Friday's NHL: Ex-Red Wing Brendan Smith scores winner for Hurricanes; Oilers even series
Raleigh, N.C. — Former Red Wing Brendan Smith scored a short-handed goal late in the second period while Antti Raanta finished with 21 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 2-0 on Friday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.
Smith’s goal off a feed from Sebastian Aho marked his first postseason goal in nine years, and it was the difference in a tightly defended game by both teams. Aho added a clinching empty-net score to finish this off with 1.8 seconds left as Raanta held up.
Carolina improved to 6-0 at home in the playoffs and has a 2-0 lead for the second straight round. Now they face the challenge of winning on the road for the first time in the postseason after claiming a seven-game first-round series against Boston in which no team managed a road win.
They’ll get their first chance to win at Madison Square Garden in Game 3 on Sunday.
Igor Shesterkin had 20 saves for the Rangers.
Edmonton 5, (at) Calgary 3: The Edmonton Oilers got off to another slow start. This time, they bounced back quickly.
Zach Hyman (Michigan) scored the go-ahead short-handed goal midway through the third period and the Oilers rallied to beat the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Friday night, evening the second-round series at one game apiece.
Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist, becoming the fastest active player to reach 20 points (six goals, 14 assists in nine games) in a single postseason, and fastest among any player since Mario Lemieux in 1992.
“He’s willing to pay a price to win. He’s driven to win,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He has an effect on everybody in our organization with that desire to take his game to the next level. ... The way his guy is playing right now, it’s special. He’s driving our team forward.”
Leon Draisaitl and defenseman Duncan Keith each had a goal and two assists and Evan Bouchard also scored for Edmonton, which lost 9-6 in Game 1 and trailed 3-1 early in the second of this one.
“Losses are no fun and wins are lots of fun,” McDavid said. “I thought we battled harder. ... Winning some 50-50 pucks. We didn’t win many in Game 1. I thought we did a good job of that. I thought we defended better. Still gave up some chances.”
Oilers goalie Mike Smith, pulled early in the last game, made 37 saves for the win and assisted on Draisaitl’s insurance goal.
Michael Stone, Brett Ritchie and Tyler Toffoli scored for Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists and Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 shots.
The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heads to Edmonton’s Rogers Place for Game 3 on Sunday. The Oilers went 18-4-2 at home over their final 24 games of the regular season.
Rick Bowness won't return as Stars coach
Rick Bowness will not return as head coach of the Dallas Stars after nearly three seasons in which he led them to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final and the playoffs again this year.
While Bowness was not under contract past this season, the 67-year-old coach said in a statement released by the team Friday that he was stepping away to “allow the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction at the head coaching position.” The move doesn’t necessarily mean Bowness is done coaching.
General manager Jim Nill said assistant coaches John Stevens, Derek Laxdal and Todd Nelson also would not return.
Bowness has been on an NHL bench for a record 2,562 regular-season games as a head coach or an assistant over nearly four decades. He was 89-62-25 as head coach in Dallas, where he was a second-year assistant before being named interim head coach in December 2019 after Jim Montgomery was fired for off-ice issues.
After the Stars made the Stanley Cup Final in that pandemic-altered 2019-20 season, the interim tag was removed and Bowness got a two-year contract.
“Rick is one of the most respected and beloved individuals to have ever coached in the NHL,” Nill said. “His dedication and commitment to the game, and the impact that he’s made on countless players, coaches and support staff throughout his five decades in the league is unmatched. He has dedicated his life to our game, and we are honored to say that the Dallas Stars are part of his legacy.”
A hockey lifer, Bowness said after the season ended with an overtime loss in Game 7 of the first-round series at favored Calgary that he still has the passion to keep coaching. He said he would have opportunities to coach if he wanted them.
“I’ll have options, let’s put it that way. If I want them, the options will be there. I’m confident in that,” Bowness said during a season-ending media availability Tuesday. “You guys, you don’t know yet, you’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”
Bowness’ stint as the Stars interim head coach included the 4½-month pause in the season because of the pandemic and two months in a postseason bubble in Canada. There was then a shortened, 56-game season last year when the Stars had an NHL-high 14 losses after regulation and missed the playoffs.
“When he was called upon to lead our team a few seasons ago, he stepped into the role seamlessly and helped guide our team through unprecedented global events that affected our players and staff both on and off the ice,” said Nill, who has one year left on his contract.
Dallas went into this year’s playoffs as a wildcard team, but its 98 points were a total the team had reached only once the previous 14 seasons.
Scotty Bowman and Pat Quinn, both members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Bowness are the only other head coaches with games in five different decades. Bowness did so with Winnipeg (1989), Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), the New York Islanders (1996-98), Phoenix (2004) and Dallas (2019-22). He also was an assistant for Vancouver and Tampa Bay.