NHL playoff matchups determined after frantic final night

Apr 29, 2022, 10:49 AM | Updated: 10:54 pm
Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson (21) celebrates his goal right wing Alexander Radulov (47) d...

Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson (21) celebrates his goal right wing Alexander Radulov (47) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks in Dallas, Friday, April 29, 2022. The Stars won 4-2. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

              Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, left, and Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault goes after the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
              Tampa Bay Lightning center Ross Colton (79) watches his goal get past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Erik Kallgren (50) and center Colin Blackwell (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
              Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) breaks against the New York Rangers defense during the third period of NHL hockey game Thursday, April 7, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
              St. Louis Blues' Justin Faulk (72) and Minnesota Wild's Alex Goligoski (47) chase after a loose puck along the boards during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 16, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
              Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson (21) celebrates his goal right wing Alexander Radulov (47) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks in Dallas, Friday, April 29, 2022. The Stars won 4-2. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
              Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki (90) fights with Arizona Coyotes left wing Bokondji Imama (15) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, April 29, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It took until the final game on the final night of the NHL regular season to set the matchups for the first round of the playoffs.

Naturally, the battle for the Stanley Cup starts in less than 72 hours.

Technically there’s still one more inconsequential, weather-postponed game to be played on Sunday, but all eight first-round series are set. The playoffs begin Monday when the Metropolitan Division-champion Carolina Hurricanes host the Boston Bruins in Game 1.

Nashville blowing a four-goal lead and losing to last-place Arizona hours after Dallas beat Anaheim with an emergency backup goaltender in net for the third period flipped two matchups in the Western Conference. The Predators will now open at top-seeded Colorado with the Stars going to Calgary to face the Flames.

Colorado lost to Dallas in the playoffs two years ago and now may have an easier path through the playoffs against Nashville, which could be without injured starting goalie Juuse Saros. The winner of the Avalanche-Predators series will face whichever team comes out of what promises to be a bruising showdown between Minnesota and St. Louis.

The Wild and Blues were the first series to get locked in, but it took until Friday night to determine who had home ice. After Minnesota beat Colorado and St. Louis lost to recently eliminated Vegas, the series will begin in St. Paul on Monday.

Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers open at home against the Los Angeles Kings with the winner advancing to the survivor of Calgary-Dallas. The Oilers haven’t won a round since 2017.

The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since 2004 and face a major challenge trying to break that trend against the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Leafs beat the Bruins to set up a series against the Lightning that starts Monday in Toronto.

Carolina-Boston is a rematch of the 2019 East final and a 2020 second-round tilt. The Bruins won each of those series but go into this one as a slight underdog, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, despite the likelihood of Hurricanes starting goalie Frederik Andersen missing at least the start of the first round.

They’re not the only team in the East with goaltending questions.

The Washington Capitals limp into the playoffs on a four-game skid with no clarity whether Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek will be in net for Game 1 against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has also missed the past three games with an apparent left shoulder injury.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been without starting goalie Tristan Jarry, and their situation remains unclear going into their series against the New York Rangers that starts Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Tampa Bay still has 2021 playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes, but the Rangers go into this postseason with the likely Vezina Trophy winner in Igor Shesterkin.

The winners of the Panthers-Capitals and Maple Leafs-Lightning series will face off in the Atlantic Division side of the East bracket, while the Rangers-Penguins and Hurricanes-Bruins winners will meet in the Metro half.

All eight teams in the East finished with 100 or more points, the first time that has happened in either conference in NHL history.


Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
1 month ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
1 month ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
1 month ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
1 month ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
1 month ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
1 month ago
NHL playoff matchups determined after frantic final night