PENGUINS 7, RANGERS 2
PITTSBURGH -- Igor Shesterkin toyed with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the regular season. The New York Rangers' goaltender even waved Sidney Crosby and company off the ice following a shutout victory in early April.
Fast forward a month and Shesterkin's swagger is suddenly gone. So, seemingly, is the Vezina Trophy favorite's confidence. Getting pulled twice in three days while the opposing crowd chants your name as puck after puck makes its way behind you into the net will do that.
And now the only thing Shesterkin and the Rangers are threatening to wave goodbye to is their once-promising season.
Crosby had a goal and three assists to become just the sixth player in NHL history to reach 200 career playoff points and the Penguins chased Shesterkin off the PPG Paints Arena ice once again in a dominant 7-2 victory on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in their NHL Eastern Conference first-round series.
The Penguins, limited to just four goals in four games by Shesterkin in the regular season, can close out the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
"I think we know we have a lot of work left," Crosby said. "When you're in a game like this, you know you're going to see the other team's best the next time."
New York Coach Gerard Gallant pledged to start the 26-year-old Shesterkin with the Rangers one loss away from elimination.
"He's the best goalie in the league," Gallant said.
Jake Guentzel, Jeff Carter, Danton Heinen, Mark Friedman and Mike Matheson also scored for the Penguins.
Pittsburgh third-stringer Louis Domingue, a 30-year-old journeyman, made 22 saves to win his third game of the series.
The victory was Coach Mike Sullivan's 44th of the playoffs, breaking a tie with former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma for most postseason wins in franchise history.
PANTHERS 3, CAPITALS 2, OT
WASHINGTON -- Sam Reinhart tied it late in regulation, Carter Verhaeghe scored his second of the game in overtime and the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers beat the Washington Capitals in Game 4 Monday night, tying the Eastern Conference first-round series at 2-2.
Verhaeghe scored 4:57 into overtime to keep the NHL's best regular-season team from getting pushed to the brink of elimination much earlier in the playoffs than expected. It's a best-of-three series now with Game 5 on Wednesday night at Florida.
The Panthers were just over two minutes away from facing the prospect of getting knocked out at home. Then, with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky pulled for an extra attacker, Reinhart collected a loose puck after it bounced off Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway and beat Ilya Samsonov with 2:04 remaining in the third period.
Bobrovsky stopped 14 of 16 shots. T.J. Oshie scored on the power play in the first, and Evgeny Kuznetsov put Washington ahead on a breakaway goal midway through the third.
AVALANCHE 5, PREDATORS 3
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Valeri Nichushkin scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:58 left, and the Colorado Avalanche became the first team to advance to the second round Monday night by finishing a sweep of the Nashville Predators in their Western Conference first-round series.
The Avalanche now are in the Western Conference semifinals for a fourth consecutive season and second in a row after sweeping their first-round opponent. They improved to 6-0 since the franchise relocated to Denver in 1995 from Quebec in best-of-seven series after winning the first three games with their fourth sweep in that span.
They now get to wait for either St. Louis or Minnesota.
Andre Burakovsky had a goal and two assists, Cale Makar added a goal and an assist, and Devon Toews added a goal for Colorado. Nathan MacKinnon sealed the victory with an empty-net goal on the man advantage with 55.9 seconds remaining.
Yakov Trenin scored twice for Nashville, which was swept for the first time in franchise history in its 15th playoff appearance.
FLAMES 4, STARS 1
DALLAS -- Rasmus Andersson scored Calgary's first power-play goal since early in the playoff opener, Jacob Markstrom had 34 saves and the Flames beat the Dallas Stars to even their Western Conference first-round series at 2-2.
Johnny Gaudreau converted a penalty shot with 12:13 left in the game to make it 2-0 Calgary, and later assisted on Elias Lindholm's third goal of the series as the Pacific Division champions regained home-ice advantage over the wild-card Stars. Mikael Backlund added an empty-netter in the final minute.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in Calgary, where the teams traded shutouts in the first two games while combining for only three total goals -- one of those an empty-netter at the end of the Stars' 2-0 win in Game 2. The series returns to Dallas on Friday night for the sixth game in the best-of-seven series.
Gaudreau was on a breakaway with just over nine minutes left when John Klingberg was penalized for hooking, and the 100-point scorer had a nifty move on the penalty shot to push the puck through the legs of Jake Oettinger, the 23-year-old goalie who had 50 saves.