The Montreal Canadiens became the first team to book a place in the second round of the NHL playoffs as Max Pacioretty scored with 43 seconds left to secure a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and complete a 4-0 series sweep.
The San Jose Sharks look likely to be the next team into the second round after edging the Los Angeles Kings in overtime to go 3-0 up in their series, while the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers both posted valuable road wins to take 2-1 leads.
Montreal also got goals from Daniel Briere, Brendan Gallagher and Lars Eller as the Habs closed in on their first Stanley Cup title since 1993.
Ondrej Palat had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. Victor Hedman pulled the Lightning within a goal three minutes into the third period and Tyler Johnson tied the game three minutes later.
Lightning backup goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis replaced Anders Lindback after Gallagher’s goal 5 minutes, 42 seconds into the second period and stopped all 16 shots until Pacioretty found a way past him.
San Jose’s Patrick Marleau scored on a backhand 6:20 into overtime to give the Sharks a key 4-3 victory in Los Angeles, moving within one win of a second-round berth.
Rookie Tomas Hertl tied it with 10:43 left in regulation for the Sharks, who survived a much-improved effort from their bitter California rivals after two blowout results.
Marleau ended it for the Sharks with his third goal of the series. His shot banked off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov’s stick on its way past Jonathan Quick.
The Sharks have won five straight overtime playoff games and 10 of their past 11, with Marleau scoring four game-winning goals during that remarkable stretch.
Boston’s Tuukka Rask finished with a 23-save shutout to help the Bruins win 3-0 in Detroit and take a 2-1 series lead.
Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron scored in the first period, before Patrice Bergeron added an empty-net goal late in the game.
The Bruins have won the past two games with authority, giving them strong momentum heading into the remaining contests.
Detroit host Game 4 today and it is almost a must-win occasion because the series will then shift back to Boston.
The Rangers also took a 2-1 advantage with a comfortable road victory, winning 4-1 in Philadelphia.
Derek Stepan, Martin St Louis, Dan Girardi and Dan Carcillo all scored, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots for New York.
Lundqvist was backed by a defense that delivered with a flurry of blocked shots to stymie the Flyers.
The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead and that was enough of a cushion for a team that led the Eastern Conference with 25 road victories.
Mark Streit scored the sole goal for Philadelphia, who host Game 4 tomorrow.