Five games this Sunday evening and here’s five things to get you set for the action.
Reminder of the meltdown
Toronto fans will get an up-close look at the team who broke their hearts in last year’s playoffs for the first time this season as the Bruins visit the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs clawed back in their first round series against the B’s to force an unlikely Game 7. They held a 4-1 lead in the third period, minutes away from closing out the series, before crumbling historically and falling in OT. HBO will be there to document the action in Toronto’s first Sunday home game since 2003. Last night, the Bruins pulled off another dramatic comeback when they tied with the goalie pulled and beat Pittsburgh with 13 seconds left in regulation. These teams last met Nov. 9 in Boston, the Bruins prevailing 3-1.
When the Hawks and Cats square off Sunday night, it will be Dale Tallon’s current team, not his former team, looking to extend a win streak. The Panthers have won two straight after beating their former Southeast Division mates in Winnipeg and following that with a road victory over Detroit. Trending the opposite direction, the Hawks are 0-2-1 in their past three games.
Staal stalled yet again
The Rangers have rounded into form after a rocky start, and they’ve done so with a healthy Marc Staal, who missed more than half of last season with a concussion. Unfortunately, the C-word may be an issue once again for Staal, who took a hit from New Jersey’s Reid Boucher and left the game last night. The prognosis for Staal should become clear by Sunday evening, but he likely won’t play Sunday against the Capitals. Bad news for the Blueshirts, potentially bad news for Team Canada.
Sruggling Sharks shuffle the deck
If they lose today, that’ll make three straight defeats for the Sharks, who lost 5-1 to Pittsburgh and 5-3 to Carolina this week. Allowing 10 goals in two games is a nasty blip in a season that has gone exceedingly well for San Jose. Coach Todd McLellan is shuffling his lines for this one, moving Joe Pavelski up to the second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. His first line of Hertl-Thornton-Burns remains intact.
The battle for second place
The Rangers and Caps are separated by just a point in the Metropolitan Division and New York can leapfrog Washington into second with a regulation win this evening. This is the second of a nine-game homestand for the Rangers, who have the opportunity to capture some crucial points if they rebound from yesterday’s OT loss and capitalize on home ice advantage. These clubs are bitter rivals after matching up in the playoffs in recent years and they tend to produce tight, low-scoring games.