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NHL Playoffs Daily 2020 – Win or go home for Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets – ESPN

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The Round of 16 matchups in the 2020 NHL playoffs are coming into focus. After the No. 1 seeds were determined on Saturday — the Philadelphia Flyers in the East and the Vegas Golden Knights in the West — Sunday’s two round-robin games will give us the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds, with the Boston Bruins taking on the Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues facing off against the Dallas Stars.

Meanwhile, we have one last elimination game in the qualification round. Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs will battle for their playoff lives.

Check out the ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily every day of the postseason until the Cup is handed out in October.

Sunday’s games

Note: All times Eastern

Round robin: No. 1 Boston Bruins vs. No. 3 Washington Capitals | 12 p.m.

The No. 3 seed — and a matchup against the No. 7 New York Islanders — is on tap for the winning club, while the losing team draws the No. 6-seeded Carolina Hurricanes next. Neither of these teams feel great about their round-robin play so far. “We had hoped that we could have a great start and use this game as a maintenance game if need be,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said on Friday. Instead, Boston wants a win to gain confidence into the next round — and save the embarrassment of falling from the top seed to fourth. Meanwhile, Washington coach Todd Reirden said he “expects more from everybody” after the team’s last loss, against Philly. The Capitals are expected to start Braden Holtby, meaning he will have played all three round-robins games. A friendly reminder that Holtby is a pending free agent this offseason.

Round robin: No. 1 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars | 3 p.m.

Neither of these teams have fared well in round-robin play, each going 0-2. The winner of this game gets the third seed in the West, and a date with the Calgary Flames in the next round. The loser finishes fourth, and plays the Vancouver Canucks. St. Louis was without two of its best forwards — Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas — last game, but both are expected back for this matchup. Jake Allen gets the nod in net, giving Jordan Binnington some rest. Look for the Stars, a bit lackadaisical to begin the tournament, to pick up their intensity. “I think our mindset this last game is trying to approach it like it is a do-or-die,” forward Blake Comeau said. “We want to go in, when we do start our playoff series, feeling good about where we’re at.”

Qualification round Game 5: No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets (Tied 2-2) | 8 p.m.

This is the final elimination game left in this part of the tourney, in what has arguably been the most entertaining series of the qualification round. The Blue Jackets have proved that they have a blueprint for forechecking and smothering their way past Toronto’s high-octane offense, but Columbus needs to regain confidence after a third period meltdown on Friday night where they allowed three goals in the final five minutes. It looks like the Blue Jackets are likely without defenseman Zach Werenski — injured in the third period of Game 4, awaiting MRI results — which would be a huge loss. The winner of this game faces the Lightning in the next round, which is a juicy matchup for either team. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a second to appreciate just how wild this Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs series has been so far:


About last night…

Vegas Golden Knights 4, Colorado Avalanche 3

Raise your hand if you’d see these two teams play a full seven-game series. They went at it on Saturday with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference on the line, and both were playing at full tilt. Vegas held a late lead, which it almost blew when J.T. Compher tied the game with 1:02 remaining in regulation. However, Alex Tuch scored his second goal of the game in the waning seconds of overtime to give the Golden Knights the win and the No. 1 seed in the West. The Avalanche will play the Arizona Coyotes in the next round, while Vegas draws the Chicago Blackhawks. Robin Lehner, who had 32 saves on Saturday, seems to have earned the Game 1 start — setting up some nice drama considering he’ll face the Blackhawks, the team that traded him away at the trade deadline. Full recap.

Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning

Are the Philadelphia Flyers a wagon? Philadelphia has come into this tournament as hot as they were before the season was paused, and quite frankly look like the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Philly’s top players have showed up, but the Flyers really flexed their depth in Saturday night’s win. Another positive sign: Shayne Gostisbehere drew into the lineup, and almost looked like the dynamic 2018-19 version of himself again. Philly draws the Montreal Canadiens in the next round. The Lightning played the entire round robin without Steven Stamkos, and now they’re in for a scare as Victor Hedman left the first period after an awkward fall. Hedman is typically very mild-mannered, so to see him react like this definitely raised alarm. As the No. 2 seed, Tampa Bay gets the winner of tonight’s Maple Leafs-Blue Jackets game in the next round. Full recap.


Three stars

Alex Tuch, F, Vegas Golden Knights

The 24-year-old scored two goals on Saturday, including the gorgeous game winner with 15.9 seconds remaining in overtime, to seal the No. 1 seed for Vegas:

play

0:32

Alex Tuch buries the winning goal in overtime to defeat the Avalanche 4-3, giving the Golden Knights the West’s top seed.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, F, Philadelphia Flyers

The rookie had just seven goals in 47 career NHL games entering Saturday’s game. He scored two against the Lightning — and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy — to pace the Flyers to a huge win.

J.T. Compher, F, Colorado Avalanche

The third-line center is proving to be a valuabel net-front presence for the Avs. He had two goals on Saturday, including one that tied the game with 1:02 left in regulation.


Social post of the day

Here’s how Robin Lehner feels about playing against the Blackhawks, with whom he played prior to being traded at the deadline:


Motivational speaker of the day

The Canucks definitely carried some J.T. Miller energy into their series-clinching win over the Wild:


Bubble content of the day

The Islanders seem to take their ping pong tournament very seriously (or maybe just Jean-Gabriel Pageau does):

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Stars’ Hintz, Bishop, Comeau and Faksa ‘unfit to play’ in Game 5 – Sportsnet.ca

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Dallas Stars forwards Roope Hintz, Radek Faksa, and Blake Comeau have been deemed “unfit to play” in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, along with goaltender Ben Bishop.

Hintz left Game 4 after taking a hit from Tyler Johnson in the second period and did not return. In 25 games this post-season, the 23-year-old has 13 points.

Faksa will miss his seventh straight game with an undisclosed injury, while Comeau is out for his second straight game. Bishop has been sidelined since Game 5 against the Colorado Avalanche.

Goalie Anton Khudobin missed the Stars’ morning skate as Jake Oettinger was present at practice but the team confirmed that Khudobin would get the start.

The Stars trail the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 in their series. Puck drop for Game 5 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

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Stamkos remains out of Lightning lineup for Game 5 vs. Stars – Sportsnet.ca

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The Tampa Bay Lightning could win the Stanley Cup on Saturday night with a Game 5 victory over the Dallas Stars, but they’ll have to do it without Steven Stamkos.

Tampa’s captain suited up in Game 3, but was declared unfit to play for Friday’s Game 4 victory. Before Game 5, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos will not play on Saturday. However, earlier Cooper did not rule him out for the remainder of the series, should Dallas stave off elimination Saturday.

Stamkos has missed the entirety of the Lightning’s post-season run due to an injury suffered before the club reconvened from the season’s pause to begin training. Managing only 2:47 minutes of ice-time during Game 3, Stamkos made an immediate impact upon returning to the lineup, scoring the second goal of the Bolts’ eventual 5-2 win just seven minutes into the tilt.

Stamkos posted 29 goals and 66 points through 57 regular-season games in 2019-20, dominating before being forced to the sidelines with a core muscle injury.

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Lightning-Stars stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final – NHL

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NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with Saturday’s Stanley Cup Final matchup between the Lightning and Stars. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Watch the Lightning-Stars stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Boosted by the long-awaited and “inspirational” return of Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning got goals from all three of their first-line forwards, their top defenseman and their captain in a threee-goal win to move within two wins of the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. For the second straight game, Tampa jumped out to a multi-goal first-period lead before the Stars got on the board. The Dallas Stars cut the deficit to one entering the second period, but the middle frame was all Lightning, outscoring Dallas 3-0 in large part thanks to a 21-4 shot differential.

After Game 2, Kevin Shattenkirk said, “when we play our best game it’s hard for teams to win.” In Game 3, Tampa played one of its best games this postseason, getting major contributions from its usual suspects in the top line trio and Hedman and also a quantifiable (one goal from Stamkos) and unquantifiable lift from the return of its captain.

The top line of Palat, Point and Kucherov carried the day once again, combining for three goals and six points in Game 3, their second straight game with four-plus points. Point leads all players this postseason with 11 goals and with Palat and Hedman also reaching double-digit goals in Game 3, the trio make Tampa the first team in a decade to have three players with 10-plus goals in the same postseason.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Tyler Seguin has struggled mightily in the 2020 playoffs. The 28-year-old has now gone 12 consecutive games without a goal and has just one assist over that span (which was six games ago). His last goal came in Game 3 of the Second Round vs. Colorado

Along with Seguin, some of Dallas’ other forwards have been quiet recently as well:

Jamie Benn: Zero points this series after ending West Final on a three-game goal streak
Denis Gurianov: Zero points, three shots this series (OT goal and assist in series-clincher vs. Vegas)
Alex Radulov: Zero goals, three assists this series

Tampa can become the first team in the NHL expansion era (1967-present) to win the Stanley Cup the season after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

WHAT: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars
WHERE: Rogers Place – Edmonton
WHEN: Saturday, September 26, 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
ON THE CALL: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Brian Boucher
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Lightning-Stars stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (TB leads 3-1)

Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
Lightning 5, Stars 2 (recap)
Lighting 5, Stars 4 [OT] (recap)
Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

*if necessary

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