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 seven games Thursday.
Flames return against Kraken, former captain
The Calgary Flames (15-7-6) will play their first game in 19 days when they visit the Seattle Kraken on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; ROOT-NW, SNW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Flames last played Dec. 11, losing 4-2 to the Boston Bruins at home, because of COVID-19 concerns. The outbreak impacted 20 players on their roster and led the NHL to postpone eight of their games. Mark Giordano, the Flames captain from 2013-21, will face his former team for the first time in a regular-season game since being selected by the Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft on July 21. The defenseman, who is second in Flames history with 949 games played, scored against Calgary in a 4-3 Seattle victory in a preseason game Sept. 30. The Kraken (10-17-4) are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday and fell to 0-4 in overtime games this season. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
Depleted Canadiens face hungry Hurricanes
The Montreal Canadiens (7-21-4) are without 11 players, who are either injured or in NHL COVID-19 protocol, heading into their game at the Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET, BSSO, TSN2, RDS, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). Montreal is last in the eight-team Atlantic Division and its 2-11-3 road record is worst in the League. Carolina (21-7-1) is just happy to be back in action, having not played since a 5-1 win at home Dec. 18 against the Los Angeles Kings. The Hurricanes had four games postponed since then but remain second in the eight-team Metropolitan Division and have won six of their past seven games. — Dave Stubbs, columnist
Hertl’s heater helping Sharks
Forward Tomas Hertl will look to extend a seven-game point streak when the San Jose Sharks host the Philadelphia Flyers (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, NBCSP, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). Hertl has seven goals and three assists in his past seven games and a 31.8 percent shooting percentage (seven goals, 22 shots) in that span. Eight of his 10 points during the streak have come at even strength, including his 15th goal of the season in an 8-7 shootout win against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. He also added a goal in the shootout in that victory. The Sharks (16-14-1) can finish .500 in December with a win (4-5-0). The Flyers (13-12-5) are finishing a back-to-back set after a 3-2 overtime win at the Kraken on Wednesday. — Tim Campbell, staff writer
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, BSFL, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Lightning (21-6-4) came out of the break with their fourth straight win, a 5-4 overtime victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Maxime Lagace earned his first win of the season Tuesday and could start again in place of goalies Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott, who are each in NHL COVID-19 protocol. The Panthers (19-7-4) complete a back-to-back set after ending a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; BSSO, TSN2, RDS, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
This is the second of three meetings between the teams this season. The Hurricanes won 4-1 in Montreal on Oct. 21, when forward Sebastian Aho scored three points (two goals, one assist). The Canadiens are tied for 30th in scoring in the NHL (2.19 goals per game); the Hurricanes are first with a 2.14 team goals-against average.
Nashville Predators at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Predators (19-11-1) lost 5-3 at the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, when forward Filip Forsberg extended his point streak to five games (three goals, four assists). Forward Patrik Laine, who has missed 19 games with an oblique strain, is expected to return for the Blue Jackets (14-13-1).
Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; MSG+, MSG-B, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Sabres (10-16-5) complete a back-to-back set after a 4-3 loss at home to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. The Islanders (8-12-6) have struggled to score all season, averaging 2.19 goals per game (tied for 30th in the NHL) and have alternated wins and losses (3-2-0) in their past five games
Calgary Flames at Seattle Kraken (10 p.m. ET; ROOT-NW, SNW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Flames are tied for second in road wins (11) in the NHL with the Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers, one behind the Hurricanes. Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is expected to play his 400th NHL game.
Vancouver Canucks at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; BSW, SNP, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Canucks (15-15-2) seek their eighth straight win after a 2-1 overtime victory at the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, when forward J.T. Miller extended his assists streak to seven games (eight assists). The Kings are 4-2-1 in their past seven games after a 6-3 loss to the Golden Knights on Tuesday.
Philadelphia Flyers at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, NBCSP, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Flyers have won five of their past six games (5-0-1) after a 3-2 overtime win at the Kraken on Wednesday, when Claude Giroux earned his 600th NHL assist. Forward Timo Meier leads the Sharks with 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 26 games this season and has scored five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games.