The Red Wings made short work of the Coyotes, while the Capitals and Penguins worked double overtime to get their desired result. Buffalo and Anaheim just knotted their respective series at two, making it a best-of-three for the right to advance ot the second round.
Rangers built a 3-0 lead and coughed it up in the third period and then a failed clearing attempt by Marian Gaborik that led to Jason Chimera, alone behind Henrik Lunqvist, netting the winner in double overtime.
Rookie Marcus Johansson scored two third-period goals to get the Capitals even and both Johansseon and winger Eric Fehr paced the Capitals with a plus-3 rating.
Conversely, Alexander Ovechkin was notably silent, being held off the scoresheet and finishing minus-2. Credit has to go to Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, who have done a fine job matched up against Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
Girardi was credited with nine blocked shots Wednesday; even if that might be a tad optimistic on behalf of the stats crew at MSG, Girardi's making a difference and played a game-high 39:45.
Brandon Dubinsky led the Rangers with a goal and an assist, but was still a minus-1, as was Gaborik, who did score the Blueshirts' first goal. It was Gaborik's first goal in a month.
The Capitals now hold a 3-1 lead in the series, but it's hardly been a commanding performance, with two overtime wins needed to get to this point. Nevertheless, going home with that 3-1 lead makes it a daunting task for the Rangers to win the three in a row necessary to take the series.
Dwayne Roloson was the star of the show for Tampa Bay, stopping 50 of 53 shots, but the game-winning goal, by Penguins winger James Neal in double overtime, was a bad angle from the boards, yet somehow found its way past Roloson to give the Penguins a 3-1 series lead.
Pittsburgh got yet another goal from hard-nosed winger Arron Asham, his third of the series, which is really something considering he has five in 44 regular season games this year.
Martin St. Louis may be the only dangerous Lightning forward, but he had a goal and an assist, giving him six points for the series.
Perhaps the biggest issue for the Lightning is the continued ineffectiveness of Steven Stamkos, the 21-year-old sniper who has one assist through the first four games but, more troubling, didn't record a shot in 30:36 of ice time in Game Four, and has just five shots on goal through the first four games. Stamkos averaged 3.3 shots on goal per game during the regular season, and was held without a shot six times in 82 games, so he's not getting nearly as many chances in this series.
Credit the Penguins' defence. In Game Four, Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin saw the lion's share of the Stamkos matchup, but Brooks Orpik has been a factor as well.
Pittsburgh's grind-it-out style got contributions throughout the lineup, with goals coming from Asham, Tyler Kennedy and Neal, while banger Mike Rupp tied for the team lead with six shots on goal in a modest 11:41 of ice time.
Coming into the series, the Penguins appeared to have the veteran savvy that could prevail over a generally inexperienced Lightning team and it appears to be playing out that way, as Pittsburgh takes whatever offensive contributions they can get, from whomever is capable of providing it on any given night, while shutting down the Lightning's big scorers (St. Louis excluded).
Ryan Miller turned back 32 Flyers shots for the shutout, evening the series at two games apiece.
Sabres defenceman Jordan Leopold was effective in his second game back from injury, playing 21:01 and spending a good portion of time matched up against Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux, who was limited to just one shot on goal.
Flyers forward Jeff Carter played just six minutes and left the game with an apparent knee injury, following a collision with Sabres blueliner Tyler Myers, and that could make a difference if Carter isn't capable of playing Game Five.
James van Riemsdyk led all Flyers with six shots on net, but Miller was on top of his game. If Buffalo is going to pull off the upset in this series, it stands to reason that their advantage in goal should play a significant part.
Anaheim brought out the big guns and outshot the Predators 38-22, pulling away in the third period for a decisive Game Four victory.
Corey Perry led the Ducks with a goal and two assists in a team-high 26:49 of ice time. Ryan Getzlaf and rookie blueliner Cam Fowler also had two-point nights, while rookie Brandon McMillan -- filling in for a suspended Bobby Ryan -- was more of a factor alongside Getzlaf and Perry, registering six shots on goal and picking up a goal and an assist.
The Ducks' big line got the better of the head-to-head matchup with the Predators line of Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn, as the Predators trio each finished minus-2 on the game, though Hornqvist scored a goal and the line did combine to register nine shots on goal.
Nashville winger Martin Erat left the game with an upper body injury after getting clocked by Jarkko Ruutu. It wasn't a devastating head shot, but was way late, well after Erat had moved the puck to a teammate. While the focus lately has been on headshots, it appears that hitting players that don't have the puck might need some more attention too.
In any event, this win was crucial for the Ducks as they now return home with the series tied and have Ryan returning to action for Game Five.
What makes a team like the Red Wings so dangerous? Yes, having a superstar like Pavel Datsyuk helps, but when they're missing Henrik Zetterberg for the first round, the Wings get production from others.
In the series-clinching win over Phoenix, the Wings got three points from Dan Cleary, two points from Todd Bertuzzi, Patrick Eaves and Valtteri Filppula. Datsyuk had one assist, on the game's opening goal, and then the supporting cast took over.
Detroit was the better team, outshooting Phoenix 39-27 in Game Four, and got better goaltending. If the Coyotes were going to stand a chance in this series, they couldn't have Ilya Bryzgalov get outplayed by Jimmy Howard in net, but that's what happened.
The Coyotes line of Martin Hanzal, Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata (collective plus for the season??) each took a minus-3 on the night, matchup
While the Red Wings get to sit and wait for their next opponent, with hopes that Zetterberg might be ready for Round Two, the Coyotes now await their fate, finding out whether last night's game is the last for them in Phoenix, or if there still might be a rabbit to pull out of the proverbial hat to keep them from returning to Winnipeg.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.