NHL On Tap: Gallant returns to Vegas for first time with Rangers rolling

Rangers coach Gallant returns to Vegas

The New York Rangers (22-8-4) will attempt to win their fourth consecutive game when they play the Vegas Golden Knights (22-13-1) on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; SN, SN360, ATTSN-RM, MSG 2, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Rangers’ Gerrard Gallant will coach his first game at Vegas since being fired by the Golden Knights on Jan. 15, 2020 and should be pleased with the momentum his team carries into the game. The Rangers have outscored the opposition 11-4 during their three-game winning streak, which includes a sweep of a home-and-home set against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, followed by a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Gallant, who helped lead Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season of 2017-18, did face his former team on Dec. 17 when the Rangers lost to the Golden Knights 3-2 in a shootout at Madison Square Garden. Forward Ryan Reaves is also returning for the first time since the Golden Knights traded him to the Rangers on July 29. Reaves scored 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists) in 209 games in four seasons with Vegas. Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty won’t play Thursday because of a wrist injury. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Boldy, Rossi to debut for Wild

Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi each will make his NHL debut when the Minnesota Wild visit the Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, NHL LIVE). Boldy, the No. 12 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and Rossi, the No. 9 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, should add a much-needed spark at forward for Minnesota. The Wild (19-10-2) have played once in the past 16 days due to COVID-19 postponements and the holiday break, and that was a 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues in the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday. They’re 0-4-1 in their past five, haven’t won since defeating the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 9, and have key players ill and injured. Rossi leads Iowa of the American Hockey League with 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists) in 21 games. Boldy has scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 10 games for Iowa. The Bruins (17-10-2) are looking to win their fourth game in a row.  — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

Keystone Clash renewal

It’s never boring when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers play, and there’s no doubt their game at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, TVAS, NHL LIVE) will be entertaining. The Flyers (13-14-6) are desperate for points and goals after scoring nine times while going 1-2-1 during a four-game road trip. They also likely won’t have forwards Claude Giroux and Travis Konency, and defensemen Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, all of whom are in COVID-19 protocol. The Penguins (19-8-5) are feeling good right now, having won nine in a row following their 5-3 win against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Goalie Tristan Jarry, who exited COVID-19 protocol Tuesday, made 13 saves on 13 shots in relief of Casey DeSmith. — Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

Thursday schedule

Minnesota Wild at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, NHL LIVE)

The Wild have allowed 5.25 goals per game in their past four games; they allowed 2.78 in their first 27. The Bruins, who defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 on Sunday and the New Jersey Devils 5-3 on Tuesday, are looking to score at least five goals in at least three straight games for the eighth time in 25 years and second this season (three games from Nov. 13-20).

San Jose Sharks at Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Forward Timo Meier has scored seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past five games for the Sharks (17-16-1) and is averaging 1.21 points per game (35 points in 29 games), his highest in six NHL seasons. The Sabres (10-17-6) are 0-4-1 in their past five home games.

Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; BSSUN, SNW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Forward Blake Coleman returns to Tampa Bay for the first time since signing with the Flames (17-8-6) as a free agent July 28. Coleman helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup twice, scoring 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 48 playoff games in the past two seasons. The Lightning (22-8-5) are 7-0-1 in their past eight home games.

Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, BSOH, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Blue Jackets forward Jakub Voracek will become the second player from the from the 2007 NHL Draft to play in 1,000 games (Patrick Kane, 1,058). Defenseman Jake Bean is expected to play for the Blue Jackets (15-15-1) after missing a 7-2 loss to the Lightning on Tuesday because of an illness. Forward Nico Hischier is questionable for the Devils (13-16-5) because of a foot injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, TVAS, NHL LIVE)

The Penguins’ nine-game winning streak matched the Carolina Hurricanes (9-0-0 from Oct. 14 – Nov. 3) for the longest win streak by a team this season. Penguins forward Sidney Crosby has scored 23 goals at the Flyers, one behind Mario Lemieux and Alex Ovechkin for most all-time for an opponent in Philadelphia. The Penguins. The Flyers have won two straight at home, but it will be their first game at Wells Fargo Center since Dec. 18.

Florida Panthers at Dallas Stars (8:30 p.m. ET; BSSW, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Panthers forward Joe Thornton will become the sixth player in NHL history to play in 1,700 games, joining Patrick Marleau (1,779), Gordie Howe (1,767), Mark Messier (1,756), Jaromir Jagr (1,733) and Ron Francis (1,731). The Panthers (22-7-4) are averaging 6.00 goals during their four-game winning streak. The Stars (15-12-2), who will play their first game since Dec. 20, are expected to have a full complement of players after 11 exited COVID-19 protocol earlier in the week, including forwards Jamie Benn and Jason Robertson, and defensemen Miro Heiskanen and Ryan Suter.

Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; ALT, TSN3, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Jets (16-11-5) will try to match their season-high with a fourth straight victory. Forward Nazem Kadri has scored 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past nine games for the Avalanche (19-8-2), who will try to win their 10th straight game at home, which would tie an Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques team record, which has been done three times (2017-18, 1994-95, 1983-84). 

Chicago Blackhawks at Arizona Coyotes (9 p.m. ET; BSAZ+, NBCSCH, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Blackhawks (11-17-5) are 0-2-3 in their past five games. Forward Clayton Keller has scored six points (four goals, two assists) in his past four games for the Coyotes (6-22-3).

New York Rangers at Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET; SN, SN360, ATTSN-RM, MSG 2, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Rangers forward Chris Kreider has scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past six games, and his 12 power-play goals are second in the NHL, one behind Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers. Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore has scored seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past six games.

Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks, 10 p.m. ET (BSSC, BSSD, BSDET+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Red Wings (16-15-3), who have lost three straight road games, start a three-game road trip through California. Forward Troy Terry scored his first NHL hat trick for the Ducks (18-11-7) in a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and is third in the NHL with 21 goals.

Nashville Predators at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET (KCOP-13, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Forward Filip Forsberg has scored 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past eight games for the Predators (21-11-2), who are 9-1-1 in their past 11. Goalie Jonathan Quick is 6-2-1 with a 2.35 GAA and .922 save percentage in his past nine games for the Kings (16-12-5). 

Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens, postponed

Ottawa Senators at Seattle Kraken, postponed

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