What to Watch: Crosby, Penguins face off against Sabres

The Blues are back

Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, ALT

The Blues looked like they were in trouble a week ago. When they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 6-1 on April 5, they had scored eight goals during a seven-game stretch without a win (0-6-1) and lost eight straight games at home (0-6-2).

Now they look like trouble. Suddenly they’ve scored 15 goals during a three-game home winning streak, defeating the Golden Knights 3-1 on Wednesday, the Minnesota Wild 9-1 on Friday and the Wild 3-2 in overtime Saturday. They’re fourth in the eight-team Honda West Division. The top four teams will qualify the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Blues visit the third-place Wild on Monday (8 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI+, BSMW+, NHL.TV). Then comes this test against the first-place Avalanche.


Sunshine skate

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Thursday, 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, BSSUN, NHL.TV
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, BSSUN, BSFL, NHL.TV

The Battle of Florida is part of the battle for the lead in the Discover Central Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes (.725) are first based on points percentage. The Lightning (.707) have the same number of points (58) and the Panthers are two points behind. 

Florida and Tampa Bay have played four times this season. Each has gone 2-2-0, and the teams have combined to average 8.0 goals per game.

Florida won 5-2 on Feb. 11. Tampa Bay won 6-1 on Feb. 13. Florida won 6-4 on Feb. 15. Tampa Bay won 5-3 on March 21.

Florida’s turn?


Stat of the week

146 — The number of games the Panthers and Lightning will have played against each other at the end of the regular season. If the playoffs started today, they would face off in the first round and the postseason for the first time.

Four pairs of teams have played more games against each other without meeting in the playoffs, and none is in the same division: The Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars (181), Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins (162), Kings and Philadelphia Flyers (151), and Hurricanes and Flyers (148).


Crosby continues to be elite

Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET; NBC

Sidney Crosby remains one of the best players in the NHL and is remarkably consistent at this stage of his career. 

The Penguins center, who is 33 and in his 16th NHL season, has scored 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 41 games. He’s tied for seventh in scoring with Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (23 goals, 24 assists), who is 24 and in his sixth NHL season, and Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand (19 goals, 29 assists), who is 32 and in his 12th NHL season.

Last season, Crosby scored 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games.

The season before that? He produced at about the same pace, scoring100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) in 79 games.


Marleau to tie Howe

San Jose Sharks at Minnesota Wild
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET; BSN, NBCSCA, NHL.TV

Patrick Marleau is scheduled to play his 1,767th NHL game, tying the record held by “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe.

It’s a remarkable accomplishment and will be more special assuming Marleau, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, doesn’t go to another team before the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.

The forward ranks first in Sharks history in games played (1,591), goals (522) and points (1,110), and second in assists (588) to Joe Thornton (804). The 41-year-old has scored eight points (four goals, four assists) in 40 games this season but has scored two goals in his past three games.

“It’s nice to see him being at the top of his game as he’s approaching that record,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said.


Bruins need to bounce back

Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins
Sunday, 12 p.m. ET; NBC, TVAS

The Bruins are 3-1-2 against the Capitals this season. But that one regulation loss?


It came at home Sunday, and it wasn’t just a loss. It was an 8-1 loss in a game where Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, whose 727 goals lead active NHL players, didn’t put the puck in the net.

Yes, it was the second game in two days and the third in four days for the Bruins, but it had to hurt. The Bruins need to bounce back, and not only for pride.

First, they’re still not comfortably in a playoff spot, fourth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, four points ahead of the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. Second, if they do make the playoffs, there’s a good chance they could play the Capitals in the first round. 

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