On Tap: Crosby, Panarin look to stay hot when Penguins visit Rangers

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 five games Friday.

Crosby vs. Panarin in marquee matchup

The New York Rangers look to tighten the Metropolitan Division race with a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, ATTSN, NHLN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NHL LIVE). The Rangers (40-19-5) are three points behind the Penguins (39-16-10) for second in the division. New York features one of the hottest players in the NHL in forward Artemi Panarin, who has scored 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in the past 12 games. Panarin has used his elite playmaking ability to help linemate Chris Kreider establish an NHL career-high in goals with 42. As always, the Penguins are led by captain Sidney Crosby, who has scored eight goals in his past 11 games. The center has scored at least one point in 22 of his past 26 games and has scored 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists) during that span. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Kessel to tie Jarvis in consecutive games

Forward Phil Kessel is expected to play in his 964th consecutive regular-season game to tie Doug Jarvis for the second longest consecutive game streak in NHL history when the Arizona Coyotes visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome (9 p.m. ET; SNW, BSAZ, ESPN+, NHL LIVE ). After tying Jarvis, Kessel will trail only Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle, who played in his 986th consecutive game Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. Yandle passed Jarvis on Jan. 25. Arizona (20-39-4) has lost three-straight after winning six of seven. Calgary (38-17-8) will look to add to its five-point lead on the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Sabers try to extend win streak

The Buffalo Sabers seek their longest win streak of the season when they host the Washington Capitals at KeyBank Center (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, NBCSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Sabers (23-33-8) have won three in a row after their 4-3 shootout victory against the Penguins on Wednesday. The Sabers won three in a row from Oct. 14-19. The Capitals (35-20-10) aim to bounce back from a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday and 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Washington plays the first half of back-to-back games. It hosts the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. –William Douglas, staff writer.

Friday schedule

Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabers (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, NBCSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Washington, 7-2-1 in its past 10 games, looks to sweep the three-game season series against Buffalo. Forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has scored 13 points (seven goals, six assists) during a 10-game point streak. Buffalo is 7-3-0 in its past 10 games. Tagus Thompson has scored six points (four goals, two assists) in his past five games, including two goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. If Washington gets one point against the Sabers, the Montreal Canadiens will be eliminated from playoff contention.

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG+, ATTSN-PT, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NHL LIVE)

Forward Rickard Rakell has been held off the scoresheet in his first two games with the Penguins but has four shots on goal and has looked dangerous since being acquired in a trade from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. Pittsburgh can reach the 40-win mark in a season in 66 games or fewer for the sixth time in its history and first since 2016-17 (64 games). Forward Andrew Coppacquired by the Rangers in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, had two assists in his debut with New York on Tuesday, a 7-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Winnipeg Jets (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, BSOH, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Forward Patrick Laine will play the Jets for the first time since he was traded to the Blue Jackets on January 23, 2021 with forward Jack Roslovic for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 3rd-round pick in 2022 NHL Draft. Laine has scored 48 points in 45 games this season for the Blue Jackets (32-29-3). Forward Kyle Connor has scored 11 goals in his past 14 games for the Jets (30-25-10).

Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; ALT, NBCSP, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Artturi Lehkonen is expected to play his first game with the Avalanche (45-14-5) since being acquired in a trade with the Canadiens on Monday. The forward was unable to play in Colorado’s 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday because he was awaiting immigration clearance. The Flyers (21-32-11) defeated the St Louis Blues 5-2 on Thursday for their first road win since a 3-2 overtime victory at the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 29 (0-12-1).

Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames (9 p.m. ET; SNW, BSAZ, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Forward Clayton Keller has scored 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in his past 10 games for the Coyotes, who open a three-game road trip. The Flames are 15-2-2 at home since Jan. 18 but lost 4-3 to the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

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