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 10 games Thursday.
Kotkaniemi returns to Montreal
Jesperi Kotkaniemi will be back at Bell Centre to face the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) for the first time since they announced Sept. 4 that they would not match the one-year, $6,100,015 offer sheet the Carolina Hurricanes tendered to the restricted free agent forward. The 21-year-old scored 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 171 regular-season games and 12 points (nine goals, three assists) in 29 Stanley Cup Playoff games during three seasons with the Canadiens, who selected him No. 3 in the 2018 NHL Draft. Kotkaniemi will look to score his first point with Carolina (2-0-0). Montreal (0-4-0) continues to seek its first win of the season after reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer
Tkachuk to make season debut with Senators
Brady Tkachuk will make his season debut with the Ottawa Senators when they host the San Jose Sharks at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The forward signed a seven-year, $57.5 million contract ($8.214 million average annual value) with the Senators on Oct. 14 after not taking part in training camp; he led them with 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games last season. Ottawa went 2-1-0 in Tkachuk’s absence thanks to contributions from forwards Chris Tierney (three goals), Tyler Ennis (one goal, two assists) and Connor Brown (three assists). The Sharks have won their first two games this season, against the Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens. — Brian Compton, deputy managing editor
Panthers aiming for fourth consecutive win
The Florida Panthers will attempt to win their fourth consecutive game to start the season when they host the Colorado Avalanche at FLA Live Arena (7 p.m. ET; BSFL, ALT, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The catalyst for the Panthers has been center Aleksander Barkov, who has scored five points (two goals, three assists) and has had at least one point in each of their three games. The Avalanche have lost two of their first three games, including a 6-3 loss at the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon made his season debut against the Capitals after missing the first two games (NHL COVID-19 protocol) and had an assist and three shots on goal. These are two of the elite teams in the NHL, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a preview of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
Carolina Hurricanes at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
To get their first win of the season, the Canadiens may need to slow down Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov, who has scored four points (three goals, one assist) in two games.
San Jose Sharks at Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
San Jose, going for its third straight victory, has been led by defenseman Erik Karlsson and forward Timo Meier; each has one goal and three assists. Ottawa goalie Matt Murray will start for the first time this season after he was out with an illness unrelated to COVID-19.
Colorado Avalanche at Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET; BSFL, ALT, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Panthers have outscored opponents 14-6. Colorado has allowed 11 goals in back-to-back losses.
Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, NBCSWA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Capitals play their first road game of the season after starting 2-0-1 at home. Washington forward Alex Ovechkin is showing no signs of slowing down at age 36, scoring six points (four goals, two assists) in three games. He has scored 734 goals and is seven from tying Brett Hull for fourth in NHL history. New Jersey has won its first two games but will be without center Jack Hughes, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday with a dislocated left shoulder.
New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, MSG+ 2, ESPN+, NHL LJVE)
The Islanders will try to make it two in a row after a 4-1 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. Goalie Semyon Varlamov could get his first start after missing all of training camp because of soreness. Blue Jackets forwards Oliver Bjorkstrand (two goals, two assists), Patrik Laine (one goal, three assists) and Max Domi (one goal, three assists) each have four points.
Calgary Flames at Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNW, BSDET, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Red Wings look to continue their solid start (2-0-1) that has been sparked by forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who has scored six points (five goals, one assist) and is plus-7 in three games, and goalie Thomas Greiss, who has allowed two goals in two victories and is 8-0-3 since April 4. The Flames are 0-1-1.
New York Rangers at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET; BSSO, MSG, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Rangers (2-1-1) have won the first two of their four-game road trip with goalie Igor Shesterkin allowing two goals on 73 shots. The Predators (1-2-0) wrap up a season-opening four-game homestand.
Anaheim Ducks at Winnipeg Jets (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, BSSC, BSSD, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Ducks have split their first four games this season, but forward Jakob Silfverberg (six points; one goal, five assists) and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (five points; three goals, two assists) each is off to a hot start. The Jets are 0-2-1 and Connor Hellebuyck has allowed 14 goals in three starts.
Vancouver Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET; SNP, NBCSCH, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Blackhawks play the second of a four-game homestand seeking their first win (0-3-1), and center Jonathan Toews has yet to score a point. The Canucks are hoping Quinn Hughes will be able to play. The defenseman missed a 5-2 loss at the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday with an undisclosed injury.
Edmonton Oilers at Arizona Coyotes (10 p.m. ET; SN360, SNW, BSAZ, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Oilers will try to extend their season opening three-game winning streak led by forwards Connor McDavid (four goals, four assists) and Leon Draisaitl (two goals, six assists), who already have eight points each. Goalie Carter Hutton has allowed 14 goals in two starts for the Coyotes (0-2-1).