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Jackets look to go up 3-1 on Capitals

(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Washington Capitals played their way right back into their first-round playoff series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it took a lot of extra effort to do so.

The Capitals' 3-2 victory on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena on a goal by Lars Eller at 8:09 of the second overtime narrowed their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference engagement.

With Game 4 scheduled for Thursday night at Nationwide, the Capitals find themselves with an opportunity to get even and regain home-ice advantage before the series heads back to Washington on Saturday. That scenario is certainly better than being down 3-0 and facing elimination on the opponents' home ice.

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Leafs aim to even series vs. Bruins

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are a better team than shown by the results of the first two games of the first-round playoff series with the Boston Bruins.

They proved it Monday with a 4-2 victory at the Air Canada Centre in Game 3. They will have a chance Thursday night to even the series at two games each at the ACC.

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Avalanche to start backup G Hammond

DENVER (AP) The Colorado Avalanche will go with backup goaltender Andrew Hammond for Game 5 in Nashville after starter Jonathan Bernier suffered a lower-body injury.

Colorado trails the Predators 3-1 in the first-round series heading into Friday's game.

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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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'Seinfeld' actor paints face for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Life imitated art at the Stanley Cup playoffs as the actor who played Puddy on the TV sitcom "Seinfeld" showed up at the game with his face painted as a New Jersey Devils fan.

Patrick Warburton is a Devils fan and in a 1995 episode of the hit show he appeared with his face painted in red and green.

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Sharks finish sweep of Ducks, Vegas next

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks won the first three games of their first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks thanks to having more speed, better depth, and discipline.

They completed the sweep thanks largely to Martin Jones.

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Murray blanks Flyers again, Pens up 3-1

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Sidney Crosby passed Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh's record book and pushed the Philadelphia Flyers to the brink of elimination.

Flyers fans booed the goal - and the ones that stuck around for the end belted a familiar refrain: "Fire Hakstol! Fire Hakstol!"

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Feisty Kucherov nets 2, Tampa leads 3-1

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Angry after losing a playoff game, Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning took out their ire on the New Jersey Devils.

Not only did the Lightning defeat New Jersey 3-1 on Wednesday to move within a game of making the Devils' first trip to the playoffs in six years a short one, Kucherov was a one-man demolition man.

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Hurricanes hire ex-agent Krepelka as VP

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Hurricanes have hired former sports agent Paul Krepelka as a vice president of hockey operations.

Owner Tom Dundon announced Krepelka's hiring Thursday, saying his responsibilities will include negotiating player contracts.

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