NHL On Tap: Islanders, Golden Knights being tested early in season

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Welcome to 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 four games Sunday.

 

Islanders, Golden Knights getting tested early

A season-opening 13-game road trip is a test of character for any team and the New York Islanders are no exception. A popular pick to win the Stanley Cup, the Islanders are 2-2-1 on the longest trip in their history that started on the East Coast, went to the Midwest and continues west with the second of a back to back against the Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, ATTSN-RM, MSG+, NHL LIVE) following a 3-0 win against Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. A Golden Knights win would be their 175th (174-97-24) since joining the NHL in 2017-18, a milestone that’s been elusive thanks to a three-game losing streak since defeating the Seattle Kraken 4-3 in their season opener. Like the Islanders, the Golden Knights are considered a top Cup contender but they are without injured forwards Max Pacioretty (lower body) and Mark Stone (lower body), and defensemen Alec Martinez (upper body) and Zach Whitecloud (upper body). Though elite teams usually find their way back after a slow start, there is the chance the Islanders and/or Golden Knights may buckle under the burden of great expectations and extenuating circumstamnces. You can’t clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth early in the season, but you can lose one. — Jon Lane, staff writer

 

Sharks going for fifth straight win

The San Jose Sharks have started the season on a four-game winning streak and are one of the biggest surprises in the NHL so far this season. They missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 14 points last season when they finished with 49, more than five teams in the NHL. And then they started training camp with the controversy surrounding forward Evander Kane, their leading scorer last season (49 points; 22 goals, 27 assists), and his eventual 21-game suspension for violating NHL COVID-19 protocol. The Sharks have won three of their four games on the road, the past three in Canada. The question is how long can they keep it going? The Boston Bruins ruined the Buffalo Sabres unbeaten start by handing them their first loss in four games, 4-1 on Friday. It was a big win considering they lost 6-3 at the Philadelphia Flyers two nights earlier. As far as early season games go it’s hard to call this massive for either team because they’re not in the same conference. But in a way it’s a measuring stick for each. The Sharks will try to win their fifth straight in a tough environment against an experienced, quality opponent. The Bruins will try to build a winning streak against an opponent that comes into TD Garden in Boston (1 p.m. ET; SN1, NESN, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) with confidence and a strong belief that they’re better than anyone expected. — Dan Rosen, senior writer

 

Wild bid to continue early streak

The Minnesota Wild (4-0-0) will look to continue their winning ways when they complete a three-game homestand against the Nashville Predators (1-4-0) at Xcel Energy Center (6 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). Minnesota has won each of its first four games by one goal. The past two have come in overtime, 6-5 against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday and 4-3 against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Joel Eriksson Ek has a team-leading three goals; Marcus Foligno, Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman each have scored two. Goalie Cam Talbot (2.68 goals-against average, .904 save percentage) has started each of the first four games, but Kaapo Kahkonen could start the second of a back to back. — Tim Campbell, staff writer

 

Sunday schedule

San Jose Sharks at Boston Bruins (1 p.m. ET; SN1, NESN, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Sharks’ four-game winning streak to start this season is their longest since going 6-0-0 to begin 2013-14 and 7-0-0 in 2012-13. Forwards Logan Couture (seven points; three goals, four assists) and Timo Meier (seven points; two goals, five assists), and defenseman Erik Karlsson (six points; two goals, four assists), each have season-opening point streaks, the first time San Jose has had multiple players with points in at least four games to open a season since Patrick Marleau (eight), Couture (six) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (four) in 2013-14. The Bruins are getting their usual production from “The Perfection Line” with David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron combining for nine points (four goals, five assists) in three games. 

Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild (6 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Predators are 4-for-15 on the power play to start the season, 2-for-4 in their 6-4 loss to the Jets on Saturday. The Wild are 23-5-2 at home since the start of the 2020-21 season.

Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, NBCSCH, NHL LIVE)

Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner voted as the best goalie in the NHL, has allowed 12 goals in three starts. The Red Wings started a stretch of seven of eight games on the road with a 6-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and have scored 14 goals in their first five games this season.

New York Islanders at Vegas Golden Knights: (10 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, ATTSN-RM, MSG+, NHL LIVE)

Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara played his 1,613th game Saturday to pass Ray Bourque for fourth in NHL history at the position. Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault is four points from 300 in the NHL.

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