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NHL On Tap: Flames face Oilers in first game after firing coach

Canucks going for first winning streak of season, Stars looking for spark highlight 12-game schedule

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

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 12 games Saturday.

The Battle of Stressful Alberta

Angst will be high for the fourth game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton (10 p.m., NHLN, CBC, SN, NHL.TV). Usually it's because of the rivalry and heightened dislike for their provincial rivals, but an added layer of intrigue goes with this game. The Oilers have dropped to third place in the Scotia North Division after they were outscored 13-1 in a three-game sweep to the Toronto Maple Leafs. And when NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid (40 points; 14 goals, 26 assists in 25 games) has been held pointless in three games, there's an even more uncomfortable feeling around the Alberta capital. The Flames visit Edmonton dealing with the shock of their coaching change late Thursday. Darryl Sutter replaces Geoff Ward, who was fired after Calgary's 7-3 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, but the fifth-place Flames won't enjoy Sutter's hands-on influence until early next week while he goes through NHL COVID-19 protocol and winds up some affairs at home in Viking, Alberta. -- Tim Campbell, staff writer

Canucks look to keep building

The Vancouver Canucks will try for their first winning streak in more than a month when they host the Maple Leafs for the second time in three nights (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SNO, SNP, NHL.TV). Vancouver won four in a row from Jan. 25-30. The Canucks defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1 on Thursday behind forward Jake Virtanen's two goals and goalie Thatcher Demko's 31 saves. It was a strong performance and they did it without center Elias Pettersson, who was scratched with an upper-body injury and is day to day. It's possible the Canucks caught the Maple Leafs at the right time with Toronto on a four-game winning streak, including three straight against Edmonton, and playing its fourth game in six nights. Regardless, the Canucks scored early, responded well after the Maple Leafs tied it and did enough the rest of the way to win. The Canucks have won two of their past three, including 4-0 against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. A win Saturday gives them something to build on. -- Dan Rosen, senior writer

Stars seek spark against Blue Jackets

The Dallas Stars hope to end a four-game losing streak when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second of a two-game set (8 p.m. ET; FS-SW, FS-O, NHL.TV). The Stars, who scored at least three goals in six of their first eight games of the season (5-2-1), have totaled 19 while going 1-7-3 in their past 11 (1.72 goals per game). Though it doesn't help that forward Alexander Radulov (11 points; three goals, eight assists) has missed the past 10 games with a lower-body injury, joining forward Tyler Seguin and goalie Ben Bishop on injured reserve, the Stars need to get untracked and reverse the current trend. Dallas is eighth in the Discover Central Division. Stars forward Joe Pavelski, who's scored six points (two goals, four assists) against the Blue Jackets in three games this season, could be the veteran presence to help the Stars out of their slump. The Blue Jackets are 15-3-1 against the Stars since the start of the 2012-13 season and have won three straight games in Dallas, where they are 8-1-0 since Dec. 29, 2011. -- Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

Saturday schedule

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN+, MSG+2, MSG, NHL.TV)

Chris Kreider has scored two hat tricks and nine of his Rangers-high 13 goals during New York's 5-2-0 run since going 0-3-1 in its previous four. The Devils have lost eight in a row on home ice and four straight games overall.

Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders, 1 p.m. ET (MSG+, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

The Islanders are 5-0-1 in their past six games and 10-2-2 since Feb. 1. The Sabres have lost five in a row (0-4-1) and are 2-8-1 since Feb. 15.

Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 1 p.m. ET (SN, ATTSN-PT, NBCSP, NHL.TV)

The Flyers will try to build on the momentum of a 4-3 win against the Penguins on Thursday after trailing 3-0. Pittsburgh is two points behind fourth-place Philadelphia in the MassMutual East Division.

Florida Panthers at Nashville Predators, 2 p.m. ET (NHLN, FS-TN, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Aaron Ekblad scored an NHL career-high four points (two power-play goals, two assists) for the Panthers in a 5-4 win against the Predators on Thursday and leads NHL defensemen with eight goals this season. Florida is 6-2-2 in its past 10 games and 7-1-1 on the road.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Vancouver Canucks, 7 p.m. ET (NHLN, CBC, SNO, SNP, NHL.TV)

The Maple Leafs held the Edmonton Oilers to one goal in a three-game sweep before a 3-1 loss to the Canucks on Thursday. Center Auston Matthews leads the NHL with 18 goals but has not scored in his past four games.

Minnesota Wild at Arizona Coyotes, 7 p.m. ET (FS-A, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV)

The Coyotes host the Wild again after a 5-1 loss in Arizona on Friday. Minnesota forward Marcus Foligno has scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his past seven games.

 Winnipeg Jets at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+, CITY, SNE, SNW, TVAS, NHL.TV)

The Jets continue a five-game road trip and 12 of 14 games away from Winnipeg. Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin has three assists in four games since Dominique Ducharme replaced Claude Julien as coach Feb. 24. The 25-year-old scored 242 points (77 goals, 165 assists) in 128 games under Ducharme for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ALT, PRIME, FS-SD, NHL.TV)

The Avalanche will try to sweep a two-game set from the Ducks, who are 0-6-3 in their past nine games. Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm is out six weeks with a fractured left wrist.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Dallas Stars, 8 p.m. ET (FS-SW, FS-O, NHL.TV)

The Blue Jackets have won two straight games since an 0-4-1 stretch. The Stars are 1-7-3 since Feb. 4 and have lost six in a row at home (0-3-3).

St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings, 9 p.m. ET (FS-W, FS-MW, NHL.TV)

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is expected to make his season debut after offseason shoulder surgery. St. Louis has won four in a row on a six-game California road trip, including a 3-2 overtime victory against the Kings on Friday. Los Angeles has been outscored 26-13 in the first period.

Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers, 10 p.m. ET (NHLN, CBC, SN, NHL.TV)

The Flames play their first game since firing coach Geoff Ward after a 7-3 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Assistant Ryan Huska will coach Calgary while Darryl Sutter goes through NHL COVID-19 protocol. The Oilers won 11 of 13 before losing three straight to the Maple Leafs.

Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET (TVAS, NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

The Golden Knights are on a five-game winning streak and one point ahead of the Blues for first in the Honda West Division with four games in hand. The Sharks will play their eighth game at SAP Center after opening the season with 10 on the road because of coronavirus restrictions in Santa Clara County, California. 

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