Flyers, Golden Knights conclude magic round-robin runes with wins, and earn NHL’s top postseason seeds

With a shootout around the no. Determining 1-seed in the Western Conference and ticking time away, Alex Tuch scored 4:44 in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights outscored the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 to win the round-robin tournament in Edmonton win on Saturday.

The Golden Knights, who made a coaching change in January with the team stick at no. 7 in the West, and replacing Pete DeBoer to replace Gerard Gallant, went 3-0 in the round robin, defeating Dallas and St. Louis. Louis for the victory over Colorado. Vegas secured a first-round matchup with the No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks, a team that finished regular season 12 in the West before advancing to Edmonton in the qualifying game.

The Philadelphia Flyers also have a new coach this season, though, unlike DeBoer, Alain Vigneault has been at the club since the offseason. He led the Flyers to No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference round robin, and like Vegas, Philadelphia placed a 3-0 mark to secure the No. 1 seed as well.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored twice and Carter Hart made 23 saves as the surprise Flyers – from the playoffs last season – defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Toronto on Saturday night to complete the round robin undefeated, earning a first round series with the Montreal Canadiens, another surprising no. 8-seed that left Pittsburgh in the qualifying round.

“We played really hard,” Hart said in his postgame interview on NBC. “It’s always hard to have such a break – three or four months – but we’ve come back hard, and all four lines are rolling.”

The Flyers outscored the Bruins, Lightning and Capitals, 11-3, in the Eastern Conference round robin.

“There’s a lot of unexpectedness with what’s going on in the world, but we had a chance to come back, and we were all scared to come back,” Hart said. “We have a lot of work in hand, and it’s showing now.”

Tampa Bay, last season’s No. 1 seed in the East, will play Columbus as Toronto in the first round. The Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs will play a decisive Game 5 on Sunday to close out the qualifying match.

Against Philadelphia, Lightning star defender Victor Hedman lost after he appeared to turn his right ankle while going down unharmed midway through the first period. And they have been without captain Steven Stamkos indefinitely with a leg injury.

Vegas, which advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, scored two goals from Jonathan Marchessault, including one on a penalty kick, as well as another score from Nicolas Roy as the Knights completed their unbeaten tournament.

“We came here to take care of every challenge that lies ahead of us. We did a good job,” Marchessault said. “We wanted the first seed after the round robin and we did it. I find that pretty positive. We’re really happy where our game as a team is.”

Goalkeeper Robin Lehner made 32 saves en route to the win, setting up a unique series against the Blackhawks, which traded Lehner to Vegas before the sport paused in March. Several Blackhawks, a day after eliminating the Oilers in their rink, saw the Knights’ victory from the stands.

Tuch scored the winner on a shot over the shoulder of Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Avalanche tied the game with 1:02 left in regulation when JT Compher grabbed the puck. It was Tuch’s third goal in round robin play.

“Feels pretty good,” Tuch said. “Honestly, it was a big goal to get the first seed. I could not care who scored it as long as we did.”

Joonas Donskoi and Nathan MacKinnon scored for the Avalanche. Grubauer sat in net over Pavel Francouz, who stopped 27 shots in a shutout win over Dallas on Wednesday. Veteran Grubauer was solid in saving 22 shots.

With the loss, Colorado finished second in the round robin, and it will take Arizona in the first round.

“We talk like we lost and that our game was bad. I do not see it that way. I do not see it that way at all,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. “If we expected this thing to be easy, we’re in the wrong tournament. This is going to be work. That’s a really good hockey team. I’m not really disappointed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.