NHL On Tap: Nelson leads Islanders into Seattle to face Kraken

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 Sunday.

Brock to the future for Islanders

The New York Islanders have won three in a row heading into their game against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena (8 pm ET; ESPN, SN) that starts a four-game Western road trip, and Brock Nelson has had his fingerprints all over this run. The forward has four assists in the three games to give him the team scoring lead with 37 points (15 goals and 22 assists) in 37 games, one ahead of forward Matthew Barzal. Nelson’s 22 assists equals his total from 72 games last season. Seattle defenseman Adam Larson is on a five-game assists streak, which ties the team record shared by Justin Schultz, Alex Wennberg other Vince Dunn. — Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial

Hurricanes looking for 11th consecutive victory

The Carolina Hurricanes have set a new franchise record with 10 consecutive wins and look for 11 in a row when they take on the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center (3 pm ET; SN, MSGSN, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW). In theory, the game is between almost equally matched teams, with the Hurricanes 24-6-6 and the Devils 23-11-2. But each are trending in opposite directions, with the Hurricanes passing the Devils for first in the Metropolitan Division. New Jersey is a 2-7-1 slide but coming off a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. The Hurricanes have gotten two consecutive shutouts from Anti Raanta and are on a 16-game point streak (14-0-2), the longest in the NHL this season. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Lafreniere back for Rangers after healthy scratch

Alexis Lafreniere, the no. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, returns to the lineup for the New York Rangers at the Florida Panthers (5 pm ET; NHLN, SN, SN1, BSFL, MSG, SN NOW) after he was a healthy scratch for a 2-1 shootout loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday that dropped New York to 19-12-6 and outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference. “It’s part of building a young man,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s 21 years old.” Lafreniere was on the third line at practice Saturday, to the left of Filip Chytil other Jimmy Vesey. He has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 36 games this season, is without a goal since Dec. 7 (eight games) and in the final season of his entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent. The Panthers (16-17-4) have lost four of five. Capt Alexander Barkov led them with 95 points (37 goals, 58 assists) in 76 regular-season games during the 2022 calendar year. He matched his NHL career-high of five points (three goals, two assists) in a 7-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 28, his first game back after missing three with a knee injury. — Jon Lane, staff writer

Sunday games

Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils (3 pm ET; SN, MSGSN, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW)

The Hurricanes finished December with 25 points (12-0-1), tied for the second-most in a calendar month in Carolina/Hartford Whalers history (10-2-5 in March 2017). They are the fifth team in NHL history with at least four shutouts during a winning streak of 10-plus games. Devil’s center Jack Hughes has 20 goals in 36 games, including 13 in his past 16. Six different players in Devils/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts history have reached the mark in fewer games: Paul Gardner (23 in 1977-78), Claude Lemieux (27 in 1991-92), John MacLean (29 in 1990-91 and 31 in 1988-89), Lanny McDonald (32 in 1979-80), Sylvain Turgeon (33 in 1989-90) and Zach Parise (35 in 2008-09).

New York Rangers at Florida Panthers (5 pm ET; NHLN, SN, SN1, BSFL, MSG, SN NOW)

The Rangers are 8-3-4 in their past 15 games, while averaging 3.93 goals per game and Artemi Panarin on a 10-game point streak (four goals, 15 assists), against the Panthers. Former New York forward Eric Staal and defenseman Marc Staal have combined for eight assists and 11 points (three goals, eight assists) over Florida’s past 15 games.

San Jose Sharks at Chicago Blackhawks (7 pm ET; NBCSCH, NBCSCA, ESPN+, SN NOW)

Eric Karlsson is on an NHL career-high 13-game assist streak for San Jose (11-20-7). The Blackhawks (8-23-4) are 12-5-2 in their past 19 games against the Sharks at United Center since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Buffalo Sabers at Ottawa Senators (7 pm ET; TSN5, RDS2, MSG-B, ESPN+, SN NOW)

The Sabers (18-14-2) have won six in a row, defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime on Saturday. defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is three points from 200 in the NHL. Alex DeBrincat has at least one point in 13 of his past 14 games (seven goals, 12 assists) for the Senators (16-17-3).

New York Islanders at Seattle Kraken (8 pm ET; ESPN, SN)

Barzal will play his 400th NHL game and is one goal from 100th Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin is quietly putting together a Vezina Trophy-worthy season. Though he’s 13-11-1, his .926 save percentage is fourth among goalies with at least 15 appearances. Seattle forward Matty Beniers has 25 points in 34 games to lead all rookies in scoring and his 11 goals are tied with Dallas Stars forward Wyatt Johnston. The Kraken are in search of their 10th home win this season (9-8-2). They can reach the mark in their 19th game after doing so in their 30th last season.

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