We’re back! The NHL begins its 2019-20 playoff qualifiers after a four-month break and we’ll be here to capture all the action from every game.
Yahoo Sports NHL editors Arun Srinivasan, Kyle Cantlon and Justin Cuthbert recapped everything you needed to know from Saturday’s action in real-time.
Here’s what happened on Day 1.
Flames pull away from Jets, Scheifele’s injury casts shadow over game
The Calgary Flames emerged with a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, but this game will likely be remembered for a gruesome-looking leg injury suffered by Jets star Mark Scheifele during his third shift of the game, early in the first period.
It’s been a slow third period to cap off a largely frantic day of playoff qualifier action. Andrew Mangiapane notched an empty-netter as the Flames cruised to a 4-1 victory after a rocky first period.
Flames pull away with three unanswered
Scheifele’s injury cast a dark spell over this game, and it’s certainly taken a toll on the Jets as the Flames pulled away in the second period with three unanswered goals.
Tobias Rieder picks up the loose puck in the neutral zone, breaks away, dekes Connor Hellebuyck forehand, shoots backhand, and scores to get the #Flames ahead of the #Jets 2-1. pic.twitter.com/n6wFHthmQ1— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) August 2, 2020
Tobias Rieder’s short-handed goal summarizes how this period went, beating Connor Hellebuyck with nary a defender in sight.
Rieder, to say the least, isn’t known for his scoring prowess so beating the likely Vezina Trophy winner on a nifty backhand no less, did not go unnoticed on Twitter.
TOBIAS RIEDER HAS MORE GOALS IN THE PLAYOFFS THAN HE DID WITH THE OILERS IN THE REGULAR SEASON LAST YEAR.— Leah Kessel (@leahflame) August 2, 2020
Scheifele leaves immediately with gruesome-looking injury, will not return
This is the worst way any series could start.
Jets star Mark Scheifele left Saturday’s game against the Flames during the first period with an apparent leg injury, and it looked to be pretty serious, writhing in pain on the ice. Scheifele couldn’t put any weight on his left leg and appeared to be visibly shaken up.
Scheifele tried to avoid a check from Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk as he dumped the puck into the zone, with two players converging on him. He spun away from Tkachuk but immediately crashed to the ground after his lower leg struck the boards.
Here is the video of the incident:
Mark Scheifele goes down after Matthew Tkachuk finishes his check along the boards. Hoping for the best for Scheif. pic.twitter.com/U1zOs8GQ7a— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) August 2, 2020
Afterwards, Jets captain Blake Wheeler took umbrage with the play and fought Tkachuk.
Blake Wheeler doesn't think Mark Scheifele's injury was an accident. Come to the aid of his teammate and fights Matthew Tkachuk pic.twitter.com/7Aw5lZcL1S— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) August 2, 2020
Let’s hope it’s not as serious as it looks, even if it does indeed seem like the worst-case scenario.
I hope Tkachuk didn't catch Scheifele's Achilles there...— Justin Cuthbert (@jccuthbert) August 2, 2020
Canadiens upset Penguins in OT
The Montreal Canadiens emerged with a surprise 3-2 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Jeff Petry’s quick release beating Matt Murray for the winner.
Who said momentum is a thing? The underdog Canadiens stole this one from the Penguins, who appeared to have tipped the game in their favour.
Brendan Gallagher entered the zone after receiving a feed from Phillip Danault and tried to get the puck back to him as he crashed the net. The errant pass hit a skate and ricocheted to Petry, who dragged the puck in one fell swoop before getting a quick release off past Murray for the overtime winner.
Here is Petry’s winner:
Carey Price’s first-period heroics certainly paid off as the Canadiens now hold a 1-0 lead.
Not much to report from the third period, but we have our first overtime game of the 2020 playoffs!
Suzuki shines, but the Penguins’ big guns come roaring back
Nick Suzuki became the second 20-year-old to score for the Canadiens in the game as he rifled this beauty past the glove-side shoulder of Matt Murray to give the Canadiens a shocking 2-0 lead early in the second frame.
The way things were going though, it was clearly just a matter of time before the big guns for the Penguins broke through, and that’s exactly what happened as Sidney Crosby went full Sidney Crosby down low before banking one in off Carey Price to cut the lead in half.
Less than three minutes later, the Penguins power play went to work and Bryan Rust potted home his first of the playoffs. Tied 2-2 heading to the third.
Price dominates first period, fends off Malkin’s line
The long layoff seemed to benefit Carey Price well coming out of the gate, as an absolutely dominant opening frame from Pittsburgh was bettered only by Price’s perfect 18-save, first period.
The only player in Price’s stratosphere in the period was Evgeni Malkin, who came flying out of the gate looking like a man possessed as he and linemates Jason Zucker and Bryan rust completely took over whenever they were on the ice.
Habs lead 1-0 after one despite being outshot 18-6.
The Malkin line was not on the ice for a single shot-attempt against in the first period. As a unit, they generated 8.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) August 2, 2020
Trotz’s defensive tactics pay off in Islanders’ win over Panthers
We were spoiled by the high-octane pace of the first two games from Saturday’s slate but not every contest is going to be a barn-burner as the New York Islanders’ heavily conservative style of play championed by head coach Barry Trotz paid off in a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
New York jumped out to a 2-0 lead as trade deadline acquisition Jean-Gabriel Pageau tapped in a feed from in-close for the opening goal, then Anthony Beauvillier one-timed a slapshot from inside the faceoff circle to put his club up 2-0.
From there onwards it was smooth sailing for Trotz, who instructs his club to essentially limit all risks and counter their opponents mistakes. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and now onto Game 2.
Kubalik unstoppable in Blackhawks’ dominant win vs. Oilers
The Chicago Blackhawks cruised to a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, a scoreline that is flattering to the West host. Dominik Kubalik scored two goals and notched three assists, becoming the first player to post five points in his NHL playoff debut.
Dominik Kubalik (2-3—5) became the first player in NHL history to record five points in his playoff debut, besting Daryl Evans' mark during Game 1 of the 1982 Division Semifinals with the Kings (2-2—4). #StanleyCup #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/qCiNQjWYHy— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 1, 2020
Kubalik, Toews continue to dominate
It’s too late to readjust your Calder Trophy ballot, but Dominik Kubalik looks like anything but a rookie out there against the Oilers and continued the barrage with two second-period goals.
First, Kubalik one-timed a perfect cross-ice feed from Duncan Keith into the top corner past a struggling Mike Smith for his fourth point of the game.
Kubalik wasn’t done there. Maple Leafs fans may remember Kubalik for batting down a puck out of mid-air for one of the goals of the year earlier this regular season, and once again, the 24-year-old showed off his outstanding hand-eye coordination, deflecting a point shot from Keith for his second goal and fifth point of the game.
Welcome to the playoffs, kid. You’re a natural.
Toews turns back the clock as Blackhawks score four unanswered
Although McDavid appeared to set the tone early, Chicago woke up and responded back with four consecutive goals in the first period. A series pitting two of the NHL’s worst defenses was bound to produce an abundance of goals as Jonathan Toews added two, while Brandon Saad and Dylan Strome chipped in with a goal apiece to take a 4-1 lead at the intermission.
It’s not pretty but Toews is back in vintage form.
Welcome back, McDavid
McDavid opened the scoring and it was a pinpoint laser. With the Oilers having a man advantage, McDavid wired a perfectly placed wrister into the top corner, leaving his opponent helpless. This is what we’ve all been missing.
Dumba makes powerful speech against racism, kneels during anthem
Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba spoke before Saturday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers, delivering a powerful speech on behalf of the newly established Hockey Diversity Alliance.
Dumba then kneeled during the national anthem, flanked by Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban and Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse.
Here is Dumba’s full speech:
Although players from both teams appeared to be moved by Dumba’s speech, not a single player joined him to kneel during the anthem. It can’t be the expectation of Black players alone to fight for their own humanity.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski was the only person to ask about Dumba’s decision to kneel post-game. All non-Black players and media need to do better, otherwise this is just empty performance.
I mean, it was only an NHL playoff game that started with a giant END RACISM graphic followed by a heartfelt speech by a player of color (who wasn't even in the game) as he was surrounded by his peers at center ice.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 1, 2020
But the power play was important, too. https://t.co/0hkuQEHj6d
Hurricanes set standard with impressive Game 1 win
It was a scoreline that favoured the New York Rangers at the final horn, but it was the Carolina Hurricanes taking Game 1 of the play-in series with an impressive performance in a 3-2 victory.
Martin Necas gave the Hurricanes a two-goal cushion on a deflection just past the halfway mark of the third period. It was a goal that proved to be vital after Marc Staal made things interesting late.
The Rangers were beginning to look like they didn’t belong after a dominant opening period from Carolina spilled into the second, but a tip-in goal from Mika Zibanejad has brought the Blueshirts within one, setting up for an exciting third.
Heavy hits, a fight and a nice little dish for a backdoor finish?
If this is what playoff hockey looks like in a bubble, we’ll be just fine.
Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin scored the first meaningful goal of the NHL’s restart with a beautiful finish over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist to make it 1-0 Carolina less than a minute in:
Not long after that, Justin Williams and Ryan Strome traded blows in a spirited tilt because THIS IS THE PLAYOFFS BABY:
Justin Williams vs. Ryan Strome. Okay, then. pic.twitter.com/NTw56a8Nck— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) August 1, 2020
In a somewhat surprising development, Henrik Lundqvist will now start for the Rangers in Saturday’s first game against the Hurricanes, after Igor Shesterkin was determined unfit to play.
Henrik Lundqvist leads the New York Rangers out for warmups in Toronto.— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) August 1, 2020
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