The Colorado Avalanche have been pacing the NHL for most of the season, so it should not be too surprising that they are the first team to book their spot in the second round of the playoffs. They did so on Monday night by taking Game 4 in Nashville against the Predators, sealing a 4-0 first-round sweep. Cale Makar continued his hot form, providing a goal and two assists while Andre Burakovsky matched him statistically in the contest. The Preds seemed to have a life here, leading 3-2 in the third, but the Avs poured in the goals to pull away and secure themselves some rest ahead of a second-round match-up.
Elsewhere, the Pittsburgh Penguins bashed the New York Rangers 7-2 to move 3-1 up in that series. Sidney Crosby had a goal and two helpers while Jake Guentzel had one apiece as a five-goal second period carried them through to a comfortable win that leaves them a game away from passage to the second round. In the early game of the evening, the Florida Panthers made it 2-2 through four games with the Washington Capitals after a hard-fought 3-2 overtime win. The Caps led twice and were 2:04 away from victory, but the Comeback Cats leveled up with Sam Reinhart to force OT and Carter Verhaeghe scored the winner 4:57 into the extra period to seal the win. In Dallas, it was the same story as the Stars fell 4-1 to the Calgary Flames to make that series level through four outings. Stars goalie Jake Oettinger was sublime to make 50 saves, but four still got by him as Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, one assist) and co. finally broke through in the second and third periods. Each team has now won once at home and once on the road, so it’s anyone’s guess as to who is going to take the series now.