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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.

NHL Bubble Wrap: Goalies rule the day, underdogs keep winning

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  • Sunday’s action included a rare buzzer-beating game-winning goal
  • Some dominant goaltending performances
  • More underdogs getting wins

Arizona Coyotes 4, Nashville Predators 3 (Coyotes lead series 1-0)

Pekka Rinne‘s run of 89 consecutive playoff starts came to an end for the Predators on Sunday when Juuse Saros got the call against the Coyotes. It did not go well from the very beginning. A fluke goal off the stick of Oliver Ekman-Larsson opened the floodgates as Arizona stormed out to an early 3-0 lead. The Predators attempted to rally and make it a game late in the third period, but the early deficit was too much to overcome as the Coyotes took Game 1 of their qualifying round series. Predators coach John Hynes did not commit to a starting goalie for Game 2 on Tuesday.

Philadelphia Flyers 4, Boston Bruins 1

The Flyers were rapidly climbing the standings before the season was paused and they took a big step toward securing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on Sunday when they beat the Boston Bruins in the opening of round-robin play. The Flyers received goals from four different players (all depth players: Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, Nate Thompson, and Philippe Myers) while Carter Hart stopped 34 shots in goal.

Colorado Avalanche 2, St. Louis Blues 1

Easily the best finish of the postseason (so far). Nazem Kadri‘s buzzer beater with just 0.1 seconds to play in regulation gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues. It capped off a dominant power play performance to end the game.

Columbus Blue Jackets 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 0 (Blue Jackets Lead Series 1-0)

The worst possible start to the postseason for the Maple Leafs. Not only did they lose to the Blue Jackets, but they did not even score a single goal in a 2-0 loss. Even without fans in the stands the pressure on the Maple Leafs is going to be immense and that is only going to increase as they find themselves down in the qualifying round. Losing in the first round every year is bad enough. Losing in this round would be inexcusable.

Minnesota Wild 3, Vancouver Canucks 0 (Wild lead series 1-0)

Jared Spurgeon was outstanding for Minnesota on Sunday night by factoring into all three goals (scoring of them himself) and playing his usual steady game defensively. The Wild used a pair of power play goals and a rock solid defensive game to shut down the Canucks’ young stars and take an early series lead.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets. At the start of the season goaltending was the big question mark for the Blue Jackets. But the tag-team duo of Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins played a huge role in helping the Blue Jackets stay in the race, and on Sunday it was Korpisalo getting the shutout in his first career postseason start. He was definitely challenged a bit and had to make some big saves, and every single time he was up to the task.

2. Alex Stalock, Minnesota Wild. Goaltending was always going to be a big X-factor for the Wild this season, but the popular consensus was that it was going to be Devan Dubnyk backstopping the team to success. It has turned out to be Stalock that is giving the Wild a chance. His play during the regular season helped get them back into the playoff race, and on Sunday night he stopped all 28 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Canucks.

3. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. Hart is the player that could make the Flyers an absolutely terrifying team in the postseason. They have been waiting for a franchise goalie for decades in Philadelphia, and they might finally have one. He was brilliant on Sunday afternoon against Boston, stopping 35 out of 36 shots to help the Flyers stay white hot (carrying over their hot streak from the end of the regular season) to get two points closer to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Highlights of the Night

Kadri’s buzzer-beater is (so far) the play of the postseason.

Korpisalo’s best save of the night was this robbery of Auston Matthews.

This is by far the flukiest goal of the day.

Factoids

  • Kadri’s buzzer-beating goal is just the second game-winning goal scored at the 19:59 mark of the third period in Stanley Cup Playoff history. [NHL PR]
  • Spurgeon is the first defenseman in Wild franchise history to have three points in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. [NHL PR]
  • Korpisalo is only the 14th goal in NHL history to record a shutout in his postseason debut. [NHL PR]

Monday Schedule

Game 2: Rangers vs. Canadiens 12 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Hurricanes lead series 1-0)

Round Robin: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Round Robin: Golden Knights vs. Stars, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Game 2: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Canadiens lead series 1-0):

Game 2: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Blackhawks lead series 1-0)

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.

Flyers stay hot, beat Bruins: Notes from NHL Return to Play round-robin game

Flyers beat Bruins in first NHL round-robin game
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Whether you weigh their last few wins all that much or not, the Philadelphia Flyers remain on a roll. The Flyers beat the Bruins 4-1 in the first NHL Return to Play round-robin game on Sunday.

Heading into the pandemic pause, the Flyers saw a nine-game winning streak end against the Bruins. Being that the Flyers won on Sunday and also their exhibition against the Penguins, this team’s been on quite an upward trend.

Again, there’s only so much you can take from these past two W’s, but it’s better to be on the winning side than not.

Round-robin game notes for Flyers, Bruins

The goalies: Hart gets some time in, mixed bag for Halak in relief of Rask

  • Yes, this was technically Carter Hart‘s “playoff debut.” No, this game didn’t give us the best idea of how the young goalie will respond to top-level pressure. Because this felt more like somewhere between an exhibition game and a regular season contest. With that caveat in mind, Hart performed very nicely against the Bruins, making 34 out of 35 saves.
  • Again, Hart didn’t face a keyed-in Bruins squad. Or, at least the Bruins have to hope this isn’t a keyed-in effort.

https://twitter.com/HackswithHaggs/status/1290046351405973511

  • Not the greatest outing for Jaroslav Halak. Halak gave up four goals against the Flyers, including one where he didn’t take the greatest angle against Scott Laughton. Halak probably wasn’t too pleased allowing this goal against Nate Thompson, either:
  • Overall, Halak gives the Bruins a strong backup, even if Sunday didn’t go so well. Even so, Tuukka Rask finished as a 2020 Vezina Trophy finalist, so the Bruins have to hope that they can go with (a healthy) Plan A once the First Round rolls around.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Did any Flyers, Bruins get hurt? And other lineup notes from round-robin game

  • Matt Grzelcyk took a puck to the face, but seemed OK.
  • Michael Raffl needed help off of the ice after an awkward fall late in the Flyers – Bruins round-robin game. It’s a shame for Raffl, who played well on Sunday. This might improve Joel Farabee and others chances of taking a spot away from Raffl.
  • While they didn’t make much of an impact, the Bruins must be pleased to see all of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak get some game action in.
  • Bruce Cassidy said Rask had been “feeling better” even if Halak got the nod, for whatever that’s worth.
  • Shayne Gostisbehere didn’t play for the Flyers. Will he eventually work his way back into the mix? This certainly doesn’t seem like the best sign for “Ghost.”

Eastern Conference round-robin schedule

Monday, Aug. 3: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
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.

Sunday’s other NHL games

Round-robin: Blues vs. Avalanche, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream)

Game 1: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, (joined-in-progress) 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream)

Game 1: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream)

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)

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.

Bruins-Flyers stream: NHL Return to Play round-robin game

Bruins-Flyers stream
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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Sunday’s round-robin matchup between the Bruins and Flyers. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. Watch the Bruins-Flyers stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Although the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in the NHL, Philly will have a chance of earning the No. 1 seed in the East due to the Round Robin format. The Bruins and Flyers will meet in their first Round Robin games of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers in what will be both franchises first official game since mid-March.

The Bruins and Flyers last met on March 10, which also turned out to be the final regular season game of the 2019-20 campaign for both clubs. Boston won 2-0, snapping Philly’s 9-game win streak and preventing them from taking over first place in the Metro Division. The Bruins became the only team to reach 100 points on the season.

Bruins star forward David Pastrnak broke the silence on Tuesday in Toronto about why he had not been skating with the team during training camp. Pasta was supposed to quarantine for 14 days after initially returning to the US from the Czech Republic, where he spent time while the season was paused. Yet he and teammate Ondrej Kase skated with a group of other hockey players in Malden, MA prior to the end of their initial quarantine, breaking with the NHL’s Phase 2 protocol and forcing them to quarantine for another 14 days.

Philly shook off the rust in their exhibition match against Pittsburgh on Tuesday, taking down their inter-state rival 3-2 (OT) in Toronto. The Flyers gave up the first goal of the game, before Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes scored to give Philly the lead. Jason Zucker tied the game with under 4 minutes remaining in the 3rd to send the match to OT, where Scott Laughton scored on a nice feed from Travis Konecny to pick up the unofficial win.

WHAT: Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto
WHEN: Sunday, August 2, 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
ON THE CALL: John Forslund, Mike Milbury, Brian Boucher
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Bruins-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Eastern Conference round-robin schedule

Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers vs. Bruins, 3 p.m. ET – NBC (Livestream)
Monday, Aug. 3:
Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET – NBCSN
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

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