We all probably thought there was no way Friday could top Thursday’s events which saw 28 goals, 10 of which game in the round-robin game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets come from 3-0 down to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime, but we were wrong.
Friday was actually the craziest day of the postseason so far with two overtime games for two comeback wins.
Firstly, the Leafs did exactly what Columbus did to them on Thursday night. Trailing 3-0 they came back and took it to overtime and won. Their three regulation goals came in the final five minutes.
The Vancouver Canucks also came from behind to take the Minnesota Wild in to overtime.
The New York Islanders knew a win would send the Florida Panthers packing and them into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It would make them the third team over all and the second from the Eastern Conference after the Carolina Hurricanes, who swept the Islanders last year, swept the New York Rangers on Tuesday, and the Calgary Flames won their best-of-5 series against the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Thursday.
New York Islanders v Florida Panthers
The New York Islanders advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the Florida Panthers 5-1 and winning the series 3-1.
Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, Brock Nelson, Mathew Barzel and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also netted, and Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves for the Isles, the No.7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Mike Hoffman scored and Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves for the Panthers, the No. 10 seed. It was their first postseason appearance since 2016, when they lost to the Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round.
After the game Barzal told media, “we know that we just punched our ticket to the dance and it’s kind of the start now.” He continued, “the intensity’s only going to ramp up, and I think this group’s going to be ready to go.”
The line of Beauvillier, Nelson and Josh Bailey combined for 6pts (3g, 3a).
New York defenseman Ryan Pulock helped preserve a two-goal lead with a diving play to prevent Aleksander Barkov from scoring into an open net at 8:29 of the second.
“To me, it was one of those defining moments,” Trotz said. “That was a critical moment, a great play by Pulock to save a goal. For sure, that was a 4-by-6 open net, and he was able to get his stick in there. Those are the plays, the commitment, that extra effort, that wins you those inches. We had a lot of that today.”
Florida have a 12.5% chance at the No.1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, to be held Monday.
Meanwhile the Islanders will play the Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Islanders win series 3-1 – Advance to Playoffs
Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens
Artturi Lehkonen scored with 4:11 remaining in the third period to help the Montreal Canadiens advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4.
Montreal was 12th in the Eastern Conference, and 24th in the general NHL standings this season. No team had ever won an NHL postseason series after finishing that low.
Tristan Jarry made 20 saves in his NHL postseason debut for the Pens (No.5). He replaced Matt Murray, who started the first three games of the best-of-5 series.
The shutout was Carey Price‘s sixth in the NHL postseason, his first since making 43 saves against the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round on April 26, 2015.
Shea Weber doubled the Habs’ lead with an emptynetter just 32 seconds from time.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who played on his 33rd birthday, hit the crossbar on a power play at 6:55 of the third. He scored three points (2g, 1a) in the series, passing Doug Gilmour and Joe Sakic for eighth place in the NHL postseason points (189; 68g, 121a in 168 games).
The center spoke after the game, “Listen, it’s a three-out-of-five. Anything can happen. … We did some good things. Did we do enough? No. Give them credit. They played really well and got some big plays throughout the four games. … This is a situation we were faced with. Would’ve loved a better outcome.”
Pittsburgh have lost nine of their last 10 postseason games since defeating the Washington Capitals 3-1 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 3, 2018. They won Game 2 of this series 3-1 on Monday.
Montreal will face either the Tampa Bay Lighting, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round, whilst the Pens have a 12.5% chance at the No.1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.
Canadiens win series 3-1 – Advance to Playoffs
Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets
Auston Matthews scored 13:10 into overtime to complete a three-goal comeback and give the Toronto Maple Leafs a lifeline, a season-saving 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, tying their series and forcing Game 5.
Toronto are the third team to win an NHL postseason game after trailing by three goals with less than four minutes remaining in the third period.
John Tavares set up Matthews, who scored on a one-time 10 seconds after Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno was penalized for tripping.
William Nylander and Tavares scored 51 seconds apart to draw Toronto within 3-2, before Zach Hyman tied it with 23 seconds left in regulation. All three goals came within the space of 3:54.
Toronto’s regulation goals were scored with the same six Maple Leafs on the ice, and goalie Fredrick Andersen pulled for an extra attacker.
Andersen made 36 saves for the Leafs (No.8), who blew a 3-0 second-period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 3 on Thursday.
Cam Atkinson, Vladislav Gavrikov and Boone Jenner scored to give Columbus, the No.9 seed, the 3-0 lead.
Nylander‘s goal ended Elvis Merzlikins‘ shutout streak at 105:38. The rookie keeper saved each of the 21 shots he faced Thursday after relieving Joonas Korpisalo at 8:48 of the second period in Game 3. He made 36 saves in this game, before allowing the 3 goals.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, who scored the game-winning goal to complete the Blue Jackets’ first postseason hat trick Thursday, got his fourth point in two games to set up their first first-period goal of the series at 3:58.
Out of a possible six elimination games, Toronto were the first team to take it to Game 5.
The Leafs are the first team in NHL history to come back and win after trailing by 3+ goals in the final five minutes of an elimination game.
Blue Jackets v Leafs – Sunday, Aug. 9 (8pm ET – NBCSN, FS-O)
Nashville Predators v Arizona Coyotes
Brad Richardson scored at 5:27 of overtime to lift the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 overtime win against the Nashville Predators in Game 4, booking their place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and sending Nashville packing.
Filip Forsberg tied the game 3-3 for Nashville with a one-timer from the left circle 32 seconds from time, with goalie Juuse Saros pulled for the extra attacker.
Michael Grabner, Phil Kessel and Jordan Oesterle scored, Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves for Arizona, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two assists.
Matt Duchene and Viktor Arvidsson also scored, and Saros made 30 saves for the Preds, who were the No.6 seed in the West.
Arvidsson didn’t play in the third period or overtime after taking a shot in the midsection from teammate Mattias Ekholm late in the second period.
The Coyotes will play the Colorado Avalanche (2-0-0), Vegas Golden Knights (2-0-0), St. Louis Blues (0-2-0) or Dallas Stars (0-2-0) in the Western Conference First Round.
Coyotes win series 3-1 – Advance to Playoffs
Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks
Dominik Kubalik scored the tiebreaker in the third period, as the Chicago Blackhawks advanced to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4.
Casey Crawford made 43 saves, Brandon Saad and Matthew Highmore also score, and Jonathan Toews had two assists for the Blackhawks, who will play the winner of the round-robin game on Saturday between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference First Round.
Chicago, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2017, were 1-1-1 against Vegas and 1-3-0 against Colorado in the regular season. They also finished the season 12th in the Western standings and 23rd in the NHL standings this season. Prior to this postseason, no team had ever won an NHL series after finishing that low. The Montreal Canadiens (12th in Eastern, 24th in NHL) eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the day.
Josh Archibald and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored, Connor McDavid had two assists, and Mikko Koskinen made 26 saves for the Oilers, who were the No.5 seed in the West and now have a 12.5% chance of getting the No.1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday.
Chicago were 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, and Crawford made 20 saves in the third period.
Blackhawks win series 3-1 – Advance to Playoffs
Vancouver Canucks v Minnesota Wild
Christopher Tanev scored 11 seconds into overtime to secure a 5-4 comeback win for the Vancouver Canucks against the Minnesota Wild, securing a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tanev registered three points (1g, 2a), Bo Horvat scored one, assisted two, Quinn Hughes scored one and assisted one, Tanner Pearson, Brandon Sutter also scored, and Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves for the seventh-seeded Canucks.
Vancouver’s winner is tied for the second-fastest overtime goal in NHL postseason history.
The Canucks trailed 3-1 after Joel Eriksson Ek scored at 5:39 of the second for the No.10 seeded Wild.
Nico Sturm scored with 52 seconds left in the second to give Minnesota a 4-3 lead with his first NHL goal.
Eric Staal and Luke Kunin scored, Jonas Brodin had two assists, and Alex Stalock made 26 saves for the Wild.
Vancouver will play the loser of the round-robin game on Sunday between the St. Louis Blues (0-2-0) and Dallas Stars (0-2-0) in the Western Conference First Round.
Wild defenseman Ryan Suter didn’t play. He missed the final 6:51 of Game 2 after blocking a shot in the third period. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose a player’s injury or illness information.
Wild v Canucks – Sunday, Aug. 9 (10:45pm ET – NBCSN, NHL.TV, FS-N)
Canucks win series 3-1 – Advance to Playoffs