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Blackhawks power into 2nd round Ducks advance

CHICAGO, April 28, (Agencies): Jonathan Toews ignited a four-goal final period for Chicago as the defending champion Blackhawks defeated St. Louis 5-1 Sunday to reach the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs. The victory gave Chicago a four-games-to-two triumph in the Western Conference best-of-seven opening-round series. The Blackhawks will next face either Colorado or Minnesota, with Colorado owning a 3-2 edge in that series entering game six Monday. Toews scored 44 seconds into the third period to give Chicago a 2-1 edge following first-period goals from the Blackhawks’ Bryan Bickell and the Blues’ T.J. Oshie. Just 77 seconds after Toews scored, Patrick Sharp put Chicago ahead 3-1. Andrew Shaw and Duncan Keith added goals to complete the scoring for the Blackhawks.

Chicago dropped the first two games of the series in overtime before rallying to take the last four. It was an ugly repeat of last season’s playoffs for the Blues, who took a 2-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the first round only to lose four in a row and squander that series.

Ducks 5, Stars 4 (OT)
In Dallas, the Anaheim Ducks advanced to the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs for the first time in five years, using a furious third period rally to beat Dallas 5-4 in overtime. Nick Bonino scored the game winner 2:47 into overtime after the Ducks equalized by scoring twice late in the third period to eliminate the Dallas Stars and win their best-of-seven series 4-2. “We stuck with it and we found a way to do it,” said Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen. Bonino also scored one of Anaheim’s two goals late in the third period to level Sunday’s contest. The Stars appeared to be cruising to a victory with just over two minutes left when the Ducks’ offense struck, scoring twice in the final 2:10 of regulation. Bonino scooted out from behind the net and rifled a shot from in close over the shoulder of Stars’ netminder Kari Lehtonen to make it 4-3.

Devante Smith-Pelly scored from a mad scramble in front of Finland’s Lehtonen to force the extra session with just 24 seconds remaining. In overtime, Bonino moved into the slot and hammered a shot past Lehtonen after taking a pass from Andrew Cogliano. Allen said they are relieved to be through to the second round. “It is an emotional thing,” Allen said. “It doesn’t matter who you are playing. There is so much parity in the league that no matter who you play, you are going to get all you can handle.” Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief of rookie Frederik Andersen, who was pulled for the second time in this series after allowing four goals on just 12 shots. Trevor Daley had two goals for Dallas who were making their first playoff appearance since 2008.

Anaheim, the Western Conference’s top seed, is hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s post-season, when they failed to live up to expectations. Anaheim lost in the opening round of the playoffs in seven games to the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings beat the Ducks in Detroit in game six then won in Anaheim in game seven. The Ducks’ win over Dallas broke a string of five home ice victories in the series. Anaheim won games one, two, five and six to take the series. In 2009, the Ducks beat San Jose in the first round before losing to Detroit in seven games.

Rangers 4, Flyers 2
In New York, Brad Richards and Dominic Moore scored second-period goals, and Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves as the Rangers pushed the Flyers to the brink of elimination. Defenseman Marc Staal gave the Rangers the lead in the first period and they extended it in the second in taking a 3-2 edge in the first-round series. Game 6 is Tuesday in Philadelphia. If necessary, a deciding seventh game would be back at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. The teams have alternated wins the entire series. New York clinched this one on Brian Boyle’s empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining.

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