Five things to know about the NHL playoffs

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Fiery John Tortorella, who served up the infamous "moral victory" line after a close loss while coaching the 2017 Vancouver Canucks, confirmed yesterday he has had discussions about coaching the Philadelphia Flyers next season.

Torts might have interpreted Darryl Sutter's post-game presser last night as one of those special Calgary losses, as the Flames' bench boss heaped praise on his players after a 5-3 loss that featured gift goals, gaffes, goats and heroes.

Here are five things we need to know heading into tonight's action in the NHL playoffs:

SUTTER SPINS INTO CAPTAIN POSITIVE

After the Edmonton Oilers scored a gift goal 21 seconds into Game 4, Darryl Sutter motioned for his players to settle down.

The Calgary coach said he liked his team's first period even though the Flames trailed 3-0, and he liked the fact his players improved against Connor McDavid, even though the Oilers' captain had two points, Leon Draisaitl made NHL history with three assists and Evander Kane had two goals.

And he liked the comeback, noting the Flames didn't go down easy. What's that saying about close only counts in horseshoes and drive-in movies?

“I know we’re in a hole, but it’s like saying we had to win on the road, now we have to win at home," said Sutter. “We hung around tonight and we’re not going to go away easy and if they thought they were going to beat us easy, that wasn’t the case.”

GOALIE SAVES LAUGHS FOR LATER

Mike Smith was laughing after the Oilers' Game 4 victory last night, but the netminder, who let Calgary tie the game 3-3 in the third by whiffing on a 130 foot-plus clearing foot shot by the short-handed Flames, admits he felt sick at the moment.

"I can laugh now, right?" a relieved Smith told reporter after the game. "I don't think there's been a time in my career where I've lost the puck, where I have no idea where it went.

"You don't want that to happen ... ever. It was an unbelievable goal by Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) at the end there ... a win is a win."

KADRI THANKS BLUES FOR MOTIVATION

Nazem Kadri thanked St. Louis fans yesterday for pumping him up after recording his first playoff hat trick in a 6-3 win Monday that gave the Colorado Avalanche a commanding 3-1 series lead against the Blues.

But coming off the game of his life, the agitating forward delivered an additional message: "For those that hate, that was for them."

After colliding with Blues' star netminder Jordan Binnington in Game 3, who was injured on the crease crash and has been ruled out for the remainder of the series, Kadri became the target of death threats and vulgar, racist comments before Game 4.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with that for a long time," Kadri said. “It’s sad to say, but that’s just the fact of the matter.”

Kadri's wife, Ashley, surprised Blues' coach Craig Berube served up a terse "no comment" when asked about the threats, said yesterday: "This behaviour doesn’t belong in sports, or anywhere. If you are not condemning racism, then you are tolerating it."

PANTHERS STUNG BY SERIES SWEEP

After schooling the competition en route to a Presidents' Trophy, the Florida Panthers received a harsh post-season lesson from their Sunshine State rival.

Panthers coach Andrew Brunette, who admits to feeling stung by the Battle of Florida sweep, says he's still proud of his players but tips his cap to the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I mean, they're Stanley Cup champions for a reason, and [it's] their evolution of how they were once a high-flying kind of offensive team and they found their recipe how to win and they stick with it. Obviously, we aspire to be them, and this was another learning experience for us."

Brunette said the Panthers can learn from the Lightning's leadership and their will to win when it matters most.

"They've got a guy like their captain (Steven Stamkos), who has scored 60 goals in this league, and he's playing defence, blocking shots. He's willing his team to win, and they're all like that. That's the reason why they win."

RANGERS LIGHT IT UP AT MSG

The New York Rangers brought some muscle and goals to Madison Square Garden as they squashed the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 to even their series at 2-2.

In winning their fifth straight home playoff game, the Rangers matched a franchise record accomplished four times previously. The last was during their Stanley Cup championship run in 1994. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, fell to 0-5 on the road in the post-season. Fortunately for them, they have a 6-0 mark at home and Game 5 is in Raleigh, N.C.

The Hurricanes have only scored six goals in the series, including one in each of the last two games, and are 0-for-9 on the power play against the Rangers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022

Gord Kurenoff, The Canadian Press

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