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 Sunday.
Panthers rolling into SeattleIf you haven’t taken the Florida Panthers seriously, you should start. A team that hasn’t escaped the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since going to the Final in 1996 is running like a thoroughbred entering their game against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; ROOT-NW, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Panthers (28-8-5) share the NHL lead with the Tampa Bay Lightning (61 points) and are 10-1-1 in their past 12 games. Forward Jonathan Huberdeau has scored 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in his past 11 games, leads the NHL with 40 assists and should be in the discussion for the Hart Trophy, voted to the most valuable player in the NHL. Sergei Bobrovsky (20-3-3, 2.38 goals-against average, .925 save percentage, one shutout) is excelling at age 33 and is the third Panthers goalie with a point streak of at least nine games (8-0-1), joining Roberto Luongo (9-0-1 from Dec. 15, 2015 to Jan. 11, 2016) and John Vanbiesbrouck (6-0-3 from Oct. 5-29, 1996), while building a case for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the best goalie in the NHL. The Kraken (12-24-4) have lost 13 of 16 (3-11-2). — Jon Lane, staff writer
O’Reilly, Blues try to extend hot streakThe St. Louis Blues will attempt to keep their momentum going when they play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena (10 p.m. ET; SNP, BSMW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Blues (24-11-5) won 5-0 at the Kraken on Friday and are 5-1-0 in their past six games. The catalyst has been forward Ryan O’Reilly, who scored nine points (four goals, five assists) during that six-game span. Forward Pavel Buchnevich was cleared from NHL COVID-19 protocol and played against the Kraken but did not accompany the team to Vancouver because crossing the border into Canada requires travelers to be at least 10 days removed from a positive test; Sunday will be the 10th day since Buchnevich’s last positive test. The Canucks (18-18-4) began a three-game homestead with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Panthers on Friday and will attempt to get back on track after going 2-3-1 in their past six. Vancouver’s Bruce Boudreau will become the 29th NHL coach to reach 1,000 games. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
Kings hope to get on trackThe Los Angeles Kings will look to end a three-game losing streak when they play the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, BSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Kings (20-16-5) had won four straight before being outscored 16-7 during their three-game skid. Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar has scored seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past six games. The Devils (15-19-5) defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 7-4 on Saturday to end a three-game losing streak. New Jersey captain Nico Hischier has scored four points (two goals, two assists) during a four-game point streak and has scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his past 10. — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
Sunday scheduleWinnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, ATTSN-PT, TSN3, NHL LIVE)
The Jets (17-14-6) play their fourth game in six days after playing once in the previous 11. Kris Letang will play his 900th game in the NHL. The 34-year-old defenseman is on an NHL career-high 10-game point streak (two goals, 13 assists) for the Penguins (25-10-5), who have won four in a row, eight of 10 (8-2-0) since returning to play Jan. 2, and 15 of 17 (15-2-0) since Dec. 4.
Ottawa Senators at Columbus Blue Jackets (6 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSOH, TSN5, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Senators (11-20-3) have scored nine third-period goals since Jan. 13, tied with the Panthers for third in the NHL. Blue Jackets (18-19-1) forward Gustav Nyquist leads the NHL with four shorthanded goals and is one from tying the single-season Columbus record of five scored by forward Rick Nash in 2008-09.
Los Angeles Kings at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, BSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Kings’ fourth line of Brendan Lemieux (seven), Blake Lizotte (five) and Arthur Kaliyev (seven) have combined to score 19 goals. The seven goals the Devils scored against the Hurricanes on Saturday matched their single-season high; they won 7-3 against the Panthers on Nov. 9.
Florida Panthers at Seattle Kraken (9 p.m. ET; ROOT-NW, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Panthers forward Sam Reinhart has scored in 12 of his past 17 games (eight goals, 15 assists), including seven multipoint games. The Kraken have lost an NHL-high 17 games when trailing at the end of the first period (2-17-0).
St. Louis Blues at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; SNP, BSMW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Forwards Buchnevich, Jordan Kyrou and Ivan Barbashev share the Blues goal-scoring lead with 15 each. Forwards Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, and goalies Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak are in COVID-19 protocol for the Canucks and questionable to play.