NHL On Tap: Wild return against Kings after COVID-19 pause

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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 five games Tuesday.

Wild return against Kings

The Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings will resume their budding rivalry in the Honda West Division when they play at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-W, FS-WI, FS-N+, NHL.TV). They faced each other four times in January, with the Wild winning three times. Minnesota opened the season at Los Angeles on Jan. 14 by rallying for a 4-3 overtime victory after trailing 3-1, when rookie forward Kirill Kaprizov scored the winning goal. They rallied from two goals down again two nights later for a 4-3 overtime win, when forward Marcus Johansson scored the winner. This will be the Wild’s first game since a 2-1 loss at the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 2 due to NHL COVID-19 protocols. They’ll look to shake off the rust quickly against the Kings, who ended a five-game skid (0-4-1) with a 6-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Devils back in action

The New Jersey Devils returned to practice Monday after a 14-day pause to comply with NHL COVID-19 protocols. How will the layoff affect them when they visit the New York Rangers on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, MSG+, NHL.TV)? The Devils have not played since a 5-3 win at the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 31, so the potential rust from inactivity will be a pressing issue. Defenseman Ty Smith will look to pick up where he left off. He is tied for fourth in scoring among NHL rookies with eight points (two goals, six assists) despite playing at least two fewer games than the players ahead of him, and is tied for the Devils scoring lead with forwards Jack Hughes (three goals, five assists) and Miles Wood (five goals, three assists). The Rangers will be looking to end a three-game losing streak (0-3-0), where they’ve been shut out twice. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Avalanche search for offense in Vegas

The Colorado Avalanche were shut out Sunday in their first game since Feb. 2, a 1-0 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights, but they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves in the second of a four-game set at T-Mobile Arena (10 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, SNE, SNW, SNP, ATTSN-RM, ALT, NHL.TV). Colorado’s top forward line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Brandon Saad will certainly see more of Vegas’ top defenseman pairing of Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez, who played nearly 20 minutes against those three Sunday and helped goalie Marc-Andre Fleury earn his second shutout of the season. The Avalanche could receive a boost should defenseman Cale Makar be able to return from an upper-body injury, and/or if forward Tyson Jost and defenseman Samuel Girard are removed from NHL COVID-19 protocols. This game is also their final one before the Avalanche and Golden Knights play in the Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday game Feb. 20 at Lake Tahoe. — Brian Compton, deputy managing editor

Tuesday schedule

New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET (MSG-B, MSG+, NHL.TV)

The finale of a back-to-back set; New York extended its point streak to seven games (4-0-3) with a 3-1 win at Buffalo on Monday in the Sabres’ first game since Jan. 31. Islanders center Mathew Barzal has a nine-game point streak (four goals, seven assists).

Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN360, SNE, SNW, SNP, TVAS, ATTSN-PT, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)

Washington will try to end a four-game losing streak in the conclusion of this two-game set at Pittsburgh. The Penguins have won the first three games of the season series, including 6-3 on Sunday.

New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (MSG, MSG+, NHL.TV)

The Devils return from NHL COVID-19 protocols and play their first game since Jan. 31. The Rangers are hoping forward Artemi Panarin will be available after he missed a 1-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday because of a lower-body injury. 

Colorado Avalanche at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET (NHLN, SN360, SNE, SNW, SNP, ATTSN-RM, ALT, NHL.TV)

The second of four straight between Colorado and Vegas, which has won five of its past six games (5-1-0).

Minnesota Wild at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN+, FS-W, FS-WI, FS-N+, NHL.TV)

The Wild will play their first game since Feb. 2 due to NHL COVID-19 protocols. Center Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 13 games.

Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars, postponed

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