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Canucks-Blues stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup First Round

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Friday’s First Round matchup between the Canucks and Blues. Coverage begins at 630 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Canucks-Blues stream at 6:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Canucks beat the defending Stanley Cup champs 5-2 in Game 1 on Wednesday. The game was tied 2-2 going into the third period before Vancouver scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to seal the win.

Vancouver lost its first game of the qualifying round vs Minnesota, being shut out in a 3-0 loss. Since then, they have won four
straight games, scoring three-plus goals in every game.

After leading the Blues to a Stanley Cup as a rookie last season, Jordan Binnington has struggled to regain that form in this year’s playoffs. He has lost all three of his starts and allowed five goals on 22 shots in Game 1 against Vancouver, his second straight
game allowing five-plus goals. He allowed a soft goal in the third period from Troy Stecher, which head coach Craig Berube said “He probably wants that one back for sure. But it is what it is.”

WHAT: Vancouver Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Friday, August 14, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: Kenny Albert, AJ Mleczko, Pierre McGuire
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Canucks-Blues stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Vancouver 5, St. Louis 2
Friday, Aug. 14: Vancouver at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

Canucks never trail, beat Blues 5-2 in Game 1

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The young Canucks didn’t look like they feared the defending-champion Blues, at least not in Game 1. The Canucks never trailed in Game 1, breaking a tied third period to win 5-2, taking a 1-0 series lead against the Blues.

Blues found themselves chasing Canucks in Game 1

When we look back at this First Round 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff series, we may say that the Blues eventually neutralized the explosive but inexperienced (and not particularly deep) Canucks. That was not the story of Game 1.

During the first period, both teams scored fairly similar power-play goals, with Bo Horvat and David Perron finding the net with quick shots from the “bumper” position. Vancouver’s power play continued to cause problems, as Elias Pettersson also briefly gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead during the second period. Jaden Schwartz quickly answered with a 2-2 goal as the last tally of that period, yet this would not be the last time the Blues found themselves trailing in Game 1.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

In a moment Jordan Binnington would like to have back, Troy Stecher boomed a shot by the Blues goalie 5:37 into the third. About two-and-a-half minutes later, Horvat bamboozled Vince Dunn with a splendid move to score his second goal of Game 1, and make it 4-2.

While the Blues managed some pushes late in Game 1, they couldn’t come back against the Canucks. After St. Louis got whistled for a late penalty, J.T. Miller scored the 5-2 goal on a power play at first focused on clock-killing.

Vancouver managed one of the bigger Game 1 upsets of the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, leaving the Blues with some serious work to do.

There was some nastiness in Game 1, including this ugly spear by Troy Brouwer on Antoine Roussel:

Will this series get nastier? Perhaps. Considering the makeup of this Blues team, the finesse-heavy portion of the top of the Canucks lineup would be wise to mostly avoid the fray. So far, Horvat, Pettersson, and Quinn Hughes didn’t seem overwhelmed by the moment in facing the defending champs.

One other side note: should the Blues keep an eye on Binnington? As great as Binnington was during that 2019 Stanley Cup run, his NHL sample size isn’t enormous. And, quietly or not, Jake Allen enjoyed a much better 2019-20 season than Binnington did.

Consider this comparison, via Hockey Reference:

Game 1 Canucks Blues Binnington Allen comparison

Just food for thought, particularly if the Blues struggle as the First Round progresses.

No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (VAN leads series 1-0)

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Vancouver 5, St. Louis 2
Friday, Aug. 14: Vancouver at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First 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.

Blues vs. Canucks: 5 things to know about their First Round series

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The First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins August 11. Before the NHL postseason resumes play, PHT will preview each of the eight opening round matchups, including Blues vs. Canucks.

1. Greed could be a big-time motivation for big-time Blues and Canucks

No doubt, Blues star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo ranks as the player with the most money to gain or lose in this series, at least if free agent bidders put a lot of stock in postseason play. Even so, Pietrangelo is far from alone.

Jacob Markstrom solidified himself with a crucial season for the Canucks, but the 30-year-old faces an uncertain future, and a fairly goalie-rich market. Christopher Tanev doesn’t know if he’ll be back with Vancouver, either. Tyler Toffoli‘s another player who could see some serious variance.

Heck, Elias Pettersson might also want to be proactive, so while his rookie deal runs through 2020-21, the budding Canucks superstar may just want to sign an extension after this run. (Would that be wise? Debatable, but Pettersson may emphasize peace of mind over maximum bucks.)

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

2. Experience for Blues

Sometimes “experience” gets thrown around even for honestly pretty mediocre veteran players who are sometimes just there. It’s a little different when you’re talking about veteran stars who can still actually play, though.

The Blues are brimming with battle-tested players who aren’t past their prime. While Pietrangelo is 30, Ryan O'Reilly, Colton Parayko, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and other key players haven’t celebrated The Big 3-0 just yet. These are players who’ve shut down some of the league’s best players, including making life miserable for “The Perfect Line” of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.

While Elias Pettersson & Co. showed they can score against a stingy Wild team, the Blues represent an enormous jump in difficulty. Along with being stingy themselves, these Blues players can test opponents on offense. That’s a potentially harrowing situation for a Canucks team accustomed to “outscoring their problems.”

3. Youth movement for Canucks

Then again, experience can’t account for everything. A dynamic Canucks team could very well leave the savviest of veterans and grayest of graybeards huffing and puffing to keep up.

There’s something to be said for having younger legs. For every 21-year-old Robert Thomas the Blues can roll out, the Canucks have more. And let’s face it: Quinn Hughes might be 20, but most veterans would envy his poise.

Maybe Elias Pettersson and others will be too “inexperienced” to realize they’re supposed to be nervous? Or perhaps they can merely out-skate and out-skill those nerves?

4. Two potent power plays

The Canucks scored an impressive 57 power-play goals during the regular season, which tied them for second in the NHL — and that’s with 69 games played (The Oilers scored 59 PPG, but in 71 GP). That would lead you to believe that the Canucks’ power play could stand as a big advantage over most NHL teams.

But what if they draw more or less the same number of penalties as the Blues? The Blues’ power play was actually marginally more efficient (24.3 percent to 24.2 for Vancouver), so they might be able to strike even (or close to even) on special teams. Especially since the two teams boasted fairly similar penalty kill units in 2019-20.

It should be fascinating to see if one (or both) of these teams convert that work to this First Round series. From the Canucks’ perspective, they might need to win that battle at least a few times to make this series interesting.

5. Prediction: Blues in 5

Look, the Canucks could channel some magic (especially on the power play) to upset the Blues. Or at least make it longer than a five-game series. That’s especially possible if the Blues meander into the First Round.

Overall, though, it just seems like the Blues are too deep, too defensively adept, and potent enough offensively to trade blows here and there when/if things break down. Jacob Markstrom might need the best two weeks of his career to make this close.

(Then again, bubble hockey could get really weird, too.)

No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Vancouver at St. Louis, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 14: Vancouver at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD

*if necessary

MORE:
Stanley Cup Playoffs First 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.

Canucks-Wild stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

Canucks-Wild stream
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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.