Guentzel scores four goals as Penguins eliminate Flyers

Jake Guentzel’s four goals led the Pittsburgh Penguins to victory against the Philadelphia Flyers. (AFP pic)

PHILADELPHIA: Jake Guentzel scored four goals and Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 8-5 to reach the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions Penguins will face either the Washington Capitals or the Columbus Blue Jackets in the next round. Washington leads the series 3-2.

American Guentzel scored four unanswered goals, including two just 10 seconds apart, as the Penguins ran away with the game in the third period to win the Eastern Conference Series four games to two.

“I was trying to be around the net and I was pretty fortunate to come out on the good end tonight,” said Guentzel, of Omaha, Nebraska. “It is a lot of fun right now and we are just trying to roll with it.”

Like Crosby, Patric Hörnqvist of Sweden tallied a goal and an assist and Matt Murray stopped 21 shots in front of a crowd of 19,800 at the Wells Fargo Center arena in Philadelphia.

The Penguins won without star forward Evgeni Malkin, who couldn’t play because of an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 5.

Sean Couturier, 25, did his best to try and keep the Flyers in the game. He had three goals, while Czech goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 20 saves.

Guentzel extended the Penguins’ lead to 6-4 at 12:48, before scoring his fourth goal 10 seconds later by finishing off a two-on-one with Hörnqvist.

Elsewhere, the Nashville Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-0 to win their series in six games and book a spot in the next round against the Winnipeg Jets.

Winnipeg eliminated the Minnesota Wild with a 5-0 win in game five on Friday.

The Predators will have home-ice advantage.

It is the third straight season that Nashville have advanced to the second round. They lost to the Penguins in six games in the Stanley Cup finals last season after being eliminated in seven games in the second round in 2016 by the San Jose Sharks.

The Predators went 3-1-1 against the Jets during the regular season.