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NHL Playoff Update: Bruins stay on course

There have been nine overtime games, two suspensions, multiple goalie controversies, and zero first-round sweeps in a hectic first week of the NHL Playoffs.

The top seeds in each conference, Boston and Vegas are on the verge of progressing and the Toronto Maple Leafs have put the Tampa Bay Lightning on the brink of elimination. 

Elsewhere, there is still much to play for in the opening round of the NHL Playoffs.

Vegas put Jets on brink   

The Vegas Golden Knights have won three in a row, including 4-2 in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference first round and put the Winnipeg Jets one loss away from elimination.  

Vegas are the first seed from the West and -200 to end the Wild Card holding Jets' season at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.  

Forward Mark Scheifele left Game 4 for Winnipeg early in the first period, and with number-one defenceman Josh Morrissey also out, the Golden Knights have just had too much for their weakened opponent so far. 

Vowing they won't quit; the Jets are +170 to win in Vegas and keep the series alive. 

Bruins take stronghold

The Presidents' Trophy-holding Boston Bruins took a stranglehold of their first round meeting with the Florida Panthers, winning 6-2 in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead.  

Taylor Hall and Jake DeBrusk each scored twice for the Bruins who again played without their top two centres, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, each of whom is out with an upper-body injury. 

Florida won't go down easy and managed a win at TD Garden in Game 2, but they have been outscored 16-11 over the series and as yet haven't been able to overcome Boston's superior depth and better goaltending. 

The Bruins are heavily favoured at -240 to seal progression at home where they lost just four times in regulation in the regular season. 

Oilers impress to lead Kings  

The Edmonton Oilers produced their most convincing performance of their Western Conference first round series to take a 3-2 lead with a 6-3 win over Los Angeles Kings in Game 5.  

The Oilers have relied heavily on their powerplay to build the lead, scoring eight times on 14 opportunities which is a sensational 57.1%. 

Los Angeles will host Game 6 on Saturday and to meet their +140 odds of getting a win to stay in the series, they must focus on staying out of the box. 

Stars shut out Wild 

Jake Oettinger made 27 saves as the Dallas Stars shut out the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in Game 5 of the Western Conference first round to take a 3-2 series lead.  

In addition to Oettinger, forward Roope Hintz has been a major difference maker for Dallas and his 11 points (four goals, seven assists) leads all players in the playoffs.  

Seven of his points have come on the Stars' powerplay, which is firing at an excellent 40.9%.  

Game 6 is in Minnesota on Friday and Dallas are -105 to grab a second road win of the series to eliminate their hosts. 

Islanders stay alive 

The New York Islanders stayed alive in the Eastern Conference first round with a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5. 

The Hurricanes still lead the series 3-2 and have a -100 chance of putting away their Wild Card opponent in New York on Friday.  

Carolina will have confidence that they can do that after winning Game 3 at UBS Arena 5-2, but that victory was their first in nine post games on the road, so the Islanders won’t be shy of betting on their -120 odds to tie the series.  

Leafs storm back  

The Toronto Maple Leafs came back from three goals down in the third period to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 in overtime of Game 4 to take a 3-1 Eastern Conference first round lead.  

Auston Matthews scored twice and William Nylander has three assists for the Maple Leafs who grabbed the winner on the powerplay 4.14 into overtime through Alex Kerfoot.  

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper has called for his team to improve in front of netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy who has allowed 19 goals in the series. His 4.33 goals-against-average and .856 save percentage are each career lows in the post-season. 

 Toronto are -155 to win Game 5 at home on Thursday to progress to the second round for the first time since 2004.  

Kraken pushing the Avs  

After winning Game 4 by a score of 3-2 in overtime, the Seattle Kraken are tied 2-2 with the reigning champions Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the Western Conference. 

Jordan Eberle scored exactly three minutes into overtime on the powerplay for the Kraken who are making their Stanley Cup playoff debut in their second season as a franchise.  

Mikko Rantanen registered twice for the Avalanche who have had good contribution from their top end players in the series. 

When Colorado are at their best, the Kraken have little answer for them, but the Avalanche have been wildly inconsistent and that has given the Kraken hope that they can pull off a +190 first-round shock.  

Devils respond to tie series 

The New Jersey Devils lost the first two games of their Eastern Conference first round series with New York Rangers 5-1, but have responded with two victories including 3-1 in Game 4 to tie the Hudson River Rivalry at two.  

Rookie Akira Schmid became the second goalie in Devils history to win each of his first two playoff games, and with a .922 save percentage has given New Jersey new found confidence after Vitek Vanecek struggled to begin the series.  

Game 5 is in New Jersey on Thursday, and the Devils are -125 to become the first team in the series to record a win at home while the Rangers are +105 to be victorious on the road for a third time. 

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