Two teams donning the black and red sent their opponents home, as the Ottawa Senators ousted the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks dispatched the Minnesota Wild. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins rebounded with a change-up between the pipes. This and more in Thursday's top stories from the NHL playoffs:
1. Ottawa had to shake its demons to do it, but it got over that first-round hump. The Senators put the finishing touches on their series win over the Montreal Canadiens with a 6-1 romp in Game 5. It's the first time in six years the Sens advanced past the Eastern Conference quarter-finals and the players are already pumped for the semis. Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj stepped in for starter Carey Price, who topped the list of key injuries that includes captain Brian Gionta and forwards Brandon Prust and Ryan White. But some Habs fans kept their chins up, remaining optimistic for the near future.
2. Elimination night continued in Chicago as the Blackhawks sent the Minnesota Wild packing with a dominating 5-1 victory. Chicago is moving on for the first time since its Stanley Cup win in 2010. Captain Jonathan Toews earned his first two points of the post-season and goalie Corey Crawford made 21 saves for his first playoff series victory. His counterpart Josh Harding was chased after three goals and third-string goalie Darcy Kuemper filled in as the Wild head into the off-season with uncertainty in net.
3. The Tomas Vokoun experiment proved successful in Pittsburgh. After starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's Game 4 meltdown, Vokoun backstopped the Penguins to a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders in Game 5. At the other end of the ice, captain Sidney Crosby made the highlight reel with this individual effort, and Norris Trophy candidate Kris Letang sent Tyler Kennedy off to the races. The Pens head back to New York on Saturday with a 3-2 series lead (7 p.m. ET).
4. Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis addressed the media after the team's first-round sweep. "Five years ago, we came in here and reset this organization, and it's time to do it again," he said in his press conference. But defenceman Kevin Bieksa believes the Canucks still have the same talent that took the club to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final. "I'm still a firm believer in what's going on here and the players we have and the staff we have," he said.
5. A busy Friday on the NHL playoffs schedule could also see the Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings eliminated from the first round. St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott isn't making any excuses for trailing the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in the series. Meanwhile, Toronto has some questions to answer on its blue-line against the Boston Bruins. Is this the end of the Maple Leafs' first post-season appearance in nine years? Will the Kings finish off the Blues to continue their quest for a repeat championship? Tune in to both games on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 6:30 p.m. ET).