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NHL playoffs: Panthers, Rangers rebound to tie series; Avs, Stars win

Washington Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek stops a shot on goal by Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe.
Washington Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek stops a shot by Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe during the second period of Game 2 of a Stanley Cup first-round playoff series on Thursday in Sunrise, Fla.
(Marta Lavandier / Associated Press)
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Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist and the Florida Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Thursday night to even the Eastern Conference first-round series at a game apiece.

Aaron Ekblad, Anton Lundell and Mason Marchment also scored for Florida, the top overall seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots.

Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington. Vitek Vanecek gave up five goals on 19 shots in the first two periods, and Ilya Samsonov went into the Capitals’ net for the third period — stopping all 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes.

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The series shifts to Washington, with Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday night.

It was just Florida’s sixth win in its last 19 home playoff games going back to 1996, and matched the biggest victory margin in franchise playoff history. Florida beat Boston 6-2 in Game 2 of the first round of the 1996 playoffs, the season in which the Panthers went to the Stanley Cup final, and won 5-1 in Pittsburgh later that season in the East finals.

Rangers 5, Penguins 2

NEW YORK — Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and two assists and New York beat Pittsburgh in Game 2 to tie the series.

Chris Kreider, Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome also scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin made 39 saves two nights after stopping 79 shots in a triple-overtime loss in Game 1.

Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, and Jake Guentzel also scored for the Penguins. Louis Domingue, getting the start after replacing the injured Casey DeSmith in the second overtime of Game 1, finished with 34 saves.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

Avalanche 2, Predators 1, OT

DENVER — Cale Makar scored 8:31 into overtime, Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves on his 32nd birthday and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 to take a 2-0 series lead.

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Makar got the rebound in the middle of the offensive zone and lined it through traffic to touch off the celebration.

Nathan MacKinnon also scored for Colorado, which faced a more intense Nashville defense after winning 7-2 in Game 1. The Predators blocked 34 shots.

The series moves to Nashville for Game 3 on Saturday.

Yakov Trenin scored for Nashville.

Both teams struggled on the power play, going a combined 0 for 8. There were a combined 110 hits.

The first period was vastly different for the Predators than Game 1, when they allowed five goals. This time, they outshot the Avalanche by an 11-8 margin.

Trenin tied the game 1-1 with 4:41 left in the first. He celebrated by jumping into the boards behind the goal.

MacKinnon scored the first goal on the game’s first shot 5:25 into the action. He lined in a shot to the stick side of Ingram on a mini-breakaway. MacKinnon has 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 52 career playoff games.

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Stars 2, Flames 0

CALGARY, Canada — Jake Oettinger made 29 saves and got his first postseason shutout in his second career playoff start to lift the Dallas Stars over the Calgary Flames 2-0 to even their series at a game each.

Joe Pavelski scored and Michael Raffl added an empty-net goal for the Stars.

The best-of-seven conference quarterfinal series heads to Dallas for Saturday’s Game 3 and Monday’s Game 4 at American Airlines Arena. The Flames opened the series with a 1-0 win Tuesday.

Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 of 22 shots.

The Flames outshot the Stars 12-7 in the third period. Raffl scored into an empty net with 1:09 remaining.

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