NHL Bubble Wrap: Stars shock Avs; Islanders smother Flyers

Flyers Islanders Stars Avalanche Anton Khudobin PHT Bubblewrap
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  • The Stars survived a strong effort from the Avs (especially Nathan MacKinnon), and put Colorado in serious trouble.
  • Then again, at least the Avalanche’s top players got something going. The Flyers, meanwhile, couldn’t solve the Islanders’ defense on Monday.

NHL Scores: Game 1 of Islanders – Flyers and Avalanche – Stars Game 2

Game 1: Islanders 4, Flyers 0 (NYI leads series 1-0)

An empty-net goal inflated the score a bit, but this was still a thorough win for the Islanders. The Flyers simply couldn’t get much going against the staunch Islanders defense, particularly top guys. Really, the only prominent Flyers player who managed multiple quality scoring chances was Kevin Hayes. Semyon Varlamov earned a second consecutive shutout, and the Islanders got scoring from depth players (plus an Anders Lee dagger assisted by Mathew Barzal) to win Game 1 against the Flyers quite handily.

Islanders Flyers playoff series schedule

Game 1: Islanders 4, Flyers 0. (recap)
Game 2: Wednesday Aug. 26, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Saturday, Aug. 29, 12 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 5: Monday, Aug. 31 – TBD
*Game 6: Wednesday, Sept. 2 – TBD
*Game 7: Thursday, Sept. 3 – TBD

*if necessary

Game 2: Stars 5, Avalanche 2 (DAL leads series 2-0)

When you look at that Game 2 score, you might think that the Stars dominated the Avalanche. Instead, the Avs left Game 2 (especially after the second period) absolutely stunned. Colorado built a 2-0 lead, and controlled the puck for long spans of time. With four goals in basically the second half of the second period, the Stars turned the tide, then added an empty-netter in the third period. Anton Khudobin was absolutely brilliant, and the Stars kept Nathan MacKinnon from doing too much damage (again) to win Game 2 and take a 2-0 series lead. Wow.

Avalanche – Stars playoff series schedule

Game 1: Stars 5, Avalanche 3. (recap)
Game 2: Stars 5, Avalanche 2. (recap)
Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Friday, Aug. 28, 10 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
*Game 5: Sunday, Aug. 30 – TBD
*Game 6: Monday, Aug. 31 – TBD
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 2 – TBD

*if necessary

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars from NHL playoff games on Monday

1. Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars

For the second straight time, I’m picking the goalie who allowed goals instead of the one who earned a shutout. This case might be the most convincing, though. The Avalanche outshot the Stars 20-6, but only entered the first intermission with a 1-0 lead. The Avs then made it 2-0, yet could only beat Khudobin on the power play. Even then, Khudobin helped Colorado kill a 5-on-3 when the Avalanche were trying to flip the script after the Stars pulled off their second-period swerve. Khudobin was just flat-out brilliant in Game 2, and made a huge difference in the Stars beating the Avalanche. Khudobin earns the nod for his 39-save night.

2. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

A hot goalie can make a close game seem a lot more lopsided. That probably happened during Game 1 of Flyers – Islanders. No, the Flyers didn’t play well; the Islanders limited their chances, especially those of the Flyers’ top players. That’s why I’m putting Khudobin ahead of Varlamov — the Avalanche were terrifying for at least the first two periods of Game 2 against the Stars. But Varlamov looked sharp making 29 saves for his second shutout in a row.

3. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

As tempting as it is to give this to Alexander Radulov (1G, 1A, was on the winning team), it seems wrong to overlook MacKinnon’s outstanding work in defeat. MacKinnon scored a goal and an assist, while also hitting at least one post vs. Khudobin. At even-strength alone, MacKinnon was on the ice for five high-danger chances for and just one against, according to Natural Stat Trick. Through two losses, MacKinnon scored five points, and could have had more. It turns out that as great as MacKinnon’s been, he’ll need help from what’s supposed to be an improved Avalanche supporting cast.

Highlights: Game 1 of Islanders – Flyers; Game 2 of Stars – Avalanche

Varlamov certainly earned his three stars spot with some big saves against Kevin Hayes. Still, these highlights are Islanders-heavy, as you’d expect:

Check out when the wheels started to fall off for the Avs, and other highlights of the Stars’ Game 2 win:

Factoids

  • NHL PR notes that Miro Heiskanen has scored 18 playoff points before age 22. This currently leaves Heiskanen tied with two no-names (Scott Niedermayer and Ray Bourque) for fourth all-time before the age of 22. Being that Heiskanen just turned 21 on July 18, he might have a shot at catching Glen Wesley (first all-time with 24) or Paul Coffey (second with 23).
  • Via Sportsnet, Semyon Varlamov became the first individual Islanders goalie to post consecutive shutouts. (Billy Smith and Glenn Resch took turns getting goose eggs back in 1979.)

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Bruins vs. Lightning, 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN (BOS leads 1-0)
Game 2: Canucks vs. Golden Knights, 9:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN (VGK leads 1-0)

PHT’s 2020 Second Round previews

Bruins vs. Lightning
Flyers vs. Islanders
Stars vs. Avalanche
Golden Knights vs. Canucks
PHT predictions

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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