Derek Stepan gave some words of advice to his Arizona Coyotes teammates not used to the bright lights of playoff hockey. The time of year is different than usual, but the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs haven't lost any of their luster or penchant for surprises. After a qualifying round full of upsets, overtime heroics and comebacks, the traditional first round that starts Tuesday with 16 teams left is primed to feature even more entertainment and unpredictability.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' season was hanging by a thread from one of Jason Spezza's gloves when he dropped them to the ice to fight Dean Kukan. ''I just tried to spark the guys, just trying to show some desperation and have some push-back,'' Spezza said after Toronto's emotional comeback victory against Columbus he played a substantial role in. Spezza versus Kukan was fight No. 8 in the first week of the NHL playoffs, almost triple the total from the entire 2019 postseason combined.
Artturi Lehkonen broke a scoreless tie with 4:11 left in regulation and Carey Price stopped all 22 shots he faced Friday as the Montreal Canadiens posted a 2-0 win that eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in a qualifying round series in Toronto. Montreal, seeded 12th and last in the Eastern Conference, won the best-of-five series 3-1. The Canadiens' opponent in the upcoming first round has not been determined.