NHL playoffs full of lopsided scores, no comebacks

The NHL playoffs miss the close games and comebacks that happen seemingly every year with all the intensity of the playoffs.

Excluding games with empty nets increasing the margin, 10 of the 20 first-round games through Friday night have been decided by three or more goals. By comparison, there had only been four one-goal games, two of which reached at least one overtime session.

Along the way, comebacks have been almost non-existent with teams rarely jumping when giving up control.

“When you’re late, I guess you keep the game going,” said Florida Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette, whose Presidents’ Trophy-winning team lost 6-1 in Washington on Saturday to add to the list of unilateral results. “It forces you to open up a bit. And then sometimes it goes the other way and you keep pushing. I think you see that throughout the league, in fact, a lot.

Looking at the Game 4 matchups on Sunday, Carolina, Minnesota, Toronto and Edmonton outplay their opponents by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 (53-27). Most notably, the Oilers have beaten the Los Angeles Kings by 6-0, 8-2 margins in the last two games.

Coming back into the game after falling behind was also difficult.

Only two teams had lost Friday night by scoring first, then Florida followed on Saturday by conceding six goals after taking a 1-0 lead. Pittsburgh was the only team to win the first 20 games after trailing by two goals with their 4-3 triple overtime win over the New York Rangers to start their series.

Digging deeper into the game, Washington’s Game 1 win over Florida marked the only time a team won after trailing in the third period.

It comes after a regular season in which four teams — led by Florida’s 24 wins — won more than 20 games giving up first base. And 13 teams have overcome at least a three-goal deficit at least once.

“The score of the game doesn’t matter if it’s 2-1 in triple overtime or a little more lopsided,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. ” It does not matter. It’s a game.

HURRICANE at BRUINS, Carolina leads series 2-1 (12:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN)

Carolina and Boston are dealing with injury issues.

The Hurricanes lost winger Jordan Martinook to a lower-body injury in Friday’s Game 3 loss. Martinook’s injury could open up a spot for veteran Derek Stepan with 106 career playoff games under his belt.

“Obviously it’s probably not an ideal situation, but it’s an opportunity for me,” Stepan said.

Coach Rod Brind’Amour says the Hurricanes will also consider whether to start Antti Raanta in net for Game 4. He was eliminated early in Game 2 after receiving a blow to the head from Boston’s David Pastrnak , with rookie Pyotr Kochetkov taking over. and start game 3.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said defenseman Hampus Lindholm was improving but would miss his second straight game after taking a sharp hit from Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov in Game 2.

WILD at BLUES, Minnesota leads the series 2-1 (4:30 p.m. EDT, TBS)

The St. Louis Blues took another hit to their blue line.

Defenseman Torey Krug left Friday’s third game in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return.

“It’s going to take time,” coach Craig Berube said Saturday.

St. Louis was already dealing with injury issues for teammates Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy.

Bortuzzo took a puck to the face and left in a Game 2 loss in the first period. Leddy was sidelined from Game 2 due to an upper body injury he suffered which he suffered in Game 1. Berube did not offer a timeline for their return, saying that the team would assess how they were skating on Saturday.

Minnesota has won each of the past two games by four-goal margins, first 6-2 in Game 2 and then 5-1 in Game 3 on Friday on the road.

MAPLE LEAFS at LIGHTNING, Toronto leads the series 2-1 (7 p.m. EDT, TBS)

The Lightning feel like they imploded in Game 3, spending way too much time in the box against a team that had the league’s best power play in the regular season.

Over the last three playoffs, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are 16-0 in games after a playoff loss.

“Let’s be honest, if you’re going to spend 10 of the first 40 minutes in the penalty area, that doesn’t help you either,” coach Jon Cooper said. “But I just have a ton of confidence in a group of veterans here, so I expect to bounce back.”

The Maple Leafs know the series is far from over.

“I don’t think we’ve accomplished anything yet, obviously. … But I like where we are as a group,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “We’re focused, we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves, and it’s important that we keep that under control.”

OILERS at KINGS, Edmonton leads the series 2-1 (10 p.m. EDT, TBS)

The Kings must find a way to slow down a buzzing Oilers attack.

After winning Game 1 in overtime, the Kings lost the final two games by a combined 14-2 margin. That made the Oilers the first team in league history to lose Game 1 of a playoff series and then win each of the next two by at least six goals, according to STATS.

Edmonton is 5-for-11 (.455) in powerplay to lead all teams in the playoffs and they took control in the second period (plus-25 shots, plus-5 goals). By comparison, Los Angeles is 1 for 12 (.083) with the man advantage.

“We have to look at it 2-1,” Kings center Phillip Danault said. “You don’t want to look at all the goals. We didn’t play well at all, but yes, we had to work hard to be better.


AP Hockey writers John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York; and Stephen Whyno in Washington; and AP sportswriter Fred Goodall in Tampa, Fla.; and Joe Reedy in Los Angeles; contributed to this report.


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