SUNRISE, Fla. – Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist and the Florida Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Thursday night to even the Eastern Conference first-round series at a game apiece.
Aaron Ekblad, Anton Lundell and Mason Marchment also scored for Florida, the top overall seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots.
Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington. Vitek Vanecek gave up five goals on 19 shots in the first two periods, and Ilya Samsonov went into the Capitals’ net for the third period – stopping all 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes.
The series shifts to Washington, with Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday night.
It was just Florida’s sixth win in its last 19 home playoff games going back to 1996, and matched the biggest victory margin in franchise playoff history. Florida beat Boston 6-2 in Game 2 of the first round of the 1996 playoffs, the season in which the Panthers went to the Stanley Cup final, and won 5-1 in Pittsburgh later that season in the East finals.
Rangers 5, Penguins 2
NEW YORK – Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and two assists and New York beat Pittsburgh in Game 2 to tie the series.
Chris Kreider, Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome also scored for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin made 39 saves two nights after stopping 79 shots in a triple-overtime loss in Game 1.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, and Jake Guentzel also scored for the Penguins. Louis Domingue, getting the start after replacing the injured Casey DeSmith in the second overtime of Game 1, finished with 34 saves.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
Avalanche 2, Predators 1 (OT)
DENVER – Cale Makar scored 8:31 into overtime, Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves on his 32nd birthday and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Makar got the rebound in the middle of the offensive zone and lined it through traffic to touch off the celebration.
Nathan MacKinnon also scored for Colorado, which faced a more intense Nashville defence after winning 7-2 in Game 1. The Predators blocked 34 shots.
The series moves to Nashville for Game 3 on Saturday.
Yakov Trenin scored for Nashville.