NHL On Tap: Hurricanes vie for first in Central Division against Panthers

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Hurricanes gaining ground

The Carolina Hurricanes can move into first place in the eight-team Discover Central Division with a regulation win at home against the Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET; BSSO, BSFL, NHL.TV). Carolina scored four unanswered goals to end Florida’s six-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory Tuesday to move into second place, one point out of first, and give the Panthers their first regulation loss this season when leading after two periods (18-1-1). Hurricanes forward Vincent Trocheck has a personal 11-game point streak (15 points; six goals, nine assists), and goalies Petr Mrazek (4-1-0, 0.99 goals-against average, .962 save percentage, three shutouts) and Alex Nedeljkovic (8-4-2, 2.12 GAA, .924 save percentage, two shutouts) have each come up big. Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe has scored 11 points (five goals, six assists) in his past seven games and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar five points (one goal, four assists) in a three-game point streak. Carolina is 4-0-1 against Florida this season. — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

 

Stars should shine in Bruins, Capitals

Any discussion about a hot goal-scorer heading into a game involving the Washington Capitals usually starts with forward Alex Ovechkin. But two Boston Bruins forwards are creating much of the pregame hype heading into their game in the District of Columbia (7 p.m. ET: NBCSWA, NESN, NHL.TV). Bruins linemates Brad Marchand (eight points; four goals, four assists) and Patrice Bergeron (five goals) have combined to score nine goals in their past three games. Eyes will also be on Ovechkin and his assault on the NHL record book. The Capitals captain needs one power-play goal to move past Brett Hull into second place with 266, eight behind Dave Andreychuk. Ovechkin has scored 725 goals, six behind Marcel Dionne for fifth place in NHL history. Throw in the fact that Washington defenseman Zdeno Chara will be facing his former team again and the result is a star-studded matchup oozing with storylines. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

 

Lightning hope to solve Blue Jackets in rematch

The Tampa Bay Lightning again visit the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, BSSUN, NHL.TV) looking to avenge their 4-2 loss Tuesday. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the NHL in save percentage (.931 in 30 games) among those to play at least 20 games but has struggled against the Blue Jackets this season (2-2-0 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in four games after allowing three goals on 29 shots Tuesday). Three Columbus skaters, forwards Max Domi, Nick Foligno and defenseman Zach Werenski, have scored five points in five games against Tampa Bay this season. — Pete Jensen, senior fantasy editor

 

Thursday schedule

New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET (MSG-B, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV)

The Sabres hope to extend their point streak to a season-high six games with their second victory in three days against the Devils. Buffalo is 4-2-1 against New Jersey, which is 0-2-2 in its past four.

Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders, 7 p.m. ET (MSG+, NBCSP, NHL.TV)

Forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac will make their Islanders debut after they were acquired in a trade with the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. New York is tied with the Washington Capitals for first in the MassMutual East Division and is 16-1-2 at home. The Flyers are 7-11-2 in their past 20 games, including three losses to the Islanders (1-1-2).

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+, MSG, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

The Rangers are 8-3-2 in their past 13 games and five points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the eight-team East, where the top four teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins have lost two in a row while allowing 15 goals.

Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+, NBCSWA, NESN, NHL.TV)

The Capitals are home after a 2-3-0 road trip. Patrice Bergeron had a hat trick and Brad Marchand scored four points (one goal, three assists) in the Bruins’ 4-2 win at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (BSSO, BSFL, NHL.TV)

Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck has scored five goals in five games against the Panthers, who traded him to Carolina on Feb. 24, 2020.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET (BSOH, BSSUN, NHL.TV)

The Lightning are third in the Discover Central Division, two points behind the Panthers for first, but 2-5-0 in their past seven games while going 1-for-18 on the power play.

Winnipeg Jets at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET (TSN2, RDS, TSN3, NHL.TV)

The Jets are without captain Blake Wheeler (concussion-like symptoms) for a five-game road trip beginning in Montreal, but will have forward Kyle Connor, who has scored eight points (six goals, two assists) in games against the Canadiens. Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher is out at least six weeks with a broken right thumb.

Edmonton Oilers at Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m. ET (TSN5, RDS, SNW, NHL.TV)

Oilers forwards Connor McDavid (one goal, three assists) and Leon Draisaitl (three goals, one assist) combined to score eight points in a 4-2 win against the Senators on Wednesday. McDavid has scored 68 points (23 goals, 45 assists), the most for an NHL player through 40 games since Jaromir Jagr scored 72 (33 goals, 39 assists) for the Penguins in 1999-00. Ottawa is 1-3-1 in its past five, allowing at least three goals in each game.

Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET (BSDET, BSSO, NHL.TV)

A 10-2-0 run has lifted the Predators into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central.
 
Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSCH, BSSW+, NHL.TV)

Rick Bowness will coach the Stars after he was cleared to rejoin them following a false positive COVID-19 test. A 4-2 loss to Chicago on Tuesday dropped Dallas seven points behind Nashville for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central.

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