Rangers and Stars force Game 7s

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There will be five Game 7s played in the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs this weekend. That total is the second most in any round in NHL history. It should be an exciting couple of days for hockey fans, as it’s hard to find more drama and intrigue in the sport than a winner-take-all Game 7.

The New York Rangers rallied past the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Dallas Stars topped the Calgary Flames during Friday night’s action to force Game 7s in their respective series. The winner of the Rangers-Penguins contest on Sunday will play against the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 matchup between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. The winner of the Flames-Stars game on Sunday will face the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings.

The only team that managed to close out their series on Friday was the Florida Panthers, as they became just the third team to advance this postseason following the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues. The Cats were given all they could handle with the Washington Capitals, but punched their ticket to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1996. Florida awaits the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning.

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NEW YORK RANGERS 5 PITTSBURGH 3 (Series tied 3-3)

Mika Zibanejad led the way for the Rangers with two goals and two assists. He picked up three points in the second period, including one goal and one assist on power plays, to dig his team out of a 2-0 deficit.

Chris Kreider scored a pair of goals, including a fluky game winner with just 1:28 left in regulation that popped up over Penguins netminder Louis Domingue and went into the net.

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Zibanejad and Kreider also had six shots on goal each.

Adam Fox accounted for four assists, while adding one shot, one hit and two blocks.

Andrew Copp sealed the win with an empty-netter. It was his fourth goal of the series.

Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust scored for Pittsburgh in the first period.

Evgeni Malkin tied the game at 3-3 late in the second stanza. He had a game-high seven shots.

Ryan Strome, Kevin Rooney, Ryan Lindgren, Kasperi Kapanen, Jake Guentzel and Marcus Pettersson contributed one assist apiece.

Igor Shesterkin blocked 31 shots in the victory. He has won his past two outings.

Domingue stopped 33 of 37 shots in the defeat.

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FLORIDA 4 WASHINGTON 3 (OT) (Panthers win series 4-2)

Carter Verhaeghe was the hero again for Florida with the game winner 2:46 into the extra period. He added an assist on Friday to give him 12 points in six games this postseason. Three of Verhaeghe’s six goals were game winners.

Claude Giroux collected one goal and two assists for the Panthers. He posted two points in the third period and set up Verhaeghe’s winner.

Aleksander Barkov and Ryan Lomberg had the other goals for Florida.

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Nic Dowd opened the scoring for Washington 3:44 into the second stanza.

Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, who got his sixth goal of the series to tie the game with just over a minute left in regulation, also lit the lamp for the Capitals.

Oshie also had a game-high seven shots, while supplying six hits and two blocks.

Patric Hornqvist, Eetu Luostarinen, Aaron Ekblad, Ben Chiarot, MacKenzie Weegar, Garnet Hathaway, Johan Larsson, Anthony Mantha, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk chipped in one assist each.

Hathaway and Martin Fehervary were credited with seven hits apiece.

Sergei Bobrovsky shielded 34 shots in the triumph.

Ilya Samsonov defended 27 shots in the defeat.

CALGARY 2 DALLAS 4 (Series tied 3-3)

Roope Hintz and Michael Raffl produced one goal and one assist each for Dallas. Hintz also added four shots and six hits, while Raffl posted six hits as well.

Michael Stone had one goal and one helper for Calgary.

Miro Heiskanen’s first goal of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs held up as the game winner.

Tyler Seguin sealed the Stars’ win with an empty-netter.

Mikael Backlund found the back of the net to stretch his goal spree to three straight games.

Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Rasmus Andersson, Radek Faksa, Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson. Joel Kiviranta and Ryan Suter reached the scoresheet with one assist each.

Jake Oettinger turned aside 36 shots in the victory.

Jacob Markstrom made 36 saves on 39 shots in the loss.

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