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NHL playoffs: Blue Jackets and Islanders complete sweeps; Vegas inches closer to advancing

Columbus Blue Jackets’ Oliver Bjorkstrand, of Denmark, celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lig
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Oliver Bjorkstrand celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of Game 4.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

The Tampa Bay Lightning ended up on the wrong side of NHL history, getting swept in the first round of the playoffs after one of the best regular seasons ever.

The Columbus Blue Jackets capped a stunning sweep of the Presidents Trophy winners with a 7-3 victory Tuesday night. Tampa Bay became the first team in the expansion era, which began in 1967-68, to go winless in the first round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season.

And what a season it was. Tampa Bay tied the NHL record for wins with 62 and amassed 128 points, fourth in NHL history.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, didn’t clinch the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot until the 81st game. But they outplayed the Lightning with a smothering forecheck and stellar goaltending by Sergei Bobrovsky.

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Columbus advances to play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series, which the Maple Leafs lead 2-1.

Islanders 3, at Penguins 1: The New York Islanders’ turnaround season is heading to the second round of the playoffs.

Jordan Eberle scored for the fourth straight game, Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots and the Islanders finished off Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins with a clinical 3-1 win in Game 4 on Tuesday night to pull off a stunning sweep.

Josh Bailey set up Brock Nelson’s go-ahead goal late in the first period and added an empty-net score with 38 seconds remaining as the Islanders easily captured the franchise’s second playoff series victory in 26 years.

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The Islanders trailed for less than five minutes across four games against the Penguins, whose 13th straight postseason appearance ended quietly. Pittsburgh managed just six goals in the series, including Jake Guentzel’s first of the postseason 35 seconds into the game.

It wasn’t nearly enough to stop the Islanders. New York allowed the fewest goals in the league during the regular season, and then backed it up with 12-plus periods of sound hockey that’s quickly become their calling card under first-year coach Barry Trotz, who led the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season.

Jets 2, at Blues 1: Kyle Connor scored 6:02 into overtime and the Winnipeg Jets beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Tuesday night to tie their best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series at two games apiece.

Mark Scheifele also scored and Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves for the Jets, who arrived in St. Louis down 2-0. It is the only first-round series in which the home team has failed to win a game.

Game 5 is Thursday night back in Winnipeg.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored and Jordan Binnington made 36 saves for the Blues.

Connor ended it when he banged home a feed from Scheifele for his third goal in two games.

at Golden Knights 5, Sharks: Max Pacioretty had two goals and two assists, Marc-Andre Fleury earned his 15th playoff shutout and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-0 on Tuesday night for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference series.

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Vegas can eliminate the Sharks from the postseason for the second consecutive year on Thursday in San Jose.

Since losing Game 1 on the road, the Golden Knights have never trailed and they’ve outscored the Sharks 15-6.

Fleury, who made 28 saves and has stopped 87 of 93 shots in the last three games, improved his career goals-against average in the playoffs to 2.58.

Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas. Nate Schmidt and Reilly Smith each had two assists.


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