Nieto, Joonas Donskoi, Cale Makar, Matt Calvert and Mikko Rantanen also scored, and goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 14 saves for the second-seeded Avalanche, who have a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Colorado can close out the series in Game 5 on Wednesday afternoon.

Jakob Chychrun scored for Arizona and Darcy Kuemper stopped 18 of 22 shots before being pulled after the second period. His replacement, Antti Raanta, allowed three goals on eight shots.

Lightning 2, Blue Jackets 1

Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow each had a goal and an assist as Tampa Bay earned a victory in Game 4 in its first-round playoff series against Columbus at Toronto.

The victory gives the Lightning a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference series. Tampa Bay can clinch the series with a victory in Game 5 on Wednesday.

All of the Lightning’s offense came in the first five minutes of the second period. Tampa Bay’s third line of Goodrow, Gourde, and Blake Coleman emerged from the first intermission with a dominant string of shifts that resulted in two goals.

Bruins 4, Hurricanes 3

Jake DeBrusk scored twice, and Boston racked up four goals in a span of less than seven minutes in the third period to wipe out a two-goal deficit and defeat Carolina in Game 4 at Toronto. The Bruins hold a 3-1 lead in the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series going into Game 5 on Wednesday.

Brad Marchand notched the go-ahead goal with 8:20 remaining, just 90 seconds after Connor Clifton’s tying goal. DeBrusk posted the first and final goals for Boston. Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped 16 shots.

Justin Williams, Jordan Martinook and Teuvo Teravainen scored for the Hurricanes, and James Reimer made 29 saves.

Blues 3, Canucks 1

Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and added an assist to lead St. Louis over Vancouver in Edmonton, evening their opening-round Western Conference playoff series at two games apiece.

The Blues, who won on consecutive nights after losing the first two games of the best-of-seven series, have all the momentum heading into Wednesday’s critical Game 5. St. Louis goalie Jake Allen made 22 saves while registering his second victory in as many nights. Alex Pietrangelo added a goal in the second period.

J.T. Miller scored 40 seconds into the second period for the Canucks and Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves, who failed to score on seven power-play chances. Vancouver converted six of 11 man-advantage opportunities in the first three games of the series.

–Field Level Media





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