NHL Bubble Wrap: Goalies rule the day, underdogs keep winning

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  • Sunday’s action included a rare buzzer-beating game-winning goal
  • Some dominant goaltending performances
  • More underdogs getting wins

Arizona Coyotes 4, Nashville Predators 3 (Coyotes lead series 1-0)

Pekka Rinne‘s run of 89 consecutive playoff starts came to an end for the Predators on Sunday when Juuse Saros got the call against the Coyotes. It did not go well from the very beginning. A fluke goal off the stick of Oliver Ekman-Larsson opened the floodgates as Arizona stormed out to an early 3-0 lead. The Predators attempted to rally and make it a game late in the third period, but the early deficit was too much to overcome as the Coyotes took Game 1 of their qualifying round series. Predators coach John Hynes did not commit to a starting goalie for Game 2 on Tuesday.

Philadelphia Flyers 4, Boston Bruins 1

The Flyers were rapidly climbing the standings before the season was paused and they took a big step toward securing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on Sunday when they beat the Boston Bruins in the opening of round-robin play. The Flyers received goals from four different players (all depth players: Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson, and Philippe Myers) while Carter Hart stopped 34 shots in goal.

Colorado Avalanche 2, St. Louis Blues 1

Easily the best finish of the postseason (so far). Nazem Kadri‘s buzzer beater with just 0.1 seconds to play in regulation gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues. It capped off a dominant power play performance to end the game.

Columbus Blue Jackets 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 0 (Blue Jackets Lead Series 1-0)

The worst possible start to the postseason for the Maple Leafs. Not only did they lose to the Blue Jackets, but they did not even score a single goal in a 2-0 loss. Even without fans in the stands the pressure on the Maple Leafs is going to be immense and that is only going to increase as they find themselves down in the qualifying round. Losing in the first round every year is bad enough. Losing in this round would be inexcusable.

Minnesota Wild 3, Vancouver Canucks 0 (Wild lead series 1-0)

Jared Spurgeon was outstanding for Minnesota on Sunday night by factoring into all three goals (scoring of them himself) and playing his usual steady game defensively. The Wild used a pair of power play goals and a rock solid defensive game to shut down the Canucks’ young stars and take an early series lead.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets. At the start of the season goaltending was the big question mark for the Blue Jackets. But the tag-team duo of Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins played a huge role in helping the Blue Jackets stay in the race, and on Sunday it was Korpisalo getting the shutout in his first career postseason start. He was definitely challenged a bit and had to make some big saves, and every single time he was up to the task.

2. Alex Stalock, Minnesota Wild. Goaltending was always going to be a big X-factor for the Wild this season, but the popular consensus was that it was going to be Devan Dubnyk backstopping the team to success. It has turned out to be Stalock that is giving the Wild a chance. His play during the regular season helped get them back into the playoff race, and on Sunday night he stopped all 28 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Canucks.

3. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. Hart is the player that could make the Flyers an absolutely terrifying team in the postseason. They have been waiting for a franchise goalie for decades in Philadelphia, and they might finally have one. He was brilliant on Sunday afternoon against Boston, stopping 35 out of 36 shots to help the Flyers stay white hot (carrying over their hot streak from the end of the regular season) to get two points closer to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Highlights of the Night

Kadri’s buzzer-beater is (so far) the play of the postseason.

Korpisalo’s best save of the night was this robbery of Auston Matthews.

This is by far the flukiest goal of the day.

Factoids

  • Kadri’s buzzer-beating goal is just the second game-winning goal scored at the 19:59 mark of the third period in Stanley Cup Playoff history. [NHL PR]
  • Spurgeon is the first defenseman in Wild franchise history to have three points in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. [NHL PR]
  • Korpisalo is only the 14th goal in NHL history to record a shutout in his postseason debut. [NHL PR]

Monday Schedule

Game 2: Rangers vs. Canadiens 12 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Hurricanes lead series 1-0)

Round Robin: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Round Robin: Golden Knights vs. Stars, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Game 2: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Canadiens lead series 1-0):

Game 2: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Blackhawks lead series 1-0)

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.

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