Evander Kane underlined his value to the Edmonton Oilers with a hat-trick in their 6-4 win over the Seattle Kraken but he was more pre-occupied with what the victory meant to their playoffs hopes.

The Western Conference playoff chase is tight, with the Oilers edging ahead of the Kraken into third in the Pacific Division with Saturday's victory where they scored twice in every period in Seattle.

Edmonton are 39-23-8 on the back of three straight wins, just ahead of the Kraken (38-24-7) in the final automatic playoff spot from the Pacific Division. The Las Vegas Golden Knights (42-21-6) and Los Angeles Kings (40-20-9) lead the division.

Kane's hat-trick came from only three shots, marking his second three-goal performance of the season and fifth in his past 49 appearances.

"It's nice to help contribute to an important win," Kane said. "Big points with the division so tight.

"This is probably the tightest I've seen it with respect to the entire conference, both divisions, where you can literally be in first place in the Western Conference, or you could be in a Wild Card spot within a matter of a week. It's still tight.

"There are still very important games down the stretch left to be played, and I think it's a great opportunity for our group to enjoy that type of challenge and get you ready for the post-season."

"I've been in and out of the line-up with injuries all year, so just trying to get into some rhythm heading into the playoffs, and tonight definitely helps that."

Kane has only played in 29 of the Oilers' 70 games this campaign due to injuries, with coach Jay Woodcroft delighted to see him back at close to his best.

"Happy for him," Woodcroft said. "He's a warrior. He plays through injuries. He's just getting up and running again just because of his injuries and whatnot.

"It's kind of been a start-and-stop season for him, but he's been all around the puck in any game that he's played and for three to go in for him tonight, I was happy for him."

Kane's return to form and fitness has aided star man Connor McDavid, who had a goal and two assists, bringing up 134 points for the season.

"That's part of my job is to be productive for this group," Kane said. "Obviously we have two of the best players in the world, but they can't carry a team and win a championship. You need everyone pulling their weight.

"I've been in and out of the line-up with injuries all year, so just trying to get into some rhythm heading into the playoffs, and tonight definitely helps that."

McDavid's 134 points are the seventh-most points by a player in the past 30 years, while his performance was his 20th three-point game of the season.

Zach Hyman also added a goal and an assist, recording his first 30-goal season. He is the fourth Oilers player to reach that mark this season, the first time the franchise has achieved that since 1989-90.

Kevin Fiala was hailed as a "rare" talent by head coach Todd McLellan after helping the Los Angeles Kings to a 6-3 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

Just two days on from scoring a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, Fiala finished with two power-play goals and two assists to improve the Kings to a 2-0-0 head-to-head record against the Oilers this season.

It was the sixth game this campaign in which Fiala finished with at least three points, and McLellan was effusive in his praise of the left winger.

"His engine is really good, he can play lots of minutes, he's dangerous and he can play up and down the lineup," McLellan said after the Kings' victory on their home rink at the Crypto.com Arena.

"His game transfers with him wherever he goes. He can play with big players, small players, quick, crafty players, straight-line players. It's rare to find a player like that."

Adrian Kempe had two power-play goals, making it the first instance the Kings had two players doing so in one game, while Alex Iafallo and Viktor Arvidsson registered goals for in-form LA, who have gone 9-2-1 since the middle of December.

Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod and Connor McDavid were the goalscorers for an Oilers side that failed to capitalise on any of their six power-play opportunities.

McLellan acknowledged his side were fortunate not to be punished more.

"It's not a recipe for success against that team," he said. "Rarely are they going to be shut out in that type of situation. 

"So we were fortunate to come through in that situation. I thought our penalty killers did a really good job."

The Kings, who had seven penalties in total to the Oilers' six, ultimately triumphed because of their proficiency with the power plays, Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft felt.

The Oilers have given up 42 power-play goals this season, tied most with the Anaheim Ducks.

"I think the refs got involved. There was a lot of calls both ways and we went 0-for-6 on our power play and they scored four on their power play, four on seven," Woodcroft said.

"So obviously some of those penalties are within our control and our penalty kill. They moved the puck around well and give them a little bit of credit, but our penalty kill can be a lot sharper and we ended up on the wrong side of the special teams battle.

"I thought that was the difference in the game."

The Kings sit second in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference, with the Oilers down in fifth.

The NHL season is just days away from dropping the first puck, and last year's playoffs planted the seeds for some intriguing storylines to watch.

After back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, the Tampa Bay Lightning were dethroned by a Colorado Avalanche side that looked nearly unbeatable. Both teams return similar casts with small alterations, and it would be no surprise to see these sides as the last two standing when it is all said and done.

Meanwhile, young phenom and arguably the new face of the league, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, showed he is more than a regular season performer as he took his team to the brink of the Stanley Cup Finals. 

McDavid, the Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews and the Minnesota Wild's Kirill Kaprizov look set to be leading the charge for the league's most valuable player, and all three are yet to turn 26, indicating this season could be a changing of the guard as the next generation takes over.

Can the Avalanche repeat as Stanley Cup champions?

The Avalanche were just too good in last season's playoffs. They were completely dominant, amassing a 16-4 record without losing consecutive games at any point. 

Their Stanley Cup Finals win against the then-reigning back-to-back champions Tampa Bay included a 7-0 thrashing at home, and two gutsy road wins with goaltender Darcy Kuemper was named player of the game.

It is undeniable that Kuemper was a massive part of the Avalanche's success during his breakout season, but with his rapid ascension came a rapidly rising price tag, and he cashed in with a five-year, $26million free agent deal to the Washington Capitals.

Replacing him is last year's backup Pavel Francouz – who performed admirably in games Kuemper missed – as well as new signing Alexandar Georgiev, who was Igor Shesterkin's backup with the New York Rangers.

With offensive stars Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon returning, as well as elite defenseman Cale Makar, the frightening core of the Avalanche remains intact. 

The third-highest scoring team in the NHL last season (312, behind Toronto's 315 and the Florida Panthers' 340), there is no reason to believe Colorado will not remain in the top echelon of offensive teams.

But ultimately seasons can be decided by the man you trust to protect your net, and the Avalanche will need to be proactive in addressing the issue if Francouz and Georgiev are not up to the task.

Is the Lightning dynasty still alive?

Tampa Bay have now reached three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals series, collecting titles in 2020 and 2021 before falling short against the Avalanche.

As history shows, sustaining that level of success deep into the playoffs in consecutive years is one of the hardest feats, largely due to the fact teams are playing 100-game seasons and absorbing so much extra physical wear-and-tear.

Their seemingly impenetrable defense and future Hall of Fame goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy looked vulnerable in the finals, and they started preseason with a combined losing margin of 14-2 in their first three games.

But this is the Lightning, and they still boast one of the best goalies in the sport, as well as a core of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman still in their prime.

They have earned the benefit of the doubt, and are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

Will this be the year for McDavid and the Oilers?

The best player in hockey and two-time winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy for league MVP, McDavid enjoyed his first taste of playoff success as the Oilers won two series before being knocked out by the Avalanche in the Western Conference finals.

Prior to that, McDavid only had one series win in his first six seasons in the league, but he has led the NHL in points now on four occasions and it took an unbelievable 60-goal season from Toronto's Matthews to deny the 25-year-old his third Hart Trophy.

The trio of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl (who won the 2020 Hart Trophy and scored 55 goals last term) and Evander Kane constitute one of the best offensive units in the league, and they had won six of their past seven playoff games before being swept by the Avalanche.

With McDavid, the Oilers have one of the most talented players in the history of the sport who still may have his best hockey ahead of him. After falling just short last season, it would be no surprise to see him carry his team another step further.

Who are the Hart Memorial Trophy contenders?

McDavid will enter the season as the favourite, as alongside fellow 25-year-old and former top overall draft pick Matthews, he figures to reign over the league for the foreseeable future.

If he was on another team, Draisaitl would have to be considered a true contender, having already won the award in 2020, but playing next to McDavid limits the number of votes he can receive.

The Wild's Kaprizov is on an ascending trajectory, having won the 2021 Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year before rising to All-Star status this past campaign, and could be a dark horse.

There has only been one goaltender to win the award since 2002 – Carey Price with the Montreal Canadiens in 2015 – but Shesterkin from the Rangers and Vasilevskiy from the Lightning both possess the ability and the star power to enter consideration if their teams put together outlier defensive seasons.

Evander Kane re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers on a four-year, $20.5 million contract shortly before the start of NHL free agency, having resurrected a career in the midst of turmoil after joining the team midway through the 2021-22 season.

Kane, who totalled 35 goals in 58 games with Edmonton when including the playoffs, announced his decision in a Twitter post late on Tuesday.

The 13-year veteran forward signed with the Oilers in January following an ugly departure from the San Jose Sharks, who terminated his contract earlier that month for violating COVID-19 protocols while playing in the American Hockey League.

Kane did not play a game for the Sharks last season due to a handful of off-field issues. The 30-year-old began the campaign away from the team as the NHL investigated accusations from his ex-wife that he assaulted her and wagered on league games, and he also served a 21-game suspension for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccine card to the Sharks and the NHL.

The NHL announced in October that it could not corroborate the domestic assault claims and said it found no evidence that Kane gambled on league games.

"Throughout the last 12 months, there have been lots of road blocks, tons of adversity and many tough days," Kane wrote. "I'm grateful for the tremendous amount of support from family, friends, team-mates and others who have helped me stay strong through these difficult times.

"I want to thank the Edmonton Oilers for giving me the opportunity to REMIND people who I am as a player and person."

A two-time 30-goal scorer, Kane rediscovered his touch by producing 22 goals and 17 assists in 43 regular-season games with Edmonton. He was even better in the postseason, tallying 13 goals and four assists in 15 games to help the Oilers advance to their first Western Conference final since 2006.

"A big part of my decision to stay in Edmonton was because of the opportunity given to me only seven months ago but also the chance to be a part of a championship team," he said.

"I want to win, and I believe after signing this deal we will be able to add the right pieces along with myself to accomplish that goal, a championship."

Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers with the fourth overall pick of the 2009 draft, Kane has compiled 286 goals and 259 assists in 812 career regular-season games. The Vancouver native is one of seven players to have scored 20 or more goals in each of the past seven seasons.

Defenseman Duncan Keith announced his retirement on Tuesday after an illustrious 17-year career in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers.

Considered one of the best blue-liners of the past two decades, Keith helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015 as the playoff MVP.

He also earned two Norris Trophies in 2010 and 2014, making him one of only 12 players in NHL history to win the award given to the league's top defensemen twice.

A second-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2002, the 38-year-old spent his first 16 seasons in Chicago before being traded to the Oilers prior to last season.

Known as a two-way defenseman and an adept stick-handler, Keith finished his career with 106 goals and 540 assists in 1,256 regular-season games. Since his 2005-06 rookie season, Keith's 646 points and 159 +/- rating both rank fourth among all defenseman, while only Kris Russell blocked more shots (2,044) than Keith's 2,010.

Named one of the 100 Greatest Players during the NHL's Centennial season in 2017, Keith also routinely rose to the occasion and displayed his phenomenal endurance the longer the season went on, adding another 19 goals and 72 assists in 151 playoff games.

During Chicago's run to its third Cup title in a six-year span in 2015, Keith tallied three goals and 21 points in 23 playoff games with a plus-16 rating while averaging 31:07 minutes per game in ice time.

Artturi Lehkonen helped the Colorado Avalanche secure a series sweep over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, scoring in overtime for a 6-5 win.

Lehkonen ultimately secured the 4-0 Western Conference finals win for the Avalanche in fortunate circumstances, left with a simple finish after his elevated stick helped the puck elude Oilers goaltender Mike Smith.

With a tightly contested game heading to OT, Cale Makar's shot from the face-off was picked up by Lehkonen with what was argued to be a high stick. The puck deflected off Smith and left the 26-year-old with a simple finish to win the game and series and following a review, the goal was allowed.

Despite the fortune that came with the eventual winning goal, the Finnish winger cited his team's ability to fight back a 3-1 deficit in the third period as equally important.

"Cale took the shot and I've got to say, it landed straight on my blade and I basically had an empty net in front of me," Lehkonen told TNT post-game.

"It was a great comeback win, for sure. We were talking during the second intermission that we just had to find our game and we could pull through this."

Mikko Rantanen stunningly put the Avalanche ahead with 5:14 remaining in regulation, in what was a four-goal period for the Western Conference's first seed.

After the Oilers let a 3-1 lead slip with their season on the line, Leon Draisatl and Connor McDavid combined to equalise, capitalising on Danell Nurse's defensive play to spring them into transition.

Advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2001, the Avalanche will now face the winner of the series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.

Wayne Gretzky is once again part of hockey history.

The last jersey the NHL’s all-time leading scorer wore with the Edmonton Oilers in 1988 was sold for $1.452million on Sunday to set a record for the highest ever paid for a hockey jersey.

Gretzky wore the jersey on May 26, 1988, when the Oilers completed a sweep of the Boston Bruins to win their fourth Stanley Cup championship in five seasons.

That matchup occurred two days after Game 4 was called off with the score tied 3-3 in the second period due to the electricity going out at the Boston Garden.

The game was restarted and Gretzky had a goal and two assists in Edmonton's 6-3 victory. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for the second time in his career.

Less than three months later, Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, ending a nine-season run with the Oilers that saw "The Great One" win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's regular-season MVP eight years in a row from 1980-87.

Sunday's sale broke the mark of $1.275m that was paid for the 1972 Summit Series jersey worn by Paul Henderson when he scored the winning goal in the final minute of Canada's eighth and final game against the Soviet Union.

Henderson's goal clinched the series for Canada with a 4-3-1 record, and in 2017 was named the greatest moment in the nation's sports history by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar confirmed Nazem Kadri will be out for the rest of the series as his side moved one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday, defatting the Edmonton Oilers 4-2

The Avalanche claimed an all-important 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference playoff after a frenetic third period, with J.T. Compher and Mikko Rantanen scoring in the final exchanges.

It was overshadowed by Evander Kane's hit on Kadri however, with the Avalanche's two-way threat cross-checked from behind, flying head-first into the boards.

Kane was given a five-minute major penalty for the hit but surprisingly was not ejected from the game. The Avalanche defended stoutly to secure the win, but Bednar confirmed post-game they will go without Kadri in securing the series.

"Yeah, he's out. He's out," Bednar said post-game. "He'll be out for the series at least, if not longer.

"I mean, the hit, it's the most dangerous play in hockey - puts him in head first from behind, eight feet from the boards. I'll leave it at that."

Connor McDavid had a clear opportunity to give the Oilers the 3-2 lead with 8:17 remaining and in the power play, shooting from just inside the hash marks in the left circle but a brilliant glove save from Pavel Francouz critically kept the score tied.

The Oilers then hit the post a minute later but racing out of the penalty box, J.T. Compher was able to spring the Avalanche into transition, scoring his fifth goal of the playoffs to give the Avalanche the lead instead.

Mikko Rantanen sealed the victory with under a minute remaining, forcing the loss of Oilers' possession before scoring an empty-net goal.

The Avalanche will have a chance to sweep the series on Tuesday, to face the winner of the series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.

Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft rued a critical three-goal second period after his side went 4-0 down to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday.

Nazem Kadri had three assists within the space of 2:04 as the Avalanche broke the game open and took a commanding 2-0 series lead, in a departure from Game 1's 14 goals and 84 shots.

The free-scoring Oilers were reduced to 24 shots for the night, with the two points leaders for this year's Stanley Cup playoffs in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl kept quiet by the Avalanche.

Despite the second period, Woodcroft believes there is still cause for encouragement as the series heads to Canada.

"I thought it was a really competitive first period," he said post-game. "I thought we laid it on the line, especially finding ourselves down short-handed six minutes or so into the first period.

"We pushed back, we generated some offence, and that little span in the second period really hurt us. It took the wind out of our sails and we weren't able to generate what we wanted to as the game wore on.

"I think we've had some chances – not as much as we'd like – but we're in the final four and the other team does some good stuff too. There's more to be had there. We can do a better job of shooting the puck and shooting through structure."

Kadri tied GM Joe Sakic's franchise record from 1996 for most assists in a period, setting up Artturi Lehkonen and Josh Manson in the space of 15 seconds, before providing the pass for Mikko Rantanen.

Nathan McKinnon scored his sixth goal of the playoffs late in the third period, moving to a team-high 16 points over the Avalanche's three series.

Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar asserted he was not overwhelmed as hide claimed an historic win on Tuesday, defeating the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of their playoff series.

The Avalanche's win was the first playoff game in NHL history in which both teams allowed six or more goals, while using multiple goaltenders.

The opening game of the Western Conference final was played at an entertaining but frenetic pace, as both teams moved the puck with astounding fluidity.

According to Bednar, especially following the Oilers' high-scoring series win over the Calgary Flames, it was something his side anticipated and adapted well to.

"I didn’t feel helpless at all," Bednar said post-game. "I thought our guys did a nice job getting above pucks, shutting down the rush. The pace we expected no question, it's the fastest team we've played against, obviously a lot of talent.

"There's areas of our checking game that I really liked, there's a couple of other ones that I didn't that we'll look at and talk about.

"I thought we were doing a nice job on the offensive side of things, even in the third period when we had two breakaways, another great seam pass that we missed on. We were generating, we were shooting the puck, we were staying assertive, just have to make a few less errors on the other side of it."

Goals were expected between the two highest-scoring teams in this year's playoffs for the Stanley Cup, and the stars of the show did not disappoint.

Nathan MacKinnon claimed a goal and an assist for Colorado, while coming off his overtime winner in Game 7 against the Flames, Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists for the Oilers.

Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Colorado, but the result wasn't secured until Gabriel Landeskog's empty-net goal late with less than a minute to go in the third period.

Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon did not shy away from the reality facing his side in the Western Conference Finals – calling Edmonton Oilers poster boy Connor McDavid "the best".

To advance through to the Western Conference Finals, the Avalanche swept the Nashville Predators in the first round, and then handled the strong challenge of the St. Louis Blues to win the series 4-2.

For the Oilers, they were forced to go seven games against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, before making it look easier against the Calgary Flames, winning their second-round series 4-1.

MacKinnon is a star in his own right, seventh in the league in points per game (1.35), and the best player on the Western Conference's best team – but when asked about his side's plan to deal with reigning MVP McDavid, he said it would take more than one man.

"I'm not really thinking about [McDavid] a whole lot, but obviously I see that stuff," he said.

"I think he's the best, I've said it. I think he's been the best for a little bit now, and it's going to take a full team effort to stop him."

McDavid led the league in total points (123) and points per game (1.54), and has been named to the NHL First All-Star Team in four of his six seasons.

When he was asked about his side's plan to deal with MacKinnon, he opted to not mention his opposing star by name.

"They're a good team over there," he said. "I've learned that over the last couple of years. 

"This year is no different. They've got some real good players, and they're really good all around."

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar was willing to dive a little deeper into what he thinks of the two stars.

"There's a lot of similarities between MacKinnon and McDavid," he said. "But at the same time, they're very different playing styles. 

"McDavid's very good off the rush, and very fast, and he's got the quick steps right at the beginning. 

"They're both such electric players, and McDavid's been the driving force for them as well as their other top guys.

"He'll be a good test, but we're all excited."

The man in charge of keeping McDavid off the scoresheet – Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper – said he was also looking forward to testing himself against the best.

"It's a fun challenge for sure," he said. "[McDavid] is an electric, dynamic player. 

"He's creating every time he's on ice. Like [Makar] said, there's similarities between their games, but at the same time, they're different players. It's a fun challenge. 

"You want to face the best players in the world, and we're looking forward to it."

Blake Coleman was left questioning his own understanding of the rules after his go-ahead goal against the Edmonton Oilers was controversially disallowed as the Calgary Flames' season came to an end.

Coleman looked to have given the Flames a 5-4 lead in Game 5 of the second-round series when he followed in after Mikael Backlund's effort was initially repelled by Mike Smith.

However, a video review ruled Coleman had deliberately kicked the puck into the net.

The game was subsequently sent to overtime, with Connor McDavid scoring the winning goal for the Oilers as they clinched a 4-1 series victory to progress to the Western Conference Finals.

NHL rule 49.2 says a player cannot use "a deliberate kicking motion" to divert the puck into the net, however, Coleman appeared to turn his skate to help himself stop before making contact with the puck. Additionally, Backlund's effort looked set to cross the line despite Smith's block.

Yet the officials still ruled against Coleman, who could only express his bemusement after the game.

"I don't think I understand the rule," he said. "Getting pushed, just trying to keep my foot on the ice, I haven't watched it enough but in live speed, felt like I was in a battle.

"My understanding is you can direct the puck, you just can't kick it. I didn't feel like I kicked it but can't go back and change it now. It is what it is.

"It's unfortunate that was such a big part of the game and happened the way to influence the way it all went down. Aside from that, proud of our team, we fought hard, I wish that would've helped put us over to another game.

"There's no intent, just trying to get there, my understanding is you can redirect the puck off your foot as long as you're not lifting it and kicking it into the net.

"I'll go watch it again, maybe it's glaringly obvious and I just didn't feel like I did what it looks like."

Interim Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft praised his team's resilience in difficult circumstances after defeating the Calgary Flames 5-4 in overtime to reach the NHL's Western Conference final.

In a Battle of Alberta that saw an extraordinary 46 goals in five games, Connor McDavid scored at 5:03 in the extra period as the Oilers won their series 4-1.

The Edmonton captain scored his seventh goal of the playoffs, beating Jacob Markstrom off a pass from Leon Draisaitl to score the winner, while Zach Hyman contributed a goal and two assists.

Taking over from Dave Tippett in February, Woodcroft asserted his belief in the Oilers locker room post-game.

"There were some things that we could clean up heading into overtime," he said.

"We talked about that, but I think with our group there is a measure of calm and composure, and a strong belief that we have the people in the room that can get us through any type or circumstance, so we felt good about our chances.

"When I walked into that room at the beginning of February, I was bullish on our players because I saw a sincere desire to win and not just the desire to win, but I saw people willing to pay the price to win.

"We always felt that we had the ability to score. For us it's sometimes not just about what we're getting but also what we're giving up and as the series went on we got better at that."

McDavid now sits fifth in NHL history for playoff points per game at 1.45, while Draisaitl's 17 goals over the five games beat Wayne Gretzky's 1983 record for most points in a playoff series between the two teams.

 

The New York Rangers are feeling confident about their prospects of reaching the NHL Stanley Cup Finals after fighting back from 2-0 to square their series with the Carolina Hurricanes, earning a 4-1 win on Tuesday.

The Hurricanes have had the wood over the Rangers in recent times, winning eight out of their previous nine encounters prior to the past two meetings in this heated series.

Rangers center Andrew Copp, who scored a goal with two assists in the Game 4 win, said the momentum was with his side after winning 3-1 in Game 3.

"We're confident," Copp told reporters. "We get two games where we win, we play well, we give up two goals total.

"Now the reverse of the talk of you guys is on them now. We just got to kind of block all that out and stay with our game.

"Guys are feeling better about themselves and we got to ride this momentum into Carolina."

Rangers goal tender Igor Shesterkin stopped 30 shots but had his shutout bid spoiled by Teuvo Teravainen's third-period goal.

Earlier, goals to Frank Vatrano and Adam Fox earned the Rangers a 2-0 first-period lead, with Mika Zibanejad extending that advantage 16:48 into the second. Teravainen made it 3-1 before Copp rounded it out from Ryan Strome's assist 11:10 in the third period.

Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant was delighted with his team's display after a tight series, where the Hurricanes won Game 1 in over-time 2-1, before triumphing 2-0 in Game 2.

"Really, you look at the four games," Gallant said. "It's not just the two at home, but the four games have been pretty much one-goal games most of the way through.

"We are two teams that are close and battling. I just think it's been outstanding hockey by both teams."

The result means the Hurricanes are 0-5 on the road in the playoffs, while they are 6-0 at home ahead of Game 5 in Carolina.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said: "You've got to keep getting the chances. I'm happy that we're at least creating some offense.

"[Shesterkin] played well, you've got to give him tons of credit. But to me, the start is what did it to us."

Elsewhere, the Edmonton Oilers took a 3-1 lead in their second round series against the Calgary Flames, winning 5-3 in Game 4 after blowing a 3-0 first-period lead.

Nick Paul scored twice, including a stunning individual goal late in the second period, as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions came from a goal down in the previous two games, and had to do it again on the road at the Scotiabank Arena after Thursday's overtime win to level the series.

Morgan Reilly scored for Toronto but Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped an eventual 29 shots to keep the Lightning in the game, before Paul's brace secured the series win.

The Leafs were condemned to their seventh consecutive playoff series loss, and have not made the second round since 2004. After the match, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe commended the reigning champions on their series win.

"They [Tampa Bay] don’t get a lot of credit because you don’t really think of them this way, but we knew coming into this series that going into third periods down against this team was going to be a challenge," he said post-game.

"They are the number-one team in the NHL when it comes to limiting chances against when up a goal in the third period. All regular season, they were that.

"That is sort of the hallmark of their success. That is championship hockey. They didn’t give us a great deal in that third period tonight. Those are the things I take away - just how hard they defend and how they prioritise defending."

In Saturday's other results, the Carolina Hurricanes won their series-deciding game at home to the Boston Bruins 3-2, while the Edmonton Oilers claimed Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings with a 2-0 win.

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