Joonas Korpisalo stopped 33 shots and the Columbus Blue Jackets advanced to the first round of the NHL playoffs with a 3-0 win over the Maple Leafs in a decisive Game 5 on Sunday night in Toronto.
Zach Werenski’s floater from the left point in the first period held up as the deciding goal. Liam Foudy sneaked in a shot from a bad angle with 8:20 remaining, and captain Nick Foligno sealed the victory by scoring into an open net with 23 seconds remaining.
Werenski played despite not being able to finish Game 4 with an apparent upper body injury. And Korpisalo posted his second shutout of the series, getting the start after Elvis Merzlikins was ruled unfit to play.
The Maple Leafs ran out of offense with captain John Tavares misfiring by hitting the post while facing a wide-open side in the first period. And Toronto ran out of remarkable comebacks two nights after rallying from a three-goal third-period deficit in a 4-3 overtime win in Game 4.
Frederik Andersen stopped 19 shots, and was caught cheating to his right in giving up Foudy’s goal from a bad angle.
Lightning lose star defenseman Hedman
The Tampa Bay Lightning not only dropped a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers in completing preliminary round-robin play with a 2-1 record, but star defenseman Victor Hedman did not return to Saturday night’s game after appearing to twist his right ankle while going down untouched midway through the first period.
Coach Jon Cooper didn’t have an update on Hedman’s status after Saturday’s game or how much time he might miss, though acknowledged his potential loss would create a notable hole in the Lightning’s lineup.
“It’s a little frustrating because we feel like we’re going in the right direction and to lose some of the star power we have,” said Cooper, noting the Lightning are also without captain Steven Stamkos and played Saturday minus Hedman’s defensive partner Jan Rutta. “We’ve got to circle the wagons.”
Stamkos has been out since sustaining a lower body injury before the start of training camp last month. Cooper would only list Rutta as being unfit to play.
Hedman, a Norris Trophy finalist this year, went down as he spun around to skate backward at the Tampa Bay blue line with Tyler Pitlick driving up the right wing. Hedman then got up slowly and broke his stick while heading down the tunnel to the locker room.
“You hate to see any of your teammates have to leave a game. Obviously, we know the significance and the role that Heddy plays on our team,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said after Saturday’s game. “It was tough to see but we’ve got to roll with what happens.”
Tampa Bay will enter the first round of the playoffs as the East’s second seed and will face Columbus. The Lightning were swept by the Blue Jackets in a first-round meeting last year, and after Tampa Bay won the Presidents’ Trophy.
Stars shoot past Blues, grab No. 3 in West
Joe Pavelski tied it with 31.4 seconds left in the third period, Anton Khudobin stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout and the Dallas Stars beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in round-robin play Sunday in Edmonton to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
After Denis Gurianov scored the only goal of the shootout, Dallas will face the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs. The Stars have some momentum going into that best-of-seven series after picking up their first win of any kind since Feb. 25.
“This game kind of re-established our game and got us back to an understanding of what it takes,” Pavelski said. “Relief? No. Confidence a little bit, and we’ll keep moving forward.”
Defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis went winless in the round robin and will next face the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues dropped from first in the West when the NHL season was halted in March to the conference's fourth seed.
“We definitely didn’t play our best in these three games, but I think we’ve progressively gotten better,” said goaltender Jake Allen, who stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced in his first action of the NHL’s restart. “[The Canucks are] a great team. They’re fast, they’re young, they’re skilled and it’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Khudobin made 12 saves in regulation and overtime for the Stars, who were without top center Tyler Seguin and starting goaltender Ben Bishop. The team said they were “unfit to play,” and coach Rick Bowness termed them “day to day.”
Jordan Binnington did not dress, though Blues coach Craig Berube said last year’s Cup-winning goalie is healthy. Robert Thomas scored on the first shot of the game, and St. Louis didn’t have another goal the rest of the way.
The Blues scored first in all three games, but couldn't hold any lead.
“We’ve shown and we’re confident that when we play our game and play the way we want to, we’re a tough team to beat,” Thomas said. “It’s obviously a little bit disappointing, but for us it was about finding our game and we started finding it today.”
The two teams that played in the 2019 Cup Final, the Blues and Bruins, each went 0-3 in round-robin play to go from first to fourth.
“They’re a defending Stanley Cup champion, had a good regular season,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Blues. “Is the mental edge there for them yet, or is it because they’re a bigger, heavier team it takes them a while to sort of wear teams down?”