Ryan Hartman’s empty-net goal with 1:09 left wound up the game-winner as the Nashville Predators held off the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in their first-round Western Conference series.
Hartman’s goal gave the Predators a 5-3 lead until Alexander Kerfoot pulled Colorado within 5-4 with 35.8 seconds left. But the Avalanche couldn’t get another puck past goalie Pekka Rinne.
The Presidents’ Trophy winners started slowly, giving up a goal on Colorado’s first shot for a second straight game. Yet the Predators rallied again to take their first 2-0 lead when starting a best-of-seven series in their own building.
Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, and Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen and Austin Watson scored a goal apiece. P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm each had two assists for Nashville, which has won 12 straight over the Avalanche.
Rinne made 26 saves for the win.
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist, and Gabriel Bourque and Gabriel Landeskog each added a goal for Colorado.
Game 3 is Monday night in Denver.
Nashville struggled early yet again despite having country star Brad Paisley singing the national anthem and wrestler Jeff Jarrett revving up the fans before the game.
Bourque put Colorado up 1-0 on the Avs’ first shot 2:34 into the game after a turnover in the defensive zone by Hartman.
The Avalanche scratched rookie defenseman Samuel Girard and replaced him with Duncan Siemens after coming into the series with defenseman Erik Johnson already missing with a knee injury. The corps thinned when Tyson Barrie went to the locker room after being hit in the face by a puck that deflected off goalie Jonathan Bernier’s stick, but he returned later in the period.
Fiala tied it with 3 seconds left on Nashville’s first power play a minute into the second period. Fiala beat Bernier with a snap shot from the inside edge of the left circle, and that seemed to get the Predators going.
The Predators kept Colorado from taking a shot until Nathan MacKinnon put one on net at 9:48, and Rinne smothered that.
Arvidsson gave the Predators a 2-1 lead, skating up the right side and blasted a slap shot that went under Bernier’s right arm for an unassisted goal. In a 4-on-4 situation, Predators defenseman P.K. Subban blocked a shot by Barrie. Johansen got the puck on a breakaway and beat Bernier with a backhander.
MacKinnon pulled the Avs within 3-2 just 36 seconds later with his first goal this postseason.
Watson scored off a Colorado turnover in the Predators’ offensive zone in the third period for a 4-2 lead. But Nashville gave the Avalanche 1:46 of a 5-on-3 to rally, and MacKinnon’s shot deflected off Landeskog to pull Colorado within 4-3. The Predators killed the rest of the penalty, and Rinne made a big pad save on Sven Andrighetto just after the advantage ended.
Lightning keep rolling with 5-3 win over Devils
The good news for the Tampa Bay Lightning is they’re up 2-0 on New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs and still haven’t played their best hockey.
Alex Killorn scored twice during a four-goal second period, helping the top seed in the Eastern Conference beat the Devils 5-3 on Saturday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.
The Atlantic Division champions scored three times in a 2:47 span in the second period, and the reeling Devils pulled goalie Keith Kinkaid after Killorn’s third goal in two games made it 5-1 with 6:48 remaining in the period.
Kinkaid, whose stellar play since January helped New Jersey finish strong and claim its first playoff berth since 2012, yielded five goals on 15 shots.
Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson also scored for Tampa Bay, which is up 2-0 in the series after going 0-2-1 against the Devils during the regular season.
Game 3 is Monday night in Newark, New Jersey.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 41 shots, limiting the Devils to rookie Nico Hischier’s unassisted goal in the opening period, Sami Vatanen’s sixth career playoff goal late in the second, Blake Coleman’s third-period tally that trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-3 with eight minutes left.
Goalie Cory Schneider came off the bench to help the Devils stay in the game with 10 saves, nine in the final period.
Five players scored in the Lightning’s 5-2 victory in Game 1, with just one of the goals coming from the team’s top line of Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and J.T. Miller — Kucherov’s empty-netter with a little over a minute remaining.
Tampa Bay’s second and third lines once again did most of the damage, with Point scoring at 12:15 of the first period and Killorn, Johnson and Kucherov adding goals during a three-minute stretch of the second to build a 4-1 lead.
Both of Killorn’s goals came on power plays. Kucherov’s second of the series deflected off Vatanen’s stick into New Jersey’s net.
Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 shots in the opener and was outstanding again Saturday, when New Jersey outshot the Lightning 44-25.
Pasternak nets six-point night in Bruins’ 7-3 win over Maple Leafs
David Pastrnak had a hat trick and three assists to help Boston blow out the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second straight game, leading the Bruins to a 7-3 victory Saturday night and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.
Pastrnak shattered his previous career high of four points, scoring his third goal with 1:36 left to bring two trash cans full of caps and winter hats fluttering down to the ice. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each had four assists, and Torey Krug had three.
Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots for Boston, and David Krejci, Rick Nash, Jake DeBrusk and Kevan Miller also scored.
Two nights after Frederik Andersen allowed five goals in the series opener, he gave up three more on five shots in the first 12:13 before he was replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney. The Bruins added another power-play goal — their second of the night and fifth of the series — to make it 4-0 after one.
Mitch Marner, Tyler Bozak and James Van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs, who never got closer than three goals down after that. McElhinney stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced.
The series moves to Toronto for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Thursday. Game 5 would be back in Boston on Saturday, if necessary.
It doesn’t look like it will be.
Already struggling on offense, Toronto lost No. 4 scorer Nazem Kadri for three games when he was suspended by the NHL for boarding Tommy Wingels in Game 1. Wingels, whose injury was not disclosed, skated in practice Saturday but did not play.
The Leafs could have used Kadri — and a few other scorers like him.
Pastrnak gave Boston a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game when he corralled a bouncing puck in the slot with his back to the goalie, settled it down, spun around and backhanded it in. After DeBrusk made it 2-0 on the power play four minutes later, Miller bounced one in off the back of defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to give the Bruins a three-goal lead and chase Andersen.
Just 11 seconds after Ron Hainsey was given a double-minor for roughing, Nash made it 4-0.