Rangers, Blackhawks go through


Thu, May 15, 2014 - Page 20

The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks both advanced to the final four of the NHL playoffs with dramatic road victories on Tuesday.

New York completed a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit by beating Pittsburgh 2-1 in Game 7 of their series, booking a place in the NHL Eastern Conference finals.

Defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago won 2-1 in overtime at Minnesota to win that series 4-2.

The Rangers are to play the winner of yesterday’s Game 7 at Boston between the Bruins and Montreal, while Chicago are to meet either Anaheim or Los Angeles, with the Ducks leading that series 3-2.

New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist set an NHL record with his fifth-straight Game 7 victory, making 35 saves.

Lundqvist stopped 102 of the final 105 shots he faced over the final three games as New York advanced to the conference finals for the second time in three years.

Brian Boyle and Brad Richards scored for New York, who rallied from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in the franchise’s 88-year history.

Jussi Jokinen scored his team-high seventh goal of the postseason for the Penguins, who were outscored 10-3 over the final three games.

This defeat was painful for the core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and coach Dan Bylsma, that seemed pointed toward a dynasty after winning the 2009 Stanley Cup.

Crosby, who led the league in scoring and is an MVP finalist, managed just one goal in 13 playoffs games.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored on a backhand at 9 minutes, 40 seconds of overtime to secure victory over Minnesota.

Kris Versteeg — on his birthday — scored the opening goal early and Corey Crawford came up with tough save after tough save among his 34 stops for the Blackhawks.

Erik Haula scored and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots for the Wild, who pushed a frenetic pace for much of the night, but missed prime chances to score.

They paid for it in the extra period, when a simple dump-in by Brent Seabrook took an unusual bounce back toward the slot. The puck slid past Peter Regin, but not Kane, who deked once and flipped it into the net.

Since 2009, the Blackhawks are 14-0 in Games 5 and 6 of playoff series that were tied after Game 4. They are also 12-2 in games with a chance to win a series, including 6-1 on the road.

The Blackhawks’ stifling penalty kill unit, continuing to give the Wild no space to shoot, fended off two more power plays in the third period to drop the Wild to two-for-20 in the series.

Versteeg put them right back in control just 1:58 in, when he outmuscled Keith Ballard for possession in the corner and flipped a bad-angle shot that bounced awkwardly among the bodies around the crease, hit the back of Clayton Stoner’s leg and skidded past Bryzgalov.

The Wild got their break — or, rather, breakaway — soon after the first intermission, when Haula sped to snag a pass by Matt Cooke that banked perfectly off the boards.

Barely but deftly staying ahead of Johnny Oduya’s diving attempt to stop him, Haula snapped the puck past Crawford’s glove to tie the game.