Pre-Cup Friendlies – Day 3

With most of the teams having already played their one friendly/warm-up game, there were only three games on Thursday.

The Nashville Predators matched with the Dallas Stars, whilst the Boston Bruins played the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Vegas Golden Knights went head-to-head with the Arizona Coyotes.

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins v Columbus Blue Jackets

Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins combined for 23 saves to help the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in their exhibition game.

Korpisalo started and didn’t allow a goal on 11 shots; Merzlikins allowed one on 13.

Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski, Gustav Nyquist and Alexandre Texier scored for Columbus (No.9 seed in the East), who face the Toronto Maple Leafs (No.8) in a best-of-5 series starting Sunday (8pm ET – NHL Network, TVAS, SN).

Nyquist and Werenski‘s goals came just 18 seconds apart.

David Pastrnak, who was held out of all full-team practices in training camp because he had to quarantine after returning from the Czech Republic, scored Boston’s only goal of the game at 12:16 of the second period, when he faked out Merzlikins before beating him through the five-hole.

Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak combined for 27 saves, with the former allowing three first-period goals and making 17 saves on 20 shots in his half of the game, for the Bruins (No.1 seed in the East), who face the No.4 seeded Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday (3pm ET – NBC, TVAS, SN)

Just when Boston thought things couldn’t get worse, they lost Brad Marchand. He didn’t play the final 11:40 of the game after appearing to grimace and show discomfort on the penalty kill during his last shift.

Up Next:

Flyers v Bruins (Round-Robin) – Sunday, August 2 (3pm ETNBC)

Blue Jackets v Leafs (Best-of-5) – Sunday, August 2 (8pm ETNHL

Western Conference

Nashville Predators v Dallas Stars

Viktor Arvidsson‘s two goals and Filip Forsberg‘s two assists proved enough for the Nashville Predators, who defeated the Dallas Stars 2-0 in their exhibition game at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne made 26 collective saves for Nashville. Saros started the game, making 12 saves in 30:32 of ice time, before Rinne made 14 in relief.

Saros took over as the No.1 goalie for the Preds after Rinne struggled this season and was 12-5-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in his last 20 games (18 starts) before the pause. Rinne was 4-6-1 with a 3.59 GAA and .895 save percentage in that span.

Since 2010, Rinne has started every Stanley Cup game in Predators history.

The line of Ryan Johansen, Forsberg and Arvidsson combined for four points and 10 shots on goal. The three were reunited at the start of training camp after playing just 124 minutes together during the regular season; they were together for 523 minutes in 2018/19.

Ben Bishop made 16 saves on 18 shots in 30:32 of ice time for the Stars, who were without Tyler Seguin (unfit to play). He was replaced by Anton Khudobin, who made nine saves in relief.

Rookie forward Ty Dellandrea, who took Seguin‘s place in the line-up, saw 9:39 of ice time.

Stars Forward Andrew Cogliano left the game 15:18 into the first period with an undisclosed injury. After the game head coach Rick Bowness had no update on either player. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team isn’t permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Dallas play their first round-robin game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday (6:30 pm. ET – NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1, ATTSN-RM, FS-SW), before facing the Colorado Avalanche (Aug. 5) and the St. Louis Blues (Aug. 9) to determine seeding for the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Nashville (No.6 in West) will play the Arizona Coyotes (No. 11) in a best-of-5 qualifier series beginning Sunday (2 pm. ET – USA, NHL.TV, SN360, FS-TN, FS-A). The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Up Next:

Predators v Coyotes (Best-of-5) – Sunday, August 2 (2pm ETUSA)

Stars v Knights (Round-Robin) – Monday, August 3 (6:30pm ETNHL

Vegas Golden Knights v Arizona Coyotes

The line of Nick Cousins, Alex Tuch and Nicolas Roy combined for seven points (2g, 5a) and a +6 rating to help the Vegas Golden Knights defeat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1.

Tuch and Cousins both scored twice, with the former getting one assist and the latter two. Roy recorded two assists.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves for Vegas, who play the Dallas Stars in their first round-robin game on Monday (6:30 pm. ET – NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1, ATTSN-RM, FS-SW).

The Knights will also play the St. Louis Blues (Aug.6) and Colorado Avalanche (Aug.8) to determine seeding for the playoffs.

Reilly Smith scored two special-teams goals in the first period.

Whilst killing a penalty for too many men on the ice, Smith skated down the wing, received a cross-ice pass from William Karlsson, and scored on the short side to put his side 1-0 at 8:42. His second came on the power play at 16:23 with a shot from the left face-off circle, going over goalie Darcy Kuemper‘s left shoulder to make it 2-0.

Kuemper made 17 saves through the second period, before Antti Raanta came on to play the third period. Raanta made six saves for the No.11 seed Coyotes, who play Game 1 of their best-of-5 series against the Nashville Predators (No.6) on Sunday (2 pm. ET – USA, NHL.TV, SN360, FS-TN, FS-A).

Taylor Hall scored on the power-play at 9:14 of the third to get Arizona within a goal, but Tuch scored at 13:47 making it 3-1 and Cousins scored an empty netter with 13 seconds left for a 4-1 final scoreline.

Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz left the game at 13:14 of the second period after taking a hit from Ryan Reaves.

“We lost Nick, we’ll evaluate tomorrow,” Head coach Rick Tocchet told media post game.

Meanwhile, Vegas were without leading goal scorer Max Pacioretty (32g, 66pts before the break). The forward didn’t travel to Edmonton after missing the final four days of training camp. Coach Peter DeBoer said prior to the game that the forward was “improving quickly”.

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, teams are not permitted to disclose a player’s injury or illness information.

Up Next:

Stars v Knights (Round-Robin) – Monday, August 3 (6:30pm ETNHL

Predators v Coyotes (Best-of-5) – Sunday, August 2 (2pm ETUSA)


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