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NHL Roundup

Filip Chytil’s third-period goal helps Rangers stave off elimination in win over Penguins

Filip Chytil (right) scored the winner in the Rangers' 5-3 victory over the Penguins on Wednesday.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Filip Chytil scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the New York Rangers staved off elimination with a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night.

Jacob Trouba and Alexis Lafrenière each had a goal and an assist, and Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren also scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin, torched for 10 goals over three periods in the previous two games, had 27 saves.

New York's Igor Shesterkin and Ryan Reaves celebrate their 5-3 victory over Pittsburgh Wednesday night.Bruce Bennett/Getty

Jake Guentzel had two goals and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which leads the best of seven series 3-2. Evgeni Malkin had two assists and Louis Domingue finished with 29 saves.

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Penguins star Sidney Crosby left with about seven minutes remaining in the second period with an apparent injury and didn’t return.

Game 6 is Friday in Pittsburgh, and a potential deciding Game 7 would be Sunday back at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers got their first power play of the night early in the third period and took advantage as Chytil got a pass from Lafrenière in the right circle, turned around and whipped a shot past Domingue to put the Rangers ahead 4-3 at 2:53.

Pittsburgh pulled Domingue for an extra skater with about 1 1/2 minutes remaining. He returned briefly 20 seconds later during a stoppage in play and left the ice again. Lindgren sealed the win with an empty-netter with 16 seconds left.

Panthers do it again, rally to top Caps 5-3 in Game 5

Carter Verhaeghe set a Florida postseason record with a five-point night, and the Florida Panthers escaped a three-goal deficit to beat the Washington Capitals 5-3 and take a 3-2 lead in an Eastern Conference first-round series.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots for Florida, which trailed 3-0 in the second period. Verhaeghe had two goals and three assists for the Panthers.

Florida's Carter Verhaeghe powered the Panthers to another playoff win.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Patric Hornqvist, Claude Giroux, and Sam Reinhart also scored for the Panthers, and Aleksander Barkov had two assists.

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T.J. Oshie scored twice for Washington, which also got a goal from Justin Schultz and two assists from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ilya Samsonov stopped 33 shots.

Verhaeghe broke the Panthers’ playoff scoring record that Ray Sheppard set on a four-point night back on April 22, 1996 — which remains the last, and only, season in which the Panthers won a playoff series.

They can change that Friday, when Game 6 is played in Washington. Game 7, if necessary, would be back at Florida on Sunday.

Oilers’ Darnell Nurse suspended one game for head-butting Danault

Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse will miss Game 6 of Edmonton’s first-round playoff series with Los Angeles after the NHL suspended him one game for head-butting Kings forward Phillip Danault.

The incident occurred with 10 seconds left in the second period of the Kings’ 5-4 overtime win in Game 5 on Tuesday night in Edmonton.

Nurse turned and forcefully drove his helmet into Danault in front of Edmonton’s goal after Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made a save and froze the puck.

The suspension leaves the Oilers without their top defenseman heading into an elimination game Thursday in Los Angeles. The Kings lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.

The NHL also fined Oilers forward Zack Kassian $5,000 for cross-checking Kings defenseman Sean Durzi.

The incident occurred at 19:00 of the second period. Kassian was assessed a minor penalty for cross-checking.

Kempe scores in OT, Kings lead Oilers 3-2 in playoff series

Three-point games from Edmonton’s stars wasn’t enough to save the Oilers. Adrian Kempe’s overtime goal moved the Los Angeles Kings within a victory of advancing in the playoffs.

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Kempe scored 1:12 into overtime to give the Kings a 5-4 win over the Oilers on Tuesday night for a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Kempe muscled his way past his defender and wrapped a shot around Edmonton goalie Mike Smith to secure the victory.

“There is still a lot to play for,” Kempe said. “We’re obviously very excited where we’re at right now, it was a great win for us and our confidence is good, but we have to rest our mindsets tomorrow. We can enjoy it tonight and play as good as we did tonight at home on Thursday.”

The result means the Kings can advance with a victory in Game 6 in Los Angeles on Thursday night. It also means the Oilers need a win to stave off elimination.

“They showed their heart in fighting back but we didn’t help ourselves by finding ourselves down early. We have to correct that,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said.

“[We’re] going to LA to win one game. Pressure’s on them to close us out and for us, our job is to find a way to have a good start to first period.”

Kempe also scored and had an assist for the Kings in regulation. Troy Stecher, Andreas Anthansiou, and Phillip Danault also scored.

Magic Makar: Avalanche defenseman turns in dominant series

Cale Makar turned in one of the best regular seasons ever by a Colorado defensemen.

It was quite a feat given the Avalanche’s blueline tradition, which includes Adam Foote, Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, and Sandis Ozolinsh, but Makar is clearly something special.

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After helping the Avalanche put away the Predators with a three-goal, seven-assist series, his 10 points are the most in league history by a defenseman through four games in any playoff year, according to NHL Stats.

“He might be the best player in the league right now,” Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “He might be one of the best ‘D’ to ever play by the end of his career at this rate.”

Colorado's Cale Makar is having an excellent postseason.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The 23-year-old from Calgary is averaging 1.05 goals per game over 39 career playoff appearances, which at the moment puts him second all-time among NHL defensemen, trailing only Bobby Orr (1.24 over 74 postseason games).

“He hasn’t let up,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of Makar, the fourth overall pick by the Avalanche in the 2017 draft. “He keeps getting better and better.”

Makar’s 28 goals broke Ozolinsh’s single-season franchise record by a defenseman. On the night he eclipsed Ozolinsh’s mark, teammate Mikko Rantanen had to inform him of the milestone.

“I sound like a broken record, but those goals go back to the team,” Makar said, insisting that individual records are “not really something I focus on.”

Same with winning the Norris Trophy, which goes to the league’s top defenseman. He’s among the finalists along with Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay and Nashville’s Roman Josi.

Josi’s 96-point season was the best by an NHL defenseman in 29 years, but the Avalanche held him to one goal and one assist in sweeping a first-round series for a second straight postseason.

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Count Makar a big fan of Josi, with the two spending some time chatting at the All-Star Game and briefly again in the handshake line Monday night.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” said Makar, the 2019-20 Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year. “He pushed me a lot this season. He had one incredible year.”