PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins sent a message in their playoff opener.

The Penguins captain got his third career postseason hat trick, Evgeni Malkin added a highlight-reel goal and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions rolled over the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 on Wednesday night to take quick control of their first-round series.

Crosby batted a shot out of midair and past Philadelphia goalie Brian Elliott in the second period for his first goal, tapped in one from the doorstep against Petr Mrazek 7:41 into the third and then deflected in another just over three minutes later as the Penguins dominated their cross-state rivals from the opening faceoff of Game 1.

Jake Guentzel had a goal and three assists, and Bryan Rust and Carl Hagelin also scored. Matt Murray stopped 24 shots for his third straight playoff shutout.

Game 2 is Friday night in Pittsburgh.

Elliott stopped 14 of 19 shots and was pulled in favor of Mrazek after Crosby’s latest bit of wizardry pushed Pittsburgh’s lead to 5-0 just 9:01 into the second. Mrazek wasn’t much better, getting beaten by Crosby twice more as Philadelphia’s return to the playoffs after a one-year absence started with a thud.

The Penguins built on their regular-season dominance against the Flyers, after beating them in all four meetings, scoring five goals each time.

Game 1 didn’t go any better for the Flyers.

JETS 3, WILD 2: Defenseman Joe Morrow broke a tie with 6:13 left and Winnipeg won at home for the first playoff victory in franchise history.

In its only other playoff appearances since joining the NHL in 1999 in Atlanta, the franchise was swept in 2007 by the New York Rangers and 2011 by Anaheim.

Nikolaj Ehlers set up Morrow at the point for a one-timer that beat goalie Devan Dubnyk. Morrow was acquired at the trade deadline from Montreal in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick this summer.

Mark Scheifele, with a power-play goal, and Patrik Laine also scored for Winnipeg, and Connor Hellebuyck made 18 saves.

Matt Cullen and Zach Parise scored for Minnesota, and Dubnyk stopped 37 shots.


THE NHL AWARDS will remain in Las Vegas the next three years, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday night before the Vegas Golden Knights opened the playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings.

The awards will be held Wednesday, June 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, also the 2016 venue.

Additionally, the NHL and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced a multi-year partnership extension, making this the 10th year of a partnership between Las Vegas and the NHL, and the ninth time the league will honor its players in Las Vegas.

THE NHL EXPANSION effort in Seattle took another step forward, with Tod Leiweke named president and CEO for the prospective club.

The move is not a surprise considering Leiweke’s background in the market and his experience with the NHL. Leiweke served as president of the Seattle Seahawks from 2003-10 before taking over running the Tampa Bay Lightning. He left the Lightning in 2015 to become the COO of the NFL, a position he left earlier this year.

Leiweke is the brother of Tim Leiweke, the CEO of Oak View Group. Oak View is heading the redevelopment of KeyArena, which would serve as the home for a new team. The group is seeking to have a team awarded in time to begin play in 2020.

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