Montreal – The Las Vegas Golden Knights and Philadelphia Flyers continued their unbeaten NHL postseason runs Thursday, each booking a spot in Saturday showdowns for seeds in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Three unanswered third-period goals rallied Las Vegas 6-4 over the defending champion St. Louis Blues while Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton scored twice in the Flyers’ 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.
“The guys are confident in each other and we have a lot of guys that work really hard,” Laughton said. “It’s easy to try and execute when you have guys moving their feet, staying over top of teams and making it hard on them.”
The Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche, both 2-0 in seeding games in the Western Conference bubble at Edmonton, will decide the West’s top seed Saturday while the Flyers face the Tampa Bay Lightning in a meeting of Eastern Conference unbeatens in the bubble at Toronto.
The NHL resumed play Saturday after shutting down March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the return, the four top teams from the interrupted season are playing for seeding spots while clubs ranked fifth through 12th are playing best-of-five matchups, with winners to face seeds in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs starting Tuesday.
Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch each scored two goals for Vegas, which sent the Blues into a matchup Sunday against Dallas for the West’s third seed.
Brian Elliott made 16 saves for the Flyers, who outlasted the 2018 champion Capitals to sustain their bid for the top seed. Washington will play Boston, which had the most wins and points in the NHL when the hiatus hit, on Sunday for an East third seed.
Pierre-Luc Dubois completed a hat trick with a game-winning breakaway goal 18:24 into overtime to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets over Toronto 4-3 for a 2-1 lead in their East qualifying series.
The Maple Leafs took a 3-0 lead on their home ice, only to surrender four unanswered goals, the last only 96 seconds before the end of the first overtime period.
Dubois put Columbus on the board 11:39 into the second period and after a Seth Jones goal pulled the Blue Jackets level with 9:11 to play in the third, setting the stage for his dramatic finisher.
Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves and the Canucks blanked Minnesota 3-0 to seize a 2-1 lead in their West qualifying series.
Brock Boeser, Antoine Roussel and Elias Pettersson scored for the Canucks, who can advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs with a victory in game four Friday at Edmonton.
In the late game in Edmonton on Thursday, the Calgary Flames sealed their place in the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-0 rout of the Winnipeg Jets, completing a 3-1 series victory.