Philadelphia and Tampa Bay will play for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while Vegas and Colorado will compete for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Both matchups will take place on Saturday with “home ice” going into the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the line. It’s not a huge advantage within the bubbles, without a crowd for additional support, but having the last change offers something to play for. The Flyers, Lightning, Golden Knights and Avalanche own 2-0-0 records during the round robin.
Tampa Bay has been engaged physically in their first two games and the offense has been dangerous despite not having Steven Stamkos, who is dealing with a lower-body injury. The Flyers have also looked great and have carried over the play that made them so successful prior to the pause of the 2019-20 campaign. Vegas and Colorado have been great offensively, especially the Golden Knights. The Avalanche have only given up one goal against so far.
The Washington Capitals (0-1-1) will play against the Boston Bruins (0-2-0) on Sunday for the No. 3 seed in the East, while St. Louis (0-2-0) and Dallas (0-2-0) will also play on Sunday for the No. 3 spot in the West.
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Meanwhile, in the best-of-five portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, the Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs have been pushed to the brink of elimination by the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively. Additionally, the Calgary Flames eliminated the Winnipeg Jets from the postseason in four games.
VANCOUVER 3 MINNESOTA 0 (Canucks lead series 2-1)
The Canucks have won two games in a row after being blanked by the Wild in the series opener. Surprisingly, Minnesota hasn’t scored a goal at 5-on-5 through three games versus Vancouver.
Jacob Markstrom posted his first playoff shutout, while stopping 27 shots. He has a 1.68 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in three games.
Quinn Hughes, who is a finalist for the Calder Trophy, established a franchise record for points in a playoff game by a rookie defenseman when he recorded three assists in the contest. He currently leads the team with four points - all of which are assists - following three playoff matches.
Tyler Motte played a big role in shutting down Minnesota’s power play, which went 0-for-7 in the contest. He posted seven blocked shots, which set a new Canucks playoff record for a game decided in regulation.
Alex Stalock made a third straight start for the Wild. He earned a shutout in Game 1, but he has surrendered seven goals on 57 shots in the last two contests.
Vancouver can eliminate Minnesota from postseason play on Friday night in Game 4 with a win.
WASHINGTON 1 PHILADELPHIA 3
Scott Laughton accounted for two goals and one assist. He leads the Flyers with three goals and four points through two round-robin games.
Kevin Hayes picked up three helpers. He also has four points in two games this postseason, but he hasn’t scored a goal yet.
Flyers backup Brian Elliott was in goal for the match. He stopped 16 of 17 shots for the win.
VEGAS 6 ST. LOUIS 4
Alex Tuch led the way with two goals and one assist. His second goal of the match was a power-play marker. Shea Theodore, who also had two goals in the win, had a power-play tally as well. Vegas went 2-for-5 with the man advantage.
Zach Whitecloud became the first member of the Golden Knights to score his first career goal in the playoffs.
Mark Stone snapped a 4-4 tie at the 12:31 mark of the third period following some serious pressure from the Golden Knights. St. Louis didn’t have a shot on goal for the first 16 minutes of the third.
The Blues had 2-0 and 4-3 leads in what was a back and forth contest. David Perron opened the scoring with his second goal of the postseason.
Colton Parayko, who scored two goals in the match, became the fourth defenseman in Blues history record a multi-goal game in the postseason.
Troy Brouwer also got on the board for the Blues in the defeat.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Robert Thomas and Carl Gunnarsson didn’t play in the contest after they were in the lineup for the Blues’ round-round opener. Tarasenko and Thomas are expected to return on Sunday.
TORONTO 3 COLUMBUS 4 (OT) (Blue Jackets lead series 2-1)
Pierre-Luc Dubois sparked the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime victory in Game 3. Columbus rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win the match thanks to hat trick from Dubois, who scored the game winner with just under two minutes remaining in the first overtime period. It was a remarkable response from the 22-year-old center after he was chewed out by coach John Tortorella on the bench during Game 2 on Tuesday.
Nick Robertson, who made his NHL debut in Game 1 against Columbus, scored his first career goal to give the Leafs what appeared to be commanding 3-0 lead.
Frederik Andersen blocked 39 shots in the defeat.
It will be a quick turnaround for both teams, as Game 4 is scheduled for Friday night. Columbus can eliminate the Leafs from the playoff picture with a victory.
CALGARY 4 WINNIPEG 0 (Flames win series 3-1)
The Flames advanced to the round of 16 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs following a Game 4 win over Winnipeg. The Jets played without the services of key forwards Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for a three straight match after they were hurt in Game 1. In the end, it was too much for them to overcome against a strong Calgary team.
Dillon Dube’s first career playoff goal stood up as the game winner on Thursday night. He opened the scoring at the 3:21 mark of the first period.
Sam Bennett gave the Flames a 2-0 lead with a buzzer-beater before the first intermission. It was his second marker of the postseason. He also added an assist on an empty-netter by Rasmus Andersson. Additionally, Bennett was credited with a game-high eight hits.
Kyle Connor posted a team-high six shots on target for Winnipeg on Thursday, but the Jets couldn’t find a way to beat Talbot to extend the series. Connor went goalless in four outings during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers after he led Winnipeg with 38 goals during the regular season.
Connor Hellebuyck, who is a Vezina Trophy finalist, surrendered two goals on 32 shots.