Kevin Fiala #22 of the Minnesota Wild celebrates after scoring a goal
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The Buzzer: Fiala stays hot; Rust’s hat trick gets Pens back on track

Three Stars

1) Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins

His third NHL hat trick helped the Penguins end a six-game slide as they defeated the Ottawa Senators, 7-3. Rust broke a 1-1 tie late in the opening period with a perfectly placed wrist shot from the high slot. He netted his second at 13:29 of the third when he buried a loose puck in front after crashing the net. No. 17 would complete his hat trick late in the third after forcing a turnover near the blue line then firing a wrist shot between the goaltenders’ pads. Evgeni Malkin had four assists and Sidney Crosby recorded his 800th career helper as the Penguins restored order in Pittsburgh with an important victory.

2) Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets

When you think of elite goal scorers, Connor does not immediately jump to the top of the list for many. However, the 23-year old is tied for sixth in the NHL scoring race and is closing in on his first career 40-goal season. Connor scored twice and added an assist in the Jets’ 3-1 win against the Sabres at Bell MTS Place. He has scored in four consecutive games and registered his sixth multi-goal game of the season as the Jets picked up their second win in the previous two games. Connor netted his first of the evening when he buried a perfect feed from Blake Wheeler at 13:59 of the first period. He notched his second of the game in the middle frame when he quickly pounced on a loose puck in front and buried the rebound.

The Jets remain in a heated wild-card race in the Western Conference, but Connor’s consistent offensive production should help Winnipeg reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

3) Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild

Fiala scored in his fifth straight game to lead the Wild to a crucial 3-1 victory against the Nashville Predators. The Swiss forward has five goals and six assists in the previous five games. Minnesota is only one point from both Western Conference Wild Card spots and has played two less games than the Jets who occupy the position currently. Fiala’s 23 points since February 4 are second most in the NHL, trailing the scorching-hot Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers.

Highlights of the Night

Jake DeBrusk won a foot race and converted a breakaway to break a 10-game scoring drought as the Bruins topped the Lightning, 2-1.

Mitch Marner put the puck between his legs then slid a backhanded shot past Martin Jones to even the score at 2-2.

Fiala maneuvered around Ryan Ellis with a patient toe drag and then evened the score at 1-1 with a nifty wrist shot.

Charles Hudon’s wicked wrist shot helped the Montreal Canadiens cruise past the New York Islanders, 6-2.

Patrick Kane helped Dylan Strome notch his second goal with a perfect cross-ice pass in the Blackhawks’ 6-2 win.

Craig Smith snagged a puck with his glove then rifled a bouncing puck into the back of the net.

Push for the Playoffs

Stats of the Night

Injury news

Scores

Montreal Canadiens 6, New York Islanders 2
St. Louis Blues 3, New York Rangers 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 7, Ottawa Senators 3
Boston Bruins 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1
Minnesota Wild 3, Nashville Predators 1
Winnipeg Jets 3, Buffalo Sabres 1
Chicago Blackhawks 6, Anaheim Ducks 2
Edmonton Oilers 2, Dallas Stars 1 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights 3, New Jersey Devils 0
San Jose Sharks 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 2


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Coyotes-Avalanche stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup First Round

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Wednesday’s First Round matchup between the Coyotes and Avalanche. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Coyotes-Avalanche stream at 5:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Colorado finished the regular season in second place in the Western Conference (92 points). They remained the No. 2 seed after the round robin, when they won their first two games before losing to Vegas in overtime in their final game, which determined the top two seeds in the West. The Coyotes entered the qualifying round as the No. 11 seed after finishing the season with 74 points. They defeated the Predators in four games for their first playoff series win since 2012.

Darcy Kuemper was excellent in the qualifying round against Nashville and made a season-high 49 saves in the series-clinching win. In Arizona’s three wins against Nashville, Kuemper had his top-three save totals of the season. Prior to this year, the 30-year-old had not started a postseason game since 2014 with Minnesota.

Nazem Kadri had a goal and three assists in the round robin, scoring a buzzer-beater game-winner in the opening game against St. Louis. Kadri was traded to Colorado from Toronto last summer and scored 19 goals in his first season with the Avs. He was out indefinitely with a lower-body injury when the season paused, but the extended break allowed him to return at full health.

WHAT: Arizona Coyotes vs. Colorado Avalanche
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Wednesday, August 12, 5:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Coyotes-Avalanche stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 7 Arizona Coyotes

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Arizona at Colorado, 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Friday, Aug. 14: Arizona at Colorado, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Colorado at Arizona, 3 p.m. ET – CNBC
Monday, Aug. 17: Colorado at Arizona, 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Arizona at Colorado – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Colorado at Arizona – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Arizona at Colorado – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

NHL schedule for First Round of 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs

2020 nhl playoff schedule
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The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue on Tuesday, Aug. 11 in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto. The league has released the 2020 NHL playoff schedule for the First Round.

The top four teams during the regular season in both conferences played a three-game round robin for seeding in the First Round. The eight winners of the best-of-5 Qualifying Round advanced to the First Round. The losing teams from the Qualifying Round have been entered into Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery.

Below is the 2020 NHL playoff schedule.

Note: Teams are re-seeded after each round.

EASTERN CONFERENCE (Scotiabank Arena)

No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 8 Montreal Canadiens

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Montreal at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 14: Montreal at Philadelphia, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: Philadelphia at Montreal, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Philadelphia at Montreal, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Montreal at Philadelphia – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Philadelphia at Montreal – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Montreal at Philadelphia – TBD

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 7 Columbus Blue Jackets (TB leads 1-0)

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2 (5OT) (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Columbus at Tampa Bay, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Columbus at Tampa Bay – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Tampa Bay at Columbus – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Columbus at Tampa Bay – TBD

No. 3 Washington Capitals vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (NYI lead 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Islanders 4, Capitals 2 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 14: NY Islanders at Washington, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: Washington at NY Islanders, 12 p.m. ET – USA Network
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Washington at NY Islanders, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Thursday, Aug. 20: NY Islanders at Washington – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Washington at NY Islanders – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: NY Islanders at Washington – TBD

No. 4 Boston Bruins vs. No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes (BOS leads 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 3 (2OT) (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Carolina at Boston, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Boston at Carolina, 12 p.m ET – NBC
Monday, Aug. 17: Boston at Carolina, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Carolina at Boston – TBD
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Boston at Carolina – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Carolina at Boston – TBD

*if necessary

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WESTERN CONFERENCE (Rogers Place)

No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks (VGK leads 1-0)

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 1 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Chicago at Vegas, 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Vegas at Chicago, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Sunday, Aug. 16: Vegas at Chicago, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Tuesday, Aug. 18: Chicago at Vegas – TBD
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Vegas at Chicago – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Chicago at Vegas – TBD

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 7 Arizona Coyotes

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Arizona at Colorado, 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 14: Arizona at Colorado, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Colorado at Arizona, 3 p.m. ET – CNBC
Monday, Aug. 17: Colorado at Arizona, 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Arizona at Colorado – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Colorado at Arizona – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Arizona at Colorado – TBD

No. 3 Dallas Stars vs. No. 6 Calgary Flames (CGY leads 1-0)

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Flames 3, Stars 2 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Calgary at Dallas, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 14: Dallas at Calgary, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: Dallas at Calgary, 2 p.m. ET – CNBC
*Tuesday, Aug. 18: Calgary at Dallas – TBD
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Dallas at Calgary – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Dallas at Calgary – TBD

No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Vancouver at St. Louis, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 14: Vancouver at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD

*if necessary

2020 nhl playoff schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bergeron’s double OT goal gives Bruins Game 1 win over Hurricanes

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Patrice Bergeron‘s goal 1:13 into double overtime gave the Bruins a 4-3, Game 1 victory over the Hurricanes in their First Round series.

The series opener was delayed 15 hours due to the five-overtime Lightning-Blue Jackets marathon Wednesday night. So, it was another day in the Toronto bubble and another multi-OT game that pushed back the rest of the day’s slate, which featured Capitals-Islanders and Flyers-Canadiens.

“It was strange,” said Bruins forward Brad Marchand said, “but it just kind of goes hand in hand with this whole thing.”

On the road to double overtime the Bruins and Hurricanes put on an entertaining show despite the 11 a.m. ET start. The teams traded chances and goals through 40 minutes with a 21-second span in the second period swinging momentum back and forth.

Charlie Coyle gave the Bruins their first lead of Game 1 in the second period, but it didn’t come without a little controversy. On the goal, Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour challenged the play saying it should have been called back due to a hand pass by Nick Ritchie.

After a review, the original call was upheld and the goal stood. The NHL Situation Room explained, “Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek controlled the puck prior to Charlie Coyle’s goal, which nullified the potential hand pass.”

The failed challenge put Carolina shorthanded, but it didn’t matter. Not long into the Bruins’ power play, Brock McGinn intercepted a David Pastrnak pass and then took Tuukka Rask on a trip to Dangleville.

“That call was … I mean to get the penalty … I still can’t figure it out,” Brind’Amour said in his postgame video call with reporters.

He added to that to Luke DeCock of the News and Observer, saying, “This is why the league’s a joke, in my opinion, on these things. That one is a crime scene.”

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

David Krejci grabbed the lead back for Boston 59 seconds into the third, but Haydn Fleury answered for Carolina nine minutes later. One overtime wasn’t enough, and Bergeron ensured there would be no marathon Wednesday afternoon.

Pastrnak sliced through the Hurricanes in the neutral zone and drew enough attention to allow Bergeron the space to fire home the winner by Mrazek.

“We talked about trying to end this before the fifth overtime,” Bergeron said minutes after ending it himself.

Game 2 is Thursday at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN).

No. 4 Boston Bruins vs. No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes (BOS leads 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 3 (2OT)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Carolina at Boston, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Boston at Carolina, 12 p.m ET – NBC
Monday, Aug. 17: Boston at Carolina, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Carolina at Boston – TBD
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Boston at Carolina – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Carolina at Boston – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHLPA’s Fehr buoyed by zero positive tests: ‘So far so good’

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TORONTO  — Zero players testing positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks since NHL teams arrived at their two respective playoff hub cities. And a powerful opening night statement on social and racial justice issues made by the league and its players.

Given the uncertainty professional hockey faced in placing its season on pause in mid-March, NHL Players’ Association chief Don Fehr couldn’t have envisioned a better resumption of play five months later with the first round of the playoffs getting under way.

”At that point you could envision all kinds of things, but you were just sort of mentally spit-balling when you did,” Fehr told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday.

”So far so good. That’s about all we can say,” he added. ”And we keep our fingers crossed and knock on wood, and throw salt over our shoulders and whatever else we can think will help.”

The NHL has made it this far without a hiccup.

Minus fans in the stands in both Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, with players holed up in hotel ”bubbles,” and eight of 24 teams already sent packing following a best-of-five preliminary round, the NHL is indeed back in its bid to complete the playoffs and award the Stanley Cup by early October.

And in a season in which the NHL was confronted with racial concerns, which led to Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters’ resignation in November, the league made its position clear upon its return.

Minnesota Wild forward Matt Dumba took the lead by delivering an impassioned speech on racial justice on behalf of players and the league before the opening game in Edmonton on Aug. 1.

”Those comments don’t need me or anybody else to underscore their significance,” Fehr said. ”When the players participate in it, when they make their voices known, when they stand up for equality and non-discrimination, of course you feel proud of them, and you feel satisfied by what they’ve done. You couldn’t feel otherwise.”

In the meantime, the daily round of testing has so far paid off, with the NHL announcing Monday that 7,245 tests conducted over two weeks have returned no positive results for the new coronavirus.

”We designed a system consciously to try and minimize to the greatest extent possible risk of exposure and positive cases, and so far it’s played out that way,” Fehr said, with the caveat that players and staff must continue being responsible.

But it’s far better than what’s happened in Fehr’s former sport, Major League Baseball, which has experienced numerous delays and postponements due to players acting irresponsibly.

”I don’t’ know what the situation is in baseball in any meaningful way, except that they do have more difficult problems if they’re traveling,” said Fehr, who previously served as MLB’s union chief. ”We opted not to do that, at least for now. We’ll see what happens next fall.”

Fehr was referring to next season, tentatively scheduled to begin in December, when teams would likely resume traveling for games. Should everything continue going smoothly, Fehr expects the league and players to have further planning discussions on the 2020-21 season next month.

”We’ll hope we’ll be able to get fans into the stands and life can return to normal sooner rather than later. But that won’t be our call,” Fehr said. ”Ask me after Labor Day is my best answer.”

The primary focus remains on finishing this season, with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also encouraged by how the past two weeks have unfolded.

”Obviously, the lack of any positive cases is the most encouraging development we could have hoped for,” Daly wrote in an email to the AP.

”It’s a testament to the seriousness with which our players and club staff have approached the situation,” he added. ”We still have a long way to go, and we are the first to acknowledge that. But we couldn’t have asked for a better start.”

The NHL has also backed its players on racial justice issues. ”#We Skate For BLACK LIVES” is printed on a large banner placed in each arena’s end zone, and ”Black Lives Matter” is a fixture on the electronic boards over each section entrance in Toronto.

The league, on Aug. 1, also debuted a four-minute video advocating an end to racism.

”Racism is a societal issue that we are not immune from in hockey,” Daly wrote. ”We all need to do better and do more to eliminate it. And we feel we need to be doing our part to achieve that objective.”

Fehr drew upon memories of the Civil Rights movement he witnessed growing up in the 1960s.

”I remember the pre-Civil Rights Act, and I remember all of the trauma and turmoil that occurred back then,” Fehr said. ”It appears that we’re on the cusp, if I can say it that way, of finishing that process. And I certainly hope that’s true.”