Sports: NHL stars Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid going home after qualifying round upsets

NHL predictions: Here's how the qualifying round and Stanley Cup playoffs will unfold

  NHL predictions: Here's how the qualifying round and Stanley Cup playoffs will unfold After a break of nearly five months, the NHL will resume play Saturday with qualifying round games. Here's how we see the rest of the year unfolding.After all, who could have foreseen last season that the record-tying Tampa Bay Lightning would be swept in the first round or that the St.

When you invite extra teams to the party, anything can happen.

The NHL expanded the postseason field to 24 teams in a bid to make up for the fact that the regular season had to be cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

And continuing the trend of NHL playoff upsets, the No. 12-seeded Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks, who wouldn't have made the playoffs under normal circumstances, are advancing after victories in the qualifying round.

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Sidney Crosby et al. wearing costumes: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby congratulates Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price after Game 4. © Frank Gunn, AP Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby congratulates Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price after Game 4.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers are out, leaving stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Connor McDavid and likely MVP Leon Draisaitl sitting home when the first round starts next week.

“It’s a 3-of-5 (series). Anything can happen," Crosby told reporters. "We did some good things, but did we do enough? No, give them credit. They played pretty well.”

QUEST FOR THE STANLEY CUP: NHL schedule, results for qualifying round, round-robin play

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The latest on Day 1 of the National Hockey League's restart

  The latest on Day 1 of the National Hockey League's restart Here is the latest news on Day 1 of the National Hockey League's restart in Toronto and Edmonton. All times Eastern. --- 1:10 a.m. The Calgary Flames rode superior special teams to a 4-1 win over demoralized Winnipeg Jets to start their qualifying-round series. Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan produced power-play goals and Tobias Rieder scored shorthanded in the second. Andrew Mangiapane added an empty-net goal. Andrew Copp countered for the Jets in the first period. Cam Talbot made 17 saves for the win in his first playoff start with the Flames. --- 11:40 p.m.

The Penguins were the biggest shock because they managed to get healthier during the four-month break with the return of Jake Guentzel from injury. But they were stymied by goalie Carey Price and then by a strong defensive effort in Game 4.

"We knew if it's going to be a 24-team playoff, everybody's going to have a chance," said Artturi Lehkonen, who scored the winning goal for Montreal. "We showed up at camp ready to play."

The Blackhawks and Oilers played a run-and-gun series and while McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins combined for 23 points. Edmonton also made mistakes. They took a too many men on the ice penalty with two minutes left in Game 4.

"We made some critical mistakes at the wrong time and they went in the back of our net. ... It's frustrating because we expected better," Oilers coach Dave Tippett told reporters.

Of course, the NHL will still have plenty of star power in the playoffs because Alex Ovechkin, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, plus the defending champion St. Louis Blues earned byes during the qualifying round.

Price remains phenomenal and other lessons from the 5 vs. 12 qualifiers

  Price remains phenomenal and other lessons from the 5 vs. 12 qualifiers After startling Game 1 losses, the NHL's No. 5 seeds evened their play-in series in Game 2 on Monday night. Here are three lessons from Pittsburgh's 3-1 win over Montreal and Edmonton's 6-3 handling of Chicago. Price really is MTL's sole hope We'll address Connor McDavid's hat trick in short order. First, it's only fair to lavish a few paragraphs of praise on the hero of the earlier prime-time game: the Canadiens goaltender whose steadiness under siege went unrewarded.

Price and the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have advanced. And Auston Matthews and John Tavares remained alive after leading the Toronto Maple Leafs back from a third-period, three-goal deficit to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3, in overtime and force a Game 5 Sunday.

McDavid and Draisaitl are young and will have chances to win titles, but Crosby turned 33 on Friday and Malkin is 34. The Penguins were swept in the first round last year.

But Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is confident that this team remains elite.

“At some point, everyone’s window closes," he told reporters. "You can argue that with any team in the league, but I strongly believe that this group has a lot of elite hockey.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL stars Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid going home after qualifying round upsets

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Mike Milbury stepping away from NBC Sports role for rest of NHL playoffs after misogynistic comment .
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