What to Watch: Golden Knights set for big test against Avalanche

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Each Monday, we list the can’t-miss games for the upcoming week. Grab your remote. This is “NHL What to Watch.”

 

Three in a row for Flames?

Montreal Canadiens at Calgary Flames
Monday, 6:30 p.m. ET; SNW, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV

The Flames looked finished three weeks ago. They were 1-8-0 in nine games from March 20-April 5.

Now they’re 5-2-0 their past seven, including 3-1-0 against the team they’re chasing in the Scotia North Division, the Canadiens.

Montreal is fourth in the seven-team division. Calgary is fifth, four points behind. The top four teams make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Flames defeated the Canadiens 4-2 on Friday and 5-2 in Calgary on Saturday. Win in regulation again there Monday and they’ll pull within two points of the Canadiens. Lose in regulation, though, and they’ll be six points behind. Montreal has one game in hand.

 

Three in a row for Capitals?

New York Islanders at Washington Capitals
Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSWA

The Capitals are 5-2-0 against the Islanders this season, including a 1-0 shootout win in New York on Thursday and a 6-3 win there Saturday.

Their offensive output was impressive Saturday considering they were without forward Alex Ovechkin, who is day to day with a lower-body injury, and the Islanders are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, second in goals against per game (2.31) to the Golden Knights (2.15).

Now comes another huge game in the MassMutual East Division, where the Capitals, Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins are fighting for first place with the Boston Bruins not far behind.

 

Test for Vegas

Colorado Avalanche at Vegas Golden Knights
Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN

The Golden Knights are on a 9-0-0 run, their longest winning streak since they began play as an NHL expansion team in 2017-18.

But note this quote from coach Peter DeBoer, which came when Vegas was six games into the streak and hadn’t played anyone in the top three in the eight-team Honda West Division. (They still haven’t.)

“I like our game,” DeBoer said. “I like how we’re playing recently. We haven’t played Colorado, though, so teams like that that put that type of pressure on you will definitely be a different test.”

Well, here comes the test.

Vegas leads the West by four points over Colorado, which has two games in hand. The Golden Knights (.745) and Avalanche (.733) have the best records in the NHL in terms of points percentage.

In their six games against each other this season, Vegas is 3-3-0. Colorado is 3-2-1.

 

Sid vs. Ovi

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TVAS, NBCSWA, ATTSN-P, NHL.TV
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV

The Penguins are 4-2-0 against the Capitals this season, but two of those wins came in overtime, another in a shootout.

Sidney Crosby has scored six points (two goals, four assists) in the season series, including an OT goal. He’s tied with defenseman Kris Letang (six assists) for second on the Penguins to forward Jake Guentzel (nine points; four goals, five assists).

Ovechkin is one of five Capitals with five points. He has one goal and four assists.

 

Stars stalking Predators 

Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET; BSSO, BSSW+, NHL.TV

The Stars have faced adversity since making the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, from injuries to COVID-19. But here they are threatening to return to the playoffs and go on another run.

They’re 7-1-2 in their past 10 games and fifth in the Discover Central Division, two points behind the fourth-place Predators with two games in hand. They’ve never failed to get at least one point in seven games against them this season, going 3-0-4.

Stars forward Joe Pavelski has scored 11 points (four goals, 11 assists) in the season series. 

This is the last game between the teams this season. 

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