NHL Weekly Highlights (7/28-8/2)

With NHL teams settled in at their respective Hub cities, exhibition games are underway as the qualifying round of the NHL playoffs is set to begin Saturday, August 1st. Watch some of the best highlights of the 1st week of exhibition and playoff game action as the NHL has returned to play.

Sunday (8/2)

Preds late comeback attempt not enough, as Yotes take Game 1

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The West’s 6th seeded Nashville Predators took on the 11th seeded Arizona Coyotes Sunday afternoon for Game 1 of their qualifying round series. Nashville went with Jusse Saros in net over there long time starter and former Allstar Pekka Rinne and that choice may have backfired as the Coyotes jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the 1st period with Taylor Hall, Christian Dvorak and Phil Kessel all logging 2 points apiece. The Preds were able to get one back at the end of the 1st but a shorthanded goal from Michael Grabner put the Yotes up 4-1 in the 2nd period. The Preds made a run at a comeback in the 3rd but Kuemper stood tall after allowing the Preds to pull within one to secure the 4-3 win for the Yotes and the 1-0 series lead.

The Bruins and Flyers score just 8 seconds apart late in the 2nd period of their round robin match

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The Presidents Trophy Winning Boston Bruins took on the East’s 4th seeded Philadelphia Flyers Sunday afternoon in Toronto for their round-robin matchup. The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the 2nd period but the Bruins appeared to gain some life with a goal from Chris Wagner to cut the deficit in half late in the 2nd period. Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Flyers responded with a goal of their own just 8 seconds later from Phillipe Myers to extend their lead back to 2 goals. The Flyers would go on to add another goal in the 3rd to win the game 4-1 and put themselves in 1st in the Eastern Conference round-robin table.

The Avs top the Blues in last second fashion

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The Western Conference’s top 2 seeds met in a round-robin match Sunday as the St. Louis Blues took on the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues struck first late in the 3rd period thanks to a powerplay marker from David Perron. Despite the goal, the Avs were outplaying the Blues and the shots were weighed heavily in their favor at the end of the 2nd period. Just over 5 minutes into the 3rd period the Avs were finally able to solve Blues’ goaltender Jordan Binnington thanks to a tying goal from Ryan Graves. As the 3rd period went on it appeared this game was headed for Overtime as time nearly expired with both teams unable to score. A hooking penalty by Alex Steen with 1:17 left in the 3rd put the Avs on the powerplay with the chance to end the game in regulation. With 0.1 seconds left Nazem Kadri buried the rebound from Gabriel Landeskog’s shot off the post to give the Avs the 2-1 win and put them atop the Western Conference round-robin.

Atkinson breaks the scoreless tie in the 3rd period of Game 1

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Cam Atkinson

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In what many thougt might be the most competetive qualifying round series, the 8th seeded Toronto Maple Leafs took on the 9th seeded Columbus Blue Jackets Sunday night for Game 1. The dangerous forward group for the Leafs was pegged up against one of the strongest defense cores in the league and the Blue Jackets defense held strong in this one. Through 2 periods this game was scoreless thanks in large part to the goaltending of Frederik Andersen and Joonas Korpisalo. In the 3rd period, Cam Atkinson was able to break the scoreless tie and Frederik Andersen’s shutout with a goal from the top of the dot. That would be the only goal Korpisalo and the Jackets would need as they shut out the Leafs and added an empty netter late to win 2-0 and jump out to a 1-0 series lead.

The Wild stifle the Canucks in a Game 1 shutout win

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Alex Stalock

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The 7th seeded Vancouver Canucks took on the 10th seeded Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their qualifying round Sunday night. The Minnesota Wild went with Alex Stalock in net over Devan Dubnyk who despite his season struggles, had been the Wild’s starter since 2015. The choice of Stalock in net certainly paid off in Game 1 as Stalock recorded a 28 save shutout to stifle the young and dangerous forwards upfront for the Canucks. The Wild’s powerplay provided 2 goals from Kevin Fiala and Jared Spurgeon and an empty-netter from Spurgeon iced a 3-0 win for the Wild and a 1-0 series lead.

Saturday (8/1)

The Hurricanes and Rangers do battle in Game 1 of Qualifying round

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The 6th seeded Carolina Hurricanes met with the 11th seeded New York Rangers to begin the qualifying round of the NHL playoffs. Hurricane’s defensemen Jaccob Slavin opened the scoring just over a minute into the game with a shot that got past surprise starter Henrik Lundqvist. Sebastian Aho extended the lead to 2-0 for the Canes before Mika Zibanejad cut the Ranger deficit to 2-1. Martin Necas’s 3rd-period goal served as the game-winner for the Canes as Marc Staal scored late in the 3rd but it wasn’t enough as the Canes took the 1-0 series lead.

The Blackhawks and Oilers combine for 10 goals in offensive driven Game 1

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Dominik Kubalik

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The Western Conference’s 5th seeded Edmonton Oilers took on the 12th seeded Chicago Blackhawks in game 1 of their qualifying round Saturday afternoon. The Oilers, although seeded higher than the Hawks, lack in playoff experience as the Hawks’ core of Toews, Kane, Keith, and Crawford have experience not only in the playoffs but in winning Stanley Cups. That experience showed in game 1 as Toews, Kane and Keith combined for 2 goals and 4 assists. The biggest difference-maker for the Hawks though was rookie Dominik Kubalik who had 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points as he led the Hawks to a 6-4 win over the Oilers who were led by Connor McDavid and his 4 points.

Huberdeau slips into the zone and buries the backhand through Varlamov’s five-hole

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Jonathan Huberdeau flew into the offensive zone under a minute into the 3rd period and buried a backhander through Semyon Varlamov’s five-hole to cut the Panther’s deficit to 2-1 against the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, for the Panthers, that was the only goal they would muster up as they fell to the Isles 2-1 and fell into a 1-0 hole in the series.

Game 1 between Habs and Pens Requires OT

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The East’s 12th seeded Montreal Canadiens faced off against the 5th seeded Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night in Game 1 of the qualifying round of the playoffs. On paper, the Penguins are a much better team than the Habs, and after getting Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby fully healthy they are looking to make a deep run. The biggest difference-maker in this series though is former MVP Carey price in between the pipes for the Habs. He is capable of stealing games and in this one, he did just that making 39 saves on 41 shots including 18 1st period saves which allowed his team to gain a 2-0 lead. Although the Pens were able to get 2 goals of their own to force overtime, Price stood tall and Jeff Petry buried the OT winner to put the Habs up 1-0 in the series.

Tobias Reider buries a shorthhanded brekaway to give the Flames the lead

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The Flames and Jets met Saturday night for Game 1 of what might be the most hyped-up qualifying round matchup. The Jets jumped out to a 1-0 lead despite losing their top center Mark Scheifele to a scary leg injury in the 1st period. Johnny Gaudreau was able to tie the game up for the Flames in the 2nd period and a shorthanded goal from Tobias Reider gave the Flames a 2-1 lead and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the game as they tacked on 2 more goals to win 4-1 and jump out to a 1-0 series lead.

Friday (7/31)

OFF Day for teams- Qualifying round of Playoffs begin Saturday August 1st.

Thursday (7/30)

Rinne and Saros combine for shutout as Preds down the Stars

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The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators each played in their lone exhibition game Thursday night in the Edmonton hub city. In a game that can be best characterized as a goalie duel, Viktor Arvidsson’s 2 goals stood as the difference as Nashville’s goalies Pekka Rinne and Jusse Saros combined to shutout the Stars.

Smith, Cousins and the Knights take down the Coyotes

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The Pacific division-winning Vegas Golden Knights took on the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night as the teams prepped for their first games with playoff implications this coming weekend with an exhibition match. The Golden Knights came out strong and quickly got 2 1st period goals from Reilly Smith. Taylor Hall cut the deficit to 2-1 for the Yotes but Alex Tuch helped the Knights regain the 2 goal lead and Nick Cousins potted the empty netter, his 3rd point of the night to secure the 4-1 win for the Knights.

Pastrnak slips a beauty through the five-hole of Merzlikins

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David Pastrnak cuts the Bruins deficit to 3-1 with a beautiful five-hole goal. Unfortunately this was the only goal the Bruins offense could muster as they fell to the Jackets 4-1.

Wednesday (7/29)

Lightning line of Palat, Point and Kucherov combine for 10 points in their 5-0 win over the Panthers

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The Tampa Bay Lightning were perhaps the hottest team in the NHL before the season was stopped due to the spread of COVID-19. Any doubts of whether the Lightning could sustain their great play was put to rest in their exhibition match Wednesday night as their top line combined for 10 points and led them to a 5-0 win over the Florida Panthers.

Ovi lights the lamp twice as the Caps top the Canes

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Two of the Metropolitan Divison’s best met up for an exhibition match Wednesday as the Caps faced off against the Hurricanes. The Divison winning Capitals were led by the theri captain and leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin as he had 2 goals and an assist to lead the Caps to a 3-2 win.

Nathan Mackinnon bursts through the neutral zone and buries a beauty

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MVP candidate Nathan Mackinnon flies through the neutral zone and buries a beauty of a goal to give the Avalanche a 2-1 1st period lead over the Wild. The Avs would win the game 3-2.

Tuesday (7/28)

Morgan Reilly’s 3 point night leads the Leafs past Price and the Habs

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On the 1st day of exhibition games in the NHL bubbles, the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto. The high powered offense of Toronto picked up where it left off as Morgan Reilly’s 3 point night helped lead the Leafs to a 4-2 win.

McDavid scores two, as the Oilers beat the Flames

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On day 1 of the exhibition games in the NHL bubbles, the Edmonton Oilers faced off against the Calgary Flames. The Oilers captain and superstar Connor McDavid looked the part as he scored 2 goals including a nifty no-look five-hole goal to help lift the Oilers to a 4-1 win.

Scott Laughton buries the OT winner to lead the Flyers past their in-state rivals

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With the Penguins and Flyers tied at 2 goals apiece at the end of the 3rd period of their exhibition game, the two sides looked to find a winner in overtime. Luckily for the Flyers, Scott Laughton was up for the task as he buried the winner past Pens goalie Tristan Jarry to give the Flyers the 3-2 victory.

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