Healthy Karlsson gives Sharks optimism heading into Game 3

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Erik Karlsson took the puck behind his own net and went on the type of end-to-end rush that has made him one of the NHL’s most dynamic defensemen.

Even though Karlsson’s rush didn’t lead to a goal and came in San Jose’s 4-3 loss in Game 2 to Colorado, it encouraged the Sharks that Karlsson appears to be healthy once again.

”It’s like a fine wine getting better and better every game,” defensive partner Brenden Dillon said Monday. ”We know how good of a player he is and how much he impacts a game. It’s been fun to play with him.”

Despite being hampered earlier in the playoffs by a groin injury that sidelined him for 27 of 32 games in the second half of the season, Karlsson is tied for the league lead with 10 assists this postseason thanks to his vision and passing ability.

His skating and defense will be needed when the series shifts to Colorado for Game 3 on Tuesday night (10 p.m. EDT, NBCSN) after the teams split the first two games.

The Avalanche took control in Game 2 when coach Jared Bednar made a change in the second period to reunite Mikko Rantanen on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.

The trio helped create two goals in the second period that gave Colorado a 2-1 lead and helped lead to the win.

”The line did our job and our job is getting the team going offensively,” Landeskog said. ”Some nights you have it, some nights you don’t. But playoff time you got to try and find it every night and I thought we got deep and were able to get rewarded for a lot of our hard work.”

The boost from the top three scorers could be expected for the Avalanche. But they also got a big lift from a pair of 20-year-old defensemen as Cale Makar teamed with Samuel Girard.

Makar, the Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s top player, has played just five NHL games since finishing up at the Frozen Four for UMass. Girard has a bit more experience with 150 regular-season games the past two seasons.

Game 2 was their first time playing with each other as Makar moved into the lineup when Girard got hurt last round. They look extremely comfortable in their role.

”Yes, we are 20. We just have to play our game,” Girard said. ”I know that Cale is able to play here. I know I’m able to. We just need to play our game. We need to bring some offense and make sure we play good offensively as well.”

Bruins at Blue Jackets, series tied 1-1 (7 p.m. EDT, NBCSN)

The book on Sergei Bobrovsky was that the former two-time Vezina Trophy winner was great in the regular season but couldn’t rise to the occasion in the playoffs.

Through six playoff games this season, ”Bob” is rewriting the book.

After an erratic regular season that saw coach John Tortorella call him out at one low point, the Russian goalie has been spectacular. He kept the Blue Jackets in Saturday night’s game long enough for Matt Duchene to finally win it in the second OT, 3-2.

Saturday’s game almost went the other direction in the first overtime when a puck lobbed into the Blue Jackets’ zone took a funny bounce to the right and headed for the open net. Bobrovsky reacted, lunged and gloved it just in time.

”It’s crazy, but it’s part of the game,” he said.

Bobrovsky was unreliable in opening round playoff losses to Washington (2018) and Pittsburgh (2017).

This time he’s 5-1 in six playoff games, carrying a .930 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average. Those numbers rank third and second, respectively, among playoff goalies.

Tortorella said Bobrovsky is performing at a ”different level” in these playoffs.

”Bob’s been fantastic, as far as the amount of playoff games we’ve played right now,” Tortorella said Monday. He’s been terrific.”

Meanwhile, Boston is enjoying a two-day break between games for the first time since the playoffs started April 11.

”We’ve been going every other day now for a while now, it gives us a second to catch our breath, regroup and focus on some things we want to do better in the series moving forward,” defenseman Torey Krug said. ”I’m sure the guys are really appreciating the time off.”

AP Sports Writers Pat Graham in Denver and Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report

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LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

Kris Letang Penguins
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PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

“I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

“He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

“I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

“First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

“The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

“It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

“It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

“Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

“I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

“On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

“It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

“(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

“It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.

Deal for Coyotes’ proposed arena approved by Tempe council

David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe City Council has unanimously approved a proposal for a new Arizona Coyotes arena and entertainment district, clearing the way for a public vote on the project next year.

The City Council approved the proposal 7-0 after a lengthy meeting that included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The $2.1 billion project would include a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Approval of the project was the final step before it goes to referendum on May 16.

The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.