NHL On Tap: Panthers set to open season against Blackhawks

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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 two games on Sunday.

 

Panthers’ delayed season opener

The Florida Panthers no doubt will be eager to get started when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at BB&T Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS, FS-F, NBCSCH, NHL.TV). The Panthers were originally scheduled to open their season against the Dallas Stars on Thursday but had that game and a rematch Friday postponed because the Stars were dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. After waiting an extra three days, a host of players will be looking to make their Panthers debuts, including forwards Anthony Duclair, Patric Hornqvist, Alexander Wennberg and Carter Verhaeghe, and defensemen Radko Gudas and Gustav Forsling. Joel Quenneville begins his second season coaching Florida against Chicago, which he coached to Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will not start after missing the beginning of training camp when he was unfit to play, so Chris Driedger will start for the Panthers. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer

 

Blackhawks looking for spark

The Blackhawks need a spark after losing the first two games of their season-opening four-game road trip. Perhaps they found it with forward Alex DeBrincat, who scored two points (one goal, one assist) in a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. DeBrincat, who scored 18 goals last season after scoring 41 in 2018-19, has the skill to energize the Blackhawks and will be relied upon to fill the scoring void with the absences of captain Jonathan Toews and forward Kirby Dach. DeBrincat and the Blackhawks would love to get a win against the Panthers on Sunday and build some positive momentum before their home opener against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. — Tim Campbell, staff writer 

 

Chara adds to star-studded rivalry

The number of Hall of Fame candidates in the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins game Sunday at PPG Paints Arena (12:00 p.m. ET; NBC, SN) makes it much-watch theatre. Alex Ovechkin (1,280 points) of the Capitals and Sidney Crosby (1,265) of the Penguins are the top two scorers in the NHL since 2005. Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin is fourth (1,076) and Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom in ninth (930). This heated rivalry welcomes defenseman Zdeno Chara, who signed with the Capitals on Dec. 30 after a memorable 15-season run with the Boston Bruins. These are some of the biggest stars in the NHL, and to see them do battle against each other in an action-packed three-hour window should be appreciated and enjoyed. Throw in a supporting cast of T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Evgeni Kuznetsov of the Capitals, and Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang of the Penguins, and there is star power galore. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

 

Sunday schedule

Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, noon ET (NBC, SN)

The Penguins are looking for their first win of the season after losing two games at the Flyers.

Chicago Blackhawks at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (NHLN, TVAS, SN, FS-F, NBCSCH, NHL.TV)

The Panthers open their season against a Blackhawks team looking for its first win after two straight losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

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