With five of the six teams facing elimination on Friday losing, Saturday saw just two hockey games – both round-robin face-offs.
The Vegas Golden Knights (West) and the Philadelphia Flyers (East) were named the No.1 seed in their conferences after winning, and the Colorado Avalanche (West) and Tampa Bay Lightning (East) were crowned the No.2 seeds.
Sunday gave us two round-robin games to decided the No.3 and No.4 seeds in each conference and Game 5 between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Eastern Conference – Best-of-5
Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs
Joonas Korpisalo made 33 saves, helping the Columbus Blue Jackets advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5.
It was Korpisalo‘s second shutout of the series after he made 28 saves in a 2-0 Game 1 win.
Zach Werenski, Liam Foudy and Nick Foligno scored for the Blue Jackets, the No.9 seed in the East.
Werenski left midway through the third period.
The Blue Jackets will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Frederik Andersen made 19 saves for the Leafs, who haven’t won a postseason series since defeating the Ottawa Senators in seven games in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Maple Leafs lost defenseman Tyson Barrie with an injury at 7:31 of the second period.
Toronto forward Andreas Johnsson was activated prior to the game after recovering from knee surgery and replaced 18-year-old Nicholas Robertson in the lineup in his first game since Feb. 19.
Eastern Conference First Round
Blue Jackets v Lightning – Tuesday, Aug. 11 (3pm ET – NBCSN)
Eastern Conference – Round-Robin
Boston Bruins v Washington Capitals
T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson scored for the Washington Capitals, who clinched the No.3 seed in the Eastern Conference after a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins (0-3-0).
Washington (1-1-1) will play the No.6 New York Islanders in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, whilst the Bruins will be the No.4 seed and play the No.5 Carolina Hurricanes, who swept the New York Rangers in their best-of-5 series qualifiers.
Jake DeBrusk scored for Boston, who won the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top team and was the only team during the regular season to reach 100pts, but they scored just four goals in their round-robin series and lost all three games.
The top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for one assist (Bergeron) and was minus-7 through the series.
Meanwhile Braden Holtby made 30 saves for the Caps to earn his 49th postseason win and tie Hockey Hall of Famer Glenn Hall for 21st in the NHL history. He is fifth among active NHL goalies (Marc-Andre Fleury, 79; Henrik Lundqvist, 61; Corey Crawford, 51; Tuukka Rask, 50).
Rask made 23 saves for the Boston Bruins.
Washington hope John Carlson will be ready for Game 1 against the Islanders after the defenseman missed the entire round-robin series. The Norris Trophy finalist hasn’t played since leaving in the third period of their exhibition game against the Hurricanes on July 29.
Eastern Conference First Round
Hurricanes v Bruins – Tuesday, Aug. 11 (8pm ET – NBCSN)
Islanders v Capitals – Wednesday, Aug. 12 (3pm ET – NBCSN)
Western Conference – Round-Robin
Dallas Stars v St. Louis Blues
Denis Gurinaov‘s winner in the penalty shootout ensured the Dallas Stars (0-2-1) secured the No.3 seed in the West heading in to the Playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues (0-3-0).
Robert Thomas gave the Blues a 1-0 lead with a wrist shot at 3:43 of the first, and Jake Allen made 37 saves.
It appeared that Vince Dunn had doubled the advantage at 16:44 of the first, only for Dallas to challenge the play, and the goal be overturned for offside after video review.
Joe Pavelski scored with 31 seconds remaining in regulation on a one-timer from the top of the left circle with Anton Khudobin (22 saves) pulled for the extra attacker.
Dallas hadn’t scored since Corey Perry‘s power-play goal at 12:42 of the second period in a 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday (Aug.3), in Game 1 of their round-robin series. They lost 4-0 to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
The Blues, having had the best points percentage (.662) in the Western Conference during the regular season, failed to hold a third-period lead in any of their three round-robin games, going on to lose them all.
Sammy Blais left the game for St. Louis at 11:19 of the second period with an apparent injury after being handed a boarding penalty. The forward briefly returned in the third before exiting once more.
The Stars meanwhile were without forward Tyler Seguin and goalie Ben Bishop, who were ruled unfit to play. Each are day to day.
Western Conference First Round
Flames v Stars – Tuesday, Aug. 11 (5:30pm ET – NBCSN)
Canucks v Blues – Wednesday, Aug.12 (10:30pm ET – NBCSN)