Capitals fire coach Todd Reirden after 2 postseason letdowns
By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer
The Washington Capitals have fired coach Todd Reirden after a second consecutive first-round exit in the playoffs. General manager Brian MacLellan announced the move three days after the Capitals lost to former coach Barry Trotz’s New York Islanders in a five-game series. Washington opted to promote Reirden from the top assistant job and let Trotz leave rather than give him a raise after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. Reirden likely would have left to seek a head coaching position elsewhere. Trotz’s Islanders reached the second round of the postseason for a second consecutive season.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has undergone surgery to repair a left elbow injury. The team did not provide specifics on the nature of Malkin’s injury or when it occurred. The 34-year-old Malkin led the Penguins with 74 points during the regular season but was ineffective during a four-game loss to Montreal in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Malkin recorded just one assist during the series and had a minus-3 rating. The expected recovery time for Malkin is about a month, meaning he should be available whenever training camp for the 2020-21 season opens.
Penguins fire 3 assistants following quick playoff exit
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins’ qualifying round loss to the Montreal Canadiens cost assistant coaches Sergei Gonchar, Jacques Martin and Mark Recchi their jobs. The club opted not to renew the contracts for all three coaches after the fifth-seeded Penguins fell to the 12th-seeded Canadiens in four games. Head coach Mike Sullivan’s job is safe, but he will have to move forward with a new coaching staff after Pittsburgh lost in its opening-round postseason series for the second time in as many years.
GM Rutherford looks to retool after “puzzling” Pens exit
By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford says he still believes the championship window is open for his club but changes need to be made following a quick playoff exit. The Penguins were stunned in four games by the underdog Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round of the NHL playoffs. It marked the second straight early exit by Pittsburgh, which was swept by the New York Islanders in the first round in 2019. Rutherford said the team will need to get younger in the offseason. Goaltender Matt Murray and defenseman Justin Schultz will both likely leave in free agency.
Canadiens stun Penguins 2-0 to win qualifying round series
TORONTO (AP) — Artturi Lehkonen flipped a shot past Tristan Jarry with 4:11 remaining to lift the Montreal Canadiens to a stunning 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins that clinched their first playoff berth in three years. Paul Byron took advantage of a Pittsburgh turnover, darted behind the Penguins net and slipped a pass to Lehkonen in front. The 25-year-old Lehkonen found enough space between four Pittsburgh players to slip the puck into the open net. The Penguins mustered little down the stretch and Shea Weber added an empty-net goal in the final seconds as the 12th-seeded Canadiens captured the best-of-five qualifying round over fifth-seeded Pittsburgh in four games.
Petry’s goal in 3rd lifts Canadiens past Penguins again
TORONTO (AP) — Jeff Petry scored 5:33 into the third period as the Montreal Canadiens rallied from two goals down and beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in Game 3, pushing the Penguins to the brink of elimination in the best-of-five series. Shea Weber had a goal and two assists for Montreal, Paul Byron added a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Drouin also scored. Carey Price stopped 30 shots for the Canadiens. Montreal can advance to the normal first round with 16 teams with win in Game 4 on Friday. Patric Hornqvist, Jason Zucker and Teddy Blueger scored for fifth-seeded Pittsburgh, which led 3-1 after Blueger’s goal 5:34 into the second. Matt Murray finished with 27 saves.
Crosby leads Penguins past Canadiens 3-1; Series tied 1-1
TORONTO (AP) — Sidney Crosby, Jason Zucker and Jake Guentzel scored for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, tying the best-of-five qualifying series at one game apiece. Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored for the Canadiens. The Canadiens opened the series with a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday, but were flat from the start in Game 2 and never recovered. Game 3 is Wednesday night.
Healthy Penguins wary of upstart Canadiens as playoffs begin
By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
The Pittsburgh Penguins are healthy but wary heading into a playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens were the last team to qualify for the play-in tournament and feature a roster that’s long on youth and short on experience. Pittsburgh will have All-Star forward Jake Guentzel back after undergoing shoulder surgery on New Year’s Eve. The Penguins also have depth in goal with two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray and All-Star Tristan Jarry. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby is also expected to play after missing time during training camp with an undisclosed injury.
Usually the summertime for the National Hockey League means respite, reorganizing, and the frenzy of free agency that shakes up the rosters of all 31 NHL teams.
But in 2020, where everything in life has become unusual, 24 teams–including the Pittsburgh Penguins–are getting ready for a playoff run like never before.
Penguins color commentator (and two-time Stanley Cup champion) Phil Bourque talked to Matt Drzik on AM Beaver County to talk about the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, which begin August 1 and will include Game 1 of the best-of-5 series between the Pittsburgh Penguins (the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference) and Montreal Canadiens (#12).
Bourque spoke about the notion of this Cup run being tougher than any other in history, as the Pens will need 19 wins in order to hoist Cup #6 in franchise history. Phil also analyzed the return of Sidney Crosby to practice, the seemingly unending goalie controversy between Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry, and which player he believes will be the “x-factor” (for better or worse) for the Penguins as they traverse to Toronto for the playoffs.
Beaver County Radio will have all the coverage of the Pens’ playoff push, and Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Montreal will come your way on August 1; puck drop is set for 8:00 PM.
To hear the full interview with Matt and “The Ol’ 29er”, click on the player below!