NHL On Tap: Thompson, Sabres look to stay hot against Hurricanes
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 two games Friday.
Sabres, Thompson, playing can’t-miss hockey
The Buffalo Sabres (7-3-0) are becoming must-see viewing. They’ve won three in a row, including 6-3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, powered by five consecutive third-period goals and multipoint games from five players. Buffalo will look to stay hot when they face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, SN). Forward Tage Thompson has been on a scoring tear with 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past three games, including a goal and an assist Wednesday and a hat trick and three assists in an 8-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. He’s the first Buffalo player since Maxim Afinogenov in 2006-07 with 10 or more points in a three-game span. Carolina (7-2-1) has a three-game winning streak, including a 4-3 shootout victory at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Forward Martin Necas has seven points (three goals, four assists) during an NHL career-high five-game point streak. — William Douglas, staff writer
Rantanen, Lehkonen return home to Finland with Avalanche
When the Colorado Avalanche (4-4-1) play the Columbus Blue Jackets (3-7-0) at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland, a couple of Stanley Cup champions will be playing in their home country for the 2022 NHL Global Series (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, ALT, BSOH, SN NOW). Forward Mikko Rantanen, from Nousiainen, Finland, had 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, second on the Avalanche to defenseman Cale Makar, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. Forward Artturi Lehkonen, from Piikkio, Finland, also played a key role, with 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 20 playoff games, including an NHL-high four game-winning goals. What an opportunity for the fans to see them in person. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
Blue Jackets look to hit the reset button
The Blue Jackets will look to establish a winning formula when they play the first of back-to-back games this weekend against the Avalanche as part of the 2022 NHL Global Series. The Blue Jackets still are disappointed about the effort they showed during their 7-1 loss at the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. It was their third straight defeat and they are last in the Metropolitan Division. It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Columbus, especially after the huge signing of forward Johnny Gaudreau during the offseason. The Blue Jackets began preparations for the Avalanche on Tuesday. “We are a serious team, and we need to start playing a little better,” forward Jack Roslovic said. An improved power play could be an area of focus. They were 18th in the NHL last season at 18.6 percent, and they’re still looking for their first man-advantage goal this season (0-for-25). — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
Columbus Blue Jackets at Colorado Avalanche (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, BSOH, SN NOW)
The Blue Jackets and Avalanche play the first of back-to-back games in Tampere, Finland. Columbus looks to end a three-game losing streak while Colorado hopes to rebound after losing two straight. The Avalanche have the best power play in the NHL at 39.3 percent while the Blue Jackets are the only team in the League yet to score on the man-advantage. Columbus center Boone Jenner, who missed practice Thursday because of an illness, will be a game-time decision; if he plays it will be his 600th NHL game.
Buffalo Sabres at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, SN)
The Sabres play the first of a back to back, with a game at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Carolina plays the second of back-to-back games and will try to extend its winning streak to four games. Hurricanes defenseman Brent Burns had an assist in a 4-3 shootout win against the Lightning on Thursday, giving him five points (two goals, three assists) during a five-game point streak. At age 37 years, 239 days, Burns is the first defenseman in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers history with a point streak of at least five games at age 37 or older.