NHL's Top Stats, Best Highlights, Updated Playoff Picture from Aug. 6 Results

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2020

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois (18) looks on during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

It's certainly not business as usual in the NHL postseason, and despite the strangeness of the round robin and games without fans, the stakes are starting to get very high.

At the conclusion of Thursday night's games, we were left with a severely shaken up playoff picture. The Calgary Flames clinched their spot in the first round with a win over the Winnipeg Jets. In the East, the Columbus Blue Jackets went up 2-1 in their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the West, the Vancouver Canucks went up 2-1 on the Minnesota Wild.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, all of whom would have been eliminated from playoff contention had the postseason been restricted to 16 teams as usual this season, are each one win away from a spot in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

On Friday, the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs can all be eliminated.

We'll break down the action from Thursday's key games and take a look at the playoff picture ahead of Friday's games.

                    

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Top Stats and Best Highlights

Philadelphia Flyers fans lost their collective minds when the team dropped the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Thursday. And honestly, we're with them. After all, they did it without two of their top forwards in James van Riemsdyk and Michael Raffl and with goaltender Carter Hart off duty.

Philadelphia entered the bubble as the fourth seed in the East, and now the top seed is in sight. At a minimum, the Flyers have guaranteed themselves the second seed.

Their second line of Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton was firing on all cylinders, as evidenced by this beautiful behind-the-back pass from Konecny to Laughton for the Flyers' first goal, with Hayes also in on the assist.

Laughton has scored three goals in the Flyers' two games since the restart. On Thursday, he totaled three points on two goals and an assist.

Vancouver Canucks winger Antoine Roussel took a puck to the face in Game 2 against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, so his status for Thursday's Game 3 was unclear.

However, the Canucks will be thankful the 30-year-old winger was healthy enough to be in action, as his score on a breakaway helped lead the Canucks past the Wild in the nominal road game. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson each had one in the final 3-0 victory.

The result leaves Vancouver just one win away from its first playoff series victory since 2011.

Perhaps the most exciting part of Thursday's action, however, was the Toronto Maple Leafs' utter implosion (if you're not a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, that is). They gave up a three-goal lead on the Columbus Blue Jackets as Pierre-Luc Dubois completed a hat trick in overtime to seal the 4-3 win.

Columbus has a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.

Coming in at the tail end of all the action (and, technically, on Friday morning for anyone in the Central and Eastern Time Zones), Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett decided to show the doubters that it really is the postseason.

The 24-year-old always seems to show up in the playoffs—and Game 4 against the Winnipeg Jets was no different, as Bennett scorched a buzzer-beater in the first period.

How's the following for showing up when it matters? Per the league website, Bennett's career shooting percentage in the regular season is 10.3; in the playoffs, it's 16.7. This postseason, he's shooting 22.2. Fire emoji, indeed.

With a 3-1 series win, the Flames have advanced to the first round.

The St. Louis Blues and the Vegas Golden Knights treated viewers to a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair, one that ended with Vegas feeling golden and St. Louis feeling blue.

Alex Tuch was the star of the show for Vegas, with a three-point showing (two goals, one assist) in the 6-4 win.

The Golden Knights will face the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday with the top seed in the Western Conference on the line.