NHL roundup: Leafs cool off hot Predators

Auston Matthews and William Nylander scored goals 98 seconds apart late in the second period Thursday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs handed the Nashville Predators their first regulation loss since Feb.

17 with a 5-2 decision at
Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

James van Riemsdyk added his eighth goal in five games for Toronto, which got
23 saves from goalie Frederik Andersen while strafing Vezina Trophy favorite
Pekka Rinne. In losing for the first time since mid-February, Rinne made 23
saves.

Toronto came out with the jump, earning an early power play and capitalizing
with a weird goal at 4:03. Trying to make a centering pass after gathering in
the rebound of Mitch Marner’s shot, van Riemsdyk instead scored his 34th goal
when the puck hit Roman Josi’s skate and went through Rinne’s pads.

The Maple Leafs put the game away with two goals in the first 3:39 of the
third period. Marner scored his 20th of the season on the power play just nine
seconds into the period, while Jake Gardiner added his fifth exactly 3-1/2
minutes later. The Predators had scored a point in 15 straight games.

Lightning 7, Islanders 6

J.T. Miller scored twice for Tampa Bay, which never trailed but had to
withstand a furious third-period rally by New York to escape with a win on the
road at Barclays Center.

Anthony Cirelli, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Mikhail
Sergachev also scored for the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning, who didn’t
travel to New York until Thursday morning due to the snowstorm that hammered
the Northeast on Wednesday.

With the win, Tampa Bay extended its Atlantic Division lead over the idle
Boston Bruins to six points, though Boston has two games in hand.

Kings 7, Avalanche 1

Anze Kopitar scored four goals and Los Angeles unleashed on what had been a
stingy Colorado defense at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Kopitar, a center who recorded his fourth career hat trick, had his third goal
with 7:33 remaining in the second period and his fourth goal was unassisted
just 3:28 into the final period. Those tallies pushed his season total to 33
goals.

Kopitar has his second-most goals in a season and he’s one goal away from
matching his career high set in 2009-10. He had gone the previous three games
without a goal. Even with the road game, there dozens of hats were thrown
toward the ice following Kopitar’s third goal. He finished with seven of the
team’s 35 shots on goal.

Blue Jackets 4, Panthers 0

Sergei Bobrovsky earned a shutout as Columbus, which scored three goals in
less than five minutes in the second period, won its 10th straight game,
defeating visiting Florida.

The Blue Jackets’ win streak is the second-longest in franchise history. With
the victory, the Jackets tied the idle Pittsburgh Penguins in points (89) as
they battle for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins have
one game in hand.

Cam Atkinson, Sonny Milano and Seth Jones scored in the second when Columbus
broke open a scoreless game. Jones, an All-Star defenseman this year and the
fourth overall pick in 2013, was making his return to the lineup after missing
two games due to an upper-body injury.

Capitals 1, Red Wings 0

Philipp Grubauer recorded his third shutout of the season, Brett Connolly
scored the only goal and visiting Washington edged Detroit.

Grubauer turned aside 39 shots for his sixth career shutout. Jakub Vrana
assisted on Connolly’s 15th goal of the season as the Capitals won for the
sixth time in seven games.

Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots, but the Red Wings were eliminated from playoff
contention for the second straight season. Washington, which leads the
Metropolitan Division, plays four of its next six games on the road.

Oilers 6, Senators 2

Connor McDavid netted two goals and two assists, Drake Caggiula scored twice
and goalie Cam Talbot made 33 saves as Edmonton blasted Ottawa on its home
ice.

McDavid is up to 94 points, one back of league leader Nikita Kucherov of the
Tampa Bay Lightning in the Art Ross Trophy race, and the Oilers star was at
his best at the Canadian Tire Centre on a night the Senators were officially
eliminated from playoff contention.

McDavid had a big hand in putting the game out of reach early in the third
period, when the Oilers scored four times in a 1:51 span. McDavid — who
became the first Oilers skater to record consecutive 90-point seasons since
Mark Messier and Jari Kurri each had a run that ended in 1989-90 — has 23
points in his last 12 games (9-14-23) and 21 goals in his last 25 outings.

Hurricanes 6, Coyotes 5

Jeff Skinner’s second goal of the game with 1:58 remaining broke a 5-5 tie and
gave Carolina a home victory over Arizona.

Skinner and Valentin Zykov, playing just his second game of the season, each
had two goals and Phillip Di Giuseppe finished with a goal and two assists for
the Hurricanes (32-31-11, 75 points). Teuvo Teravainen also scored for
Carolina, which also got three assists from Jaccob Slavin plus two assists
from both Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho.

Cam Ward picked up the win in net with 28 saves, but gave up arguably the
strangest goal of the season when the puck got stuck in his right skate while
he was trying to clear it from behind his net in the first period. Ward, who
lost track of the puck on the play, then circled back into the goal area and
his skate crossed the goal line for an Arizona goal which was credited to Alex
Goligoski, who had dumped the puck behind the net.

Flyers 4, Rangers 3

Travis Konecny scored two goals to lift Philadelphia Flyers past visiting New
York with the help of Jake Voracek and Oskar Lindblom, who each scored for the
Flyers as secured points for the fourth consecutive game.

Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux had three assists, pushing his three-game total
to seven and his season total to 64. Flyers rookie goaltender Alex Lyon
stopped 33 shots as Jesper Fast scored twice and Mika Zibanejad added a goal
for the Rangers.

New York goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made 32 saves in the loss. The Rangers
appeared to have tied the game at 4 in the third but the goal was disallowed
for being offsides.

Canucks 5, Blackhawks 2

Alexander Edler had two goals to lift visiting Vancouver out of an extended
scoring slump in the victory over Chicago at the United Center.

Vancouver, which came into the game losers of seven straight (all in
regulation) and 10 of 11, had its highest scoring output since late February.
Edler scored at the 7:11 mark of the first period off assists from Henrik
Sedin and Brendan Leipsic to put the Canucks on the board first.

Chicago, which has lost five straight, tied the game at one less than a minute
later on Nick Schmaltz’s 21st goal of the season off assists from Patrick Kane
and Brent Seabrook. Sedin put Vancouver back on top at the 17:42 mark of the
first period with his third goal of the season, assisted by Daniel Sedin and
Sam Gagner, and the Canucks added two more in the second period.

–Field Level Media

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Lee Fry