Rejuvenated Avs add Makar for Game 3 vs. Flames

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Things looked bleak for the Colorado Avalanche late Saturday night. Down a game to the Calgary Flames in the series and a goal in Game 2 with time running out, their fortunes turned quickly — and in many ways.

J.T. Compher tied the game with 2:39 left in regulation, Nathan MacKinnon won it in overtime and then Colorado got more great news: Its top prospect is signed and ready to play perhaps as soon as Game 3 on Monday night.

While it has been a busy weekend for the Avalanche, their new defenseman has had a whirlwind 36 hours. Cale Makar won the Hobey Baker Award as the best college hockey player, played in the NCAA title game with the University of Massachusetts — a 3-0 loss to the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday evening — and signed a three-year entry level contract with Colorado.

The Avalanche, coming off the 3-2 win in Calgary on Saturday night, announced the signing Sunday morning and said the 20-year-old will join the team immediately.

“Cale obviously had a tremendous season, winning the Hobey Baker and getting his team to the Frozen Four,” Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said in a release. “He is a game-changing type of player who made a lasting impact on the UMass hockey program. We are excited to have him join our team.”

Head coach Jared Bednar would not say for sure that Makar would play in Game 3, calling it a “possibility.”

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

“I just want to make sure he’s in, rested, prepared, focused on what we’re doing here,” Bednar said.

Adding another layer to the narrative is that Makar is from Calgary, meaning his first NHL game would be against his hometown team.

The Avalanche think Makar is a generational talent, and he’ll get a chance to show it against the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Flames finished the regular season with 107 points, 17 more than Colorado, but are in a dogfight after missing an opportunity to take a 2-0 series lead on Saturday night.

“We have to be better,” Calgary defenseman and captain Mark Giordano said after the game. “We have to be a lot harder to play against, and we know that. We had moments tonight, but we have to put a full 60 (minutes) together.”

The Avalanche beat Flames goaltender Mike Smith just once in the first 117 minutes of the series before Compher tied it. In overtime, after a great save by Philipp Grubauer on one end, MacKinnon’s wrister beat Smith high to send Colorado home even and confident.

“We feel good. We feel going back to Pepsi Center that we can hopefully win two games,” MacKinnon said after the game. “Saying that, we have to take care of Game 3, but we feel good as a group.”

Colorado should expect a Calgary team ready to atone for blowing a third-period lead. The Flames felt they didn’t bring enough urgency to Game 2 and promise to show it Monday night.

“They seemed hungrier than us. Seemed like they wanted it more than us, and we’re definitely going to learn from that,” Calgary forward Sam Bennett said after Saturday’s loss. “We can’t sit back. Into Game 3, we’ve got to play with that urgency that they played with and I think we definitely learned a lesson tonight.”

NHL announces zero positive COVID-19 tests during first week in bubbles

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The NHL announced on Monday afternoon that it has had zero positive COVID-19 test results since its 24 playoff teams reported to their bubble cities of Toronto and Edmonton.

There were more than 7,000 tests administered since fourth phase of the league’s restart plan began on July 26 through August 1, when play resumed with the start of the qualifying round.

The league is testing all 52 members of each team’s traveling parties (including players, coaches, front office, team staff) on a daily basis and will continue to do so as long as the teams remain in their hub cities.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Previously, the NHL had announced that there were 43 positive tests results during the Phase 2 portion of the league’s return (which involved small groups of individual players skating at team facilities), and two positive tests that it was aware of during the first week of training camp. The league announced zero positive results during the second week of training camp and zero positive results when the teams arrived in their bubbles.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Flames-Jets stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Monday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Flames and Jets. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Flames-Jets Game 2 stream at 2:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Flames jumped out to a 1-0 series lead, defeating the Jets 4-1 on Saturday. Andrew Copp opened the scoring for Winnipeg before the Flames scored four unanswered goals.

Calgary outshot Winnipeg 33-18 and went 2-for-4 on the power play and 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.

Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine both left Game 1 early with injuries. Scheifele suffered a leg injury and Laine left after a collision with Mark Giordano.

Scheifele went down awkwardly near the boards after a hit from Matthew Tkachuk. While Tkachuk contends there was nothing malicious about the contact, Jets coach Paul Maurice saw it differently: “It was a filthy, dirty kick to the back of the leg. He went after the back of the leg. He could have cut his Achilles. He could have ended the man’s career. It’s an absolutely filthy, disgusting hit.”

It was reported late Sunday night that Scheifele’s injury was not long term, but that he and Laine were doubtful for Game 2

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Monday, August 3, 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN (live look-in)
ON THE CALL: Chris Cuthbert, Louie DeBrusk
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Flames-Jets stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

(8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets (Flames lead series 1-0)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Jets vs. Flames, 2:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames vs. Jets, 4:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*, TBD

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

Canucks’ Ferland, Wild’s Kunin fined for Game 1 altercation

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The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Monday that Minnesota Wild forward Luke Kunin and Vancouver Canucks forward Micheal Ferland were fined for an incident that took place in the third period of Sunday’s game. The Wild won the game 3-0.

Kunin was fined $1,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, while Ferland was given a $5,000 fine for spearing Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman on the bench.

“I could see it from Ferland’s standpoint,” Hartman said Monday. “He’s the kind of guy that runs on emotion. Stuff happens.”

The incident took place in front of the team benches just after Ferland finished a check on Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

You can see the entire sequence in the video above.

Ferland started the game by fighting Foligno just two minutes into the first period.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series will take place on Tuesday night (10:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

MORE:
Wild vs. Canucks series preview
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Hurricanes-Rangers stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Monday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Hurricanes and Rangers. Coverage begins at 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Hurricanes-Rangers Game 2 stream at 12 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

In the first shot of the game, Jaccob Slavin scored 61 seconds in for the first NHL goal in an official game in almost five months. Sebastian Aho, who led Carolina in goals (38) and points (66) during the regular season, then scored in the second period to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead. The Rangers kept things close but ultimately could not overcome an 0-for-7 showing on the power play as Carolina defeated New York for the first time in five tries this season.

Perhaps the biggest development from Game 1 was the fact that the Rangers all-time winningest goalie was actually the one in net – as many expected newcomer Igor Shesterkin in that position. With Shesterkin, who watched Game 1 from the stands, deemed “unfit to play” – Henrik Lundqvist started his 128th consecutive postseason game with the Rangers – a single-team streak only bettered by Martin Brodeur (194 with New Jersey) and Patrick Roy (133 with Colorado).

Lundqvist will get the Game 2 start as Shesterkin remains out. Alexandar Georgiev will again serve as the backup.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto
WHEN: Monday, August 3, 12 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Gord Miller, Anson Carter
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Hurricanes-Rangers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers (Hurricanes lead series 1-0)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Hurricanes vs. Rangers*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Rangers vs. Hurricanes*

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule