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Caps top Jackets again, even series at 2

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Game 4 lacked the intensity of the three before it, and no overtime heroics were necessary. Instead, the workmanlike Washington Capitals turned in their most complete game of the playoffs, putting away the Columbus Blue Jackets to tie their series at two games apiece.

Not that the Blue Jackets did themselves any favors in the 4-1 loss Thursday night. They came out flat, squandered an early power play, surrendered pucks in the neutral zone and couldn't seem to get any traction until late in the game.

Columbus had overcome deficits to win the first two games in Washington. When the series shifted to Columbus on Tuesday, the Capitals prevailed on a lucky bounce in double-overtime.

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Bruins beat Maple Leafs to take 3-1 lead

TORONTO (AP) Facing an opponent missing arguably its best player in front of a raucous home crowd, the Toronto Maple Leafs felt pretty good heading into their Game 4 matchup with the Boston Bruins.

Less than three hours later, they had been pushed to the brink of playoff elimination.

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Doughty, Hedman, Subban up for Norris

NEW YORK (AP) Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators are the finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman.

The winner will be announced June 20 at the NHL Awards shows in Las Vegas.

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Pens hope to close out desperate Flyers

There is a swirl of discussion over the availability of a few key players for Game 5 of the first-round playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

This much, though, is certain: The Penguins, who hold a 3-1 series lead, can wrap things up and move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a win Friday at PPG Paints Arena.

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Jets try to eliminate Wild in Game 5

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Nobody needs to tell Winnipeg Jets fans what happened the last time their team had a 3-1 lead in a playoff series.

After Dave Ellett scored in double overtime in Game 4 of their first-round matchup against the Edmonton Oilers in 1990, Jets 1.0 went on to lose three consecutive games, continuing their decade-long heartbreak against their hated rival.

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Avs down to 3rd goalie in must-win game

Give the Colorado Avalanche credit for putting up a gallant fight in their first-round Western Conference series with the Nashville Predators. In fact, Colorado came within a post of forcing overtime in Game 4 and possibly evening the series Wednesday night.

But Colin Wilson's point-blank chance clanged off the right post, enabling Nashville to leave Denver with a 3-2 victory and a 3-1 series lead. The Predators can eliminate the Avalanche on Friday night with a win in Game 5 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

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Devils D Vatanen listed as day to day

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The New Jersey Devils are not sure whether top defenseman Sami Vatanen is going to be available for Game 5 of their first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Vatanen is listed as day to day with an upper-body injury after being hurt on a big hit by Nikita Kucherov in a 3-1 loss Wednesday night that put the Devils within a game of elimination. The 26-year-old Finn did not make the trip to Florida on Thursday, but he might join the team there.

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Preds' Hartman banned for Game 5 vs. Avs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The NHL has suspended Nashville Predators forward Ryan Hartman for Game 5 against the Colorado Avalanche for an illegal check to the head of Carl Soderberg.

The league's Department of Player Safety issued the suspension Thursday after a hearing.

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Sweep puts Knights in rare company

As an expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights have defied all sorts of odds.

Long shots to even make the playoffs seven months ago, they are a favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup in June. Behind the stellar play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the Golden Knights completed a sweep of the Los Angeles Kings to move into the second round against San Jose.

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Sharks finish sweep of Ducks, Vegas next

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Very little separated San Jose and Anaheim in the regular season, with the Ducks edging out the Sharks by one point for second place in the Pacific Division.

Their first-round series wasn't nearly as competitive.

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