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NHL Roundup: Lightning outlast Blue Jackets in 5 OT thriller

TORONTO (AP) — By the time he launched the last shot, Brayden Point was just trying to do anything he could to end the fourth-longest game in NHL history.

“I just see a rolling puck and I just throw it on net,” Point said after scoring 10:27 into the fifth overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in their playoff opener Tuesday.

“I’m not really aiming,” he added. “Just sling one there and lucky enough it finds a corner.”

Point scored from just above the left circle, beating Joonas Korpisalo after the goaltender made an NHL-record 85 saves. The 24-year-old forward also scored way back in the first period of Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.

Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy bought time for Point and Co. with 61 saves for Tampa Bay. The teams combined for 151 shots — most in an NHL game since the league began officially tracking the statistic in 1955-56.

“It’s tiring for sure but then it gets fun at some point,” Point said. “I don’t know how many guys played a game like that, that long. It was an exciting one.”

The teams are meeting in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year, with the Lightning looking to rebound from being swept 16 months ago by the underdog Blue Jackets, who became the first No. 8 seed to oust the winner of the Presidents’ Trophy in four games.

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored on the power play and Oliver Bjorkstrand added a goal late in the second period to give Columbus — the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference — a pair of short-lived leads in regulation.

Yanni Gourde had the other goal for the second-seeded Lightning, who got the game-winner from Point shortly after Columbus was denied a chance to potentially end the six-hour marathon with Cam Atkinson barreling in on Vasilevskiy on a short-handed breakaway.

Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman caught up to Atkinson, though, before pushing him to the ice while flicking the puck away. No penalty was called.

“Don’t ask me about the non-call,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said.

Columbus defenseman Seth Jones, who logged an NHL-record 65 minutes, six seconds of ice time, said the officials didn’t say why a penalty was not called.

“I’d like them to come up here and give an explanation,” Jones said.

Torotrella, meanwhile, looked ahead. Asked what advice he had given his team, which played an overtime game for the third time in six days.

“Get some rest and get ready to play the next game,” the coach said.

Game 2 is Thursday.

The Blue Jackets expect to rebound.

“You’re going to lose games, and this was just a long overtime game that we lost. It’s no different,” Bjorkstrand said. “We’ve just got to bounce back and be ready for the next game.”

While there’s no denying last season’s early exit from the playoffs has been a source of motivation for much of the past 16 months, coach Jon Cooper and the Lightning insist this series is about a lot more than redemption.

After all, both teams have decidedly different looks, with Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Duchene no longer with Columbus, and Pat Maroon, Kevin Shattenkirk and Blake Coleman bolstering Tampa Bay’s talent-laden roster.

The Lightning played Game 1 without injured captain Steven Stamkos. But Hedman, who appeared to twist an ankle during last Saturday’s round-robin finale against Philadelphia, skated and had an assist on Tampa Bay’s first goal.

With goaltender Elvis Merzlikins ruled out for the opener, Korpisalo started for Columbus and kept his team close by stopping 26 of 27 shots in the first two periods. The Lightning pulled even at 2-all on Gourde’s goal just 23 seconds into the third, but weren’t able to finish it off in regulation despite outshooting the Blue Jackets 41-26 up to that point.

Flames 3, Stars 2

EDMONTON, Alberta — Rasmus Andersson snapped a tie after Dillon Dube scored twice in the first period, leading Calgary to the victory in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Andersson scored on a rush with four minutes left in the second period, with the defenseman taking a strong shot and the puck skirting over the top of defenseman Andrej Sekera’s stick blade on its way to the net.

Cam Talbot stopped 24 shots for the Flames, including a power-play attempt by Joe Pavelski with 10 seconds left in the game.

Game 2 is Thursday.

Dallas got even in the second when Denis Gurianov and captain Jamie Benn scored in a nine-second span. Anton Khudobin had 23 saves for the Stars.

Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 1

EDMONTON, Alberta — Shea Theodore and William Carrier scored 2:17 apart midway through the second period, Robin Lehner made 19 saves against his former team, and Vegas beat Chicago in Game 1 of the teams’ Stanley Cup playoffs first-round matchup.

Reilly Smith scored twice in the third period as the top-seed in the Western Conference maintained its high scoring ways. The Golden Knights scored 15 goals in the three seeding games and didn’t slow down against the Blackhawks.

Game 2 is Thursday.

David Kampf scored short-handed for the Blackhawks in the second period thanks largely to the work of Brandon Saad forcing a turnover, but that was the extent of Chicago’s scoring.

Bruins, Hurricanes ppd.

TORONTO –As the Boston Bruins watched from their locker room at the Scotiabank Arena, waiting for the previous game to end so they could take the ice, the players began rooting for someone — anyone — to score.

And to think: They said these Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t have fans.

“Players were waiting around, wondering what was happening, encouraging both teams to shoot, get it over with,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after Boston’s playoff opener against the Carolina Hurricanes was postponed because the previous game had run into a fifth overtime.

“It’s unique all around this year,” Cassidy said on a conference call from the team hotel. “But to play a game at 11 o’clock [p.m.], I think they made the right call.”

The Bruins and Hurricanes, who had been scheduled to face off at 8 p.m. Tuesday, will instead play Game 1 of their best-of-seven series at 11 a.m. today.

The league announced the decision to postpone the game at 8:47 p.m., shortly after the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lighting ended their fourth overtime, still tied 2-2, “due to the length of the Lightning-Blue Jackets game.”

Brayden Point scored 10:27 into the fifth overtime to lift Tampa Bay to a 3-2 victory, ending the game at about 9:20 p.m. — almost six hours after it began. At 150 minutes, 27 seconds, it was the fourth-longest game in Stanley Cup playoff history.

Cassidy said that as it dragged on, he began to worry what the ice condition would be after more than 140 minutes of hockey. And he worried whether his players, who had been waiting at the rink since 5 p.m., would be fatigued for a game that could start at 11 p.m. or later. (The NHL had originally hoped for 90 minutes between games.)

“It’s obviously strange, to wait that long and find out you may or may not play,” Cassidy said. “Then you starting thinking: Is it productive to play at that time at night?”

Cassidy said he and his coaching staff watched in their designated bunker and tried to stay out of the way of the Lightning and Blue Jackets, as well as the crews that were cleaning the floors between periods.

“We’re actually crossing paths with the Tampa and the Columbus coaches. … It’s a very interesting dynamic,” Cassidy said. “It’s playoffs. You want to respect their space and time.”

Carolina’s social media staff stayed busy, tweeting: “Hey @NHL, not to tattle but we were supposed to play at 8:00 and the @BlueJacketsNHL and @TBLightning won’t get off the ice.”

And the Bruins tried to remain focused, too.

After going to the Stanley Cup Final last year, and losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games, Boston won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in hockey during the pandemic-shortened regular season. But the Bruins lost all three of their round-robin seeding games to fall to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Cassidy acknowledged on Monday, “The first game … it can’t come soon enough.”

Now he’ll have to wait even one day longer than he expected.

“We were building our game toward having another playoff run. Now we’re ready to get going,” he said. “It’s disappointing we didn’t get to play tonight… but we’ll have the same emotion tomorrow. I firmly believe that. I think Carolina will be the same.”

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