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NHL Bubble Wrap: Flyers, Canucks force more Game 7 playoff matchups

NHL Bubble Wrap: Flyers, Canucks give hockey fans more Game 7 matchups Thatcher Demko dominance

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 03: Christopher Tanev #8 of the Vancouver Canucks clears the puck after goaltender Thatcher Demko #35 makes a save against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period of Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on September 03, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

  • It took double overtime, but the Flyers stayed alive against the Islanders to force another NHL Game 7.
  • While it seemed like it could go either way for a while, the Canucks ran away with the third period of Game 6. With that, they pushed the Golden Knights to a Game 7.
  • So, hockey fans get two NHL Game 7 matchups on Friday (first Avalanche - Stars, then Golden Knights - Canucks) and one on Saturday (Flyers - Islanders). Totally predictable when the four Second Round series were all at 3-1, right?

Scores for Game 6 of Flyers - Islanders, Canucks - Golden Knights

Game 6: Flyers 5, Islanders 4 [double OT] (Series tied 3-3)

Let’s be honest: the Flyers were lucky to win Game 6. And, considering that all three of the Flyers’ wins came in overtime -- this one nearing a third OT period -- they made it this far by tiny margins of victory. But you know what they say: “It’s now how, it’s how much?” Even without winning in regulation or scoring a power-play goal during this series against the Islanders, the Flyers now hold an equal chance of advancing to the 2020 Eastern Conference Final.

Hockey, right?

Game 6: Canucks 4, Golden Knights 0 (Series tied 3-3)

To some extent, the final score of Canucks - Golden Knights Game 6 is misleading. You might argue that Vegas outplayed (or at least outshot) Vancouver about as much as the Isles did to the Flyers. For much of Game 6, it was merely a 1-0 lead for the Canucks. Regardless, Vancouver pulled away in this one, starting with a J.T. Miller 2-0 goal about one minute into the third period.

Goaltending could pose a fascinating question with both teams turning around for a Game 7 back-to-back closer on Friday at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN (livestream). As hot as Thatcher Demko has been (more on that in a moment), could fatigue prompt Vancouver to go back to Jacob Markstrom? Also, will we see a reprise of the Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Robin Lehner controversy? After all, Lehner also potentially faces a back-to-back, and he’s been unable to outduel Demko and the Canucks in two elimination opportunities.


NHL Three Stars: Thursday’s 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs games

1. Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks

After Demko stole Game 5 for the Canucks with a 42-save masterpiece, people said: “There’s no way Demko can match that in Game 6.” He didn’t. Instead, Demko one-upped himself. The 24-year-old goalie earned his first career playoff shutout with a whopping 48-save goose egg. The Golden Knights couldn’t beat Demko despite receiving five power-play opportunities, and they were chasing a deficit from very early on.

Considering the Golden Knights’ firepower, you can’t ask for a much higher degree of difficulty. Amazing.

2. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers

Yes, Hart allowed four goals in Game 6. But the Islanders absolutely dominated the Flyers, and Game 6 swung on another younger goalie shutting the door while a veteran (in this case, Semyon Varlamov) struggled. Hart made 49 saves, including some tough stops once Game 6 extended to overtime.

Both goalies enjoyed a bounce or two. Jordan Eberle, for one, must be losing sleep after near-misses. Yet both Demko and Hart were brilliant in must-win games.

3. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

OK, Barzal’s not going to knock you out with his one goal and one assist, especially in a losing cause. That said ... goodness was Barzal ever dominant. Barzal generated nine shots on goal in Game 6, looking dangerous on virtually every shift. Via Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders generated a silly 11 high-danger chances versus just one against at even-strength with Barzal on the ice. It’s remarkable that Barzal “only” finished with two points. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t a 100-percent bet to even play.

Game 6 highlights from Flyers - Islanders, Canucks - Golden Knights

Marvel at the Flyers surviving this affair:

Some timely scoring and another incredible performance from Demko in this Canucks win:

Factoids: Demko, 3-1 series leads, Game 7 info, and more

  • Demko’s 48 saves ties Ed Belfour for the second-most saves in a shutout while a goalie faced elimination in playoff history. Dominik Hasek will be tough to ever match at first with a ridiculous 70 back in 1994. [Via Sportsnet Stats]
  • Also via Sportsnet: Demko’s 48 saves set a new playoff record for a rookie shutout.
  • This marks the second time in NHL history where at least three series went from 3-1 to a Game 7 during the same playoff round. Remarkably, four teams managed that feat during the 1992 Division Semifinals, and three of those teams completed comebacks. [Via NHL PR]

How to watch NHL Game 7 of Stars - Avalanche, Golden Knights - Canucks on Friday

Game 7: Avalanche vs. Stars (Series tied 3-3) – 4 p.m. ET, USA Network (livestream)

Game 7: Golden Knights vs. Canucks (Series tied 3-3) – 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)

How to watch NHL Game 7 of Flyers - Islanders on Saturday

NHL Game 7: Flyers vs. Islanders (Series tied 3-3) – 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)