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Stanley Cup Playoffs wrap up: Fist-bumps and brooms

Your daily recap of the 2020 NHL playoffs.

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

Throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs we’ll be keeping track of all the action around the league, and bringing you all of the results in one place.

Stanley Cup Qualifiers: No. 7 New York Islanders vs No. 10 Florida Panthers

Historically, teams that take a 2-0 series lead in a best-of-five go on to win the series 98% percent of the time. Now, it’s been over 30 years since the NHL had a best-of-five playoff series, so is this fact relevant to today’s game? Probably not. Though a reverse sweep is still a rare occurrence in today’s NHL, so it’s not looking great for Joel Quenneville and the Panthers. They did strike first in this game, with Mike Hoffman beating Semyon Varlamov just about midway through the first period, giving Florida their first lead of the series. The second period saw an offensive explosion of four goals, three from the Islanders. Matt Martin scored in close following a fancy behind-the-legs pass from Tom Kuhnhackl, and just over a minute later Aleksander Barkov would recapture the lead for Florida with a power play marker. Goals from Ryan Pulock and Jordan Eberle closed out the second period, and the Islanders never looked back. Eberle would score his second of the game in the third, and Varlamov would lock it down the rest of the way.

Final: New York 4, Florida 2
Series: 2-0 New York
SB Nation team perspective: NYI | FLA
Highlights: NHL

Stanley Cup Qualifiers: No. 6 Nashville Predators vs No. 11 Arizona Coyotes

The Predators stuck with Juuse Saros after a game one loss, and the decision paid off. Nick Bonino opened the scoring with a shot from the faceoff circle. Darcy Kuemper, who was fantastic in the two teams’ previous contest, was screened a bit by two teammates. A misplay between Kuemper and Phil Kessel led to Ryan Johansen slipping the puck by the Arizona netminder, giving Nashville an early 2-0 lead. Despite trailing, the Coyotes were by far the better team in the period, with over 70% of the first period shot attempts. That soon changed, and by the end of the game Nashville had wound up out-attempting them at five-on-five. The lone goal of the middle frame came from Calle Jarnkrok, who scored on a rebound chance after his first shot was blocked. Viktor Arvidsson would add one more goal to the Preds’ total with a slapshot off the rush on a power play. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Clayton Keller broke Saros’ shutout bid ... and just nine seconds later, Lawson Crouse cut the lead to two. It felt like there might be a ridiculous comeback in store, but it was too little, too late.

Saros was the star of the game.

Final: Nashville 4, Arizona 2
Series: 1-1
SB Nation team perspective: NSH | ARI
Highlights: NHL

Stanley Cup Qualifiers: No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets

After getting shutout in game one, all eyes were on the Maple Leafs. Their response? A dominating performance — one that actually looked like it might not be enough — and a shutout themselves. It took 96 minutes and 56 shots on goal for the Leafs to beat Joonas Korpisalo, but it finally happened when Auston Matthews redirected a Zach Hyman shot-pass into the far side of the net. The Leafs were in full control of the game from the start, and Korpisalo was who kept them from running away with this one. As Toronto continued to pepper him with shots, it wasn’t until the third period that they were able to beat him for a second time. After Columbus flubbed an offensive rush about five minutes into the final frame, John Tavares was able to score on a breakaway, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead.

With 1:52 left, Jake Muzzin was on the receiving end of an innocent looking hit that led to him falling face-first into Oliver Bjorkstrand’s leg. The fall resulted in him being taken off of the ice on a stretcher. The one positive takeaway is that he was moving his arms and legs, and had sat up prior to being taken off. Hopefully it was more of a precautionary decision. Morgan Rielly scored an empty-net goal to finish the game.

Final: Toronto 3, Columbus 0
Series: 1-1
SB Nation team perspective: TOR | CBJ
Highlights: NHL

Stanley Cup Qualifiers: No. 8 Calgary Flames vs No. 9 Winnipeg Jets

Calgary bounced back from a game two loss with an impressive offensive explosion in game three. After Nikolaj Ehlers gave Winnipeg the lead midway through the first period, it took only 18 seconds for Elias Lindholm to answer with a goal of his own. Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan gave the Flames a two goal lead that was quickly knocked down to one thanks to an Andrew Copp power play marker. Public enemy number one in Winnipeg, Matthew Tkachuk, put Calgary back up by two before the end of the second period. The Flames controlled most of the game, but fell into a bit of a defensive shell in the third. Cam Talbot shut the door, and Milan Lucic increased their lead to three on one of the Flames’ three third period shots on goal. Johnny Gaudreau picked up the empty-netter with a little over two minutes remaining in the contest.

Final: Calgary 6, Winnipeg 2
Series: 2-1 Calgary
SB Nation team perspective: CGY | WPG
Highlights: NHL

Stanley Cup Qualifiers: No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs No. 11 New York Rangers

On the brink of elimination the Rangers turned to Igor Shesterkin, who likely would have been their game one starter had he not been deemed unfit to play. He wasn’t the only goaltender making his first appearance in the series though, as the Hurricanes also decided to change netminders and had James Reimer start the second game of the back-to-back. While both were good, Reimer was fantastic, and walked away with the victory. The Rangers actually struck first, just 12 seconds into the second period, but the Hurricanes were just too much to handle in the third period — per Natural Stat Trick, at five-on-five the Canes owned over 89 percent of the expected goal share. Teuvo Teravainen, Warren Foegele, and Sebastian Aho beat Shesterkin before Aho would later seal it with an empty netter. And Aho’s first goal was something else:

And with that, the first team eliminated from the playoffs (play-ins, whatever) are the New York Rangers. You just hate to see it.

Thanks to the Hurricanes we now know two things:

  1. At the end of a series we will see fist-bumps with gloves on instead of traditional handshakes.
  2. We can officially cross the Rangers off of the list of teams that the Flyers may face, leaving only seven to guess from. Slowly cutting down the options.

Final: Carolina 4, New York 1
Series: 3-0, Carolina advances
SB Nation team perspective: CAR | NYR
Highlights: NHL

Stanley Cup Qualifiers: No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs No. 10 Minnesota Wild

Penalties; penalties everywhere. These two teams only saw 31 minutes of five-on-five hockey last night, but the Canucks made good use of their time with three even strength goals. The first of which belonging to Tanner Pearson, who scored just 24 second into the game. The shot came from outside the slot and was one that you’d expect Alex Stalock to stop. Zach Parise and Luke Kunin combined for a shorthanded goal towards the end of the first that sent them to the first intermission with a tie. J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser scored in the second, while Bo Horvat increased their lead to three goals early in the third.

Kevin Fiala made the score close with two goals in the final two and a half minutes. But this wasn’t a one-goal game. Minnesota was better in the third, but Vancouver deserved their game two victory.

Final: Vancouver 4, Minnesota 3
Series: 1-1
SB Nation team perspective: VAN | MIN
Highlights: NHL