The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to a strong start in the NHL playoffs.
The top seed in the Eastern Conference got early goals from four players — none of them named Nikita Kucherov or Steven Stamkos — before holding off the New Jersey Devils for a 5-2 victory Thursday night in Game 1 of the first-round series.
Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde scored, helping the Lightning build a 3-0 lead that New Jersey trimmed to one goal before Alex Killorn and Kucherov, who added an empty-netter with 1:12 remaining, finished off the win.
Taylor Hall scored an unassisted goal in the second period, then assisted on Travis Zajac’s power-play goal that trimmed the Devils’ deficit to 3-2 midway through third against Andrei Vasilievskiy, who had 29 saves for Tampa Bay.
Killorn’s shot over the glove of goalie Kevin Kincaid’s glove restored a two-goal lead before Kucherov, who led the Lightning with 100 points this season, ensured there would be no comeback.
Game 2 is Saturday at Amalie Arena.
at Boston 5, Toronto 1: Brad Marchand, David Backes and David Krejci each scored a power-play goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 26 shots in Boston’s Game 1 victory over Toronto.
David Pastrnak also scored for Boston, and Sean Kuraly bunted one out of the air and into the net over goalie Frederik Andersen to make it 4-1 with seven minutes gone in the third period. Krejci bounced it in off Andersen from behind to make it 5-1 after Toronto’s Nazem Kadri was thrown out of the game and given a five-minute major for an elbow to Tommy Wingels’ head.
Zach Hyman scored Toronto’s only goal, and Andersen made 35 saves.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Boston.
Columbus 4, at Washington 3, OT: Artemi Panarin scored 6:02 into overtime to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Panarin made an incredible individual move to drive by fellow Russian Dmitry Orlov and went backhand-to-forehand to beat Philipp Grubauer top shelf.
Game 2 is Sunday night in Washington.
Alexander Wennberg, Thomas Vanek and Seth Jones scored in regulation, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 27 shots for Columbus, which got two power-play goals to continue a strong trend since the trade deadline.
Wennberg left the game with an upper-body injury in the third period and didn’t return. Jones, son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, drew a penalty late in the third period, almost put the puck in his own net and tied it on the ensuing power play with 4:26 left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
Washington got two power-play goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov on Josh Anderson’s five-minute major penalty for boarding Michal Kempny and an even-strength goal on the rush in the third period by Devante Smith-Pelly. Grubauer, who got the nod to start over 2016 Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Braden Holtby, made 23 saves in his second career playoff start.
at Nashville 5, Colorado 2: Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period and Nashville rallied to beat Colorado in Game 1 of the first-round Western Conference series.
Pekka Rinne made 25 saves, including a handful on Colorado’s Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon.
Austin Watson had a goal and an assist for Nashville, which has won 11 straight over Colorado. Craig Smith and Colton Sissons scored a goal apiece, and Ryan Johansen had two assists.
Nikita Zadorov and Blake Comeau scored for Colorado.
Game 2 is Saturday in Nashville.