New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant has defended his call to pull goaltender Igor Shesterkin after the first period as Pittsburgh Penguins ran out to a 7-4 victory in Game 3.

The visitors suffered a playoffs setback at PPG Paints Arena, as their Pennsylvanian hosts moved into a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

Shesterkin was hooked after the first period after Pittsburgh raced into a 4-1 lead and was replaced by Alexandar Georgiev.

That helped spark a turnaround for the Rangers, who clawed back three goals in the second period to move back on level terms.

But after Danton Heinen put the Penguins back in front halfway through the third period, Pittsburgh did not relinquish their lead again, with Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter extending their advantage.

Gallant backed his decision to withdraw Shesterkin, a 2018 Olympic gold medallist, saying that it was to offer the goaltender much-needed rest after a busy schedule and thought it might provide a spark.

"It's 4-1 and you want to change momentum," he stated. "Igor has been outstanding.

"If you look at it right now, he's played 10 periods, more or less, in basically 4 and half, five days. I thought it was a good time to jump-start it.

"It was 4-1. It was totally tilted. Sometimes you spark your team with a goalie change. Igor was our MVP all season.

"I thought we'd give him a little rest tonight and hopefully spark our team. And it worked."

The Rangers will attempt to hit back in Game 4 on Monday.

Evander Kane said it is "nice to turn the page" after a "lot of trials and tribulations" as he starred in the Edmonton Oilers' 8-2 hammering of the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.

The forward registered a first career playoff hat-trick as the Oilers took a 2-1 lead in their first-round Western Conference series, celebrating a couple of rebound finishes in the second period and adding a third with 20 seconds remaining.

Kane only joined the Oilers after being waived by the San Jose Sharks in January. The 30-year-old had been suspended for 21 games by the NHL for providing a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, then broke health and safety protocols when representing San Jose Barracuda in the American Hockey League.

That followed a tumultuous offseason in which Kane was embroiled in plenty of off-rink controversy, but he feels like he is getting back on track with the Oilers.

"The beginning of the year was very tough, with a lot of different things going on in my life. It's a real credit to my family, helping me through everything – my uncle is actually in the hospital, and we wanted to have a big game for him," Kane said after the game.

"There's been a lot of trials and tribulations, but it's nice to turn the page and move forward in a positive way.

"[This is the best I've felt since joining the Oilers] for sure – I started to feel good around the 20-game mark, and I'm back to my old self."

Kane now has at least two goals in two straight games and is the 12th different Oilers player to celebrate a playoff treble.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman scored two goals apiece as well and Kane talked up the team's abilities.

"I think our five-on-five game has gotten a lot better. Obviously our special teams has been good throughout these three games, but it's that time of year where you want to raise your game to a different level, and I think there's a lot of guys doing that right now. I like to think [I am one of them]," Kane added.

"We got up 5-0, and they came with a bit of a push in the second and scored two. You know, there's a lot of hockey left to be played. 

"They got their fans back in the building, they got some energy on the bench, but we came out and stuck with it. We had a strong third period, and we continued to push the pace, and not sit back. 

"I think that's the real key to winning – when you get leads, it's about what you do with them. Do you sit back and get comfortable, or do you continue to push, and I think we're doing a good job of that."

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was quick to back goaltender Louis Domingue, following their 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday.

The Rangers tied their playoff series up at 1-1 after Pittsburgh's 4-3 win in triple-overtime at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

One of the key figures in that overtime win, Domingue was given a start by Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, but gave up key goals to Ryan Strome and Chris Keider via deflections.

Crosby backed his teammate following the loss, bringing saves he did make with Game 2 in the balance in perspective.

"The fourth was a bad bounce, a couple of tips there," Crosby said. "I thought he [Domingue] was solid. I thought he made some big saves, especially when there was a one or two-goal difference, that kept us in it."

The two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner believes the Penguins simply need to start better and put three periods of hockey together to progress past the Rangers.

"It's the playoffs," Crosby said. "There are going to be swings of momentum but I thought that in both games, as they've gone on, we've probably gotten better. We just have to find a way to come out of the gates a bit better.

"You don't want to get down two, we've done that a couple of times now. It's not something we want to make a habit of.

"We get that late one and we had some really good chances early in the third and didn't convert, and they got a bounce. That's what it came down to."

In other NHL playoff results on Thursday, a Cale Makar goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators, moving to 2-0 in their series.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers tied up respective series with the Calgary Flames and Washington Capitals.

Tony DeAngelo saved special praise for rookie goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov after the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Boston Bruins 5-2 on Wednesday.

Kochetkov was thrust into the spotlight for his playoff debut as the Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead in what is becoming a fiery series.

With Frederik Andersen already down, tempers boiled over as the Canes had to turn to Kochetkov after Antti Raanta was struck in the head by David Pastrnak's glove as he skated past.

The two teams traded words and big hits throughout, and defenseman DeAngelo made it clear where the Hurricanes stand with the Bruins in this series.

"We're not going to get pushed around, I guarantee you that," he said.

DeAngelo was glowing of Kochetkov's demeanour after the first-period change and his ability to keep it simple in a heated environment, making 30 saves.

"I think he's real calm," his team-mate said. "You don't see any jitters, at least in my eyes. I don't know what he's feeling inside. I'm sure he's a little nervous. Anybody would be, right?

"But I thought he was real calm in the net. He made a lot of saves, wasn't trying to do too much. He was calm. Coming into goal in the first period in a playoff game as a rookie after coming here a few weeks ago, he was really good."

Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota Wild tied up their respective series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the St. Louis Blues with wins.

The Edmonton Oilers also tied up their series, smashing the Los Angeles Kings in a 6-0 shutout.

Evgeni Malkin says the Pittsburgh Penguins "deserved to win" after he scored the decisive goal 5:58 into the third overtime of their 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers in the NHL playoffs on Tuesday.

The Penguins take a 1-0 lead in their Stanley Cup playoff opening-round series, where goalies Igor Shesterkin and Louis Domingue were outstanding for both sides.

Penguins back-up goalie Domingue came in for Casey DeSmith who exited due to cramping. Domingue starred with 14 saves in the second overtime and three more in the third.

"We know we can win every game if we play right," Malkin told reporters. "We play smart. We play hard. I think we deserved to win tonight."

The Rangers had led 2-0 after Andrew Copp doubled their lead in the second lead after Adam Fox's power-play goal in the first period.

The Penguins leveled it up after goals from Jake Guentzel in the second period, before Chris Kreider restored the Rangers' lead. Malkin found Bryan Rust to square the game up again, before it headed for overtime. Malkin came up with the decisive deflection.

The epic was the longest-ever NHL game played at Madison Square Garden.

On Domingue, Malkin added: "For me, I know Louis is unbelievable. He is big and he is fast. I wasn’t worried. It is hard to score on him in practice."

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was injured as his side won 4-2 over the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their series. Wilson had scored before going off with a lower-body injury.

Colorado Avalanche piled on five first-period goals as they routed the Nashville Predators 7-2 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Elias Lindholm's first-period goal proved the difference as the Calgary Flames got past the Dallas Stars 1-0.

The NHL's leading goal-scorer and MVP candidate Auston Matthews slotted home two more in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 5-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Matthews – who is first player since 2011-12 to score 60 goals in a season – got on the scoresheet early in the second period to make it 2-0 for Toronto after Jake Muzzin's opener to close the first frame.

Mitchell Marner assisted the first Matthews goal and also set up David Kampf to make it 3-0, before he got on the scoresheet himself to make it four, capping off a brilliant second period.

Matthews scored his second goal of the game to round out the rout in the last period, with Morgan Reilly collecting his second assist in the process.

Speaking to post-game media, Matthews gave plenty of credit to the Maple Leafs' penalty-killing unit after the Lightning failed to score from five power-play attempts, as well as his running-mate Marner.

"I thought we played fast, we played through the contact," he said. "Our penalty-kill [unit] was huge tonight, I thought that brought us a lot of momentum.

"I thought [Marner] was incredible. He was all over the puck – so much poise – he's just doing his thing out there. 

"It's fun to watch, and fun to be out there with him. I know he's going to continue to elevate, so we've got to look for everybody to do that as well.

"We were able to capitalise on some chances, so I thought it was a really good effort by us. But it's a series – it's going to be a long series – and there's a really good team on the other end. 

"They'll be ready to go next game, so we've got to watch this one, learn from it, and move on to the next one."

Matthews also highlighted the energy inside the building as the Toronto crowd tries to will their team to their first series win since 2004.

"It was humming here tonight," he said. "It was just electric through all 60 minutes.

"I think that's what playoff hockey is all about, the atmosphere and everything. 

"It's been a while since we've been in front of our fans in front of a full arena in the playoffs, so there's a lot of excitement, and the guys fed off the energy."

It was a similarly dominant showing for the Carolina Hurricanes, as they beat the Boston Bruins 5-1 at home.

There were five individual goal-scorers for the Hurricanes as Seth Jarvis, Nino Niederreiter, Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck and Andrei Svechnikov put in one each.

The St Louis Blues collected an important road win against the Minnesota Wild, scoring twice in the opening period on the way to a 4-0 result.

David Perron was the man of the hour for the Blues, capping off his hat-trick with the final goal of the game, while Torey Krug had three assists.

The most competitive game of the night was the Los Angeles Kings' trip to take on the Edmonton Oilers, escaping with a 4-3 road win.

After two action-packed periods the sides were tied at 3-3 going into the last, with a late Phillip Danault goal proving to be the difference.

The Vegas Golden Knights are reeling after a remarkable sequence of shootout defeats saw the team miss out on the NHL playoffs for the first time.

The Golden Knights went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season in 2017-18 and had reached the postseason in each subsequent year.

But that perfect record was ended by Wednesday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, which means Vegas can no longer overhaul the Dallas Stars in 2021-22.

That outcome, completing the 16-team line-up for the playoffs, required a sensational, unwanted streak for the Golden Knights.

The team lost three consecutive games in shootouts, including to the Stars on Tuesday, failing to score in any of the contests.

The Golden Knights went 0-for-17 across the three shootouts, with only one other NHL team ever losing three straight games via shootouts without scoring. The Florida Panthers went 0-for-9 over three games in 2011.

"I'm surprised. I'm disappointed," said coach Peter DeBoer. "I'm at the front of the line for responsibility.

"There's a lot of expectations on this team. It's not an easy thing and it doesn't feel good for anybody right now."

Alex Ovechkin became just the third player to score 50 goals in nine different NHL seasons after adding two for the Washington Capitals in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky were the only players to previously reach that mark in nine separate campaigns.

"Obviously, it's pretty good company," Ovechkin said afterwards.

And the Capitals great took another record outright in the process, as the oldest player to score 50 goals in a season.

Ovechkin is 36, surpassing John Bucyk, who was aged 35 years and 327 days at the end of his 51-goal season in 1970-71.

It was special, too, for Ovechkin to achieve the feat at T-Mobile Arena, where he and the Capitals clinched the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018.

"Obviously, there's lots of great memories, locker room, everything, hotel," he said. "It's going stay here forever... yeah, pretty fun moments."

Ovechkin now has 780 career goals, still trailing Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801).

Marshawn Lynch feels he has achieved "something special" by becoming a minority investor in the Seattle Kraken alongside Macklemore.

Former NFL running back Lynch spent the best part of his career with the Seattle Seahawks.

He was part of the Seahawks team that won Super Bowl XLVIII, scoring a rushing touchdown in the title game as Seattle beat the Denver Broncos.

Lynch had led the NFL in rushing TDs (12) in the regular season and did so again the following year (13), again scoring in the Super Bowl but this time in a defeat to the New England Patriots.

The five-time Pro Bowler announced his retirement after the 2015 season but returned to the NFL and eventually the Seahawks, finishing his career in Seattle in 2019.

And now Lynch is again part of the sports scene in the city, with he and rapper Macklemore – a Seattle native – welcomed on board by Kraken owner Seattle Hockey Partners.

"I've been a part of a lot of things, but this is something I never would have imagined," Lynch wrote on his Twitter page.

"As a young hyena I always dreamed of playing on a professional team but owning one is something special.

"Thank you @SeattleKraken, shout out to @macklemore. Seattle, I'm here. Stand Up!!!"

The Kraken are in their inaugural season in the NHL but sit bottom of the Western Conference's Pacific Division with a 24-44-6 record.

NHL legend Mike Bossy has died at the age of 65, the New York Islanders said on Friday.

Canadian right-winger Bossy was a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Islanders and spent his entire NHL career with the franchise, from 1977 until his retirement in 1988.

In that time, Bossy scored 573 goals, which remains the most by any player in Islanders history, and added 553 assists for a combined 1,126 points in 752 games.

He achieved an NHL record of scoring 50 or more goals in nine consecutive seasons, posting 60 or more in five of those campaigns.

Of all players in league history, only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux reached 500 goals in fewer games than Bossy, the Islanders said.

Bossy and the Islanders won the Stanley Cup in four straight seasons from 1980 to 1983, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

In a statement, his former team said they were "deeply saddened" by news of Bossy's death, describing him as "the greatest pure goal scorer".

Bossy announced last October he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello added: "The New York Islanders organisation mourns the loss of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but across the entire hockey world.

"His drive to be the best every time he stepped on the ice was second to none. Along with his teammates, he helped win four straight Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of this franchise forever. On behalf of the entire organisation, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Bossy family and all those who grieve this tragic loss."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said: "The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Mike Bossy, the dynamic winger whose goal-scoring prowess during a remarkable 10-year career ranks, by almost any measure, as one of the greatest in NHL history and propelled the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups."

Bettman documented Bossy's feats in his tribute.

"Bossy scored 573 goals in 752 games – a .76 goals-per-game average that is the highest in the league's history. He is the only player ever to record nine straight 50-goal seasons and his five 60-goal seasons are matched only by Wayne Gretzky," Bettman said.

"One of only eight players in NHL history to have scored 50 goals in his first 50 games of a season, he was similarly dominating in the Stanley Cup playoffs, during which he scored 85 goals in 129 games."

Keith Yandle's NHL-record consecutive regular-season games played streak is ending at 989, as the Philadelphia Flyers are making the 35-year-old defenceman a healthy scratch for Saturday's meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This will be the first regular-season game Yandle will miss since March 22, 2009, when he played for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said it was an "organisational decision" to not dress Yandle so the team can give ice time to some of its younger players. Philadelphia are 21-35-11 and have already been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"He received it exactly the way you'd expect Keith Yandle to handle it. Obviously disappointed, which you'd expect from a competitor," Yeo said.

"My only hope is that he recognises how amazing it is what he's done. For him, it's disappointing, no question. No way does this diminish what he's accomplished. It is remarkable."

Yandle broke the league's consecutive games played streak record just over two months ago, surpassing Doug Jarvis' mark of 964 on January 25. But in the 24 games he has played in since then, the veteran has just one goal and one assist with a minus-16 +/- rating.

 

Yandle is in the midst of the worst season of his 16-year career with one goal and 14 assists and a league-low minus-39 rating in 67 games.

"I don't really know if it's hit me completely," Yandle said. "I don't know yet, I don't know when it will. It's kind of one of those things during it, I didn't really try to think about it too much just to kind of go out and play. Maybe now the next day or two it might hit me.

"Obviously something I take a lot of pride in. I'm fortunate to play one game in this league. I say it all the time, I've been blessed to be in this league as long as I have. I owe pretty much my whole life to this league. It's been a great journey too.

"You look back and you think about your first game, and then it's one of those things that the last couple days have been a lot of reflecting and I'm not really a guy who reflects too much."

Yandle's streak is in danger of being broken next season by Arizona Coyotes forward Phil Kessel, who passed Jarvis' mark last weekend and has played in 968 consecutive regular-season games.

Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Ottawa Senators, has died aged 62.

The NHL team announced his passing due to "an illness he faced with determination and courage" on Monday.

Melnyk, who made his money as the founder of pharmaceutical company Biovail Corporation, purchased the Senators in 2003.

Under Melnyk, the Senators won their first Eastern Conference championship in 2006-07, losing 4-1 to the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

"The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk," read a statement from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"The words 'passion' and 'commitment' define the man who has owned the Ottawa Senators since 2003.

"Whether it was in the boardroom with his fellow governors, at the rink with his beloved Senators or in the community with his philanthropy, he cared deeply about the game, about his team and about bettering the lives of those in need, particularly underserved children, organ donation and, most recently, with his commitment to his parents' home country of Ukraine.

"While successful in business, it was our game and his Senators that he was most passionate about.

"Eugene was often outspoken, but he maintained an unwavering commitment to the game and his roots and he loved nothing more than donning a Senators sweater and cheering on his beloved team.

"On behalf of the entire National Hockey League, I extend my deepest sympathies to Eugene's daughters, Anna and Olivia, his extended family, and all those who benefited from his generosity."

Russia and Belarus have been suspended from all International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) competitions at both national and club levels.

The IIHF announced the sanctions on Monday following an extraordinary meeting of its Council in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine last Thursday, with neighbouring Belarus effectively used as a staging post for Russian military.

The suspension prohibits Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from "participation in every age category and in all IIHF competitions or events until further notice".

In addition, Russia has been stripped of hosting rights for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

A statement from the IIHF read in part: "These two actions have been initiated by the Council in order to enable the IIHF to ensure the safety of IIHF Championships and all participating players, officials, and fans.

"The IIHF Council has not left out the possibility of further actions impacting future events or other IIHF activities but hopes above all for a swift and peaceful resolution to the war."

"The IIHF is not a political entity and cannot influence the decisions being taken over the war in Ukraine," said IIHF President Luc Tardif.

"We nevertheless have a duty of care to all of our members and participants and must therefore do all we can to ensure that we are able to operate our events in a safe environment for all teams taking part in the IIHF World Championship program.

"We were incredibly shocked to see the images that have come out of Ukraine. I have been in close contact with members of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine and we hope for all Ukrainians that this conflict can be resolved in a peaceful way and without the need for further violence."

 

Swiss Ice Hockey, along with other members of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), has called for sanctions on Russia and Belarus due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

After weeks of rising political tensions, Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday, with the conflict having escalated further over the weekend.

Russia's actions have been widely condemned and sporting, as well as political and financial, punishments have been handed out as a consequence.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) called on all international sporting federations to relocate or cancel any events set to take place in Russia or Belarus.

St Petersburg was stripped of the right to host the 2021-22 Champions League final by UEFA, while Formula One removed the Russian Grand Prix from its calendar this year.

Numerous high-profile sportspeople have expressed their opposition to the conflict, with Russia's Andrey Rublev writing "no war please" on a camera lens at the Dubai Tennis Championship and compatriot Daniil Medvedev calling for peace.

Vladimir Putin's status as honorary president and ambassador of the International Judo Federation (IJF) has also been suspended, and now The Swiss Ice Hockey Federation has demanded further action within their sport.

"The attack is in complete contradiction to the values of the Olympic movement, which is committed to peace, understanding and solidarity between countries and peoples," a statement from Swiss Ice Hockey read. 

"With its actions, Russia is breaking the Olympic truce, which was adopted as a resolution by the UN General Assembly on December 2, 2021 by 173 member countries.

"Swiss Ice Hockey strongly condemns Russia's actions. Swiss Ice Hockey's thoughts are with the Ukrainian ice hockey family and everyone in Ukraine in this difficult situation. 

"Together with other member associations, Swiss Ice Hockey has submitted an application to the IIHF, in which immediate and far-reaching consequences and sanctions against Russia and Belarus – which supports the Russian government in their actions – are required. 

"The application to the IIHF Council calls for, among other things, the immediate exclusion of the Russian and Belarusian ice hockey federations as members of the IIHF and the withdrawal of the U20 World Championship in December 2022 in Novosibirsk and the A World Championship in May 2023 in St. Petersburg.

"Swiss Ice Hockey has also decided that the senior men's national team will not travel to Russia and play a friendly against Russia as part of the World Cup preparations next spring – contrary to the original plan."

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) took silver in the men's ice hockey tournament at this year's Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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