With the Stanley Cup playoffs finally set to commence, each team has been given one friendly to get back in to the swing of things after a long break due to Covid-19.
Tuesday’s games saw the Pittsburgh Penguins take on local rivals the Philadelphia Flyers, the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Montreal Canadiens, and the fierce rivalry between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers
Having missed five of Pittsburgh’s final six practice or scrimmage sessions during training camp, Sidney Crosby took to the ice for a total of 19:03 ice time, putting the worried minds of Pens fans at ease.
The captain skated with his usual linemates, Jake Guentzel, playing his first game since injurying his shoulder at the end of December, and Conor Sheary, who scored the first goal of the tournament, the assist coming from Guentzel.
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere had an impressive display, summed up by assisting Scott Laughton‘s goal with 2:20 left in overtime, which should help him in his fight for a spot in the lineup for the round-robin portion of the qualifiers, which determines seeding for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes scored first-period goals for Philly, with Carter Hart making 11 saves on 12 shots in the first two periods, before being rested and replaced by Brian Elliot who made 13 saves on 14 shots in the third period and overtime.
Pittsburgh, the No.5 seed in the East, drew level with just under four minutes remaining in regulation thanks to a Jason Zucker goal.
Matt Murray made 10 saves on 12 shots in 29:55 of ice time for the Pens. Tristan Jarry made nine saves on 10 shots in relief.
Canadiens v Pens (Best-of-5) – Saturday, August 1 (8pm ET – NBC)
Flyers v Bruins (Round Robin) – Sunday, August 2 (3pm ET – NBC)
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadians
Ilya Mikheyev scored 33 seconds into the game, before Morgani Rielly added a goal and two assists helping the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2.
Mikheyev played for the first time since having surgery to repair an artery and severed tendons in his wrist just after Christmas. Meanwhile, Reilly, who fractured his foot in January and missed 23 games, played the Leafs’ final game of the regular season before the Covid pause on March 12.
Alexander Kerfoot netted a double, and Frederik Andersen made 28 saves for the Leafs, who enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No.8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Cary Price made 19 saves, with Thomas Tatar and Paul Bryon scoring for Montreal, who are the No.12 seed from the East.
Blue Jackets v Leafs (Best-of-5) – Sunday, August 2 (8pm ET – NHL
Canadiens v Pens (Best-of-5)– Saturday, August 1 (8pm ET – NBC)
Edmonton Oilers v Calgary Flames
Connor McDavid scored twice, and Leon Draisaitl had an assist for the Edmonton Oilers as they beat fierce rivals, the Calgary Flames, 4-1 in their exhibition game at Rogers Place.
McDavid, who was second in NHL scoring this season behind Draisaitl with 97pts (34g, 63a) in 64 games, scored 16pts (4g, 12a) in nine games before the season was paused on March 12.
Kailer Yamamoto scored on a rebound to give the Oilers, who played as the road team in their home arena, a 1-0 lead just 1:04 minutes into the game.
McDavid gave Edmonton a 2-0 lead on the power play at 7:44 of the first period when he lifted a shot over Cam Talbot (19 saves on 21 shots in 29:40). He scored again at 15:59 of the third to make it 4-1, stripping the puck from a Flames defenseman and sliding it between David Rittich‘s legs, Rittich came in to relieve Talbot, making seven saves.
Elias Lindholm scored for Calgary, who are the No.8 seed in the West and play the Winnipeg Jets, the No.9 seed, in a best-of-five series that starts Saturday (10:30pm ET, NBCSN, NHL.TV,CBC,SN).
Patrick Russell scored at 15:26 of the this period, 33 seconds before McDavid‘s second goal.
Mikko Koskinen started in goal and saved all 17 shots in 29:41, whilst Mike Smith, formerly of the Flames, made 19 saves in relief for Edmonton, the No. 5 seed in the West. They will play the Chicago Blackhawks (No.12 seed) in a best-of-5 series, also starting (3pm ET, NBC, SN).
Blackhawks v Oilers (Best-of-5) – Saturday, August 1 (3pm ET – NBC)
Jets v Flames (Best-of-5) – Saturday, August 1 (10:30pm – NBCSN)