NHL On Tap: Panthers face big test against Lightning

Panthers renew rivalry with Lightning

The Florida Panthers host the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning at BB&T Center (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, SUN, NHL.TV) in their first matchup of the season. The Lightning (9-1-1) have the best points percentage (.864) in the Discover Central Division, and the Panthers are second (.800; 7-1-2), making this game a litmus test for Florida, which is off to a good start. Thursday marks the fifth time the teams will play as the top two in their division (also Feb. 14, 2004; March 6, 2004; Jan. 23, 2016; March 26, 2016). One key storyline is Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe, who has been a breakout player early in the season on the top line with center Aleksander Barkov, facing his former team for the first time. Verhaeghe, who won the Cup as a rookie with Tampa Bay last season, agreed to a two-year contract with Florida on Oct. 9 and has scored nine points (six goals, three assists) in 10 games. — Pete Jensen, senior fantasy editor

Canucks look to end five-game slide

The Calgary Flames visit the Vancouver Canucks for the first of four straight games against each other (10 p.m. ET; SN360, SNW, SNP, NHL.TV). It will be the first game in Vancouver for former Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, defenseman Christopher Tanev and forward Josh Leivo since each signed with the Flames during the offseason. The Flames have won two straight games and are 2-0-0 against the Canucks this season, with Markstrom helping defeat his former team twice in Calgary. The Canucks return home on a five-game losing streak (0-5-0), having been outscored 26-10 in five road games at the Montreal Canadiens (two) and Toronto Maple Leafs (three). After a sluggish start, Canucks forward Elias Pettersson is on a four-game point streak (two goals, two assists) and has scored 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 16 games. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Barzal tries to extend point streak

Mathew Barzal will look to extend his point streak to seven games when the New York Islanders host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Coliseum (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN360, SNP, MSG+, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV). The center has scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past six games and leads New York with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 11 games this season. The Islanders, who have won two straight and are on a four-game point streak (2-0-2), got a lift from their fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, who combined to score four points (two goals, two assists) with six shots on goal and seven hits in a 2-0 win at the New York Rangers on Monday. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is one win shy of becoming the third GM in NHL history with 1,300 regular-season victories (David Poile, 1,420; Glen Sather, 1,319). The Penguins, who will play for the first time since naming Ron Hextall general manager and Brian Burke president of hockey operations Tuesday, have lost two straight games and are 1-3-1 in their past five. — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

Thursday schedule

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+, SN360, SNP, MSG+, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

The Penguins have scored five power-play goals in 11 games this season and are 0-for-19 on the power play in their past six games.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (FS-F, SUN, NHL.TV)

The Lightning, who have won six in a row, and the Panthers play the first of three consecutive games against each other, the first two at Florida and the third at Tampa Bay.

Edmonton Oilers at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+, TSN2, RDS, SNW, NHL.TV)

The Oilers try for their third straight win, and the Canadiens look to bounce back after losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 at home Wednesday.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Chicago Blackhawks, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSCH, FS-O, NHL.TV)

The Blackhawks, who have won three in a row and are 4-0-1 in their past five games, are third in the NHL on the power play this season (35.6 percent) and first in the NHL since Jan. 25 on the penalty kill (95.5 percent).

Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. ET (FS-TN, FS-D+, NHL.TV)

The Predators look to end a three-game losing streak (0-3-0) with the first of two straight at home against the Red Wings, who are 1-6-1 on the road.

Ottawa Senators at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m. ET (TSN3, TSN5, RDS2, NHL.TV)

The Jets, who are coming off a 3-2 loss at the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, are 3-0-0 against the Senators, outscoring them 14-7.

Carolina Hurricanes at Dallas Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET (FS-SW, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

The Stars have one win in their past six games (1-2-3), including a 4-1 loss and a 4-3 overtime loss at the Hurricanes on Jan. 30-31.

Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks, 10 p.m. ET (SN360, SNW, SNP, NHL.TV)

The Flames have scored five power-play goals in two games against the Canucks this season, outscoring Vancouver 8-2 in the two wins.

Anaheim Ducks at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET (ATTSN-RM, PRIME, FS-SD, NHL.TV)

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is expected to return to the Vegas lineup after missing the past three games due to NHL COVID-19 protocols.

San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m. ET (FS-W, NBCSCA, NHL.TV)

The Sharks look for a second straight win against the Kings after defeating them 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday.

Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres, postponed

New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers, postponed

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild, postponed

Arizona Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche, postponed

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