Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander made Kari Lehtonen long for his safe spot on the bench. And the New York Rangers' top line needed less than a period to do it.
Lehtonen got the curious start over Johan Hedberg and then endured a thorough beating as the Rangers scored three times in the first period and cruised to a 7-0 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers that gave New York a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference playoff series on Tuesday night.
Nylander had his first playoff hat trick, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots in his first NHL playoff shutout for the Rangers.
Lehtonen was touched for all seven goals on 35 shots.
Jagr assisted on all three of Nylander's scores and they teamed to set up defenseman Marek Malik for another that made it 3-0 at 12:26. But Nylander had the quickest strike of all when he wired a shot under Lehtonen's shoulder 32 seconds after the opening faceoff on New York's initial shot.
Senators 2, Penguins 1
At Pittsburgh, light-scoring Anton Volchenkov sent a slap shot from the slot for a goal midway through the third period and the Ottawa Senators moved within one victory of eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ottawa takes a 3-1 lead into Game 5 tonight, where the teams split the first two games in the Eastern Conference first-round series.
Volchenkov, a defenseman, scored only once in 78 games during the season and had only one previous playoff goal, four years and a day before scoring his second. He has only nine goals in 229 career regular-season games.
Canucks 2, Stars 1
At Dallas, Trevor Linden shoveled a rebound past Marty Turco with 5:31 left in the third period and defenseman Willie Mitchell prevented a tie by sweeping a trickling puck off the goal line for the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver leads the series 3-1 and can advance to the second round -- and avoid a return trip to Texas -- with a victory at home tonight.
Dallas is in jeopardy of being eliminated in a five-game, first-round series for the third straight postseason. A big part of the Stars' problem has been an inability to win at home. This was their sixth straight home playoff loss covering those three playoffs.
Wild 4, Ducks 1
At St. Paul, Minnesota, Marian Gaborik scored a rare power-play goal and Niklas Backstrom made 28 saves to help the Wild avoid a sweep.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish also scored for the Wild, who had been thoroughly dominated by Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and the defensive Anaheim Ducks in the first three games of the series.
Minnesota still faces an incredibly daunting task. Only two teams in NHL history have come back from 3-0 deficits to advance in the playoffs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. Game 5 is tonight in Anaheim.
Flames 3, Red Wings 2
At Calgary, Alberta, Jarome Iginla scored the go-ahead goal at 9:21 of the third period, leading Calgary over Detroit.
Matthew Lombardi and defenseman Mark Giordano scored power-play goals for the Flames, who avoided falling behind 3-0 in the Western Conference quarter-final series. Game 4 will be tonight at Calgary, with Detroit leading 2-1.