Stanley Cup playoffs: Bruins, Lightning, Avalanche advance to semifinals

Aug. 20 (UPI) — The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche each claimed Game 5 victories Wednesday to win their first-round series and advance to the conference semifinals in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 in overtime before the Bruins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 Wednesday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Avalanche beat the Arizona Coyotes 7-1 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

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Each team will now wait to find out who they will play in the second round as the remainder of the first-round field continues play. The NHL will reseed teams for semifinal matchups after the round is complete.

“It’s great to get off on the right foot in the playoffs,” Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon told reporters. “We played hard in all five games and we’re ready for whoever we play in the second round.”

Lightning 5, Blue Jackets 4

Tyler Johnson and Blake Coleman gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead on the Blue Jackets about seven minutes into the first period. Nick Foligno scored for the Blue Jackets midway through the first period to cut the Lightning’s lead in half. Kevin Stenlund and Alexander Wennberg then scored for the Blue Jackets in the second period to give their squad a 3-2 edge.

Oliver Bjorkstrand pushed the Columbus lead to two goals with another score 9:33 into the third period. Kevin Shattenkirk and Anthony Cirelli responded with two scores for Tampa Bay to force overtime.

Lightning center Brayden Point scored the game-winning goal 5:12 into the bonus period.

“They are a great, hardworking defensive team,” Point said. “A lot of those games could have gone either way, but it was good for our group to come out on top.”

Bruins 2, Hurricanes 1

Defenseman Haydn Fleury gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 edge when he lit the lamp 9:35 into his Game 5 clash. David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron each scored in the second period for Boston to earn a 2-1 advantage.

Bruins netminder Jaroslav Halak kept the Hurricanes out of the net down the stretch to help Boston advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Halak had 23 saves in the victory.

“The Carolina Hurricanes are such a good hockey club,” Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara said. “They are well-coached and have a very dangerous lineup. It was not easy to beat them.

“I want to congratulate them for going to the playoffs and playing us very hard.”

Avalanche 7, Coyotes 1

Nazem Kadri and Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals apiece to spark a 6-0 offensive explosion through the first two periods of the Avalanche win over the Coyotes. Clayton Keller scored the Coyotes’ only goal 6:51 into the third period before J.T. Compher netted a seventh Avalanche goal with 4:41 remaining in the first-round blowout.

Samuel Girard and Nikita Zadorov also scored for Colorado in the lopsided triumph. Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer had 23 saves in the win.

“We still have work to do, no doubt, but the group that we have in that locker room has a lot of character and obviously we’ve seen the product that we can put on the ice,” Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog said.

Other Game 5 scores

Montreal Canadiens 5, Philadelphia Flyers 3 — Flyers lead series 3-2

Vancouver Canucks 4, St. Louis Blues 3 –Canucks lead series 3-2

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