NHL Rink Wrap: Avalanche sweep Predators; Crosby roasts Rangers

NHL Rink Wrap: Avalanche sweep Predators; Crosby roasts Rangers
John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

• In a move out of left field even for Lou Lamoriello, the Islanders fired Barry Trotz. Yes, seriously.

• Pierre McGuire’s short, strange Senators tenure ended as well on Monday.

Cale Makar, Roman Josi, and Victor Hedman are the finalists for the 2022 NHL Norris Trophy. That’s all you’ll see of Josi, however, as Makar’s Avalanche completed a sweep of Josi’s Predators.

• The Flames tied their series 2-2 with the Flames, and the Panthers did the same with the Capitals. Meanwhile, the Penguins pushed the Rangers to the brink of elimination.

Game 4: Pittsburgh Penguins 7, New York Rangers 2 (PIT leads 3-1)

Between empty-netters and lucky bounces, a 7-2 score can be leading. It was not misleading for Game 4 between the Penguins and Rangers.

Instead, the Penguins just absolutely dominated Game 4, pushing the Rangers to the brink of elimination. Generally, it might be easier to blame it all on Igor Shesterkin. If that was it, a goalie change could conceivably swing the series.

While Shesterkin hasn’t been a miracle worker, it really wasn’t about that. To avoid a short series, the Rangers must find answers against the Penguins.

Game 4: Florida Panthers 3, Washington Capitals 2 [OT] (Series tied 2-2)

If the Capitals beat the Panthers in Game 4, you could have leaned on several narratives.

  • The Capitals connected on special teams (1-for-5), while the putridity of the Panthers’ power play continued (0-for-4).
  • Yes, Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t tested often (14 saves). Florida wouldn’t have been fair to pin a would-be loss on “Bob,” though. The Capitals enjoyed some breakaways and semi-breakaways, yet Bobrovsky came through more often than not.
  • In a dizzying sequence of events, T.J. Oshie got away with what sure looked like a hit to the head on Sam Bennett, then Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a pretty 2-1 goal.


Should the NHL suspend Oshie for that hit on Bennett? That’s its own debate. But it’s tough for all but the most devoted Capitals fan to admit that the Oshie hit on Bennett warranted a penalty (whether that be a minor or a major). If a penalty was called, that Kuznetsov goal couldn’t have happened.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

It did, though, leaving the Panthers down 2-1 to the Capitals with a bit more than half of the third period left in Game 4. With an empty net, the Panthers scored, and then an overtime goal survived a video review.

Understatement: quite the turn of events for the Panthers and Capitals. Washington’s overall efforts still deserve notice; they actually won the high-danger battle despite Florida’s volume advantage of shots. A tied series gives the Panthers a chance to impose their will against the Capitals (or, you know, at least find some answers on the power play).

Game 4: Colorado Avalanche 5, Nashville Predators 3 (COL sweeps series 4-0)

Give the Predators credit: they gave the Avalanche much more trouble in Games 3 and 4 in Nashville. Yes, Nashville pushed Colorado to OT in Game 2, but that was on the back of Conor Ingram’s wonderful performance. Things were much more competitive from a moment-to-moment basis in Nashville.

All of that aside, it’s telling that the last Predators goal represented their only lead of the playoffs. They simply couldn’t hang with the Avs, and so the Predators follow up an unexpected playoff appearance with a hasty postseason exit.

Game 4: Calgary Flames 4, Dallas Stars 1 (Series tied 2-2)

For a while there, it seemed like Stars netminder Jake Oettinger might “goalie” the Flames in Game 4.

Despite the Flames’ 19-8 shots on goal advantage, they ended the first period tied 0-0 with the Stars. By the end of the second, only one goal went in on 39 SOG, and that Rasmus Andersson tally happened on a 5-on-3 power play.

There’s a long history of teams surviving lopsided stretches and counterpunching to steal a victory.

The Flames avoided that against the Stars in Game 4. In another “sigh of relief” moment, Johnny Gaudreau connected on a pretty penalty shot goal. Gaudreau then assisted on an Elias Lindholm tally, building a 3-0 lead that was as insurmountable as you’d expect in this seriously stingy series.

Three Stars in NHL Playoffs on Monday

1. Sidney Crosby, Penguins

At age 34, the general feeling is that Sidney Crosby is still elite … but maybe not quite the best of the best. Maybe it’s too early to remove Sidney Crosby from the best in the world conversation, though?

Crosby and Jake Guentzel have been dominant for long swaths of the Penguins’ series against the Rangers. In Game 4, Crosby collected a goal and two assists, while Guentzel generated two points (1G, 1A).

When the numbers have been good but not as eye-popping as before, people would look to underlying stats with Crosby. Well, Crosby, Guentzel, and Bryan Rust dominated in that regard, too. With that trio on the ice, the Penguins generated 7 high-danger chances while allowing none at 5-on-5.

Truly, Crosby’s looking like as big of a difference-maker as any player in the NHL so far during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

2. Cale Makar, Avalanche

Could Sidney Crosby hang with Cale Makar, though? Well, he probably would pass on a straight-head sprint sort of race, if you’re being literal about it.

Makar lays a credible claim to the top spot of the night. He generated his own one-goal, two-assist performance, and did so in a game that wasn’t as wide open. Those points also helped to complete that Avalanche sweep over the Predators.

Wherever you rank two superstar players, Cale Makar keeps making it abundantly clear that he’s an all-world talent in the present, not just the future. The Blues or the Wild will really need to scheme to find ways to slow Makar down (but not over-commit, or they’d leave things too open for other Avalanche stars, like Nathan MacKinnon).

3. Johnny Gaudreau, Flames

This is the sort of playoff performance you’d expect from Johnny Gaudreau after the best regular season of his career. Gaudreau collected an assist, and scored a crucial penalty shot goal that ended up being the game-winner.

Beyond that, he helped the Flames absolutely dominate the Stars at even-strength. Gaudreau bounced back from an injury scare, drew two penalties, collected those two points, and the Flames easily won the high-danger chances battle with him on the ice.

The Stars have squeezed a lot out of their all-defense approach during their 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff run, and they’ve been able to grind out two wins against the Flames. Game 4 prompts some concern. With the level of play the way it was, should Dallas be a bit more aggressive?

Gaudreau might force them to seek more offense.


Game 5: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. ET — ESPN2 (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild, 9:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers, 10 p.m. ET — ESPN2 (Series tied 2-2)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews

Maple Leafs vs. Lightning
Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Blues vs. Wild
• Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
• NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

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    Flyers trade Pride-night boycott defenseman Provorov in 3-team deal

    flyers trade
    Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports

    PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers have traded Ivan Provorov, sending away the defenseman who boycotted the team’s Pride night as part of a three-team trade that included the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Los Angeles Kings.

    The seventh overall pick of the 2015 draft, the 26-year-old Provorov lands in Columbus and is set to enter the fifth season of a $40.5 million, six-year contract. He was the centerpiece Tuesday of the first major move under new Flyers’ leadership.

    There were plenty of moving parts in the three-team deal.

    — Philadelphia traded Provorov and forward Hayden Hodgson to Los Angeles in exchange for goalie Cal Petersen, defenseman Sean Walker, defenseman Helge Grans and the Kings’ 2024 second-round pick. The Kings lost in the first round of the playoffs.

    — Columbus acquired defenseman Kevin Connauton from Philadelphia in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick (22nd overall) and a conditional second-round pick in either the 2024 or 2025 NHL Draft. Columbus acquired Provorov from Los Angeles in exchange for Connauton.

    The Flyers already hold the No. 7 pick in this season’s draft and now also have the 23rd pick as they start accumulating key assets for long-range success in what is expected to be a deep draft.

    Flyers general manager Danny Briere had said no player was untouchable after the Flyers missed the playoffs for the third straight season and went to work with the Stanley Cup Final still underway. The Flyers named broadcaster Keith Jones team president last month and he is still working the Final for TNT. But it’s clear the overdue rebuild is underway for a franchise that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 48 years.

    “We felt that the picks and the direction that we wanted to go in, it was really enticing, very exciting,” Briere said. “We have a chance to really start building the team the way we wanted. The right way.”

    Briere said the Flyers are “open for business” this summer and that included potentially listening to offers for No. 1 goalie Carter Hart. Coach John Tortorella, Briere and Jones have all tempered offseason expectations for any fan looking for a quick fix. The trio all insist the Flyers have a cohesive plan for the future.

    Provorov had 65 goals and 217 points in 532 career games with the Flyers. The Russian was widely criticized in January when he cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason he did not participate in pregame warmups when the Flyers wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape.

    “I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”

    Now, he’s traded during Pride month.

    Briere said the backlash over Pride night had nothing to do with trading Provorov.

    The Blue Jackets, who missed the playoffs this season, were ready to take a flier on a defenseman seemingly with many productive years ahead.

    “Improving our blue line has been a priority for us and acquiring Ivan gives us an established left-shot defenseman who is still a young player with his best seasons in front of him,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He immediately improves our group on defense as he is durable, has great skill, skates well, is an excellent passer with an accurate shot and can effectively play at both ends of the ice.”

    Provorov said at the end of the season he wasn’t necessarily happy the Flyers planned to rebuild but understood the decision. Briere declined to say if Provorov wanted out of Philadelphia.

    “I wouldn’t say it’s the most positive news you can hear, but there’s a bright future here, and there’s a lot of great players that can keep growing,” Provorov said in April. “Obviously, it depends on how quick everybody gets better and how quickly the team game gets better. I think that’s what determines the length of the rebuild.”

    Turns out, the potential success out of the haul the Flyers got for Provorov just may determine the length of the rebuild.

    Golden Knights take 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final with 7-2 win over Panthers

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS — No team in over 25 years has been more dominant than the Vegas Golden Knights through the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final.

    They have outscored the Florida Panthers by eight goals, including a 7-2 victory in Game 2 that put the Knights two wins from the first championship in the franchise’s short six-year history.

    It will take a rare rally for the Panthers to come back as the series shifts to Florida for Game 3 on Thursday. Teams that took a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final are 31-3 in the expansion era, but the Panthers opened the playoffs by storming back from 3-1 down to beat the heavily favored Boston Bruins.

    Florida will have to significantly up its level of play to beat a Vegas team that won by three goals on Saturday and then five in this game. The last team to win the first two games of a Cup Final by more than eight combined goals was the 1996 Colorado Avalanche – who outscored the Panthers by nine.

    “I think our depth has been a strength all year,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It is the biggest reason we are still here, why we beat Winnipeg, Edmonton, Dallas. I just feel that we have the best team from player one through 20.”

    Jonathan Marchessault scored twice for the Knights and started an early blitz that chased Sergei Bobrovsky, the NHL’s hottest postseason goalie.

    Marchessault also had an assist to finish with three points. His 12 postseason goals set a Golden Knights record, with all of them coming after the first round. The only player with more following the opening round was Pavel Bure, who scored 13 for Vancouver in 1994.

    “They want to set the tone with being undisciplined like Game 1 and we set the tone back,” Marchessault said. “It was scoring that first goal there. But we’re still pretty far from our goal here.”

    Brett Howden scored twice for the Knights, who also got goals from Alec Martinez, Nicolas Roy and Michael Amadio. Six players had at least two points for Vegas, all 18 Knights skaters were on the ice for even-strength goals and their nine goal scorers through the first two games are a Stanley Cup Final record. The Knights’ seven goals tied a franchise mark for a playoff game.

    It was too much for Bobrovsky, who was removed 7:10 into the second period down 4-0. It was the fifth time in 12 games the Knights have chased the opposing goalie.

    Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, carried Florida through the Eastern Conference playoffs. Coming into the Stanley Cup Final, he had won 11 of his past 12 starts with a 1.95 goals-against average and .942 save percentage during that stretch. But he’s given up eight goals in 87 minutes against Vegas, compiling a 5.52 GAA and .826 save percentage in the series.

    “We can be a little better in front of our goaltender,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “I got him out to keep him rested.”

    Matthew Tkachuk and Anton Lundell scored for Florida.

    Adin Hill continued his stellar play in net with 29 saves for the Knights. Hill once again brought his feistiness as well as his A-game. He stopped Carter Verhaeghe on a breakaway in the first, and later that period hit Tkachuk, who was in his net, with his blocker and then slashed him with his stick.

    “He’s been unreal for us,” Vegas forward William Carrier said. “He’s been unbelievable.”

    A group of four fans behind one of the nets wore sweaters that spelled out his last name, and Hill has often received the loudest cheers from Knights fans, reminiscent of when Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for Vegas in its first three seasons.

    “It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” Hill said. “I’m just enjoying it, cherishing every day. It’s been awesome to be part of the journey with this team.”

    The Knights were dominant early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Marchessault and Martinez. It was Vegas’ third game in a row with a power-play goal, its first such stretch since Christmas week.

    The Panthers lost their biggest, toughest defenseman early in the game when Radko Gudas was injured on a hit by Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev. Gudas left 6:39 in and did not return.

    That was one of several big hits by Barbashev, the Golden Knights’ biggest trade-deadline acquisition, a Stanley Cup champion with St. Louis in 2019. Barbashev broke the sternum of Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard during the playoffs last year, also on a clean hit.

    Vegas had its own scare late in the second period when Jack Eichel was nailed in the right shoulder by Tkachuk. Eichel returned in the third and set up Marchessault’s second goal for his second assist of the game.

    “We did a good job managing momentum tonight,” Eichel said. “And we got some timely goals.”

    Ducks hire former Leafs, Islanders assistant Greg Cronin as head coach

    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks have hired veteran NHL assistant and AHL head coach Greg Cronin to be their new head coach.

    Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek announced the decision to hire the 60-year-old Cronin, who will be a first-time NHL head coach.

    Cronin has 12 years of experience as an NHL assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs and in two stints with the New York Islanders. The Massachusetts native has been the head coach of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles since 2018, and he spent six years as a collegiate head coach at Northeastern.

    Verbeek called Cronin “the ideal fit” to take over a young, rebuilding team.

    “I felt we needed a teacher of the finer points of the game, and someone who has worked extensively over time with talented young players, helping them develop into successful NHL players,” Verbeek said. “Greg has done all that and more.”

    Cronin replaces Dallas Eakins, whose contract wasn’t renewed in April after the Ducks finished their fourth consecutive losing season of his tenure. Anaheim finished in last place in the overall NHL standings at 23-47-12.

    The Ducks never finished higher than sixth in the Pacific Division during Eakins’ four years in charge. They’ve missed the playoffs in a franchise-record five straight seasons, and Anaheim was the NHL’s worst defensive team of the 21st century by several measures during the just-completed season.

    Cronin takes over a struggling team that is still loaded with young talent, including the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft and a wealth of farm prospects seemingly ready to break into the NHL. Anaheim has a solid long-term base with playmaking center Trevor Zegras, two-time All-Star Troy Terry and promising forward Mason McTavish.

    Cronin has never led an NHL bench, but he interviewed for the Boston Bruins’ vacancy a year ago.

    He becomes only the Ducks’ fourth permanent head coach since Henry and Susan Samueli bought the franchise from Disney in 2005, joining Randy Carlyle, Bruce Boudreau and Eakins.

    Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to 8-year, $62.8 million extension

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

    MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens signed Cole Caufield to an eight-year, $62.8 million contract extension.

    The deal, which will pay the 22-year-old winger an average annual salary of $7.85 million, runs through the 2030-31 season.

    Caufield scored 26 goals and added 10 assists in 46 games in 2022-23 before he underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder in February.

    Despite missing nearly half the season, Caufield led the Canadiens in goals for the second consecutive season, tied with Nick Suzuki.

    Montreal selected Caufield in the first round (15th overall) of the 2019 draft.

    Since making his NHL debut in 2020-21, the forward has 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) in 123 NHL games.