Saturday’s two NHL games determined which teams would be the No. 1 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to finish 3-0-0 in the East’s round robin and the Vegas Golden Knights eked out a win over the Colorado Avalanche to do the same.
The Flyers and Golden Knights will play the lowest seeds to advance from the qualifying round in their respective conferences — the No. 12 Montreal Canadiens and No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks, respectively. With the league’s reseeding plan, those teams will be considered the No. 8 seeds in the next round.
Here’s how the first-round matchups look entering Sunday, with just a bit more clarity needed for the full picture.
No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 8 Montreal Canadiens
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 7 Toronto OR Columbus
No. 3 Washington OR Boston vs. No. 6 New York Islanders
No. 4 Washington OR Boston vs. No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes
No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks
No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 7 Arizona Coyotes
No. 3 St. Louis OR Dallas vs. No. 6 Calgary Flames
No. 4 St. Louis OR Dallas vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks
The Washington Capitals will earn the No. 3 seed if they beat the Boston Bruins on Sunday, earning a date with their former coach Barry Trotz and his New York Islanders. But if Boston wins, the Capitals must face the Carolina Hurricanes, the team that knocked them out in the first round a year ago.
The defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues lost their first two round-robin games, as did the Dallas Stars, and their game Sunday likewise will determine the No. 3 and 4 seeds in their conference. In the West, the original No. 5 and 6 seeds — the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators — both lost, making the Vancouver Canucks the top seed to advance from that round and thus earn the No. 5.
The only qualifying series to reach a decisive Game 5: The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’ll play Sunday night, so ideally the NHL will be able to release a schedule for the first true round of the playoffs sometime Monday.
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