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Islanders vie for sweep of Panthers

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The New York Islanders will go for a sweep of their best-of-five Eastern Conference play-in series against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday afternoon, and they've enjoyed the ride so far.

The fun started in the NHL bubble in Toronto even before the Islanders' 2-1 and 4-2 victories, according to team captain Anders Lee. He organized a team-wide table tennis tournament to fill some spare time at the team hotel.

"It's been a fun thing," Lee said. "Everyone is involved. It's a good hang. We're enjoying our time with each other."


Pens, Canadiens ready for pivotal Game 3

There could be tweaks, of course, but don't look for Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan to make much in the way of changes going into Game 3 of his team's qualifying-round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday in Toronto.

After all, he stuck with the same goalie, Matt Murray, and the same lineup for Game 2 following a 3-2 overtime loss in the opener, and it paid off with a 3-1 win Monday that evened the best-of-five series.


Oilers aim for upper hand vs. Blackhawks

The template for the Edmonton Oilers, at least most of it, was on full display in their 6-3 win on Monday over the Chicago Blackhawks.

What remains to be seen with the series now tied at 1-1 is whether the Oilers can use the same blueprint the rest of the way when they meet the Blackhawks for Wednesday's Game 3 in their Western Conference qualifying-round series at Rogers Place, the Oilers' home arena which is serving as the host site for the West playoffs.


Hurricanes finish sweep of Rangers

TORONTO (AP) Sebastian Aho scored twice in the third period while James Reimer was strong in net to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Tuesday night and sweep the Stanley Cup qualifier series.

Warren Foegele scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period for the Hurricanes, redirecting a shot from the point by Brady Skjei to beat rookie Igor Shesterkin at 5:07 in the third. Then Aho followed with a highlight-reel goal about 5 1/2 minutes later, taking the puck from Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba along the boards and skating in on Tony DeAngelo to backhand the puck past Shesterkin as he went to his knees.


Monahan helps Flames to 2-1 lead on Jets

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Sean Monahan had a goal and two assists while Cam Talbot finished with 33 saves to help the Calgary Flames beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-2 in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup qualifier series Tuesday night.

Mikael Backlund, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm each had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 series. Milan Lucic and Matthew Tkachuk also scored goals for Calgary.


Canucks fend off Wild to even series

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Tuesday night to even their qualifying series at a win each.

Tanner Pearson scored 24 seconds into the game, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat also scored for the Canucks, and Jacob Markstrom made 32 saves. Minnesota won the series opener 3-0.


Leafs blank Jackets to tie series 1-1

TORONTO (AP) Auston Matthews and John Tavares scored and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on Tuesday to even their best-of-five qualifying series at one game.

Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin was taken off the ice on a stretcher with 1:52 left in the game after his head made violent contact with Columbus' Oliver Bjorkstrand behind the Blue Jackets net. Muzzin was attended to by a trainer before more medical personnel arrived on the ice. He was taken to a hospital, but there was no immediate word on his condition.


Preds win to even series with Coyotes

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) The Nashville Predators stumbled in their postseason opener by falling into an early hole, putting themselves in a must-win situation for Game 2.

Behind steady goaltending and a dedication to clogging shooting lanes, the Predators snatched the momentum back less than 24 hours before Game 3.


Goaltending key to Hurricanes' sweep

Petr Mrazek got the Carolina Hurricanes off to a strong start in net for the NHL's return to play, only to see James Reimer turn in an even better performance when it was his turn.

And that has the Hurricanes moving on in the expanded Stanley Cup playoffs with confidence in their goaltending after some question as to who might give them their best chance to win.


Captains Crosby, McDavid provide sparks

TORONTO (AP) The C's have it: Crosby and Connor, that is.

It didn't take long for the two captains - Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Edmonton's Connor McDavid - to make their presence felt three days into the NHL's expanded playoffs.