Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy added to his glittering resume as he shut-out the Florida Panthers 2-0 in Game 4 of their series, locking up a 4-0 series sweep.

It marks the sixth time Vasilevskiy has shut-out an opponent in a series-clinching win – the most in NHL history.

He also became the first player since at least 1955-56, when saves first started being tracked, to save at least 30 shots, allow no more than one goal, and earn the win in five consecutive games. 

The Lightning outscored the Panthers 13-3 for the series.

In Monday's game, Tampa Bay's home fans had to wait until the third period for the deadlock to finally be broken, as Pat Maroon got on the end of a Zach Bogosian assist, before Ondrej Palat sealed things with an empty-net goal with the clock winding down.

Speaking to post-game media, Lightning coach Jon Cooper highlighted how silly it was to question the quality of an all-time goaltender like Vasilevskiy after a tough start to their last series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I’m not so sure there’s much more I can say about [Vasilevskiy]," he said. 

"It’s funny how the playoffs are – five games into the Toronto series and you’re asking all these questions about what’s wrong with Vasilevsky.

"It's never a doubt in our locker room. A goalie's job, if you want to be elite, is to give your team a chance to win.

"When a goaltender gives your team a chance to win, it comes in a variety of ways. Tonight, it was that he wasn’t letting anything in. And we’ve seen that time and time again."

Tampa Bay's Alex Killorn added that it is a joy to take the ice next to a future Hall-of-Famer.

"It’s pretty cool to play with a player that I think will go down as one of the best goalies that’s ever played the game," he said. 

"That’s how you kind of gauge players – how they perform in big-time games – and he’s been nothing but tremendous in his game."

Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said while it was a tough pill to swallow, it was a tremendous learning experience for his side after winning their first playoff series since 1996 to earn a shot at the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup winners.

"They’re really good – I mean, they’re Stanley Cup champions for a reason," he said.

"Their evolution of how they were once a high-flying, kind of offensive team, and [now] they've found their recipe on how to win, and they stick with it.

"Obviously, we aspire to be them, and this was another learning experience for us. We need to be better."

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant assured his side can match the Carolina Hurricanes for physicality following a post-game scuffle, as the Rangers took a game back in their playoff series on Sunday.

As the buzzer sounded to end Game 3, a 3-1 win for the Rangers, Hurricanes forward Max Domi gave Rangers defenceman Ryan Lindgren a sudden cross-check.

The benches cleared and following the scuffle between the two teams on the ice, Gallant was also seen yelling at Hurricanes defenceman Tony DeAngelo, whose contract was bought out by the Rangers after a string of behavioural indiscretions.

While Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour declined to comment on the issue post-match - citing that he did not see the shot from Domi - a visibly upset Gallant was more forthright, stating the Rangers are well-equipped to provide receipts.

“I wasn’t happy with the bulls..t at the end of the game that they initiated,” Gallant said. “We didn’t do that when the games were close. They put their guys out, that’s fine. They want to play like that, we've got guys who can match that.”

After two losses on the road, the Rangers bounced back with an important win as the series returned to New York.

Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist while Igor Shesterkin stopped 43 shots, for New York's second win in their past 10 against the Canes.

Message-sending is the norm in playoff series but after the post-game scuffle, Gallant made it clear his side will not be pushed around.

“I don’t like it at the end of the game,” he said. “The game’s over. We still got four games with these guys. We got the guy who can handle all their guys if we want to.

"We didn’t do it like that, but Domi took a cheap shot at our defenceman. You've got a long memory. You think about things, like I said, [the shoe] might be on the other foot someday.”

St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube sent a veiled shot at Nazem Kadri, after the Colorado Avalanche defeated his team 5-2 to take Game 3 in their playoff series.

Kadri bowled over Blues starting goaltender Jordan Binnington less than seven minutes into the first period, forcing him to leave the game with a lower-body injury.

Binnington, who made three saves in as many attempts to that point, was replaced by Ville Husso, who stopped 19 of 23 shots.

Berube did not overtly blame Kadri for the collision following the defeat, but made reference to his notoriously frenetic and aggressive style.

"Look at Kadri's reputation," Beurbe said post-game. "That's all I've got to say.

"There are a lot of calls you can question. That's hockey. I'm not going to sit here and talk about calls, that weren't called or called, it's just not worth it.

"I can be disappointed but talking about it is not going to change it."

The Western Conference's first seed took a 2-1 series lead on the back of a Artturi Lehkonen brace and 29 saves from Darcy Kuemper.

Kadri, Logan O'Connor and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for the Avalanche, who bounced back from a 4-1 loss on their home ice on Thursday.

The Tampa Bay Lightning's Ross Colton admittedly could not believe his eyes when he scored the winning goal against the Florida Panthers in a 2-1 victory, to take a 2-0 lead in their playoff series.

Colton was called onto the ice with under a minute remaining in the third period and the score locked at 1-1, but abandoned caution and made his way towards the net as Nikita Kucherov retrieved the puck.

Kucherov found Colton as he approached the net with an astonishing backhand, no-look flick off the boards as the Panthers defence converged onto him, leaving Colton with the relatively simple finish to win the game.

Colton's look of near-bewilderment almost said as much but he confirmed his awe at the 28-year-old Russian's assist afterwards.

“I couldn’t believe he [Kucherov] got it on my stick,” Colton said. “I think when we went in the corner, I just said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ like 10 times because I honestly couldn’t believe he put it on my stick.

"When you’re on the ice with Kuch, you’ve got to be ready for anything. He’s got eyes in the back of his head, because I don’t even know how he could tell I was there."

The Lightning were relentless defensively against one of the NHL's best attacking teams this season, snuffing out four Panthers power plays, including one with under five minutes remaining.

While singling out Kucherov as a "special, special player", Lightning coach Jon Cooper asserted the defensive performance and ability to snatch games in clutch moments was a reflection of the team's character.

“No, I’m not surprised,” Cooper said. “I’m just surprised they waited until 3.8 seconds left to do it.”

In Thursday's other result, the St. Louis Blues evened up their series with the Colorado Avalanche, winning 4-1.

The Carolina Hurricanes needed a late equaliser to send Game 1 of their playoff series against the New York Rangers to overtime, where they would score the golden goal to win 2-1 in front of their home fans.

Filip Chytil put the Rangers ahead in the first period with his goal from an Alexis Lafreniere assist as they tried to pinch Game 1 on the road.

Behind another stout goaltending performance from Rangers star Igor Shesterkin, the 1-0 scoreline would hold all the way through the second period and deep into the last, when Sebastian Aho finally found the equaliser with less than three minutes left on the clock.

After Carolina fans waited nearly an hour of game time for their first goal, they only had to wait three minutes into overtime to get their second, as Ian Cole landed an optimistic shot past Shesterkin the winner.

Just his second goal in 104 postseason games, Cole said shooting was not on his mind when he received the puck.

"I was looking to pass it to someone," he said. "No one was really kind of anywhere dangerous – so I was like, 'Well, I guess I'll throw it on net and see what happens'.

"Hockey's a game of weird bounces, and it happened to go in. Not the prettiest, but we'll take it."

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour was proud of his side pulling through the way they did, but he acknowledged it felt like they got out of jail.

"Kudos to our guys, they got it going in – it certainly was a good third period," he said.

"[But] we're not going to get away with that. Not playing two periods and expect to win a game — especially at this time of year against that team.”

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant felt his team did not get the reward for their play, going as far as saying their first two periods were as good as they had played all season.

"They put a big push on in the third period in the first 10 minutes, and we weathered that storm," he said.

"But the first two periods was perfect hockey for us... I thought it was our best game of the year, I really did."

Game 2 will remain in Carolina on Friday before heading to Madison Square Garden in New York for Game 3 and Game 4.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was the hero as the Tampa Bay Lightning boosted their three-peat bid by winning 4-1 over the Florida Panthers in Game 1 in second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Lightning beat the Panthers in the first round of last year's playoffs 4-2 after going 2-0 up in the series and Tuesday's win got them halfway there in this year's Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was full of praise for 27-year-old Vasilevskiy, who made 34 saves as the Lightning fired in three third-period goals to get the win.

Vasilevskiy's 34 saves are the most he has had in a game this postseason, while he has stopped 94 of 99 shots over the past three games.

"Look at the saves he makes at the times we need them," said Cooper in his 124th playoff game with the Lightning.

"To me, that's what great goaltenders do and they give you a chance to win a hockey game and that’s what our guy did again tonight."

Nikita Kucherov, who scored a goal and had an assist, also hailed the Russian goaltender.

"He brings 100 per cent effort every single game and everybody's just trying to take his energy and bring it to your game," Kucherov said.

"He's a leader ... he's our best player."

Florida had taken the lead through Anthony Duclair in the first period but the Lightning hit back with four unanswered goals from Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Kucherov and Ross Colton to take the win.

"We're still learning and unfortunately we had to learn again tonight. We will be better next game," Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette said.

"They are too good of a team, a veteran team, and they're not going to open the door for you. We had our opportunities. On to the next game."

The Vegas Golden Knights have fired head coach Pete DeBoer.

DeBoer's exit was announced on Monday and comes after the Golden Knights failed to make the playoffs for the first time in their brief history.

He replaced Gerard Gallant in January 2020 and led the Golden Knights to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the Dallas Stars in five games.

They progressed to the Stanley Cup semi-finals the following season, losing in six games to the Montreal Canadiens, but a 43-31-8 record in 2021-22 meant the Golden Knights missed the playoffs having reached the postseason in each of their first four campaigns after joining the NHL in 2017. 

"We would like to thank Pete DeBoer for his commitment to the Vegas Golden Knights over the past three seasons," said Vegas Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon.

"Since joining the organisation, Pete and his staff have guided us through some of the most unique and challenging circumstances we've witnessed since our franchise entered the NHL.

"After lengthy discussions over the last two weeks, we believe that a new coach will put us in the best position to succeed next season."

DeBoer had a 98-50-12 record with the Golden Knights in the regular season.

Star winger Artemi Panarin proved the difference in Game 7 for the New York Rangers, with his goal in overtime clinching a 4-3 win and the series on Sunday.

Overtime seemed fitting for what has been such a tight series, and the 30-year-old Russian put the Rangers up in rare circumstances, shooting through a wall of Penguins players in a power-play to score.

It was the third-straight come-from-behind victory in the series for New York, who tied the game with 5:45 left in regulation via Mika Zibanejad.

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant felt the conditions did not suit Panarin but he had the requisite skill to save his side when it mattered most.

"He's the guy, when it gets to overtime, I said to myself that he was going to score," Gallant said after the win. "If we get the winning goal, it's going to be him. Sure enough, he makes a great play.

"You know what? Honestly, the ice wasn't great tonight. The puck was bouncing and it affects his game more than the other guys. People get frustrated at times. I think we saw a little of that.

"I just thought he wasn't having his best night. He tried hard, he competed and got some pucks out. He usually makes a lot of plays and tonight it just wasn't there, but you just get a feeling with a guy like him that he can do that for you. And that's what he does."

The Penguins were bolstered by the return of Sidney Crosby after he missed Game 6 with an upper-body injury, caused by a hit from Jacob Trouba. The visitors equalised on a power-play following a penalty for high-sticking from Trouba and though they hit the lead, could not manage to see the series out.

In Sunday's other result, Johnny Gaudreau's goal in overtime secured the series for the Calgary Flames against the Dallas Stars, moving to the second round with a 3-2 win.

Nick Paul scored twice, including a stunning individual goal late in the second period, as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions came from a goal down in the previous two games, and had to do it again on the road at the Scotiabank Arena after Thursday's overtime win to level the series.

Morgan Reilly scored for Toronto but Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped an eventual 29 shots to keep the Lightning in the game, before Paul's brace secured the series win.

The Leafs were condemned to their seventh consecutive playoff series loss, and have not made the second round since 2004. After the match, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe commended the reigning champions on their series win.

"They [Tampa Bay] don’t get a lot of credit because you don’t really think of them this way, but we knew coming into this series that going into third periods down against this team was going to be a challenge," he said post-game.

"They are the number-one team in the NHL when it comes to limiting chances against when up a goal in the third period. All regular season, they were that.

"That is sort of the hallmark of their success. That is championship hockey. They didn’t give us a great deal in that third period tonight. Those are the things I take away - just how hard they defend and how they prioritise defending."

In Saturday's other results, the Carolina Hurricanes won their series-deciding game at home to the Boston Bruins 3-2, while the Edmonton Oilers claimed Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings with a 2-0 win.

Florida Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said his side's fighting spirit was key in a series comeback against the Washington Capitals, culminating in Friday's 4-3 victory in overtime.

It was the Panthers' third straight win after falling down 2-1 in the series, and Game 6 was closely contested throughout.

After a scoreless first period, Nic Dowd opened the scoring for the Capitals, before Ryan Lomberg answered straight back to keep things at 1-1 heading into the last frame.

Nicklas Backstrom put the home side back in front, but the 'Comeback Cats' would not lay down, with Claude Giroux and Aleksander Barkov giving the Panthers a 3-2 lead.

In the closing stages, after the Capitals had pulled their goalie to get an extra attacker on the ice, T.J. Oshie found the equaliser to send the crowd into raptures and force overtime.

But this was the Panthers' night, and Carter Verhaeghe slotted the golden goal less than three minutes into the extra period to win the game and seal the series.

It is the first time the Panthers have won a playoff series since 1996, and Brunette said the performance epitomised their season.

"I think it's what we saw all year – the resiliency of the group," he said.

"People will say we're the 'Comeback Cats' – I'm not sure that's what I see – I see a group of guys that get hit, and they don't fall down, and they start hitting back. 

"They showed that throughout the whole series, they showed it tonight. 

"We gave up a late goal – it was a heart-breaking moment that could really affect you and can kill momentum – but again, we took the punch, we stood up, and we started punching back. It epitomises the whole season for us."

Asked if finally getting an elusive series win takes the pressure off his players, Brunette said he hopes it is the case.

"I hope [the series win takes the monkey off the Panthers' backs] – especially for the guys that have been here for a while," he said.

"It probably feels really good, because they put a lot of pressure on themselves – probably too much – throughout the course of the series. They were able to find a way and pull through it.

"I think as the series went on I felt they loosened up a little bit. We were a little nervous at home the other night, but they found their mojo and got going. 

"These things – you've got to go through them a few times to really get the feel of it. You have to have heartbreaks, you have to have things not go your way, to find out how hard it is, and understand it, and be resilient. 

"When you see the reward like they did tonight, it's all worth it."

New York Rangers center Filip Chytil said his side were determined to keep their season alive as they came from a two-goal deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 at Madison Square Garden.

Trailing 3-1 in the series heading into the clash, the Rangers were hanging on by a thread after goals from Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang had the Penguins leading 2-0 eight minutes into the second period.

But the Rangers were not going out that way in front of their home fans, rattling off three goals in under three minutes courtesy of Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere and Jacob Trouba, although Guentzel's second tied it up at 3-3 going into the last period.

Chytil sent the crowd into raptures with a power-play goal just three minutes into the period, before Ryan Lindgren put the game to bed in the closing seconds.

Speaking afterwards, Chytil said there was a desperation to not go out with a whimper after being outscored 14-6 in the past two fixtures played in Pittsburgh.

"We were not happy with what happened in Pittsburgh," he said. "We just didn’t play the whole season [the] way that we played, just [to] lose games like this in Pittsburgh.

"So we just had a good meeting, good practice yesterday, and we just believed today that we’re gonna win and we’re gonna go back to Pittsburgh.

"We believed, because we should have done more… we turned momentum to our side, and that was what we need."

Fellow goalscorer Lafrieniere was also complimentary of his team for the way they handled the pressure.

"We played a good 60 minutes," he said. "We defended well and played a good all-around game.

"We did a good job of staying calm. We have to keep it going and win Game 6 – [but] we played a really good one when we needed it most."

Making matters even worse for the Penguins is the fact that Sidney Crosby was forced to leave the game after suffering an injury in the second period, with Guentzel putting it plainly how important he is to the team and the gaping hole that will be left if he cannot get up for Game 6.

"We never want to see a player like that leave, but we have to find a way," Guentzel said. "[Crosby] is the best player in the world. That's a lot of minutes other guys have to take up. Next man up."

Game 6 will head back to Pittsburgh, and if the Rangers can win it, they will earn a Game 7 at home.

Auston Matthews says his game-winner was "pretty special" after the Toronto Maple Leafs battled back from two goals down to win 4-3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL playoffs on Tuesday.

The Maple Leafs trailed 2-0 after the first period but rallied with Matthews settling the contest with their third goal in the third period.

The win means Toronto lead 3-2 in the best-of-seven series against the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

"It was pretty special," Matthews told reporters, speaking about the goal. "To battle back from down two goals, and never losing hope and competing, that was big."

Matthews led the NHL across the regular season with 60 goals but he had not scored in the playoffs since Game 1 of the series.

Teammate John Tavares, who pulled one back during the second-period power play, praised the NHL's back-to-back Rocket Richard Trophy winner Matthews, who was also credited with seven hits.

"His whole game is all just really good," Tavares said. "When you score 60 goals, that's going to get [discussed], and how he scores it in different ways and the uniqueness of his shot in his abilities, but his all-around game is as good as anybody's in the league.

"He's going to play hard and compete because they're making it hard on him to earn his ice and opportunities, so good for him to play them hard."

The victory means Toronto are one win away from the franchise's first playoff series victory since 2004.

"I just think we needed to possess the puck a little bit more," Matthews said. "Get on top of them and be forechecking and not giving them as much time and space. We were on top of them and had our heads up to make plays."

Elsewhere, Adrian Kempe's over-time goal earned the Los Angeles Kings a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers, having blown a 3-1 lead.

The goal was Kempe's second of the game, as he finished with a three-point performance. The result puts the Kings up 3-2 in the series.

The Carolina Hurricanes also moved up 3-2 in their series against the Boston Bruins with an emphatic 5-1 win after losing their past two.

Rookie Seth Jarvis scored twice and Antti Raanta finished with 34 saves.

The St Louis Blues piled on three third-period goals, all from a Vladimir Tarasenko hat-trick, to secure a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild to lead their series 3-2.

Patrick Marleau, the NHL's all-time leader in games played, is officially retiring after 23 seasons. 

The 42-year-old Marleau, who spent 21 seasons with the San Jose Sharks while also playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins, announced his decision on Tuesday in a piece he wrote in the Players' Tribune. 

"It's bittersweet for sure, but I have so much to look forward to," Marleau wrote. "Who knows what the world has in store for me?

"If you would have told that kid on the frozen pond that he would break a games-played record held by none other than Gordie Howe, he would have thought you were crazy.

"It was never something I aimed for; it was just me loving this game so much that I never, ever wanted to hang up my skates." 

Marleau broke Howe's games-played record of 1,767 on April 19, 2021, and finished his career with 566 goals, 631 assists and 1,197 points in 1,779 games. 

The second overall pick of the 1997 draft by the Sharks, Marleau is the most decorated player in franchise history, holding club records for games played, goals, points, power-play goals, short-handed goals and shots.

He made his NHL debut in 1997 and spent his first 19 seasons with San Jose before joining Toronto in 2017. 

During his time with the Sharks, Marleau helped the club capture six division titles and earn 17 playoff berths, although San Jose lost to Pittsburgh in six games in his only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016. In 195 playoff games, Marleau amassed 72 goals and 55 assists for 127 points. 

Marleau played in his final game almost one year ago on May 12, 2021, sitting out the 2021-22 season after not signing with a team. 

The Florida Panthers twice came back from a one-goal deficit to defeat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime, tying the series at 2-2.

Heading into the contest trailing 2-1, and playing on Washington's home ice, the Panthers were put on the back foot early after T.J. Oshie opened the scoring in the first period.

Carter Verhaeghe tied things up less than 10 minutes later, before Evgeny Kuznetsov put the Capitals back in front in the third period off an assist from legendary teammate Alex Ovechkin.

With just over two minutes to play, Sam Reinhart tied it at 2-2 to force an extra period, where Verhaeghe would slot the winner five minutes in to steal the game on the road.

Speaking to post-game media, two-goal hero Verhaeghe said the result adds to the belief of what this team – dubbed the 'Comeback Cats' – can accomplish.

"We wanted to come in and have our best game of the series, and I think we did a pretty good job," he said.

"It’s just kind of a building block. We know we have another level to get to, and we’re a great team, so I think it’s just building some confidence."

Fellow goal-scorer Reinhart added that the backs-to-the-wall nature of the battle was everything he enjoyed as a competitor.

"Those are the kind of situations you want to be in as a hockey player," he said. "It’s a game that can really go either way at the end of it – we stuck with it, and we’re happy with the result."

Washington's Ovechkin – a three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner for league MVP – was clear about the next course of action, and not overreacting to a painful loss.

"At the end, it was bad bounces and it goes in," he said. "It is going to be a tough, long series, so move on. Forget about it, move on."

It was much smoother sailing for the Colorado Avalanche, beating the Nashville Predators 5-3 to sweep their series 4-0. J.T Compher and Cale Makar both collected a pair of assists each for the Avalanche.

The Pittsburgh Penguins received a vintage performance from future Hall-of-Famer Sydney Crosby as he slotted one goal and dished two assists in his side's 7-2 win against the New York Rangers, taking a 3-1 series lead in the process.

Lastly, the Calgary Flames won a crucial Game 4 on the road against the Dallas Stars 4-1 to tie their series at 2-2, despite Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger making 50 saves.

The New York Islanders have fired Barry Trotz as head coach after a disappointing 2021-22 season.

Trotz spent four years in New York, and reached the playoffs in each of his first three, but the Islanders have struggled this season, ending in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 37-35-10.

A statement on the organisation's website on Monday simply read: "New York Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello announced today that Barry Trotz has been relieved of his duties as Head Coach."

Trotz was brought in by the Islanders in 2018 having just won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals, but he was unable to repeat the feat in New York.

They were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the playoffs in 2018-19, though Trotz won the Jack Adams Award for the second time in his career that year, having also won it with the Capitals in 2016.

The Islanders were beaten by the Tampa Bay Lightning in each of the next two seasons, who went on to win the Stanley Cup on both occasions.

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