COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets were clinging to a 4-3 lead and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s high-scoring stars were swarming around Sergei Bobrovsky, as the clock ticked down in what would be a history-making playoff game.

The Blue Jackets’ goaltender stood tall, as he had the entire playoff series, turning away dangerous shots by Erik Cernak and Cedric Paquette in the last five minutes. The Lightning pulled their goalie late, and the Blue Jackets opened the scoring spigot on the way to a 7-3 win and shocking four-game sweep of the NHL’s best team.

“It’s so much fun to play in this kind of atmosphere,” said Bobrovsky after the Blue Jackets won in front of a raucous home crowd that had been waiting 18 years for the team to win a playoff series. “You feel the energy, you feel that atmosphere, you know? It’s great. It gives you more energy when you win.”

Not only did Columbus win a playoff series for the first time in five tries , it did so in dominating fashion. The Blue Jackets ousted a team that had put together one of the most prolific scoring lineups ever, a team whose 62 regular-season wins tied for the most in NHL history.

As the seconds ticked off what had turned into a rout because of empty-net goals, the Nationwide Arena crowd that had been standing for the entire third period roared even louder, and the players celebrated wildly, spilling from the bench onto the ice.

Winger Cam Atkinson even got a cut on his chin during the joyous melee.

“What an experience in that series,” said center Matt Duchene, who was acquired at the trade deadline along with winger Ryan Dzingel from Ottawa for the playoff push. “I have never played in front of a crowd like that. Insane. It’s pretty special what we just did. We’re going to enjoy it, but we’ve got to carry this momentum forward now.”

Columbus, which didn’t secure an Eastern Division playoff spot until the 81st game, advances to play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series, which the Maple Leafs lead 2-1.

ISLANDERS: The expectations were modest at first. The New York Islanders simply wanted to be better than the team that allowed the most goals in the NHL in 2017-18. Tougher to play against. Smarter on both ends of the ice.

Momentum built slowly. A midseason surge under new head coach Barry Trotz gave them confidence. The goaltending of Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss, too. Still, even a surprising second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division and the franchise’s best regular season in 35 years couldn’t stop the Islanders from being underdogs heading into their first-round series against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So much for that.

Over the course of four games, the Islanders put on a defensive clinic that left one of the league’s marquee teams searching for answers and left little doubt their turnaround under Trotz is very real. New York finished off a sweep with a poised 3-1 win in Game 4 that propelled it to the Eastern Conference semifinals for just the second time since 1993.

The Islanders held Pittsburgh to just six goals, trailed for less than five minutes the entire series and didn’t buckle late in the clincher despite losing defenseman Johnny Boychuck and forward Cal Clutterbuck to injuries in the second period. When the final horn sounded, New York found itself shaking hands and moving on after needing a little over 12 periods to bring Pittsburgh’s 13th straight playoff appearance to an abrupt and decisive halt.

CAPITALS: The Capitals decided to shake up their lineup during practice in hopes of creating a spark on a team that believes it hasn’t yet played its best game this postseason.

Tinkering with all four forward lines, one of the biggest changes Coach Todd Reirden made was slotting forward T.J. Oshie on to the top line to skate alongside center Nicklas Backstrom and captain Alex Ovechkin. Forward Tom Wilson was moved to the second line with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and forward Jakub Vrana. Through three games against Carolina, the Capitals’ top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Wilson had combined for nine points.

Oshie has tallied one goal and one assist this postseason, but is hoping this lineup change will further spur offensive production as the Capitals look to bounce back in Game 4 Thursday night. They lead the series, 2-1

DEVILS: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Gilles Senn to a two-year, entry-level contract.

The 23-year-old Senn, a fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft, spent the last five seasons with HC Davos in Switzerland. He finished his tenure with a .901 save percentage and played in 16 playoff games.


STARS 5, PREADORS 1: Roope Hintz and Alexander Radulov scored power-play goals on Dallas’ first two shots, and the Stars chased Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne with an early four-goal onslaught, beating the Predators to even series at two games each.

Hintz added his second career playoff goal in the second period, on John Kingberg’s third assist of the game. Andrew Cogliano and Mats Zuccarello also scored, and Ben Bishop stopped 34 shots.

Roman Josi scored for the Predators.

Game 5 is Saturday in Nashville.

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