NHL PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: Rangers push lead over Devils to 2-0 as Leafs top Lighting to even series

The New York Rangers are returning to Madison Square Garden with a 2-0 lead over the rival New Jersey Devils in their first-round series thanks to an impressive showing in Thursday night’s Game 2 win in Newark.

Chris Kreider scored two power-play goals in a three-goal second period and the Rangers stunned the Devils. Meanwhile Patrick Kane added a goal and two assists and fellow trade deadline acquisition Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the second straight game as the Rangers again had their way with the young Devils.

Kaapo Kakko also scored and Adam Fox added two more assists to give him six in two games. Igor Shesterkin had a relatively easy night, making 21 saves.

Erik Haula scored for New Jersey, which has been outscored 10-2 after going 3-0-1 in the regular season against New York. Vitek Vanecek finished with 26 saves in a game that got one-sided and chippy late.

Referee Wes McCauley and Frederick L’Ecuyer sent five players from each team to the locker room with 6:40 left.

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers celebrates his goal during the second period

The best-of-seven series shifts across the Hudson River to Madison Square Garden for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, respectively.

Special teams and Kreider were again the difference. The Rangers were 2 of 7 with the extra man and Kreider netted both, giving him four in two games, all on tip-ins.

Haula put New Jersey on the board first with a rebound in the crease in the waning seconds of a power play. The Devils were 1 of 4 with the extra man.

Tarasenko got the Rangers going 5:53 into the second period, taking a pass from Fox and beating Vanecek with a shot from the top of the circles.

A little more than four minutes later, Kreider tipped a slap shot from Kane past the Devils goalie. He stretched the lead to 3-1, using great hand-eye coordination to pop a soft pass by Kane over Vanecek’s shoulder into the net.

Kane scored on a breakaway at 6:34 of the third period after sustained Devils pressure. Kakko scored in close shortly after a New Jersey penalty ended.

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers scores a second period goal against Vitek Vanecek #41 of the New Jersey Devils during Game Two in the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center

Kreider (right) and Patrick Kane

Kreider (left, far right) and Kane (near right) helped push the Rangers to an easy 5-1 victory 


John Tavares had his first playoff hat trick and the Toronto Maple Leafs rebounded from a poor playoff start with a lopsided 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night to even the teams’ first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Mitch Marner had two goals and an assist, William Nylander added a goal and an assist, and Zach Aston-Reese also scored for Toronto.

Morgan Rielly tied a franchise record with four assists. Auston Matthews also had two assists for the Maple Leafs, whose stars stepped up.

Ilya Samsonov made 19 saves for Toronto after being pulled in Tuesday’s 7-3 loss.

Ian Cole and Corey Perry scored for the Lightning, who were without injured defensemen Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has played every minute of Lightning postseason action since 2020, allowed seven goals on 35 shots.

The series shifts to Florida, where Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven series are scheduled for Saturday and Monday.

Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning


The Colorado Avalanche came back from a 2-0 first-period deficit to even their first-round series with the Seattle Kraken at 1-1 with a 3-2 win in Denver on Thursday night.

Devon Toews scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third after Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin registered second-period goals for the defending champion Avalanche.

Seattle’s Justin Schultz and Brandon Tanev each scored in the first. Tanev’s goal was short-handed, and appeared to put Colorado in an insurmountable hole before the Avalanche came alive in the second frame.

Alexandar Georgiev was tested all night and finished with 27 saves. One of his top stops was in the closing seconds of the second period with Seattle on a 3-on-1 break. A pass was sent over to Jordan Eberle, but a sprawled-out Georgiev prevented the score with his extended right leg.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 38 shots against his former team. He spent three seasons in Colorado before signing with Seattle prior to the 2021-22 season. 

The series moves back to Seattle for Game 3 on Saturday. 

The Avalanche vowed to play with more intensity and more resolve. But it was the Kraken who controlled the early tempo. The Seattle defense found a way to contain Nathan MacKinnon and his speedy cast – until the second period.

That´s when Colorado hit its stride. Lehkonen and Nichushkin re-energized the capacity crowd by scoring 48 seconds apart. Last season, Lehkonen played a role in a two-goal spurt over a 15-second span when he and Josh Manson scored in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

Kraken right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand skates against Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews

Kraken right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand skates against Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews

MacKinnon nearly scored a go-ahead goal midway through the third on a mini-breakaway. Grubauer stopped his shot and tumbled into the goal as the puck trickled to the side of the net.

For the second straight game, the Kraken scored early. This time, it was the result of a 2-on-1 break where Schultz sent the puck through the pads of Georgiev. The Kraken were 32-7-3 in the regular season when scoring first.

Tanev added a short-handed goal to make it 2-0 and then blew a kiss to the crowd.

The injuries continue to pile up for the Avalanche with defenseman Jack Johnson and forward Andrew Cogliano sidelined for a second straight game. Midway through the third period, Lars Eller slammed into the boards and struggled to get to the bench.

Colorado used 43 different players in the regular season, the most in a season since the Avalanche moved to town before the 1995-96 season. One of the biggest absences has been captain Gabriel Landeskog, who hasn´t played all year due to a knee injury.

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