Rookie Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored twice, and the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Saturday night in Toronto to clinch the Eastern Conference’s top seed through the playoffs.
The Lightning not only dropped the game in completing preliminary round-robin play with a 2-1 record, Tampa Bay’s star defenseman Victor Hedman did not return after appearing to twist his right ankle while going down untouched midway through the first period. The Lightning did not provide any details on the 2017 Norris Trophy winner’s status except to announce he would miss the remainder of the game.
Joel Farabee had a goal and assist, Tyler Pitlick scored into an empty net with 1:20 left, and Carter Hart stopped 23 shots for the Flyers, who finished 3-0. Philadelphia didn’t allow more than one goal in also defeating the Bruins and Washington, and outscored its opponents by a combined 11-3.
The Flyers, who entered round-robin play as the East’s fourth seed, move on to the first round next week and face the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens. Montreal upset Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games of their best-of-five preliminary round series. Philadelphia and Montreal have split their previous six playoff meetings, and the teams meet for the first time since the Flyers defeated the Canadiens in five games of the 2010 East finals.
Tyler Johnson scored for the Lightning, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots. Tampa Bay was coming off a 3-2 win over Boston on Wednesday, and also had a 3-2 shootout win over Washington.
Hedman, a Norris Trophy finalist this year, went down as he spun around to skate backward at the Tampa Bay blue line with Pitlick driving up the right wing. Hedman then got up slowly and broke his stick while heading down the tunnel to the locker room.
Tampa Bay will enter the first round of the playoffs as the East’s second seed, and is already without captain Steven Stamkos, who has been out since sustaining a lower body injury before the start of training camp last month.
The Lightning will face the winner of the best-of-five preliminary round series between eighth-seeded Toronto and ninth-seeded Columbus, which will be determined in Game 5 on Sunday. The Lightning were swept by the Blue Jackets in a first-round meeting last year, and after Tampa Bay won the Presidents’ Trophy. The Lighting and Maple Leafs have never met in the playoffs.
Tuch, Knights beat Avalanche for top spot in West
Alex Tuch scored 4:44 into overtime, Jonathan Marchessault had two goals and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in Edmonton to earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The Golden Knights will face Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. The second-seeded Avs take on Arizona.
Tuch scored the winner on a shot over the shoulder of Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Avalanche tied the game with 1:02 left in regulation when J.T. Compher poked in the puck.
Marchessault scored in the second period and again early in the third when he was pulled down by Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves on a breakaway. Awarded a penalty shot, Marchessault beat Grubauer to the glove side.
Nicolas Roy also scored for the Golden Knights, who finished 3-0 in the playoff seeding round between the top four teams. Colorado wound up 2-0-1.
It was Tuch's third goal in round-robin play.
Robin Lehner finished with 32 saves for Vegas in starting over Marc-Andre Fleury. Lehner was acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks in February.
Joonas Donskoi and Nathan MacKinnon also scored for the Avalanche. Grubauer was in net over Pavel Francouz, who stopped 27 shots in a shutout win over Dallas on Wednesday. The veteran Grubauer was solid in saving 22 shots.
Colorado's Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had a breakaway chance late in the third against his former team, only to send the shot high.
Canucks moving on
This first postseason experience for the young core of the Vancouver Canucks has already been quite a trip. They're not ready to leave the bubble yet.
Christopher Tanev’s wrist shot just 11 seconds into overtime gave the Canucks a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night in Edmonton to win the best-of-five Western Conference qualifying round series in four games.
“They learn quickly. They learn on the fly. I’ve said it before: Coaching this group is enjoyable,” Canucks coach Travis Green said.
Tanev’s snipe from just in front of the blue line zipped through traffic and beat Wild goalie Alex Stalock stick side to give the Canucks their first postseason series win since 2013. This is the first time in five years that Vancouver has reached the playoffs.
“We’ve taken it to heart, and we wanted to come out and prove ourselves,” said Bo Horvat, who scored for Vancouver off a feed from Tanner Pearson with 5:46 left in regulation — the third tying goal of the game for the Canucks.
Pearson, Brandon Sutter and Quinn Hughes also scored as Vancouver kept attacking a Wild defense missing stalwart Ryan Suter and wore down Stalock to erase leads of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3.
Luke Kunin, Eric Staal, Joel Eriksson Ek and Nico Sturm had the goals for the Wild, who squandered their two-goal advantage over a 3:05 span midway through the second period.