Pens Take Series Lead Over Jackets
Pittsburgh — Jussi Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins topped the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Saturday night to take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which has the upstart Blue Jackets on the verge of elimination with an opportunity to close out the series Monday during Game 6 in Columbus.
It hasn’t been easy for the Penguins, a team considered by many a Stanley Cup contender. Columbus, which began the series searching for its first playoff win in franchise history, twice rallied to stun the heavily favored Penguins.
Boone Jenner scored the lone goal for Columbus, which played its first Game 5 in franchise history.
Caps Clean House
Washington — General manager George McPhee and coach Adam Oates lost their jobs with the Washington Capitals on Saturday, about two weeks after the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“We were left with the overall impression that the team wasn’t trending toward being able to compete for a Stanley Cup,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said in a news conference at the club’s arena. “And that was just a clear signal and why it was time to make those changes.”
McPhee’s contract was up and the team announced it will not give him a new one after his 17 years as the GM, which included drafting Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in the first round.
Oates was fired with one season left on his three-year deal. A former star player for the Capitals, he was in his first job as an NHL head coach.
Washington finished this season with the ninth-most points in the Eastern Conference, one spot out of a playoff berth.
Ovechkin has won three league MVP awards and again led the NHL this season with 51 goals, but the Capitals haven’t made it past the second round of the playoffs during the Russian wing’s career.
The Capitals reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1998, McPhee’s first year on the job, and were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Later, McPhee oversaw a “rebuild” ordered by Leonsis, including jettisoning top players with big contracts such as Jaromir Jagr.
While McPhee eventually built a young roster filled with offensive stars, he never placed as much emphasis on constructing a rugged, defensive-minded blue line crop. He hired a succession of coaches with zero previous NHL experience running a team, including Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, Dale Hunter and Oates.