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NHL PLAYOFFS

BLUE JACKETS 3 LIGHTNING 1

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their stunning postseason mastery of the Tampa Bay Lightning, beating the NHL's best team 3-1 on Sunday night and moving to within a game of sweeping the playoff series.

Matt Duchene, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Cam Atkinson scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky fended off a desperate third-period charge to finish with 30 saves for the Blue Jackets, who took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal. Columbus will try to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history in Game 4 at home Tuesday night.

Without their top scorer, the suspended Nikita Kucherov, and injured defenseman Victor Hedman, the Lightning couldn't find any momentum until late in the final period, and then Bobrovsky rose to the challenge.

Columbus has commanded the series since they fell behind 3-0 in the opening period of Game 1, only to rally to win that one 4-3. They pummeled the Lightning 5-1 in Game 2, and solidly outplayed them for all but a few minutes on Sunday.

The night was satisfying for Bobrovsky -- he hasn't been great in the playoffs the last two seasons -- and the Blue Jackets, who were 2-8 at Nationwide Arena in three previous postseason appearances. They are the only NHL team that hasn't won a playoff series.

The Lightning are facing an unexpected quick elimination. Teams have come back from 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series on just four previous occasions. The last time was in 2014, when the Los Angeles Kings dug out of the hole in the opening series against San Jose and eventually won the Stanley Cup.

Last season, the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over Washington, only to drop four in a row, three of them in Columbus.

After a scoreless first period, the Blue Jackets struck 1:44 into the second when Duchene was in the right place to score off a rebounded. Bjorkstrand went over Andrei Vasilevskiy's head from the right circle on a power play for a 2-0 Columbus lead at 8:25, with rookie Alexandre Texier picking up his first NHL assist.

Tampa Bay picked up the offensive pressure in the third period and got on the board when Ondrej Palat beat Bobrovsky from the slot at 4:40. But the Lighting couldn't muster any more, and Atkinson connected on an empty-netter with a minute left in the game.

ISLANDERS 4, PENGUINS 1

PITTSBURGH -- The New York Islanders are on the cusp of just their second playoff series victory in more than a quarter-century.

Jordan Eberle scored for the third consecutive game, Robin Lehner stopped 25 shots and the Islanders rolled to a victory over the stunned Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday to take a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

Brock Nelson added his second goal of the playoffs and Leo Komarov scored the first postseason goal of his career for the Islanders, who have pushed the star-laden Penguins to the brink of elimination.

Garrett Wilson scored Pittsburgh's lone goal, a first-period deflection past Lehner that gave the Penguins just their second lead of the series.

It didn't last. Eberle tied it 28 seconds later and Nelson's wrist shot put New York in front to stay just 1:02 after Eberle's third playoff goal in as many games.

Komarov's third-period goal gave the Islanders more than enough breathing room, and Anders Lee put the Penguins away with an empty-net goal with 1:28 remaining.

Matt Murray finished with 32 saves for the Penguins, but Pittsburgh again struggled to generate any sort of offensive momentum against the Islanders. New York, which allowed an NHL-low 196 goals during the regular season, has surrendered just five in three games.

Pittsburgh needs a victory in Game 4 on Tuesday to avoid being swept for the first time since the 2013 Eastern Conference finals against Boston.

Sports on 04/15/2019

Print Headline: Blue Jackets stun Lightning, up 3-0

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