Pierre-Luc Dubois

Korpisalo, Wennberg help Blue Jackets even series with Lightning

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The Blue Jackets evened their First Round series with the Lightning thanks to goals from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexander Wennberg, and another great performance from goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.

After their five-overtime defeat Tuesday, the Blue Jackets looked plenty fresh in Game 2. It was Tampa who got on the board first with a Nikita Kucherov goal 5:24 into the game, but that was all the Lightning would get. Korpisalo followed up his 85-save performance with 36 stops Thursday afternoon.

Ryan Murray tied the game seven minutes after Kucherov’s goal, and then Oliver Bjorkstrand and Pierre-Luc Dubois hooked up on a power play goal for a 2-1 Columbus lead.

With Erik Cernak sitting in the box, the Blue Jackets power play wasted no time cashing in. Bjorkstrand was left unattended by the Tampa penalty kill, so when Alexandre Texier cycled the puck to Dubois behind the net, Bjorkstrand was wide open for a one-timer.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The Lightning kept pushing for an equalizer, winning the possession game and dominating the front of the net. But Korpisalo was there every time. A pair of power plays, including one late in the third period, also didn’t amount to anything.

Tampa’s failure while pushing for an equalizer led to the stunning solo effort from Wennberg, who delivered the game-breaker with 8:33 to go after dancing around Kevin Shattenkirk.

“It’s not often it works that great,” Wennberg said of the move. “I’m happy it did this one time.”

Through six games, Korpisalo has a .965 even strength percentage and has now stopped 154 of the last 158 shots he’s faced. There’s no one even close to him in the early Conn Smythe Trophy hunt.

Game 3 is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 7 Columbus Blue Jackets (Series tied 1-1)

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Lightning 3, Blue Jackets 2 (5OT) (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Blue Jackets 3, Lightning 1
Saturday, Aug. 15: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Columbus at Tampa Bay – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Tampa Bay at Columbus – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Columbus at Tampa Bay – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

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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.

Blue Jackets-Lightning stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup First Round

Blue Jackets-Lightning stream
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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Thursday’s First Round matchup between the Blue Jackets and Lightning. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Blue Jackets-Lightning stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Game 1’s five-overtime thriller went down as the second-longest game in the modern era, and the fourth-longest game in NHL history (150:27 total game time). After Yanni Gourde tied things up at 2-2 just 23 seconds into the third period, it took over 110 minutes before Brayden Point beat Joonas Korpisalo midway through the fifth overtime.

Point’s 5OT winner was his second goal of the game – he also scored Tampa’s first goal, 6:27 into the game. There were 144 minutes of game play between Point’s two goals.

Last season, Columbus became the first team in NHL history to sweep a Presidents’ Trophy winner in the opening round when they beat Tampa Bay in four games in the First Round. In last year’s Game 1, Tampa led 3-0 in the first period before the Blue Jackets stormed back, scoring four unanswered goals (three in the 3rd period) to win. This year’s Game 1 went much differently for Tampa Bay, who persevered through Korpisalo’s 85 saves to win.

WHAT: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto
WHEN: Thursday, August 13, 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Gord Miller, Mike Milbury, Brian Boucher
HOW TO WATCH: You can watch the Blue Jackets-Lightning stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 7 Columbus Blue Jackets (TB leads 1-0)

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Lighting 3, Blue Jackets 2 (5OT) (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Columbus at Tampa Bay, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Saturday, Aug. 15: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: Tampa Bay at Columbus, 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Columbus at Tampa Bay – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: Tampa Bay at Columbus – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Columbus at Tampa Bay – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs stream
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Sunday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs stream at 8 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

After back-to-back overtime games on Thursday and Friday night, both which saw the winning team overcome a three-goal deficit, the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs will meet Sunday night in a win or go home scenario. This is the only Qualifying Round series to go to Game 5.

The winner of this game will play the Lightning in the First Round.

A win in this game would give Columbus a postseason series wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. Last year, the Blue Jackets won their first-ever playoff series by becoming the first team in NHL history to sweep the Presidents’ Trophy winners (Tampa) in the opening round.

WHAT: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto
WHEN: Sunday, August 9, 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: John Forslund, Mike Milbury
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (Series tied 2-2)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT) (recap)
Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT) (recap)
Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)

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.

Keefe: Maple Leafs ‘got what we deserved’ in Game 3 collapse

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To many, the Maple Leafs’ history of heartache — particularly recently — made squandering a 3-0 lead and losing 4-3 in OT to the Blue Jackets in Game 3 feel all too familiar.

When you consider the broader strokes, that’s true. When you zoom in, however, there are some key differences between these collapsing Maple Leafs and those collapsing Maple Leafs. Namely, Sheldon Keefe resides behind the bench as head coach for his first Maple Leafs playoff push.

So, how did Keefe react to the Maple Leafs’ collapsing from a 3-0 lead to lose Game 3 to the Blue Jackets 4-3 in OT? Keefe was quite frank about the Maple Leafs’ failures.

“We got what we deserved today,” Keefe said, via reporters including Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “We didn’t have any purpose or plan.”

Wow.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

When a team coughs up a 3-0 lead, it’s fair to ponder a tug-o-war between the leading team falling apart (or playing too safe?) versus the rallying squad upping their game.

To be honest, it’s tough to shake at least some sense that the Maple Leafs took their feet off of the gas:

Again, though, you cannot act as though Columbus was totally a passive passenger in this process. After all, John Tortorella certainly unleashed the hounds when the Blue Jackets needed to come back. There’s no sense trying to “bend-but-not-break” when you instead need to rush back into that Game 3.

With Jake Muzzin out, and on a team that’s already questioned for its defense, Keefe needs to think long and hard about the balance he wants to strike between safety and aggression.

Naturally, by criticizing a lack of “any plan,” people will question Keefe, head coach, aka the person most responsible for any plan. At minimum, Keefe will need to figure out a plan to slow down Pierre-Luc Dubois after his pivotal hat trick in Game 3.

Back-to-back turnaround could challenge Keefe’s planning abilities for Game 4

A quick turnaround presents another interesting wrinkle.

Going from a Thursday Game 3 to a Friday Game 4 brings some advantages. Even in a climate without fans, the Maple Leafs face heavy scrutiny, and nothing brings out the vultures like squandering a 3-0 lead. Rather than hearing tons of hot takes, a back-to-back turnaround may force the Maple Leafs to merely buckle down and try to keep their season alive.

Sometimes, in hockey, the team that seemingly “deserves” to win cannot overcome the bounces that are an essential part of the sport. We’ll see if the Maple Leafs get what they “deserve” in Game 4 against the Blue Jackets, but it’s up to Keefe to make sure they actually have a coherent plan.

Apparently that wasn’t the case in Game 3.

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ leads series 2-1)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 [OT] (recap)
Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs (if necessary), TBD

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.