Rangers advance on Panarin's overtime winner

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The first round of the NHL playoffs is always great but this season seemed to be better than most as five series went to a Game 7 with two more ending in six games. Only the Colorado-Nashville series was over quickly as the Avalanche beat the Predators in four straight.

Saturday saw three close matchups as Carolina prevailed over Boston by a 3-2 count, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning won on the road by defeating Toronto 2-1 while Edmonton shut out the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 as Connor McDavid showed once again why he is the best player in the league.

Sunday had two more Game 7’s with the Rangers hosting Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden and Dallas going into Calgary to play the Flames and try to stymie an all-Alberta second round matchup.

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out NBCSportsEdge Player News, and follow @NBCSEdge HK and @mfinewaxhockey on Twitter.

NEW YORK RANGERS 4 PITTSBURGH 3 (Overtime) (New York Rangers win the best-of-seven series 4-3)

The only thing better than a Game 7 in the NHL is a Game 7 that goes into overtime.

And that’s exactly what happened in New York as the Rangers fought back for the third straight game and won the best-of-seven series 4-3.

The hero of the game was Artemi Panarin who scored the overtime winner at 4:46 on the power play. His shot went through Kris Letang and goaltender Tristan Jarry and into the net, giving the Rangers their first series win since 2017 when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round before losing to Ottawa in the second round.

The Rangers opened the scoring as Chris Kreider scored his fifth of the opening round as he ripped a slapshot from the faceoff circle, high over Jarry and off the crossbar and into the net. He was deftly set up by Mika Zibanejad who had an outstanding game with a goal and three points.

Pittsburgh equaled things up as Danton Heinen was credited for the goal as his shot barely made it over the goal line. Play went on for another 25 seconds as the referee did not signal a goal, before the horn went off as the NHL deemed it a good goal.

The second period opened with Jake Guentzel scoring his league-leading eighth of the playoffs. He scored a beautiful goal, taking a Bryan Rust pass, kicking it up to his stick and batting the puck past Igor Shesterkin to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

The Rangers came back again as K'Andre Miller’s shot from the top of the circle caromed off Pittsburgh defenseman Mike Matheson and into the cage.

The Penguins then regained the lead with 2:36 left in the second as he scored shorthanded. Rodrigues stole the puck at his own blueline, skated in alone and beat Shesterkin with a backhander. It was his third of the playoffs.

The only goal of the third was scored by Zibanejad as he snapped a shot over the shoulder of Jarry. The goal was controversial as Alexis Lafreniere took the helmet off Marcus Pettersson who had to come off the ice according to NHL rules if he did not put his helmet back on. He left the ice, giving the Rangers an odd-man advantage in which the puck eventually ended up in the net.

Igor Shesterkin was strong in the Rangers net as he stopped 42 shots for the win. He won four of seven and had a 3.21 GAA and a .911 save percentage in the series.

Jarry played in his first game of the series as he returned Sunday from a lower-body injury that sidelined him a month. Jarry made 26 saves in the overtime loss.

Andrew Copp had two assists.

Panarin had six shots on goal while Jacob Trouba had eight hits.

The Rangers will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the next round while the Penguins will head to the golf course.

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CALGARY 3 DALLAS 2 (Overtime) (Calgary wins the best-of-seven series 4-3)

If one overtime game is great, then two are even better.

Johnny Gaudreau scored the overtime winner at the 15:09 mark to give the Calgary Flames the series win over the Dallas Stars.

But the story of the game was the play of Dallas goalkeeper Jake Oettinger. Oettinger stopped 64 shots as he played the best game of anyone in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, giving the Flames everything they could handle and more.

The season started off on the wrong foot for Oettinger who was the Stars top goalie last season as Dallas decided to sign Braden Holtby to play alongside another veteran Anton Khudobin, putting Oettinger in the minors as he still had options. The move likely cost the Stars a higher seeding in the West as Khudobin was mediocre at best and eventually the Stars waived him. Oettinger eventually took over the net and went 30-15-1 with a 2.53 GAA and a .914 save percentage, solidifying the Stars goaltending situation for now and for the next few years to come.

Oettinger ended the post-season with a 3-4 record to go with a 1.81 GAA and a .954 save percentage.

Jamie Benn got the Stars off to a quick 1-0 lead as he scored the fifth fastest Game 7 goal, scoring only 40 seconds into the contest. It was the lone goal of the opening period as the Flames dominated the Stars, outshooting them 17-8.

The Flames tied it up in the second as Tyler Toffoli finally scored his first of the playoffs. Toffoli, who had 18 shots on goal in the first six games with no luck, but his deflection of an Oliver Kylington point shot, beat Oettinger at the 1:46 mark of the period.

It didn’t take the Stars long to regain the lead as Vladislav Namestnikov, who replaced the injured Hintz on the top line, scored his first of the opening round, just 41 seconds after Toffoli’s goal as he beat Jacob Markstrom between his legs on a setup from Joe Pavelski.

Matthew Tkachuk scored his first of the series as he took a pass from Johnny Gaudreau at the circle and cleanly beat Oettinger high, short side.

The second period was totally dominated by Calgary as they outshot Dallas 26-4 and had 81 shot attempts in the first two periods to Dallas’ 25.

The third period was scoreless, as Dallas finally outshot Calgary 11-8.

In the overtime, it was Calgary all over the Stars once again as they fired 15 shots at Oettinger to only five for Dallas on Markstrom.

Markstrom ended the series with a 4-3 record. He had a 1.53 GAA and a .942 save percentage.

Noah Hanifin had nine shots on goal while fellow blueliner Erik Gudbranson had eight.

Joe Pavelski had six blocked shots.

Michael Stone had seven hits.

Roope Hintz was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. He participated in the pre-game skate but was unable to go in the game.

NIGHTLY LEADERS

Goals

1 by many

Assists

Mika Zibanejad – 2

Andrew Copp - 2

Shots on Goal

Noah Hanifin – 9

Erik Gudbranson – 8

Johnny Gaudreau – 7

Blake Coleman - 7

Matthew Tkachuk - 6

Artemi Panarin – 6

Evan Rodrigues - 6

Hits

Jacob Trouba – 8

Michael Stone - 7

Penalty Minutes

Artemi Panarin – 4

Jacob Trouba – 4

Bryan Rust - 4