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Playoff Buzz: Capitals eye clincher

Washington can advance to second round by defeating Maple Leafs in Game 6

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. The playoffs continued on Saturday with two games. NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news, including the sites of the two games on Sunday. Here is the playoff news for Sunday:

 

8:54 p.m.
Senators move on

That's all from the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins, with the Senators ending the Bruins' season with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 6 at TD Garden on Sunday. The Senators will play the New York Rangers in the second round.

But before that can start, there were a few tidbits to come out of the game Sunday.  

Erik Karlsson, who played an incredible 41:51 in Game 5, told ESPN.com he's been playing with two hairline fractures in his heel for almost four weeks.

The Bruins, meanwhile, admitted to the difficulty of playing without three of their top defensemen, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Adam McQuaid, only one of whom -- Krug -- even had a chance to make it back for a possible Game 7 against the Senators.

For the Senators, it was an unlikely hero again coming up big, with Clarke MacArthur scoring his second huge goal of the series against the Bruins, this one the overtime game-winner. It was, as his longtime friend Dion Phaneuf said after the game, "fitting."

 

1:10 p.m.
Capitals eye clincher, know it won't be easy

Neither the Toronto Maple Leafs nor the Washington Capitals are expected to make any lineup changes for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Air Canada Centre on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports, CSN-DC).

The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and would advance to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Second Round with a win. Capitals coach Barry Trotz talked again about needing to have the killer instinct. The Capitals have played six Game 6s when leading 3-2 since 2010; they are 1-5 in those games, with the one win coming in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers last season.

"I'm expecting a very, very resilient Toronto Maple Leafs team," Trotz said. "They've proved it all year, they've proved it all series so we have to be very, very good tonight."

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock remained confident that his team can force a Game 7 at Verizon Center on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC).

Video: TOR@WSH, Gm5: Trotz discusses the Caps' win in Game 5

"You want to play Game 7 in Washington. Come on. You want to," Babcock said." So in order to do that, you've got to earn it. [Washington coach Barry Trotz] said you've got to push us off the cliff. Well, we've got to make sure they don't. It's just that simple. But if you're not loving this today or enjoying it, you shouldn't be in hockey."

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said again that he's fine. Ovechkin briefly left Game 5 following a low hip check from Nazem Kadri in the first period, then returned to start the second period. The Capitals won 2-1 in overtime.

"The playoffs [are] always hard," Ovechkin said. "You have to take a hit or you have to give a hit. I'll take a hit and we won the game. So I'll take those hits every day."

Defenseman Karl Alzner participated in the morning skate and Trotz said he's getting better. However, Alzner will miss his fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury.

 

9:30 a.m.

The St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers each advanced to the second round of the playoffs with wins on Saturday. They joined the Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins as first-round winners. 

The two remaining series could be decided Sunday, with the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals each looking to win a deciding Game 6 on the road. 

Here's a look at what happened on Saturday:   

St. Louis Blues 4, Minnesota Wild 3 (OT) 

It will be the Blues vs. Bluegrass as St. Louis will play the Nashville Predators in the second round. Magnus Paajarvi scored at 9:42 of overtime to eliminate the Wild, who never recovered from a late-season slump that dropped them out of first place in the Central Division.

New York Rangers 3, Montreal Canadiens 1 

Note to opposing teams: If you are facing elimination heading into Madison Square Garden, good luck. Henrik Lundqvist is now 8-2 at home in the playoffs since 2007 when the Rangers have a chance to win a series. The Rangers are in the second round for the fifth time in the past sixth seasons.

Edmonton Oilers 3, San Jose Sharks 1 

Game 6 in San Jose has not been kind to the Sharks the past two seasons. Last June, the Pittsburgh Penguins skated around SAP Center with the Stanley Cup after a Game 6 win against the Sharks. On Saturday, it was the Oilers' turn to celebrate on San Jose ice after winning to wrap up the first round. This is the third straight year the defending Western Conference champion has not reached the second round. 

Video: Blues, Rangers, and Oilers advance to Round 2

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 10 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Sitting on leads doesn't work

St. Louis came out flying in the first period, outshooting the Wild 8-1 and taking a 2-0 lead. The Blues led 3-1 midway through the third period but didn't have another shot on goal for nearly 10 minutes, and Minnesota scored twice to force overtime.

Paul Stastny's return boosts Blues

St. Louis got a lift from the return of center Paul Stastny, who hadn't played since March 21 because of a foot injury. Stastny scored the third-period goal that gave the Blues a 3-1 lead. He also helped out in the faceoff circle: Minnesota had won an NHL-best 58 percent of faceoffs coming in to Game 5; Stastny won 13 of 27 draws to help the Blues control more of the play.

New York's power play comes through

The Rangers scored their only power-play goal of the series on their lone opportunity in Game 6. They think that will be enough to bring their power play back to life. New York was 0-for-14 on the power play through the first five games but ended the drought when Mats Zuccarello beat Carey Price at 2:26 of the second period to tie the game 1-1. Not only was it a huge goal at the time for the Rangers, it was a confidence-builder for the power play going into the second round.

Kevin Hayes' line is dangerous

After a decent Game 4, the line of Kevin Hayes between Zuccarello and J.T. Miller was unimpressive in Game 5, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. But he stayed with them for Game 6, and the move paid off. Hayes and Miller assisted on Zuccarello's second goal, the game-winner, at 13:31 of the second period. Overall, the line generated five shots and 14 shot attempts at even strength. It was strong on the forecheck and strong on the puck. That's another good sign for the Rangers going into the second round.

Depth players step up for Oilers

Edmonton didn't fold after losing 7-0 in Game 4, and its supporting cast was a big reason why. In Games 5 and 6, the Oilers got goals from bottom-six forwards Mark Letestu, David Desharnais and Anton Slepyshev. Desharnais scored in overtime to win Game 5, and Slepyshev's goal early in the second period proved to be the winner in Game 6.

Experience didn't help Sharks

San Jose was the team with plenty of playoff experience, including a run to the Stanley Cup Final last season. But it was the Oilers who looked poised in this series, rebounding from an overtime loss in Game 1 and the 7-0 pounding in Game 4. The Sharks' top scorers never got going. In the six games, San Jose got a combined 12 points (four goals, eight assists) from Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture.

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