By AARON BEARD, AP Sports Writer
The NHL playoffs are losing close games and comebacks that seem to arrive annually with all the intensity of the postseason.
Excluding matches with empty nets that increase the margin, 10 of the 20 first-round matches through Friday night have been decided by three or more goals. By comparison, there had only been four one-goal games and two reached at least one overtime.
Along the way, the lifts have been almost non-existent with teams rarely jumping giving up control.
“When you fall behind, I guess you’re chasing the game,” Florida Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said. of unilateral results. “It simply came to our notice then. And then sometimes it goes the other way around and you keep pushing. I think you see it in the whole league, in fact, a lot. “
As for Sunday’s fourth game, Carolina, Minnesota, Toronto and Edmonton are outscoring their opponents by a margin of almost 2 to 1 (53-27). Above all, the Oilers have beaten the Los Angeles Kings 6-0, 8-2 in the last two games.
Getting back into the game after falling behind has also been difficult.
Only two teams had lost until Friday night when they scored first, then Florida went on Saturday with six goals after taking a 1-0 lead. Pittsburgh was the only team in the first 20 games to win after losing two goals with a 4-3 win in overtime against the New York Rangers to begin their series.
Going deeper into the game, Washington’s first game win in Florida was the only time a team won after being ahead in the third period.
This comes after a regular season in which four teams, led by Florida’s 24 wins, won more than 20 games by delivering the first goal. And 13 teams overcome at least a three-goal lead at least once.
“The outcome of the game doesn’t matter if it’s 2-1 in the triple overtime or a little more misaligned,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “It doesn’t matter. This is a game.”
HURRICANE in BRUINS, Carolina leads 2-1 series (12:30 pm EDT, ESPN)
Carolina and Boston are dealing with injury issues.
The Hurricanes lost winger Jordan Martinook to a lower body injury in Friday’s third game loss. Martinook’s injury could open up a spot for veteran Derek Stepan with 106 playoff games on his resume.
“Obviously it’s not an ideal situation, but it’s an opportunity for me,” Stepan said.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour said the Hurricanes will also look into whether to start Antti Raanta on the net for Game 4. He was knocked out before the second game after receiving a blow to the head of Boston’s David Pastrnak, and debutant Pyotr Kochetkov took over that match. and starting the game 3.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said defender Hampus Lindholm is improving, but will miss his second straight game after receiving a sudden impact from Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov in the second game.
WILD in BLUES, Minnesota leads 2-1 series (16:30 EDT, TBS)
The St. Louis Blues have received again in their blue line.
Defender Torey Krug left the game on Friday 3rd in the first period due to a lower body injury and did not return.
“It’s going to take a while,” coach Craig Berube said Saturday.
St. Louis was already dealing with injury problems from fellow defenders Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy.
Bortuzzo grabbed a record in the face and abandoned the second game defeat in the first period. Leddy was left out of Game 2 with an upper body injury that he suffered and played in the first game. Berube did not offer a schedule for his return, saying the team would assess how they skated on Saturday.
Minnesota has won each of the last two games by a margin of four goals, first 6-2 in the second game and then 5-1 in Friday’s third game on the road.
MAPLE LEAFS in LIGHTNING, Toronto leads 2-1 series (7pm EDT, TBS)
The Lightning feel like they’ve been self-defeating in Game 3, spending too much time in the penalty area against a team that had the best power play of the regular season in the league.
For the past three seasons, the two-time Stanley Cup champions are 16-0 in the games after a playoff defeat.
“Let’s be honest, if you spend 10 of the first 40 minutes in the penalty area, that won’t help you either,” coach Jon Cooper said. “But I only have a lot of faith in a veteran group. Here, so I hope to recover.”
The Maple Leafs know the series is far from over.
“I don’t think we’ve achieved anything yet, obviously. … But I like where we are as a group,” said Toronto defender Morgan Rielly. “We’re focused, we’re not moving too far and it’s important that we keep it under control.”
OILERS at KINGS, Edmonton leads 2-1 series (22:00 EDT, TBS)
Kings must figure out how to stop an attack by Oilers.
After winning the first game in overtime, the Kings have lost the last two games by a combined 14-2 advantage. That made the Oilers the first team in league history to lose the first game of a playoff series and then win each of the next two by at least six goals, according to STATS.
Edmonton have 5 for 11 (.455) in the power play to lead all teams in the postseason and have been taking control in the second period (plus-25 shots, plus-5 goals). In 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. “It simply came to our notice then. We didn’t play well, but we have to work hard to be better. “
AP Hockey Writers John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York; and Stephen Whyno in Washington; and AP sports writers Fred Goodall in Tampa, Florida; and Joe Reedy in Los Angeles; contributed to this report.
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