Panthers, Rangers, Jets and Canucks back home for Game 2s, all seeking 2-0 NHL playoff series leads

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — A slew of big NHL names will be heading back onto NHL playoff ice on Tuesday night with 1-0 series leads. Among them: Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk in Florida, Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg and Brock Boeser in Vancouver.

Matt Rempe, too.

He’s the New York Rangers’ rookie whose stock is soaring. Rempe scored a goal in his playoff debut Sunday and is officially a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden.

“I can’t think of a player that’s come in and had that impact on a team, on a fan base, on a city,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “If you watch him and look at him, he just smiles. He’s just happy. Loves being here, loves to play the game. He’s been great.”

Rempe’s mother was in town, and they went out for dinner the night before Game 1. But Rempe isn’t used to making reservations, and it took about 10 tries before they found a place to eat.

He might have a little easier time getting seated now.

“Any game he’s in the lineup, he’s had an effect on the game,” Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey said.

All the Tuesday games in the NHL playoffs are rematches of series-openers from Sunday, where home teams all prevailed: The Rangers beat Washington 4-1, Florida topped Tampa Bay 3-2, Winnipeg won a wild one over Colorado 7-6 and Vancouver rallied with three goals in the third to down Nashville 4-2.

The Panthers took their first-ever series lead over Tampa Bay, and scored as many goals Sunday as they did in the entirety of the four-game sweep by the Lightning in their most recent playoff series in 2022.

“There’s going to be places where both teams are going to want to get better, and there’s going to be places that both teams are going to feel they were pretty darn good,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “And that’s what from today to the drop of the puck is, how much can you leverage what you think you were good at and mitigate where they were good.”

The Jets-Avalanche game was the first this season — the whole season, not just playoffs — to have two separate periods where at least six goals were scored. The teams tied 3-3 in the first, then 3-3 again in the third. The difference was Winnipeg getting the only goal of the second.

“It wasn’t exactly how we drew it up,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “But if that’s the way it goes, that’s the way it goes.”

Nashville had been 18-1-0 and winners of 15 straight games since the calendar flipped to 2024 when leading after two periods. But Vancouver got two goals in the third a mere 12 seconds apart, and that was how the Canucks rallied to get Game 1 of that matchup.

CAPITALS at RANGERS, Rangers lead 1-0, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Home teams are now 5-0-0 in the season series between these two clubs, something the Rangers will obviously try to keep going.

“It’s one game,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “Either way, you’ve got to turn the page pretty quick. It’s a long series.”

Laviolette surely knows the character of plenty of players in the Washington locker room; he coached there for the past three seasons. But if Washington is finally going to win a series again — the Capitals haven’t gotten out of Round 1 since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 — it probably needs something good to happen, and fast.

Washington is now 1-42-3 over the past three seasons when scoring less than two goals.

LIGHTNING at PANTHERS, Panthers lead 1-0, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was unfazed after losing Game 1 at Florida, with good reason. Game 1s are nice, sure, but they guarantee nothing.

Since taking over in Tampa Bay, Cooper’s teams have won nine different series — including the 2020 Stanley Cup final — after losing Game 1.

“Have you seen us play in the playoffs for the last decade? These boys have weathered all the frustration they possibly can, and we’ve seen it every different way,” Cooper said. “Florida is an exceptional team. They’re going to do this. They’ve done it to teams all year and they’re going to do it to us for the rest of the playoffs. And so, it’s our job to fight through it.”

Florida lost Game 1 of Round 1 last year as well, in Boston — and went to the Stanley Cup final.

“We know there’s a long way to go,” said Panthers forward Sam Reinhart, who scored Sunday and now has 58 goals this season — one shy of matching Pavel Bure’s Panthers single-season record (when counting both regular season and playoffs).

AVALANCHE at JETS, Jets lead 1-0, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Colorado is now 0-4-0 against the Jets this season and has been outscored 24-10 in those four games. Winnipeg is the only team to score seven on Colorado this season — and has done so twice in the last week and a half. The Jets beat the Avs 7-0 on April 13.

The Avalanche had won 79 consecutive games when scoring six goals, before Sunday. Winnipeg had lost 55 in row (0-52-3) when allowing six goals.

PREDATORS at CANUCKS, Canucks lead 1-0, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Vancouver’s Dakota Joshua had two games with two goals in his first 177 NHL contests. He’s now had two of those in his last 10, the second of those coming Sunday night in what was only his second NHL playoff game.

Nashville got into the playoffs on the strength of a 16-2-0 run toward the end of the regular season. The Predators are only 4-6-1 since and here’s another ominous sign — they’re 0-4-0 versus the Canucks this season, outscored in those games 17-8.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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