NHL On Tap: Bruins hope to continue climb in MassMutual East Division

Welcome to the NHL On Tap. Three writers will share what they are most looking forward to on the schedule each day. Today, their choices from the eight games Tuesday.

Bruins look to climb in East

The Boston Bruins play the first of three straight games at the Buffalo Sabres (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, MSG-B, NESNplus, NHL.TV) looking to move up in the eight-team MassMutual East Division. The Bruins are fourth in the eight-team East, three points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins, and have won four in a row. The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Sabres are last but 3-1-1 in their past five games, including wins at the first-place Washington Capitals and home against the Penguins, and a shootout loss to the Bruins on April 13. Buffalo’s young players look like they’re having fun. Casey Mittelstadt, a 22-year-old forward, has scored 10 points (seven goals, two game-winning goals, three assists) in his past 11 games. Rasmus Dahlin, a 21-year-old defenseman, has scored eight points (two goals, six assists) and is a plus-1 in his past 10 after he scored 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) and was minus-33 in his first 35. The Bruins are hot, but the Sabres should give them a challenge. — Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor


Maple Leafs seek to end losing streak

The Toronto Maple Leafs look to end a four-game skid (0-2-2) when they visit the Vancouver Canucks (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, NHL.TV) in the finale of their two-game set. The Canucks will try to build on their 3-2 overtime win Sunday, their first game since March 24 because of pause due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Vancouver rallied from down 2-0 and won on center Bo Horvat‘s OT goal and 37 saves by Braden Holtby. The Maple Leafs lead the seven-team Scotia North Division by four points over the second-place Winnipeg Jets and the Canucks are sixth, 10 points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The top four teams make the playoffs. — William Douglas, staff writer


Battle of New York

The Rangers are on a roll. They swept a four-game set from the New Jersey Devils and are 8-1-2 in their past 11 games, bringing them within four points of the Bruins for fourth in the East, where the top four teams will make the playoffs. Standing in their way are the Islanders, who are two points behind the first-place Capitals entering their game against the Rangers (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, MSG+, MSG 2, NHL.TV). One key for the Rangers is center Mika Zibanejad, who has scored nine points (three goals, six assists) during a six-game point streak. The Islanders are 2-3-0 in their past five games but coming off a 1-0 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Goalie Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves for his third shutout of the season, tying him with Glenn Resch for the second-most in one season by an Islanders rookie behind Resch’s seven shutouts in 1975-76. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer


Tuesday schedule

Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MSG-B, NESNplus, NHL.TV)

Taylor Hall has scored three points (two goals, one assist) in four games since the forward was acquired by the Bruins in a trade with the Sabres on April 12. Though Buffalo is last in the East and will miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, it is 6-3-2 since going 0-15-3 from Feb. 25-March 29. 

New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET (ATTSN-PT, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV)

How the Penguins fare in three consecutive games against the Devils could help determine their playoff position. Pittsburgh is third in the East, one point behind the second-place Islanders, three back of the first-place Capitals and three ahead of the Bruins. New Jersey has lost six in a row and could be eliminated from playoff contention with a regulation loss.

New York Rangers at New York Islanders, 7 p.m. ET (TVAS, MSG+, MSG 2, NHL.TV)

Seven of the Rangers’ final 11 games are against the Capitals, Islanders and Bruins. The Islanders are 6-3-0 since April 1. Each of their past five wins have been by one goal, including four in overtime or the shootout.

Carolina Hurricanes at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (BSFL, BSSO, NHL.TV)

The Discover Central Division rivals end a back-to-back set and face off for the final time in the regular season. The Hurricanes are tied with the Florida Panthers for first in the eight-team division, one point ahead of the Lightning. 

Columbus Blue Jackets at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. ET (BSSUN, BSOH, NHL.TV)

Goalie Spencer Knight is expected to make his NHL debut for the Panthers after the No. 13 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract March 31. Florida is 6-0-1 against Columbus, which has lost six in a row (0-5-1) and is 2-11-2 in its past 15 games.

Detroit Red Wings at Dallas Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET (BSSW+, BSDET+, NHL.TV)

The Stars are making a late push for the playoffs in the Central. They’re three points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators after a 3-2 shootout win against the Red Wings on Monday.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Vancouver Canucks, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN+, SN, NHL.TV)

The Canucks play the second of 19 scheduled games in 32 days to end the regular season, 12 in 19 days in May, trailing the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens by 10 points in the North. The Maple Leafs will be without Zach Hyman for at least two weeks because of a knee injury sustained Sunday. The forward is their fourth-leading scorer with 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists).

Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN+, BSW, KDOC, BSW+, NHL.TV)

The Kings are seven points behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the eight-team Honda West Division. A win by the last-place Ducks in any fashion will clinch a playoff berth for the idle Vegas Golden Knights for the fourth time in each of their first four seasons in the NHL.

Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues, postponed

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