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 five games Friday.
Flames aim to close gap on Canadiens
The Calgary Flames seek their fourth straight win when they visit the Montreal Canadiens (6 p.m. ET; ESPN+, RDS, TSN2, SNW, NHL.TV) to complete a two-game series at Bell Centre. Calgary defeated Montreal 4-1 on Wednesday to move within four points of the fourth-place Canadiens in the seven-team Scotia North Division. The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canadiens are 1-4-0 in their past five games while being outscored 18-9, but they have three games in hand on the Flames and play them three more times (April 23-24 and 26) in Calgary. Flames center Mikael Backlund has scored seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past five games. — William Douglas, staff writer
Marleau to move within one of ‘Mr. Hockey’
Patrick Marleau will play his 1,766th regular-season game and move within one of Gordie Howe’s NHL record when the San Jose Sharks play at the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI, NBCSCA, NHL.TV). The 41-year-old forward is in his 23rd NHL season. He’s on track to tie Howe when the Sharks play the Wild again in Minnesota on Saturday and break the record when they play at the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. Howe’s mark has stood since he played his final NHL regular-season game for the Hartford Whalers against the Detroit Red Wings on April 6, 1980. The Wild continue a three-game homestand they opened with a 5-2 victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. Minnesota is third in the eight-team Honda West Division, seven points behind second-place Vegas and nine points ahead of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues. The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer
Vegas on a roll
The Golden Knights have won four straight games and five of six, and look to keep it going when they visit the Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET; BSSC, BSW, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV). Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury started in a 6-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday to get his 485th win and pass Ed Belfour for fourth-most in NHL history. Mark Stone leads Vegas with 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists), followed by Max Pacioretty with 40 points (21 goals, 19 assists). The Golden Knights are second in the West, four points behind the first-place Colorado Avalanche, and play the Ducks for the first time since Feb. 27. Vegas is 4-1-0 against Anaheim this season. — Tracey Myers, staff writer
Calgary Flames at Montreal Canadiens, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+, RDS, TSN2, SNW, NHL.TV)
Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom has won four straight starts against the Canadiens, including a 4-1 victory Wednesday. Montreal goalie Jake Allen has made five consecutive starts in the absence of Carey Price (lower body).
New York Islanders at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET (NHLN, NESNPLUS, MSG+, NHL.TV)
Mathew Barzal has four assists in his past three games and leads the Islanders with 38 points (13 goals, 25 assists). Goalie Ilya Sorokin could start the second of a back to back against the Bruins after Semyon Varlamov made 41 saves in a 4-1 loss in Boston on Thursday. The Bruins are four points ahead of the New York Rangers for the fourth and final playoff spot in the eight-team MassMutual East Division.The top four teams in the division reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
San Jose Sharks at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m. ET (BSN, BSWI, NBCSCA, NHL.TV)
Wild forward Mats Zuccarello scored two power-play goals in a 5-2 win against the Coyotes on Wednesday. The Sharks have lost four of five to fall to sixth in the West, four points behind the fourth-place Blues.
Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN+, ALT2, KCOP-13, NHL.TV)
The Avalanche are 17-1-2 their past 20 games. Their 4-3 win against the Blues on Wednesday was their 30th in their 43rd game this season, the fewest needed to reach 30 wins in one season in Colorado/Quebec Nordiques history. Center Nathan MacKinnon takes an 11-game point streak (seven goals, 11 assists) into the game against the Kings, who have lost six of eight.
Vegas Golden Knights at Anaheim Ducks, 10 p.m. ET (BSSC, BSW, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)
The Golden Knights will try to extend their winning streak to five when they visit the Ducks, who are eighth in the West and trail the fourth-place Blues by nine points. Captain Ryan Getzlaf (981) is seven points behind Teemu Selanne for most in Ducks history.
Oilers at Canucks, postponed