Flyers

NHL Playoffs: Senators thump Penguins in Game 3 to take series lead

NHL Playoffs: Senators thump Penguins in Game 3 to take series lead

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Mike Hoffman and his Ottawa Senators teammates heard all the chatter on social media about their style of play, which some perceived as "boring."

Their response? Well, LOL. And another big W.

Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Zack Smith scored in a 2:18 span midway through the first period to chase goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Hoffman opened the scoring 48 seconds in, and the Senators blew it open against the sluggish Penguins a few minutes later with the fastest three goals in team playoff history. Kyle Turris made it 5-0 late in the second period.

"If we played a run-and-gun game that maybe some people would rather watch, we probably wouldn't be here," Hoffman said after routing the defending Stanley Cup champs. "So we use our assets and that's what works."

Sidney Crosby ended Craig Anderson's shutout bid with a power-play goal in the third. Pittsburgh has scored a goal in each game in the series, dropping the opener 2-1 in overtime and winning the second 1-0.

"It was a bad start," Crosby said. "You don't want to get down at any point, but to get down 4-0 is digging a pretty big hole."

Anderson finished with 25 saves. Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots, and Matthew Murray made 19 saves in relief.

Game 4 is Friday night in Ottawa.

Coach Guy Boucher has insisted on an extremely defensive style from the day he took over the Senators last May. It took until December for the team to fully embrace it, but that's when everyone knew where they needed to be on the ice and what their responsibility was.

"At this level, you do what the coach says," said Hoffman, who also played for Boucher in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "We're workers here. We don't decide which system is put in place. We just have to go out there and execute it and do our job.

"That's what we're here to do."

Hosting their first Eastern Conference final game in 10 years, the Sens came out flying. Hoffman got it going by capitalizing on Turris' shot that bounced awkwardly wide of the goal. Hoffman stuffed the shot, standing to the left of the goal, just between the post and right pad of Fleury.

Brassard got the first of three when he snatched Erik Karlsson's dump-in and swung wide of the Pittsburgh goal. Bobby Ryan eventually gained possession down low and found Methot with a crafty pass. While his initial shot was stopped, the rebound bounced off Penguins defenseman Ian Cole and into the net. It was the second goal of the playoffs for Methot after he went scoreless in 68 games during the regular season.

Brassard added his fourth of the postseason less than two minutes later, taking advantage of the Senators' offensive zone pressure before slipping behind the aging Mark Streit for the shot that beat Fleury.

"We're not bothered by what's said about our team," Brassard said. "Our focus is on what we need to do."

Streit was making his playoff debut for the increasingly battered Pens, who lost Justin Schultz and Bryan Rust to upper-body injuries in Game 2. Pittsburgh, which did get Trevor Daley back from injury, also remained without injured winger Patric Hornqvist as well as No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang, who's out for the season with a neck ailment.

Apparent miscommunication between the 39-year-old Streit and Cole led to Cole throwing the puck away shortly before Brassard's goal.

Ottawa, looking crisp and confident, finished the flurry 24 seconds after Brassard's goal, with Smith beating Fleury on a wrap-around, chasing Fleury from the game.

"It's tough when you give up that many goals in the first period you don't really give yourself or your team a chance in the game," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It wasn't like we gave up a lot of scoring chances, we didn't, but they all seemed to go in the net.

"For me, the takeaway is you can't lose the first period by four goals and think you're going to win."

In question now is whether Sullivan turns to Murray, who helped deliver the Pens a Cup last season and was excellent in his first full NHL season, for Game 4 or goes back to Fleury.

"I just think we've got to be more ready to play from the drop of the puck," said Sullivan, who added that he hadn't yet given thought to who would start in goal.

The crowd was delirious throughout the one-sided win and all the more so when their team got under the skin of the Penguins. At one point late in the first, Dion Phaneuf levelled former Maple Leafs teammate Phil Kessel. Ryan came by with a shove seconds later as Kessel waved his stick in the air at the Sens winger in apparent frustration.

Towel-waving fans chanted Kessel's name and later cheered as Mark Stone mixed it up with Evgeni Malkin.

Debating Brayden Schenn trade? Sean Couturier playing role in it

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Debating Brayden Schenn trade? Sean Couturier playing role in it

NEW YORK — For two straight seasons, Brayden Schenn made a living doing it.

Roaming the middle from circle to circle on the power play, ready to let a shot rip, punch home a tip pass or flush a rebound.

Schenn mastered the role by understanding how to complement the playmakers surrounding him. He turned the art into 28 man-advantage goals from 2015-17, fourth-most in the NHL over that span.

When Schenn was traded to the Blues on draft night last June, the Flyers' top power-play unit suddenly had a job opening.

It caught Couturier's eye.

"Yeah, I saw an opportunity," he said Tuesday following morning skate at Madison Square Garden. "Didn't get it early in the year, but as the year went on, got the chance to get a look in that spot and just trying to capitalize on it."

As part of a career year that still has half a season to go, Couturier is seizing the opportunity to fill Schenn's skates. Three of his seven goals during the Flyers' four-game winning streak have come on the power play. On the season, he has six man-advantage markers in 43 games after scoring just three over 416 games the six seasons prior.

"He's a smart player, he watched someone for such a long time like he did with Schenner," Jakub Voracek said. "He knows what to do and we talk about it a lot, we talk a lot of power play, how to get better, what to do when we have a bad game to make sure it doesn't happen again."

With perimeter weapons in Voracek, Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere to go along with a net-front presence like Wayne Simmonds, Couturier's intelligence of proper spacing and finding open areas has made the transition for the power play seamless.

"When you're such a smart hockey player, you know when to go the net, you know when to stop. I wish I had that gift. I always swing it away around the net," Voracek said with a laugh. "It's different with me, too, because I always try to create something. He knows when he plays with me and G that he's going to get the puck around the net eventually. So he stops there, he goes there and he's having a great year so far."

So is the power play, which entered Tuesday's game against the Rangers sixth among the NHL in success rate with a 21.9 percentage, while posting a 24.3 percentage on the road, good for third best.

"My job being in the middle is to be ready to jump on loose pucks, let the guys on the outside — Jake, G and Ghost — to do plays and I just try to create myself a shooting spot, or if it's a loose puck, try to be strong on it and get it back," Couturier said. "Just supporting all over the ice is probably the biggest thing."

Simmonds, second in the NHL since the 2013-14 season with 66 man-advantage tallies, said his teammates saw the ability in Couturier.

"He's done really well, extremely well, obviously you can tell by his 25 goals," Simmonds said. "Point-per-game player, I think a lot of people didn't expect this kind of offense to come out of Coots, but everyone knew he could do it. He's got his confidence, he's got his swagger and I think if you watch him with the puck, he's a completely different player. When you have your confidence, it just propels you to the next level.

"He's having a coming out party this year and it's really great to see."

Couturier continued the party last time out when the Flyers beat the Devils, 5-3, on Saturday night. The 25-year-old center scored two more goals, one off a nice power-play connection with Giroux.

"I think he's getting more opportunities. When you're in that spot on the power play, you get to showcase a few different abilities," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "The quick release that he scored on the other night — first of all, it's a hell of a play from G through the three sticks and it's a real good finish by Coots. I think with success, you probably feel a little bit better about those opportunities, but I haven't seen a great difference because I've seen Coots score probably four of five goals this year on second and third opportunities at the goal crease. I think there's some depth to his abilities in and around the net."

Notes and tidbits
• The Flyers are looking for their fifth straight win as they open their four-game regular-season series with the Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m./NBCSP). With a regulation win, the Flyers (48 points) can leapfrog the Rangers (49) in the Metropolitan Division standings. They come in two points behind the Islanders (50) for the Eastern conference's second wild-card spot.

• Forward Taylor Leier reenters the lineup after three straight healthy scratches. Tyrell Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6 and has played the previous three games, will sit in Leier's place.

"Taylor's case, Taylor has been out of the lineup for the last couple of games, but he didn't come out because he played a poor game," Hakstol said. "We put a different player with different abilities in the lineup. So for Taylor, just come back, do the things that he does well and he'll help our team.

"Taylor is a confident player and the biggest challenge sometimes in that role, when you're in and out of the lineup, is the work that you do on the days when you're out. And Taylor does that work."

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup, which sees the return of Gostisbehere, who missed Saturday's game with an illness:

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny

Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek

Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds

Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald

Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott

Michal Neuvirth

Healthy scratches: Forwards Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy) and Dale Weise (healthy), and defenseman Travis Sanheim (healthy).

Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

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Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

BOSTON — Tyler Seguin made a move at the left circle to get past one defender, then skated into the slot as the other two Bruins went to the ice.

He swooped wide to Anton Khudobin's glove side, inducing the goalie to leave his skates as well, and then flipped the puck into the net for the game-winner.

"I feel like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass," Seguin said after his goal with a delayed penalty man-advantage gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over Boston on Monday.

"I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it," the former Bruins first-round draft pick said. "I just kind of shot it, and luckily, it went in."

Stephen Johns and Alexander Radulov also scored for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots (see full recap).

Tavares' 2nd goal lifts Islanders past Canadiens in OT
MONTREAL — John Tavares scored his second goal of the game 1:51 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Mathew Barzal, coming off his second five-point game of the season, had a goal and two assists to keep up his scoring binge for New York. Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech also scored to help the Islanders win their third straight after a season-high five-game losing streak, and Thomas Greiss finished with a career-high 52 saves.

Nicolas Deslauriers, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which twice tied the scored after falling behind by two goals. Carey Price stopped 19 shots.

Pelech gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead 2:37 into the second period as he pounced on a loose puck after Barzal's shot was blocked and swept it in fromt eh slot for his first of the season (see full recap).

MacKinnon helps Avs beat Ducks for 7th straight win
DENVER — The save by Jonathan Bernier that sticks out the most was the one where he simply stuck out his stick.

Out of sheer desperation, no less. To thwart what looked to be a sure goal, too. It's just another sign of how well things have been going for the Colorado Avalanche in recent weeks.

Nathan MacKinnon kept up his torrid home scoring with a goal, Bernier turned back 33 shots and the Avalanche beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday for their seventh straight win.

Matt Nieto and Colin Wilson also scored for the Avs, who are outscoring opponents 29-10 during their longest win streak since the 2005-06 season (see full recap).