NHL Bubble Wrap: Hart shines again; Canucks’ depth comes through

  • The Philadelphia Flyers are moving on to face the New York Islanders in the Second Round.
  • The Vancouver Canucks eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champions.
  • Carter Hart continued his outstanding postseason.
  • Philadelphia Flyers 3, Montreal Canadiens 2 (Flyers win series 4-2)

    The Flyers continued rolling in the Return To Play with a 3-2 win over the Canadiens in Game 6 on Friday night, advancing to the Second Round. They will play the New York Islanders. It is the first time the Flyers have advanced to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2011-12 season. The Flyers were not perfect in this series, but they are 7-2 since the 2019-20 resumed and have yet to get goal scoring from their top players. If they can get them rolling again it is going to make them an incredibly tough team to beat.

    Vancouver Canucks 6, St. Louis Blues 2 (Canucks win series 4-2)

    The decision to start goalie Jordan Binnington did not work out very well for Craig Berube and the Blues. He was pulled midway through the second period after surrendering four goals in a 6-2 loss that officially put an end to the Blues’ Stanley Cup title defense. This was an impressive performance by the Canucks as they received more depth scoring for the second game in a row and also had their stars shine again. They are on to the Second Round for the first time since the 2010-11 season and will play the Vegas Golden Knights.

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    Three Stars

    1. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. He was probably the biggest difference maker for the Flyers on Friday night, stopping 31 out of 33 shots. Hart has been the Flyers’ best player this postseason and seems to be on his way to finally solving the franchise’s decades long issue in net. As long as he keeps playing like this the Flyers will have a chance every night, no matter what kind of offense they get from their top forwards.

    2. Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks. On a night where the Canucks scored six goals to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions I still feel like Markstrom deserves some credit. He has been one of the most underrated parts of this team all season and was outstanding on Friday night, stopping 34 out of 36 shots in the win.

    3. Tyler Motte, Vancouver Canucks. Maybe the biggest factor in the Canucks’ First Round win has been the fact their depth players have stepped forward in such a big way over the past two games. So let’s consider this star a shout out to all of them (Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Jake Virtanen, and Motte). Motte has been at the center of that with four goals in the past two games. The Canucks would have won Friday’s game without Motte’s two goals, but before Game 5 of this series he had only scored four goals in 42 regular season and playoff games this season. He matched that total in the two biggest games of the season.

    Highlights of the Night

    The Flyers needed just 28 seconds to open the scoring in their Game 6 win on Friday night.

    The passing by the Canucks here on this Troy Stecher goal is a thing of beauty.

    Jay Beagle gets things going for the Canucks early in their Game 6 win.

    Factoids

    • The development of Nick Suzuki was a huge bright spot for the Montreal Canadiens this season. He scored goals in consecutive playoff games, becoming their first rookie to do that since Brendan Gallagher. [NHL PR]
    • Friday’s results set up a Boston Bruins-Tampa Bay Lightning matchup in the Second Round, the third time those two teams have faced in the playoffs. They split the previous two series. [NHL PR]
    • Quinn Hughes continued his great rookie season and postseason debut. [NHL PR]

    Saturday Schedule

    Game 1: Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars, 8 p.m. ET, NBC

    MORE:
    Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round 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.

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    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.