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What to Watch: Sabres-Islanders begin 'Hockey Day in America' on Sunday

Flyers-Penguins playing three games, Maple Leafs-Canucks among highlights of upcoming week

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

What to Watch: Week 8

What to Watch: Sunday takes center stage in Week 8

Get ready for a jam-packed Sunday, as the Sabres, Islanders, Lightning, Blackhawks, Devils, Bruins, Rangers and Penguins play on NBC and NBCSN

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Each Monday, we list the can't-miss games for the upcoming week. Grab your remote. This is "NHL What to Watch."

Battle of Pennsylvania 

Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Thursday, 7 p.m. ET; SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, ATTSN-PT, NBCSP, NHL.TV
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET; TVAS, ATTSN-PT, NBCSP, NHL.TV

The Flyers have become one of the best stories in a season disrupted so much by the coronavirus pandemic, and they might be just getting started.

They had four games postponed in February, and have had as many as six players, including four of their top-six forwards, unavailable because of the NHL COVID-19 protocol. Yet at 11-4-3, they have the best record in the MassMutual East Division (.694 points percentage) and everyone back entering Monday. 

Philadelphia opened the season with consecutive lopsided wins at home against Pittsburgh, 6-3 on Jan. 13 and 5-2 on Jan. 15. Now we have the Battle of Pennsylvania, three games in a row in Pittsburgh, starting Tuesday on NBCSN. It will feel like a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Stat of the week

107 -- Points Sidney Crosby has scored in 72 games against the Flyers (45 goals, 62 assists), second most against any team in his NHL career. The Penguins center has scored 120 points (38 goals, 82 assists) in 73 games against the New York Islanders. He is the only active player to score 100 points against any opponent.


Comeback B's

Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins
Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN

Let's say you're watching "Wednesday Night Hockey" on NBCSN, and the Capitals take the lead against the Bruins at TD Garden.

Don't touch that remote.

The teams have played twice this season, and each time the Bruins have rallied from three goals down to earn at least a point.

On Jan. 30 at Capital One Arena, the Capitals led 3-0 in the second period, then Nick Ritchie, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy scored for the Bruins to make it 3-3, the tying goal coming with 58 seconds left in regulation. Alex Ovechkin scored 28 seconds into overtime to give Washington a 4-3 win.

Two days later in the same building, the Capitals led 3-0 in the second period again. One of the goals came from defenseman Zdeno Chara, the former Bruins captain. But David Pastrnak scored twice, and Craig Smith, Brandon Carlo and Marchand followed to give Boston a 5-3 win. The go-ahead goal came with 2:37 left in regulation.

This will be Chara's first game in Boston since he signed with Washington as a free agent Dec. 30.


Toronto's time?

Toronto Maple Leafs at Vancouver Canucks
Thursday, 10 p.m. ET; SNP, TSN4, NHL.TV
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SNO, SNP, NHL.TV

The Maple Leafs entered Monday with a record of 16-4-2, which is the best in the NHL (.773 points percentage) and a seven-point lead over the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Scotia North Division, the biggest lead of any team in any division. 

This could be a chance to pull ahead even more.

These teams have played three times this season, and Toronto has three wins by a combined score of 15-5. The Maple Leafs have never won four games against the Canucks in a season, but they have won five straight against them dating to Dec. 10, 2019.

Vancouver averages 3.54 goals against per game, third-most in the League. Toronto averages 3.55 goals per game, second-most in the League.


Stars and stripes

Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders
Sunday, 12 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, SN1

"Hockey Day in America" will feature players born in the United States, starting with Jack Eichel of the Sabres and Anders Lee of the Islanders on NBC.

Eichel, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) this season. Well, so does Lee, the No. 152 pick in 2009, who has nine goals and five assists. Four of his goals have come as the Islanders have gone 3-0-0 against the Sabres.

Afterward, it's the Tampa Bay Lightning visiting the Chicago Blackhawks (2:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, SNW, TVAS, NBCSCH, NHL.TV), the New Jersey Devils at the Boston Bruins (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, SNW, NESN, NHL.TV) and the New York Rangers at the Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, ATTSN-PT, MSG, NHL.TV).

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, the No. 1 pick the 2007 NHL Draft, has 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists). He's tied for second in the League with Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers. Kane, who scored his 400th NHL goal on Sunday, is on schedule to play his 1,000th NHL game Sunday. 

Other United States-born players to include Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat, Lightning forward Tyler Johnson, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, Devils center Jack Hughes, Penguins forward Jake Guentzel and Rangers defenseman Adam Fox.

NHL Stats contributed to this report.

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