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Artturi Lehkonen, Canadiens advance with upset of Penguins

Artturi Lehkonen (center) celebrates his deciding goal with Canadiens teammates Paul Byron and Shea Weber (right) during Friday's 2-0 victory that eliminated the Penguins from the postseason and sent Montreal on to the first round.Frank Gunn/Associated Press

Artturi Lehkonen flipped a shot past Tristan Jarry with 4:11 remaining to lift the Montreal Canadiens to a stunning 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday in Toronto, clinching their first playoff berth in three years.

Paul Byron took advantage of a Pittsburgh turnover, darted behind the Penguins net and then slipped a pass to Lehkonen in front. The 25-year-old Lehkonen found enough space between four Pittsburgh players to slip the puck into the open net.

The Penguins mustered little down the stretch and Shea Weber added an empty-net goal in the final seconds as the 12th-seeded Canadiens captured the best-of-five qualifying round over fifth-seeded Pittsburgh in four games.

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Carey Price stopped 22 shots to collect his sixth career playoff shutout. Montreal will advance to the first round of the playoffs against either Tampa Bay or Philadelphia.

Tristan Jarry made 20 saves in his first career playoff start, including a stellar glove save to thwart a breakaway by Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher early in the third period. Pittsburgh’s star-laden lineup, including captain Sidney Crosby, provided little support.

Crosby failed to record a point on his 33rd birthday. Neither did anybody else for the Penguins, whose consecutive Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and '17 seem like an increasingly smaller speck in the rearview mirror. Pittsburgh has lost nine of its last 10 playoff games dating to the second round of the 2018 postseason against Washington.

Matthews, Maple Leafs rally to stun Blue Jackets in OT

Auston Matthews scored on a power play 13:10 into overtime and the Maple Leafs rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in Toronto, tying the best-of-five qualifying series at two wins apiece.

The Leafs scored three times in 3:34 to knot the score late in a game that Columbus and goalie Elvis Merzlikins had largely controlled until then. On Thursday night, the Blue Jackets had rallied from a three goals down to eventually win in overtime.

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This time, with Nick Foligno in the penalty box for tripping, Matthews beat Merzlikins from the right circle to push the series to a decisive Game 5 on Sunday.

Auston Matthews (right) celebrates his overtime winning goal with teammate William Nylander as the Maple Leafs erased a late three-goal deficit to beat the Blue Jackets and stave off postseason elimination.Frank Gunn/Associated Press

William Nylander, John Tavares and Zach Hyman scored in the third period to set up Matthews’ heroics. Frederik Andersen had 36 saves.

Cam Atkinson, Vladislav Gavrikov and Boone Jenner scored for Columbus, and Merzlikins, who started his first playoff game, recorded 49 saves.

Islanders ice Panthers in four games

Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, and the New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 in Toronto to clinch an NHL best-of-five preliminary round playoff series in four games.

Semyon Varlamov (40) is congratulated by Islanders teammates Scott Mayfield (24) and Andy Greene following Friday's clinching victory over the Panthers in Toronto.Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty

Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal had a goal and assist each in a game the Islanders never trailed. Defenseman Ryan Pulock made a diving stick save to prevent Florida’s Aleksander Barkov from scoring into an open side to maintain New York’s 3-1 lead midway through the second period.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 shots, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored an empty-netter, and the Eastern Conference’s seventh-seeded Islanders bounced back from a 3-2 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday. New York will open the best-of-seven first-round series against the Bruins or Washington Capitals.

Mike Hoffman scored his Florida-leading third goal and fifth point of the series, while Sergei Bobrovsky proved inconsistent in stopping 33 shots. The 10th-seeded Panthers wound up one-and-done for their fifth consecutive postseason appearance.

Richardson, Coyotes eliminate Predators in OT

Brad Richardson scored on a rebound in overtime, Darcy Kuemper stopped 49 shots and the Arizona Coyotes advanced in the postseason for the first time in eight years with a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators in Edmonton.

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Brad Richardson (15) flips the puck past Predators goalie Juuse Saros to give the Coyotes a 4-3 overtime victory and a clinch of their Western Conference qualifying series in Edmonton.Jeff Vinnick/Getty

The Coyotes, the Western Conference’s No. 11 seed, took a 2-0 lead early in the second period. But they allowed Nashville to tie it before going ahead 3-2 on Jordan Oesterle’s goal early in the third.

Nashville pulled goalie Juuse Saros late in the period and Filip Forsberg tied it with 32 seconds left on a one-timer after Roman Josi kept the puck in Arizona’s zone.

Richardson won it after he redirected Vinnie Hinostroza’s shot and punched in the rebound past Saros to help the Coyotes win the Stanley Cup qualifier series 3-1.

Michael Grabner and Phil Kessel also scored for Arizona, which faces Colorado or Vegas in the next round after advancing in the postseason for the first time since reaching the 2012 Western Conference finals.

Viktor Arvidsson scored for the third straight game before taking a shot to the ribs and leaving late in the second period, leaving Nashville without one of its top-line forwards.

Matt Duchene also scored and Saros stopped 30 shots for the Predators, who bowed out of the postseason as the West’s No. 6 seed.

Blackhawks bounce McDavid, Oilers

Brandon Saad, Matthew Highmore and Dominik Kubalik scored and the Chicago Blackhawks knocked the Oilers out of the postseason with a 3-2 victory in Edmonton.

The Blackhawks won the best-of-five qualifying series 3-1. Chicago advances to the round of 16 to face either Vegas or Colorado.

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Josh Archibald and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for Edmonton.

The Oilers had been expected to beat Chicago, given they were the fifth-seeded team in the Western Conference tournament and the Hawks were the bottom seed at 12.

Edmonton was led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the top two scorers in the league during the abbreviated regular season.

Kraken make historic hire of Fitzhugh

The Seattle Kraken hired Everett Fitzhugh as the club’s first broadcaster, the team announced. Fitzhugh is believed to be the first Black team broadcaster hired by an NHL franchise. He has spent the past five seasons as the director of media relations and broadcasting for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Fitzhugh served as the play-by-play broadcaster for the club.

“As someone who’s worked in hockey for over a decade and who has a long-held passion for broadcasting hockey, to be named a part of the broadcast and content team for a brand-new NHL franchise — particularly one with an organization as strong as the Kraken — is a dream come true,” Fitzhugh said in a statement. “Getting to the NHL has always been my goal.”

Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said Fitzhugh came highly recommended by those the team consulted with in making the hire. Fitzhugh’s exact role will be determined at a later date.

Fitzhugh was one of three front-office hires announced by the team. Seattle also hired Jonny Greco as the senior vice president of live entertainment and game presentation, and Lamont Buford will serve as vice president of game presentation.

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