NHL On Tap: Canucks host Maple Leafs in first game after COVID-19 pause


Welcome to the NHL On Tap. Three NHL.com writers will share what they are most looking forward to on the schedule each day. Today, their choices from the six games Sunday.

Canucks play first game since March 24

The Vancouver Canucks will play their first game since March 24 when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, NHL.TV). Vancouver had nine games postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak when 22 players tested positive for the virus. The Canucks returned to practice Thursday, but the real litmus test of their conditioning level will come against a Maple Leafs team that could welcome forwards Auston Matthews (upper-body injury) and William Nylander (COVID-19 protocol) back into the lineup. They practiced Saturday and will be game-day decisions. Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said goalie Jack Campbell will start; Campbell has lost his past two games after starting the season with an NHL-record 11 consecutive victories. The Maple Leafs are first in the seven-team Scotia North Division; the Canucks are sixth, 12 points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens with five games in hand. The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer


Rangers, Devils conclude four-game set

The New York Rangers will visit the New Jersey Devils in the finale of a four-game set that concludes the season series (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG+, MSG2, NHL.TV). The Rangers won the first three games this week, including a 6-3 victory Saturday when forward Pavel Buchnevich scored his first NHL hat trick, and have won five straight against the Devils after losing the first two games of the season series. New York is 7-1-2 in its past 10 games and has moved within four points of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division; the top four teams qualify for the playoffs. Rangers forward Artemi Panarin has scored eight points (four goals, four assists) in the past three games and center Mika Zibanejad has scored seven points (two goals, five assists) during a five-game point streak. New Jersey has lost five straight and is 1-7-2 in its past 10 games. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer


Penguins complete back-to-back with Sabres

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to sweep a two-game set when they visit the Buffalo Sabres (3 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG-B, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV). The Sabres were eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention with a 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Saturday, but their play has improved under Don Granato, who replaced Ralph Krueger as coach March 17. Buffalo is 2-1-1 in its past four games and has not allowed more than three goals in any of them. Keep an eye on Sabres forward Tage Thompson, who has scored four goals in his past six games. The Penguins are 4-0-1 in their past five and have moved into second place in the East, one point ahead of the New York Islanders. Pittsburgh forward Jared McCann has scored four points (two goals, two assists) in his past four games, and center Sidney Crosby has a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists). — Brian Compton, deputy managing editor


Sunday schedule

Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins, 12 p.m. ET (NBC, TVAS)

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin needs one goal to tie Marcel Dionne for fifth in NHL history with 731 after he scored two goals in a 6-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils, 3 p.m. ET (NHLN, MSG+, MSG 2, NHL.TV)

The Rangers have won three in a row, matching their longest winning streak of the season. They also won three straight games March 2-6 and March 20-25.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN+, MSG-B, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

The Penguins are 17-5-2 since March 1. Only the Colorado Avalanche (19) and Vegas Golden Knights (18) have won more games during that span.

Vegas Golden Knights at Anaheim Ducks, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN+, BSSC, BSW, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

The Golden Knights, who are second in the eight-team Honda West Division, two points behind the Avalanche, seek their fifth straight win. The Ducks can win three in a row for the first time this season.

New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, NHL.TV)

The Flyers are 2-4-1 in their past seven games and sixth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, eight points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. The Islanders, who are 1-3-0 in their past four, are third in the East. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Vancouver Canucks, 7 p.m. ET (SN, TVAS, NHL.TV)

Center John Tavares has scored six points (two goals, four assists) during a four-game point streak for the Maple Leafs, who have lost three in a row (0-2-1) for the third time this season.

Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche, postponed

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