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Like the first day of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, the second was surprising and perhaps even more so than the first as all five underdogs won in Sunday’s games. Did you miss any of it? NoVa Caps has you covered:
The 11th-seeded Arizona Coyotes stormed out to a 3-0 lead in Game 1 of their best-of-five series against the sixth-seeded Nashville Predators in the first 15:42 but Predators forward Filip Forsberg struck on the man advantage with three seconds left in the first to get Nashville back in the game. Forward Michael Grabner scored on the backhand of a shorthanded breakaway with 3:35 left in the second to give the Coyotes the three-goal lead back. Defenseman Ryan Ellis and Forsberg both struck in the third period to get Nashville within one. Still, Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper swatted away 40 shots, including 18 in the final frame to give the Coyotes a 1-0 series lead. Predators goaltender Juusse Saros made 33 saves in the loss. Game 2 from Rogers Place is set for Tuesday at 2:30 PM ET (NHL Network).
— NHL (@NHL) August 2, 2020
— NHL (@NHL) August 2, 2020
After a scoreless first period between the fourth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers and first-seeded Boston Bruins, forwards Michael Raffl and Nate Thompson struck in a span of 3:56 in the second to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. Bruins forward Chris Wagner slid a shot past Flyers goaltender Carter Hart at the side of the net to get the Bruins’ back within one with 1:09 left in the second, but defenseman Philippe Myers wristed one past Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak’s blocker to restore the Flyers’ two-goal lead just eight seconds later. Forward Scott Laughton called his own number on a two-on-one rush and went top-shelf on Halak’s glove side to give the Flyers a 4-1 lead. Goaltender Tuukka Rask was unfit to play for the Bruins. Hart made 34 saves for the Flyers while Halak thwarted just 25 of 29 that came his way. The Bruins face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday (4 PM ET, NBCSN) while the Flyers take on the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
— NHL (@NHL) August 2, 2020
— NHL (@NHL) August 2, 2020
The first-seeded St. Louis Blues and second-seeded Colorado Avalanche were in a tight game for much of the first round-robin game out West. Forward David Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead with a snapshot from the left dot on the power play with 3:14 left in the first. It would remain scoreless for a while until Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves snapped one past Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington from the slot. Later in the third, the Avalanche took the 2-1 lead with 0.1 seconds left after center Nazem Kadri poked the puck in on a rebound upfront on the power-play. Binnington made 36 saves while Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer turned aside 31 shots. The Avalanche face the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place on Wednesday (6:30 PM ET, NHL Network) while the Blues take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
The ninth-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets shut out the eighth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 2-0 to take a 1-0 series lead. The game was scoreless until Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson zipped down the wing and sniped it past Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen just 65 seconds into the third. Center Alexander Wennberg added an empty netter with 19 seconds left. Andersen made 33 saves in the loss while Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stopped all 28 Maple Leafs shots. Game 2 is set for Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena (4 PM ET, NBCSN).
The Minnesota Wild, the 10th seed in the Western Conference, blanked the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 3-0 in Game 1 of their series. Forward Kevin Fiala picked up right where he left off before the pause, scoring on a snapshot off of a draw on a power-play just 2:50 into the game. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon netted one from the right circle after curling the puck and putting it through the five-hole of Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom at 10:24 of the second. The Canucks would ramp up the intensity after the Wild dominated the first, but a 28-save shutout from goaltender Alex Stalock and two power-play goals sank the Canucks’ fate. Markstrom made 28 saves in the loss. Game 2 is set for Tuesday (10:45 PM ET, NBCSN).
— Rink Guy Robb Dahlen (@ClutterPuck) August 3, 2020
Three Stars Of The Day
- Spurgeon (Wild) – two goals, three points, two shots, four blocks, 22:41 TOI
- Forsberg (Predators) – two goals, seven shots, 19:22 TOI
- Korpisalo (Blue Jackets) – 28 saves on 28 shots, including two-for-two shorthanded
Signature Off-Ice Moments
— NHL (@NHL) August 3, 2020
A Look Ahead To Monday
New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes, Game 2 (noon ET, NBCSN) – The Hurricanes enter the game with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series after a 3-2 win at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday. The game was wild with a fight in the first two minutes, some big hits, seven power-plays, and 40 combined penalty minutes between the two teams. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin missed Game 1 (unfit to play), so his Stanley Cup Playoff debut should add to the juicy storylines entering the game.
Winnipeg Jets at Calgary Flames, Game 2 (2:30 PM ET, NHL Network) – The Flames can take a 2-0 series lead with a win in Game 2 after a 4-1 win in Game 1 on Saturday, where they limited the Jets to 18 shots and scored four unanswered goals after the Jets opened the scoring. Jets forwards Mark Schiefele (lower-body) and Patrik Laine (upper-body) both left Game 1 due to injuries, and both saw a specialist on Sunday, meaning the Jets could be in trouble for Game 2. Though, never rule out a team with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
Capitals at Lightning, round-robin (4 PM ET, NBCSN nationally, NBC Sports Washington locally) – The two highest-scoring teams from the regular season (Lightning were first with an average of 3.47 goals-per-game, Capitals second with an average of 3.42) clash in each of their round-robin opener. Both teams clashed in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final, which was won by the Capitals in seven games. Defenseman John Carlson, a Norris Trophy finalist, was injured in the Capitals’ 3-2 exhibition win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday and is questionable for Monday’s game. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was also a Norris Trophy finalist. The Capitals swept all three regular-season games against the Lightning, who were a league-best 26-8-2 after the last meeting between the two teams after going 17-13-4 in their first 34 games. Meanwhile, the Capitals were 15-14-3 after their final game against the Lightning this season after a 26-6-5 start. Braden Holtby (25-14-6, .897 goals-against average, 3.11 goals-against average during the regular season) will start for the Capitals and Andrei Vasilevskiy (35-14-3, .917 save percentage, 2.56 goals-against average, three shutouts during the regular season) will start for the Lightning. The Lightning finished with a 43-21-6 regular-season record (second in the Eastern Conference) while the Capitals were 41-20-8 (third).
Stars at Golden Knights, round-robin (6:30 PM ET, NHL Network) – The two teams start their round-robin tournament in the Western Conference. The Golden Knights were one of the hottest teams in the NHL before the pause, going a league-best 11-2-0 in their final 13 regular-season games, to run away with their second Pacific Division title in their third season of existence. The Stars allowed second-fewest goals in the NHL this season (an average of 2.52 per game) and had the second-best team save percentage (.933). The two teams arguably have two of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL as the Golden Knights have Marc-Andre Fleury, who went 27-16-5 with a .905 save percentage, a 2.77 goals-against average, and five shutouts during the regular season, and Robin Lehner. Meanwhile, the Stars counter that with Ben Bishop, who went 21-16-4 with a .920 save percentage, a 2.50 goals-against average, and two shutouts, and Anton Khudobin. They were also two of the best defensive teams this season as the Stars were fourth with a 116.08 expected goals-against while the Golden Knights were 10th with a 122.95 expected goals-against. The Stars went 1-0-1 in the regular season against the Golden Knights with both games occurring in Dallas.
Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins, Game 2 (8 PM ET, NBCSN) – The Penguins prepare for the biggest game of their season already so far after they lost 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 despite overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the second period. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was solid in Saturday’s series opener, making 39 saves. Both teams took a lot of shots and brought the body in Game 1 as the two teams combined for 83 hits and 44 blocked shots. Expect the Penguins to come out flying to avoid facing a do-or-die situation in Game 3 on Wednesday.
Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers, Game 2 (10:30 PM ET, NBCSN) – Like the Penguins, the Oilers face a massive game with a chance to avoid facing elimination in Game 3 on Monday after dropping Game 1 by a score of 6-4. If you believe momentum carries from game to game, the Oilers did score the final two goals of the game in the third period. The Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals in a span of 7:06 in the first period after the Oilers first struck Game 1. If Saturday’s game was any indication, we should be in for one heck of a series. We could see goaltender Mikko Koskinen in net for the Oilers as he replaced Mike Smith on Saturday after he allowed five goals on 23 shots. Koskinen made 19 saves in relief.
By Harrison Brown