NHL Bubble Wrap: Flyers, Canucks force more Game 7 playoff matchups

NHL Bubble Wrap: Flyers, Canucks give hockey fans more Game 7 matchups Thatcher Demko dominance
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  • It took double overtime, but the Flyers stayed alive against the Islanders to force another NHL Game 7.
  • While it seemed like it could go either way for a while, the Canucks ran away with the third period of Game 6. With that, they pushed the Golden Knights to a Game 7. 
  • So, hockey fans get two NHL Game 7 matchups on Friday (first Avalanche – Stars, then Golden Knights – Canucks) and one on Saturday (Flyers – Islanders). Totally predictable when the four Second Round series were all at 3-1, right?

Scores for Game 6 of Flyers – Islanders, Canucks – Golden Knights

Game 6: Flyers 5, Islanders 4 [double OT] (Series tied 3-3)

Let’s be honest: the Flyers were lucky to win Game 6. And, considering that all three of the Flyers’ wins came in overtime — this one nearing a third OT period — they made it this far by tiny margins of victory. But you know what they say: “It’s now how, it’s how much?” Even without winning in regulation or scoring a power-play goal during this series against the Islanders, the Flyers now hold an equal chance of advancing to the 2020 Eastern Conference Final.

Hockey, right?

Game 6: Canucks 4, Golden Knights 0 (Series tied 3-3)

To some extent, the final score of Canucks – Golden Knights Game 6 is misleading. You might argue that Vegas outplayed (or at least outshot) Vancouver about as much as the Isles did to the Flyers. For much of Game 6, it was merely a 1-0 lead for the Canucks. Regardless, Vancouver pulled away in this one, starting with a J.T. Miller 2-0 goal about one minute into the third period.

Goaltending could pose a fascinating question with both teams turning around for a Game 7 back-to-back closer on Friday at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN (livestream). As hot as Thatcher Demko has been (more on that in a moment), could fatigue prompt Vancouver to go back to Jacob Markstrom? Also, will we see a reprise of the Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Robin Lehner controversy? After all, Lehner also potentially faces a back-to-back, and he’s been unable to outduel Demko and the Canucks in two elimination opportunities.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

NHL Three Stars: Thursday’s 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs games

1. Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks

After Demko stole Game 5 for the Canucks with a 42-save masterpiece, people said: “There’s no way Demko can match that in Game 6.” He didn’t. Instead, Demko one-upped himself. The 24-year-old goalie earned his first career playoff shutout with a whopping 48-save goose egg. The Golden Knights couldn’t beat Demko despite receiving five power-play opportunities, and they were chasing a deficit from very early on.

Considering the Golden Knights’ firepower, you can’t ask for a much higher degree of difficulty. Amazing.

2. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers

Yes, Hart allowed four goals in Game 6. But the Islanders absolutely dominated the Flyers, and Game 6 swung on another younger goalie shutting the door while a veteran (in this case, Semyon Varlamov) struggled. Hart made 49 saves, including some tough stops once Game 6 extended to overtime.

Both goalies enjoyed a bounce or two. Jordan Eberle, for one, must be losing sleep after near-misses. Yet both Demko and Hart were brilliant in must-win games.

3. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

OK, Barzal’s not going to knock you out with his one goal and one assist, especially in a losing cause. That said … goodness was Barzal ever dominant. Barzal generated nine shots on goal in Game 6, looking dangerous on virtually every shift. Via Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders generated a silly 11 high-danger chances versus just one against at even-strength with Barzal on the ice. It’s remarkable that Barzal “only” finished with two points. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t a 100-percent bet to even play.

Game 6 highlights from Flyers – Islanders, Canucks – Golden Knights

Marvel at the Flyers surviving this affair:

Some timely scoring and another incredible performance from Demko in this Canucks win:

Factoids: Demko, 3-1 series leads, Game 7 info, and more

  • Demko’s 48 saves ties Ed Belfour for the second-most saves in a shutout while a goalie faced elimination in playoff history. Dominik Hasek will be tough to ever match at first with a ridiculous 70 back in 1994. [Via Sportsnet Stats]
  • Also via Sportsnet: Demko’s 48 saves set a new playoff record for a rookie shutout.
  • This marks the second time in NHL history where at least three series went from 3-1 to a Game 7 during the same playoff round. Remarkably, four teams managed that feat during the 1992 Division Semifinals, and three of those teams completed comebacks. [Via NHL PR]

How to watch NHL Game 7 of Stars – Avalanche, Golden Knights – Canucks on Friday

Game 7: Avalanche vs. Stars (Series tied 3-3) – 4 p.m. ET, USA Network (livestream)

Game 7: Golden Knights vs. Canucks (Series tied 3-3) – 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)

How to watch NHL Game 7 of Flyers – Islanders on Saturday

NHL Game 7: Flyers vs. Islanders (Series tied 3-3) – 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)

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