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Lightning turn back Maple Leafs in overtime to force Game 7

Mikael Backlund was one of three Flames who scored in the third period against the Stars as Calgary took a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.Derek Leung/Getty

Brayden Point scored on a rebound with 1:56 remaining in overtime, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night and forcing Game 7 in the first-round playoff series between the Atlantic Division rivals.

Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli, and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who blew a two-goal lead for the second straight game and trailed, 3-2, entering the third period.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had 30 saves, nine in overtime, to improve to 18-0 in games following a playoff loss over the past three postseasons. Jack Campbell stopped 32 of 36 shots for the Maple Leafs, who are chasing their first playoff series win in 18 years.

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Game 7 is Saturday in Toronto.

The Lightning are trying to become the first team to capture three consecutive Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980-84.

The Maple Leafs, who’ve been eliminated in the first round each of the past five seasons, are 0-for-their-last-8 in close-out games.

Flames rally in Game 5

A third-period rally at home in Game 5 moved the Flames to within one game from advancing to the Western Conference semifinals for just the second time since 2004.

Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Trevor Lewis all scored in the third period, leading the Flames to a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Jacob Markstrom made 20 saves for the Flames, who can win the series Friday in Dallas. If necessary, Game 7 would be back in Calgary on Sunday.

“The bottom line is, we have a lot of guys that haven’t won a fourth game [of a series],” Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said. “That’s the next step in the process, [to] see if we are capable of doing that.”

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Flames forward Blake Coleman is wary. The Stars are just two years removed from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, a run that started with a first-round victory over Calgary.

“If there’s something I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that closing a team out is the hardest part of the series and winning that fourth game is the hardest game you’ve got to win,” Coleman said. “The job is certainly not done. They’re a proud group and you’ve got to put them in a position where they don’t want it anymore.”

Hart Trophy finalists named

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid are two of the finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the NHL’s most valuable player award.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin is also in contention for the prize awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”

Connor McDavid is a finalist for the Hart Trophy.Ronald Martinez/Getty

Matthews, who earned this season’s Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer, had career highs with 60 goals and 46 assists.

He became the 21st different player in NHL history — and first in a decade — to score 60 goals in a season.

McDavid, who earned the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer this season, also established career highs with 44 goals and 79 assists.

The reigning Hart Trophy winner, McDavid never went more than three games without a point.

Shesterkin, who earlier this week was selected as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, as the NHL’s best goaltender, had a 2.07 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and six shutouts.

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Sidney Crosby’s status uncertain

Sidney Crosby made his way down the tunnel and out of sight. Any sense of security the Pittsburgh Penguins had in their first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers disappeared right along with their captain.

The superstar’s status for Friday night’s Game 6 is uncertain after Crosby absorbed a high but — in the eyes of the officials — legal hit from Jacob Trouba late in the second period of Game 5 on Wednesday night. He didn’t play the final 26 minutes and was nowhere near the bench as a two-goal lead turned into a 5-3 loss that sent the series back to Pittsburgh.

Sidney Crosby's status for Friday night’s Game 6 is up in the air.Bruce Bennett/Getty

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered scant details on Thursday other than to say Crosby would continue to be evaluated. Sullivan declined to get into specifics about whether the three-time Stanley Cup champion was dealing with another concussion, saying only Crosby has an upper-body injury.

While Sullivan stressed his group has what it takes to win regardless of who is in the lineup, the reality is the Penguins are not the same when Crosby’s familiar No. 87 isn’t doing the little things — and the big ones too — that have made him a singular force for the better part of two decades.

It was evident in the immediate scramble after Crosby’s departure. Pittsburgh allowed three goals in less than three minutes and struggled to generate any consistent pressure on New York goaltender Igor Shesterkin after the Rangers took the lead for good in the third period.

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Crosby spent two years grappling with post-concussion issues a decade ago, cutting right into the middle of his prime. He’s been largely healthy since 2013, though he did miss a second-round game against Washington in 2017 after taking a cross-check to the head from Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen.