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Kucherov leads Lightning past Capitals in round-robin play

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Shootout goals from Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point helped the Lightning beat the Capitals 3-2 in round-robin play Monday.

The first half of the game belonged to Tampa, who lead in possession and on the scoreboard until late in the second period. The Lightning controlled over 60% of shot attempts (per Natural Stat Trick) for most of the opening 40 minutes and built up a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Kucherov and Mitchell Stevens.

Kucherov’s first of the postseason was the result of strong neutral zone play by the Lightning. They won the middle of the ice, and a Capitals turnover allowed Point to dance into the offensive zone and lay a pass off to Kucherov, who then proceeded to wire a shot by Braden Holtby.

Washington flipped the game to their side with a pair of goals 2:08 apart late in the second. First, Richard Panik put home a rebound that squeaked through Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s pads. Evgeny Kuznetsov then followed that up tapping home another puck that the Tampa netminder had trouble with.

No goals in the third period meant bonus hockey. Round-robin games will feature regular-season overtime rules, but 3-on-3 didn’t solve anything, so a shootout was needed.

Current Eastern Conference round-robin standings

Now that each team has played once, here’s where things stand:

• Lightning – 2 pts.
• Flyers – 2 pts.
• Capitals – 1 pt.
• Bruins – 0 pts.

Reminder that these games will determine seeding for Round 1. Any ties will be broken by regular-season points percentage.

Carlson remains out

Norris Trophy finalist John Carlson did not play Monday. The defenseman remained out after suffering an injury during the Capitals’ exhibition game last week against Carolina. He has practiced with the team since the weekend, but head coach Todd Reirden wanted to play it safe.

“We’re not going to put them in a situation where, if something were to go wrong or re-aggravate any injury or anything that’s going on that would potentially cause a chance for him to miss part of Round 1,” Reirden said on Sunday. “So we’ll do the thing that’s right for the player and obviously right for the team. We obviously wouldn’t put him out there in a situation where anything could become worse because he’s such a large part of our team and obviously a guy that had a tremendous year and is a huge part of our blue line.”

Bogosian makes postseason debut

Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian has played 644 NHL games since breaking into the league with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008-09. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft is with his third franchise and finally took part in the postseason for the first time in his career on Monday.

The last time Bogosian was in any sort of postseason? The 2008 Ontario Hockey League playoffs when he was with the Peterborough Petes. They lost their opening round series in five games to P.K Subban’s Belleville Bulls.

Eastern Conference round-robin schedule

Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Lightning 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning vs. Bruins, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6: Capitals vs. Flyers, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Bruins vs. Capitals, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers 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.

Capitals-Lightning stream: NHL Return to Play round-robin game

Capitals-Lightning stream
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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Monday’s round-robin matchup between the Capitals and Lightning. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Capitals-Lightning stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

This round robin matchup features two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. Both the Lightning (second best record in East) and the Capitals (third best record in East) will have plenty to prove this postseason, just one season removed from being upset in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Washington swept the three-game regular season series against Tampa this year, scoring three-plus goals in every meeting. These two clubs have not met since Dec. 21, 2019.

The Lightning and Capitals will enter Monday’s meeting with the highest scoring regular season offenses. Tampa had the highest scoring offense (3.47 goals/game) in the NHL this season, while Washington had the second highest scoring offense (3.42 goals/game).

One area to watch in this game will be on special teams. Tampa’s power play was tied for fifth in the NHL (23.1%) and Washington’s ranked just 17th (19.4%). On Day 1 of the playoffs, special teams were a huge factor in the outcomes of some of the games. Losing teams such as the Penguins (1-for-7), Rangers (0-for-7) and the Jets (0-for-7) struggled mightily with the man-advantage.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto
WHEN: Monday, August 3, 4 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: John Forslund, Mike Milbury, Brian Boucher
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Eastern Conference round-robin schedule

Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers 4, Bruins 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3
:
Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Wednesday, Aug. 5:
Lightning vs. Bruins, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Thursday, Aug. 6:
Capitals vs. Flyers, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9:
Bruins vs. Capitals, TBD

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

NHL announces zero positive COVID-19 tests during first week in bubbles

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The NHL announced on Monday afternoon that it has had zero positive COVID-19 test results since its 24 playoff teams reported to their bubble cities of Toronto and Edmonton.

There were more than 7,000 tests administered since fourth phase of the league’s restart plan began on July 26 through August 1, when play resumed with the start of the qualifying round.

The league is testing all 52 members of each team’s traveling parties (including players, coaches, front office, team staff) on a daily basis and will continue to do so as long as the teams remain in their hub cities.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Previously, the NHL had announced that there were 43 positive tests results during the Phase 2 portion of the league’s return (which involved small groups of individual players skating at team facilities), and two positive tests that it was aware of during the first week of training camp. The league announced zero positive results during the second week of training camp and zero positive results when the teams arrived in their bubbles.

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.

The Wraparound: Maurice still steamed at Tkachuk for hit on Scheifele

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 NHL Return to Play. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

• Take a look back at Sunday’s NHL Return to Play action, which included a buzzer-beater and upsets aplenty.

• Wild defenseman Matt Dumba spoke about his speech on Saturday afternoon and why he regrets not taking a knee for the Canadian national anthem after doing so for the U.S. anthem.

• Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula has been suspended for Game 2 following an illegal check to the head of Tyler Ennis.

There’s a bit of positive news on the Mark Scheifele front ahead of Game 2. (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream). According to TSN’s Sara Orlesky, the forward’s injury is not believed to be long-term. Even with that, it’s likely the Jets will be without him and Patrik Laine against the Flames Monday afternoon.

Scheifele’s injury set off his coach following Game 1. Paul Maurice took aim at Matthew Tkachuk in his postgame press conference calling the play a “filthy, dirty kick to the back of the leg.”

Maurice double downed on Sunday.

“I would stick by every word that I said,” he said.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

“I don’t know, if you sin once, are you a sinner? Sin 10 times?,” Maurice continued. “I don’t think he came off the bench and said, ‘Hey I’m going to see if I can go stab the back of Mark Scheifele’s leg with my skate.’ I think he got to that point, and I think that’s exactly what he did. But I don’t think he’s skating across the ice thinking that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I think he plays at a level, he’s on the edge. He crosses it sometimes, and he crossed it — in my mind — clearly. That’s exactly how I feel about it.”

Tkachuk called the play “unfortunate” and ” an accident.”

The NHL decided against punishing the Flames forward, but even though Tkachuk fought Blake Wheeler soon after the incident, the bitterness on Winnipeg’s end remains. Despite the increasing tension, the Jets will be without two of their best players in an important Game 2. Focusing all of their attention on getting revenge won’t serve them well.

Officials haven’t been shy about calling penalties through the opening two days of the Qualifying Round. This game will likely be called tighter given the storyline coming out of Game 1. Winnipeg has to be more concerned about avoiding falling behind 0-2 in the best-of-five series.

NHL GAMES TODAY

Game 2: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream – (Hurricanes lead series 1-0): Jesper Fast will not play after taking a hit from Brady Skjei in Game 1. As for the goalie? Igor Shesterkin was on the ice for practice on Sunday but it is not known whether he will dress for Game 2. David Quinn wasn’t sure if the netminder would be ready.

Round-robin: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream: Steven Stamkos likely won’t play against Washington. He’s been nursing an injury since summer training camp opened. Head coach Jon Cooper said they’ve been hopeful he would play in the first game, but not playing was always likely. “We never really in any of our plans had him playing in this first game, so not sure any of that’s really changed,” he said. “We’re always hopeful.” John Carlson, meanwhile, will be a game-time decision for the Capitals.

Round-robin: Stars vs. Golden Knights, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestreamRobin Lehner will get the start for Vegas, while the Golden Knights remain without Max Pacioretty. The forward did not travel with the team to the Edmonton bubble, but has rejoined them but is still “unfit to play.” Rick Bowness would not reveal if Ben Bishop or Anton Khudobin would start Dallas’ first round-robin game.

Game 2: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream – (Canadiens lead series 1-0): The power play was a big factor in the outcome of a number of the games on Day 1 of the playoffs, including this series. Pittsburgh went 1-for-7 with the man-advantage and failed to score on a 5-on-3. Sidney Crosby scored his 67th career playoff goal in Game 1 to move into sole possession of 19th place on the all-time playoff goal scoring list. He trails Gordie Howe by 1 goal (68) for 18th place.

Game 2: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream – (Blackhawks lead series 1-0): During the regular season, Edmonton was first in power play (29.5%) and second in penalty kill (84.4%). Chicago, meanwhile, was 28th with the man advantage (15.2%) but converted three of six opportunities in Game 1, perhaps none more important than Kubalik’s first goal of the game. Dave Tippett said Mike Smith‘s play wasn’t the issue, but did not divulge if he would turn to Mikko Koskinen Monday night.

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Panthers vs. Islanders, 12 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Game 2: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Flames vs. Jets, 6:45 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Game 3: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

PHT’s 2020 Stanley Cup playoff previews
Eastern Conference top seed round-robin preview
Penguins vs. Canadiens
Rangers vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Panthers
Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

Western Conference top seed round-robin preview
Jets vs. Flames
Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Predators vs. Coyotes
Wild vs. Canucks

Predictions for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers
Why your team won’t (and will) win the Stanley Cup this season
NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup-less veterans to root for
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

The Wraparound: Rask out for Bruins opener vs. Flyers

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 NHL Return to Play. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

UPDATE: While Cassidy said Rask is feeling better, Jaroslav Halak will start Sunday. Dan Vladar will serve as the backup. “He’s not going to play today. Hopefully he gets back on the ice as early as tomorrow.”

The Bruins may be without Tuukka Rask for their opening round-robin game against the Flyers on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC; livestream).

Head coach Bruce Cassidy said that the netminder felt ill and did not join the team for practice on Saturday.

“He wasn’t feeling well, so unfit to participate today,” said Cassidy. “As an afternoon question tomorrow, the natural next question is ‘will he start?’ I’ll have to talk to Tuukka later and see where he’s at. If [he cannot play] then Jaro [Halak] will be ready to go.”

A fractured finger during summer training camp forces Rask to missed a handful of practices. Fortunately for the Bruins, they have Halak to fall back on in case their No. 1 can’t go. The two netminders combined to win the 2019-20 Williams Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed since they both played at least 25 games.

Because the Bruins have three round-robin games before the First Round begins, Halak was expected to get at least one start. Both goaltenders split time during Thursday’s exhibition game against Columbus. Boston’s next game will be Wednesday against the Lightning (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

As far as definite absences go with the Bruins, Ondrej Kase finally arrived in the Toronto bubble and will not be ready. Same goes for Nick Ritchie, who has been “unfit to participate.”

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

NHL GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2 p.m. ET (USA Network; livestream): The Predators are in the playoffs for the sixth straight season – the longest active streak in the West and behind only Pittsburgh in the entire league. Arizona making the 24-team tournament is also notable as the Coyotes snapped what was the second-longest active postseason drought in the NHL. The Coyotes sat four points out of the final wild card spot when the season paused.

Round-robin: Blues vs. Avalanche, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream): The defending champs will benefit from the return of forward Vladimir Tarasenko. The 28-year-old underwent left shoulder surgery in late October and was on pace to return for the playoffs even before the season was paused. He played just 10 games this season. The Avalanche were a banged up team before the pause, missing Mikko Rantanen, Andrew Burakovsky, Philipp Grubauer, Matt Calvert and Nazem Kadri. But the long break has allowed the club to heal up, and now the only forward missing is Colin Wilson, who’s been out since October.

Game 1: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, (joined-in-progress) 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream): Toronto is the only Eastern Conference team in the Qualifying Round to switch coaches mid-season as they hope the move will produce similar results to the Blues last season, winning the Cup after Craig Berube took over in November. Last summer, the Blue Jackets lost four of their top players in free agency, with Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Sergei Bobrovsky all leaving Columbus. Despite losing those players, the Blue Jackets had the exact same point total through 70 games (81 points) as last season.

Game 1: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream): Minnesota is back in the postseason after falling short last year following six straight playoff appearances from 2013-2018, while Vancouver is in the tournament for the first time since 2015. Neither of these teams have had much playoff success in recent years as the Wild have been bounced in the opening round in each of their last three postseason series. Likewise for the Canucks, who have lost three straight opening-round series since losing in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final to Boston.

MONDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Jets vs. Flames, 2:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Round-robin: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Round-robin: Stars-Golden Knights, 6:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Game 2: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

PHT’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier previews
Eastern Conference top seed round-robin preview
Penguins vs. Canadiens
Rangers vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Panthers
Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

Western Conference top seed round-robin preview
Jets vs. Flames
Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Predators vs. Coyotes
Wild vs. Canucks

Predictions for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers
Why your team won’t (and will) win the Stanley Cup this season
NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup-less veterans to root for
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule