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Canucks-Wild stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Friday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Canucks and Wild. Coverage begins at 10:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Canucks-Wild Game 4 stream at 10:45 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

After being shut out in Game 1, Vancouver responded with a 4-3 win over Minnesota in Game 2 and followed that up with a 3-0 victory in Game 3 on Thursday. Now the Canucks will look to win on back-to-back days and clinch their first playoff series win since 2011, when they made it to the Cup Final.

“Our players need to gain experience in these type of games, but we’re not just here to get experience,” said Canucks head coach Travis Green. “We want to win the games.”

Minnesota missed the playoffs last season and is now in danger of losing in the opening round of the postseason for the fourth time in the last five years.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Friday, August 7, 10:45 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Chris Cuthbert, Louie DeBrusk
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Canucks-Wild live look-in stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

(7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild (VAN leads 2-1)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks 3, Wild 0 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild, 10:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

NHL Bubble Wrap: Flames advance, Maple Leafs collapse, top seed battles set

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  • The Flames eliminated the Jets from the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
  • Another shocking collapse happened as the Blue Jackets rallied against the Maple Leafs.
  • The stage is set for a wild Friday of possible eliminations.
  • Also, Saturday will serve as games where the top seeds in the East and West will be determined with round-robin games.

NHL Scores from Thursday

Canucks 3, Wild 0 (Vancouver leads series 2-1)

After dropping Game 1 to Minnesota, the Canucks won the last two games in a row. In Game 3, Vancouver stayed focused during a physical game, enjoying a 27-save shutout from Jacob Markstrom. Big name players also scored for the Canucks, while Antoine Roussel also found the net and Alex Stalock‘s ire.

Flyers 3, Capitals 1 — East Round Robin

Once again, the Flyers remain on fire. They ended the regular season very hot, won their exhibition game, and now won two of three round-robin contests. Their excellence keeps things pretty simple: it will be Flyers vs. Lightning for the East’s top seed on Saturday. While those two joust for No. 1 (with the loser getting second), the Capitals must face the Bruins to see which team will rank third or fourth. Yes, the two division leaders will finish third and fourth. The Round Robin, and 2020, are both very odd.

Golden Knights 6, Blues 4 — West Round Robin

If the round-robin games are any indication, few leads will be safe against the Golden Knights. Vegas rallied to beat the Stars in their first contest, then did similar things against the Blues. In Thursday’s case, the Golden Knights scored three third-period goals to run away with this one. The Golden Knights face the Avalanche on Saturday to determine the West’s top seed, while the Blues and Stars battle for third.

Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 [OT] (CBJ leads series 2-1)

Like the Penguins and Oilers, the Maple Leafs coughed up a Game 3 lead and lost in a stunning fashion. Also like the Penguins and Oilers, the Maple Leafs rank among the teams who can get eliminated during Friday’s NHL games. The Maple Leafs built a 3-0 lead, only for Pierre-Luc Dubois, Elvis Merzlikins, and the rest of the Blue Jackets to roar back and force overtime. Dubois capped his hat trick by scoring the overtime game-winner. For better or worse, there’s a short turnaround for both teams to battle it out again in Game 4 on Friday.

Flames 4, Jets 0 (CGY wins series 3-1)

It sure seems like the Jets just ran out of gas or, erm, fuel. If there was going to be a big push, the Flames’ 2-0 first period likely deflated that. Then again, it might have just come down to Cam Talbot being on point. Talbot pitched a 31-save shutout, frustrating what remaining stars the Jets still had healthy. Calgary became the first West team to punch its ticket to the final 16, aka the formal start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They don’t have any clue who they’ll face yet, though.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Round-robin standings (ties broken by regular-season points percentage)

EAST
Lightning (2-0-0, 4 points)
Flyers (2-0-0, 4 points)
Capitals (0-1-1, 1 point)
Bruins (0-2-0, 0 points)

WEST
Avalanche (2-0-0, 4 points)
Golden Knights (2-0-0, 4 points)
Blues (0-2-0, 0 points)
Stars (0-2-0, 0 points)

NHL Three Stars for Wednesday, and the highlight of the night

1. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Blue Jackets

Pierre-Luc Dubois didn’t just score the first Blue Jackets hat trick, and he didn’t just do so in a huge way, completing it with that stunning overtime game-winner. PLD also pulled it off with style, even throwing a bit of a Michael Jordan tongue-wag in during one of his goals. The Maple Leafs couldn’t seem to stop him as he barreled to the net and scored huge goals. They won’t have much time to find a better plan vs. PLD, either.

We might as well get the highlight of the night over with, too, because Pierre-Luc Dubois provided that. Consider his hat trick as the overall highlight of the night.

2. Cam Talbot, Flames

Circling back, it’s easy to look at the Flames winning 4-0 and thinking Game 4 was a cakewalk. Especially if you ignore the two empty-net goals clouding such perceptions.

But was it that easy even beyond that, or did the Flames eliminate the Jets in such a tidy fashion in large part because of Cam (sometimes Cameron) Talbot? Talbot pitched a 31-save shutout to close out one heck of a four-game performance. Talbot generated a strong .945 save percentage during the series, putting up the sort of gaudy numbers we were expecting from Connor Hellebuyck.

If Talbot can stay on his game, then the Flames are the team the top four seeds might wish to avoid.

3. Quinn Hughes, Canucks

Let’s give the tiebreaker for some three-point games to one that factored into a 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier with higher stakes than a round-robin game, shall we? Hughes figured into all three Canucks goals with two primary and one secondary assist in Game 3. Hughes gave the Canucks another beyond-his-years game, as the rookie logged 22:47 TOI in Game 3.

Now, you might prefer Jacob Markstrom’s 27-save shutout from that game. That’s fine, too.

Factoids

  • Pierre-Luc Dubois wasn’t just the first Blue Jackets player to score a postseason hat trick. He also became just the 10th player in the last 27 years to complete a playoff hat trick in OT, via NHL PR. Statscentre provides even more on PLD’s hat trick.
  • Nicholas Robertson became the third Maple Leafs player to score a playoff goal before turning 19.
  • Elliotte Friedman notes that this was the first time this season that the Blue Jackets came back from down three goals to tie a game, let alone win it. Ouch.

FRIDAY‘S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 4: Panthers vs. Islanders, 12 p.m. ET – NBCSN (NYI leads 2-1)
Game 4: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET – live look-in NBCSN (ARI leads 2-1)
Game 4: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN (MTL leads 2-1)
Game 4: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 6:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN (CHI leads 2-1)
Game 4: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET – live look-in NBCSN (CBJ leads 2-1)
Game 4: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN (VAN leads 2-1)

MORE:
• 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers 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.

Canucks blank Wild, move a win away from advancing

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The Canucks are a win away from their first postseason series victory since 2011 thanks to a 3-0 win in Game 3. Brock Boeser, Antoine Roussel, and Elias Pettersson provided the goals, while Jacob Markstrom stopped 27 to blank the Wild.

Unlike in Game 2, there was no late push from Minnesota. They controlled possession and 5-on-5 scoring chances (per Natural Stat Trick), but Markstrom was there for his first career postseason shutout. After Boeser scored in his second straight game, the Wild continued pressing for a goal. They had five high-danger scoring chances to the Canucks’ one in the second period, but again it was the Canucks goaltender making save after save.

The backbreaker came early in the third period in one of those “good chance at one end, leads to goal at the other end” situations.

There were several opportunities in front of Markstrom, but the Wild couldn’t cash in. Quinn Hughes‘ clearance around the board then flipped over Brad Hunt‘s stick and an anticipating Roussel picked it up for a breakaway before chipping a backhand over Alex Stalock‘s glove for a 2-0 lead.

The shutout was another game where you’re left wondering when the Wild’s offense will show up. They’ve yet to score to at even strength in the series and their power play is 0-for-13 in the last two games.

Vancouver will have a chance to ice the series in Game 4 Friday night (10:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Hartman with a dangerous hit on Pettersson

Fortunately, Pettersson was not injured on the play. The Canucks forward was involved in a puck battle along the boards and as he bent over Wild forward Ryan Hartman hit him from behind.

Hartman was sent to the penalty box with minors for boarding and roughing after getting involved with J.T. Miller. Will the NHL Department of Player Safety have anything to say about the hit?

Stalock’s fantastic save

The Minnesota netminder has done his best to keep his team involved games. He added to his list of strong saves in the series in the third period to keep the Canucks lead to just 2-0.

Bo Horvat would like a do-over.

(7) Vancouver Canucks vs. (10) Minnesota Wild (VAN leads series 2-1)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Wild 3, Canucks 0 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Canucks 4, Wild 3 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Canucks 3, Wild 0
Friday, Aug. 7: Canucks vs. Wild, 10:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 9: Wild vs. Canucks*, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers 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.

Canucks top players shine in Game 2 win over Wild

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After getting shut out in Game 1 of their qualifying round series the Vancouver Canucks needed their top players to bounce back with a big game on Tuesday.

They got exactly that type of performance in a 4-3 win to even their series with the Minnesota Wild.

Tanner Pearson opened the scoring for the Canucks just 24 seconds into the first period to get their offense rolling and set the tone for a big night for the team’s top-six group of forwards.

J.T. Miller‘s goal at the three-minute of the second period — an absolute laser of a snap shot off the rush that picked the corner on Alex Stalock — gave Vancouver 2-1 lead, while Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat all added insurance goals late in the game. Boeser’s goal was the first postseason goal of his career, while standout rookie Quinn Hughes picked up an assist on Horvat’s third period power play goal that would end up going in the books as the game-winner.

Depth is the biggest question mark for this Canucks team and if they are going to have any chance of making any noise this postseason it is going to have to be through their top-six. If that group does not score and carry the offense there really is not much else throughout the lineup that can make up for that.

On Tuesday, Boeser, Miller, Horvat, Pearson, and Elias Pettersson all found the scoresheet, while defenders Hughes and Alex Edler combined for three assists.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Just about the only negative for the Canucks on Tuesday is the fact veteran forwards Micheal Ferland and Antoine Roussel were both injured. Roussel logged just four minutes of ice-time while Ferland played only two minutes.

While the final score looks close, the Canucks were in control of this game for most of the night and held a 4-1 lead until there were two minutes remaining on the clock. It was at that point that Kevin Fiala continued his torrid goal-scoring pace by adding two more goals, giving him 16 goals in his past 15 games dating back to the regular season. He already has three goals in the first two games of the series. His second goal came with just 8.8 seconds to play in regulation.

Game 3 of the series will take place on Thursday afternoon.

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.

NHL Power Rankings: Most impactful performances so far in NHL qualifying round

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s NHL Power Rankings we are taking a look at some of the most important and impressive performances so far in the qualifying round. Players and performances that are making an impact in determining who moves forward in the bubble and who goes home.

Two important notes here.

  • First, We are only looking at players that are playing in the QUALIFYING round portion of the playoffs. So no players from the Round Robin portion will be included. It is not that they are not important, it is simply the fact they are not at risk of being eliminated in this round and we want to focus on teams that are still fighting for their postseason lives right now.
  • Second, this is not a ranking of the best overall players. It is simply a ranking of players that could (and have) significantly impact the outcome of a series and play a major role in deciding which teams advance and which teams do not.

Who do we like so far?

To the rankings!

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers. He is the most dominant player in the NHL and has already put on a clinic in the Oilers’ series against Chicago. His incredible Game 2 effort on Monday set the tone early for the Oilers and drove them to a much-needed win to keep them in their series. When he is going at his top level there is no one in the league that can match him.

2. Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes. An emerging superstar in Carolina, Svechnikov is already turning into the Hurricanes’ go-to player on offense. He made history in their Game 2 win by recording the first postseason hat trick in Hurricanes/Whalers postseason history. He is still only 20 years. Sky is the limit here.

3. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. If the Canadiens are going to pull off the upset against the Pittsburgh Penguins it is going to have to be because of Price. Through two games he has done everything he can to keep his team in it. He helped them take Game 1 with a huge performance early on and was perhaps even better in a Game 2 loss. He just did not get any offensive support.

4. Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks. Kubalik has been exactly what the Blackhawks needed this season — Another impactful player to emerge in their lineup to serve as an important complementary piece to their remaining core. Even more important is the fact is still very cheap against the salary cap. He opened the postseason with a five-point effort in Game 1 against Edmonton. He is a rookie of the year finalist, a much deserved honor.

5. Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets. Goaltending was always going to make-or-break the Blue Jackets’ season, and the duo of Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins has done its part to give them a chance. Korpisalo added to the postseason anxiety Maple Leafs fans were probably already feeling in Game 1 when he pitched a shutout in Toronto.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

6. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets. Very similar to Price in Montreal, if the Jets are going to make something happen in the playoffs they are going to need Hellebuyck to play like the Vezina Trophy finalist that he is this season. That is even more true if top forwards Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine continue to miss time.

7. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes. Svechnikov’s dominance has kind of overshadowed what Aho has done for the Hurricanes, but this duo has become a two-headed monster for the Hurricanes. Svechnikov might end up being a bigger star, but Aho is the building block piece in Carolina.

8. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. He has been on the ice for all three of the Penguins’ 5-on-5 goals through the first two games, has scored two of them, and helped get the Penguins rolling in Game 2 with a first period goal to finally break through on Price.

9. Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild. Alex Stalock got the Game 1 shutout for the Wild, but Spurgeon was the best player on the ice for the Wild. He played his usual big minutes, was a rock defensively, and contributed to all three Wild goals, scoring two of them. Consistently one of the league’s most underrated and overlooked players.

10. Adam Lowry, Winnipeg Jets. Lowry is making an early bid for the 2020 John Druce Award for being the out of nowhere postseason star. After recording just 10 points in 49 regular season games, Lowry already has three points in the Jets’ first two postseason games and has played a significant role in filling in for the team’s injured stars. He was huge for them in what basically amounted to a must-win game in Game 2 against Calgary.

MORE:
• 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers 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.