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Caps set to host Hurricanes in Game 7

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The Washington Capitals have a simple goal -- they want to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. If they want to keep that dream alive, though, they'll have to find a way to beat the visiting Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the first-round Eastern Conference series Wednesday night.

Washington won last year's Stanley Cup with stifling defense, timely goals and solid play all around. Plus, the Capitals trailed in all four series but rebounded to win. In this series, though, the Metropolitan Division champions often have been outplayed by Carolina, and that's why it's tied at three games apiece.

Carolina's ferocious physical play has made it tough for Washington to establish its offense and clear the puck on defense. The Capitals have done better in these areas in the past two games, but the Hurricanes came through again and scored a 5-2 victory in Game 6 on Monday at home to even up the series.

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Sharks rally, beat Vegas in OT in Game 7

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) In San Jose, the game will always be remembered as the Pavelski Payback for the four goals scored on one power play after the Sharks' captain was knocked out cold, turning around a wild Game 7 that finally ended in overtime.

In Las Vegas, the Golden Knights will always lament the call that they believe was excessive and cost them a chance to advance to the second round.

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Bruins defeat Leafs in Game 7 again

BOSTON (AP) Another Game 7 matchup between Boston and Toronto, another victory for the Bruins.

Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly each had a goal and assist, Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots and the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7 on Tuesday night to wrap up their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

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Vegas stunned, angry over pivotal call

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Joe Pavelski's head slammed to the ice, blood pooling nearby after he took an awkward fall following cross-check by Cody Eakin.

As Pavelski was helped to the locker room by his teammates, the officials huddled to decide what sort of punishment to dole out after not initially making a penalty call on the ice.

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Canada's Cup drought reaches 26 years

TORONTO (AP) Many current NHL players were either not yet born or too young to remember the last time a Canadian team hoisted the Stanley Cup. The drought now stands at 26 years after all three Canadian teams were eliminated in the opening round of the 2018-19 playoffs.

The Boston Bruins defeated Toronto 5-1 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal on Tuesday night, sending the Maple Leafs into the offseason alongside the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. The other four Canadian teams did not reach the postseason this year.

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O'Reilly playing key role for Blues

ST. LOUIS (AP) When the St. Louis Blues traded for Ryan O'Reilly in the offseason, they received an All-Star caliber player still seeking postseason success.

He fit right in with a franchise still seeking its first Stanley Cup after 52 years of existence.

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Stars advance with OT win over Predators

DALLAS (AP) When first-year Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery called out his team over a "culture of mediocrity" in January, the St. Louis Blues weren't too far removed from having the worst record in the NHL.

Now the Central Division rivals will meet in the second round of the playoffs - and Montgomery is ready to move on from his scathing critique, while declaring that the culture has changed.

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Flyers remove controversial Smith statue

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Flyers removed a statue of late singer Kate Smith outside NHL team's arena Sunday, two days after covering it amid allegations of racism against the 1930s star with a popular recording of "God Bless America."

"The NHL principle `Hockey is for Everyone' is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for," Flyers President Paul Holmgren said in a statement. "As a result, we cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today."

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Blues' improbable run continues

ST. LOUIS (AP) Last in the NHL in early January, the St. Louis Blues keep making history and celebrating an unlikely run.

After having a league-worst 34 points on Jan. 2, St. Louis became the seventh team to make the playoffs after being in last place at the start of the new calendar year.

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Lamoriello, Trotz lead Isles' turnaround

NEW YORK (AP) Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz say they didn't know exactly what to expect from the New York Islanders this season.

There were plenty of questions after the Islanders gave up 293 goals - the most in the NHL since 2006-07 - while missing the playoffs for the eighth time in 11 years. There was uncertainty on offense when star center John Tavares left in free agency for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.

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