CALGARY (CityNews) – It was Elimination Friday in the NHL.
All six of the play-in round matchups featured a team that could be eliminated. Victorious teams were looking to join the Carolina Hurricanes and the Calgary Flames by getting a series victory.
Following Thursday night’s all-Canadian matchup that saw the Flames knock out the injury-plagued Winnipeg Jets, teams were looking eager to get underway for Game 4 in each respective series.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS VERSUS FLORIDA
The morning started off with the East Conference’s seventh seed New York Islanders and the 10th seed Florida Panthers. The Panthers were looking to tie the series and try to progress in the playoffs for the first time since 2016, when they lost to the Islanders in the first round.
In the most uneven match of the series, Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier opened the scoring with a pair of goals in the first period. Florida’s Mike Hoffman would later cut the lead in half on a power play, however it wasn’t enough to spark the comeback for the Panthers.
The Islanders would seal the game in the second with a power-play goal from Brock Nelson. Mathew Barzal and Jean-Gabriel Pageau would add insurance goals for the Islanders and help New York get the first elimination of the day.
Islanders win 5-1 and eliminate the Panthers.
NASHVILLE VERSUS ARIZONA
The second game of the day – and the first out of Edmonton’s Rogers Place – saw the 11th seed Arizona Coyotes looking to knock off the sixth seed Nashville Predators.
In a very back-and-forth game, the Coyotes took the lead when Michael Grabner scored the lone goal of the first period.
Early in the second, Phil Kessel extended the lead after picking up a loose puck and wiring it past Juuse Saros. Nashville’s Matt Duchene replied with a goal less than three minutes later.
Heading into the third tied at 1-1, Arizona’s Jordan Oesterle gave the ‘Yotes the lead, which looked like it would give Arizona the series victory. But Filip Forsberg scored off a feed from Ryan Ellis to even up the game with 32 seconds remaining in the third.
In the first overtime to be played in Edmonton, it only took 5:27 before Arizona’s Brad Richardson found his own rebound and buried it past Saros, pushing the Coyotes into round one of the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves in the victory.
Coyotes wins 4-3 (OT) and eliminate the Predators.
PITTSBURGH VERSUS MONTREAL
Heading back to Toronto for the third game of the day, the 12th seed Montreal Canadiens were looking to upset the fifth seed Pittsburgh Penguins.
In a very tight goalie showdown between Carey Price and Tristan Jarry, the game became a next-goal-wins battle.
With 4:11 remaining in the third period, Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen broke the deadlock and gave Montreal the lead. With 32 seconds remaining in the game, Shea Weber iced the game with the empty-net goal to eliminate Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Canadiens win 2-0 and eliminate the Penguins.
EDMONTON VERSUS CHICAGO
Back in Edmonton, the fifth seed hub-host Oilers were looking to avoid elimination against the 12th seed Chicago Blackhawks.
Things looked good early for the Oilers after Connor McDavid opened the scoring in the first minute of the period for the second time in the series.
Chicago would fight back and take the lead away from the Oilers with a pair of goals from Brandon Saad and Matthew Highmore.
In the second, the Oilers tied the game after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins found the back of the net off a feed from James Neal from behind the goal line.
After missing plenty of opportunities, the Oilers’ hopes of moving into the playoffs were ended after the Blackhawks’ Dominik Kubalik scored the final goal of the series. Chicago was helped by a solid goaltending performance by Corey Crawford.
Blackhawks win 3-2 and eliminate the Oilers.
TORONTO VERSUS COLUMBUS
After a shocking end to Game 3, which saw the ninth seed Columbus Blue Jackets come back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime, Game 4 did not disappoint.
The Jackets continued with their momentum against the eighth seed and hub-host Toronto Maple Leafs when they took a 3-0 lead of their own, on goals from Cam Atkinson, Vladislav Gavrikov and Boone Jenner.
Just like Columbus did the night before, the Leafs found a way to make a tense series even more tense by scoring three goals in the dying minutes of the third with goaltender Frederik Andersen pulled for the extra attacker.
With 3:57 left on the clock, William Nylander found the back of the net for Toronto. Less than a minute later, John Tavares ripped home the second goal of the game for the Leafs.
With 23 seconds left in the game, after nearly giving up an empty net goal, Toronto’s Zach Hyman scored and sent the game to overtime for the second time in the series.
In OT, it was none other than Leafs captain Auston Matthews who found the back of the net off a cross-ice pass from John Tavares – 10 seconds into a power play – to keep the Leafs alive in the series.
Toronto wins 4-3 (OT) to force a deciding Game 5.
VANCOUVER VERSUS MINNESOTA
The Vancouver Canucks battled back from deficits three times to beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 and qualify for the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Minnesota opened the scoring about three minutes into the first through Luke Kunin on the power play.
Tanner Pearson tied the score at the 12:52 mark with a wrist shot off the goalpost and in. Eric Staal responded 40 seconds later for Minnesota.
In the second, the Wild went up 3-1 though Joel Eriksson Ek’s rebound goal up and over Jacob Markstrom.
The Canucks immediately cut the lead to 3-2 when Brandon Sutter jammed a loose puck over the goal line. Quinn Hughes tied game a minute later on the power play with a shot through heavy traffic.
Still in the second, Nico Sturm flew gave Minnesota yet another lead. The Canucks tied the game 4-4 late in the third on Bo Horvat’s one-timer in the slot, setting the stage for overtime.
Chris Tanev scored on a wrist shot from the blue line 11 seconds into OT to give the Canucks the win. The Wild have now missed the post-season for two consecutive seasons, with first-round exits in each of three seasons before that.
Canucks win 5-4 (OT) and eliminate the Wild.
With files from The Canadian Press.