Zdeno Chara, already with a goal against his former club this season, is ready to return to Boston for the first time as a member of the Capitals.
* Andrei Vasilevskiy became the first goaltender in franchise history to post three straight shutouts and helped the Lightning extend the League’s longest active win streak to five games.
* With fans in their stands for the first time this season, the Blue Jackets and Penguins gave them something to cheer for after skating to wins.
TRIO OF DIVISION LEADERS EYE FOUR-GAME WIN STREAKS
Three of four divisional leaders are in action tonight – including two on national telecasts – with each vying for their fourth consecutive win. The MassMutual East Division-leading Capitals (12-5-4, 28 points) open an NBCSN doubleheader against the Bruins; the Maple Leafs (17-4-2, 36 points) eye a third straight shutout against the Oilers in another Scotia North Division clash on Sportsnet; and the Golden Knights (13-4-1, 27 points) will look to fend off the surging Wild atop the Honda West Division.
* Zdeno Chara is set to return to TD Garden tonight for the first time as a member of the Capitals. Chara, who last played in Boston as a visitor on March 16, 2006 with Ottawa, faced his former team for the first time on Jan. 30 and scored against them two nights later as the clubs split their two prior meetings this season. Chara’s only goal as a visitor in Boston came on Nov. 28, 1999 as a member of the Islanders.
* The Maple Leafs have shut out the Oilers – who had been the NHL’s highest-scoring team entering their matchup Saturday – in each of the past two games, with Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson recording one shutout apiece. Toronto will look to become the second team this season (PHI vs. BUF) and ninth since 2005-06 to shut out the same opponent in three consecutive meetings at any point within a single regular season.
* The Golden Knights will look to continue their momentum against the Wild following a multi-goal, third-period comeback victory on Monday that saw Mark Stone collect a primary assist on all five goals in the club’s first home game with fans in attendance since March 3, 2020. Stone now has 13 assists in 13 career games against the Wild, tied for his third-highest total against one club behind Toronto (20 A in 23 GP) and Anaheim (14 A in 19 GP).
* Each team in the Honda West Division will be in action tonight, including the Blues and Ducks who will close the NBCSN doubleheader with their second straight head-to-head matchup. St. Louis owns an active seven-game winning streak in Anaheim, tied for its third-longest road winning streak against one franchise behind a 9-0-0 run at Arizona and 8-0-0 stretch at Vancouver.
VASILEVSKIY EARNS SHUTOUT TO HELP LIGHTNING EXTEND WIN STREAK
Ondrej Palat scored his second game-winning goal in as many contests, while Andrei Vasilevskiy posted his third straight shutout as the Lightning extended the League’s longest active win streak to five games.
* Vasilevskiy became the first Lightning goaltender to post a shutout streak of three straight games against the same opponent (regular season and playoffs), after he also blanked the Stars in their first contest of the season on Saturday and in Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final to help Tampa Bay win its second Cup in franchise history.
* The Lightning also became the second defending champion in NHL history to shut out their finalist opponent in each of the first two meetings the following season. Patrick Roy and the Avalanche first accomplished the feat in 2001-02 against Martin Brodeur and the Devils (2-0 W on Nov. 18, 2001 & 2-0 W on March 4, 2002).
BLUE JACKETS, PENGUINS SKATE TO WINS WITH FANS IN THE STANDS
The Blue Jackets and Penguins each skated to wins after welcoming fans into their arena for the first time in 2020-21:
* Cam Atkinson (1-1—2) opened the scoring for the fifth time this season with his League-leading fourth shorthanded goal. Atkinson, who has recorded four shorthanded tallies in a season one other time in his career (2018-19), is one shy of matching Rick Nash (5 in 2008-09) for the most by a Blue Jackets player in a single campaign. Since he entered the League in 2011-12, only one player has more.
* Joel Farabee gave Philadelphia an early lead, but Kasperi Kapanen scored two of Pittsburgh’s subsequent five goals to help the Penguins earn their first win over their division rivals in 2020-21. Eleven of their 12 victories this season have been in come-from-behind fashion, the most among all teams.
ICYMI: With PPG Paints Arena welcoming fans for the first time this season, the Penguins marked the 28-year anniversary of Mario Lemieux’s unforgettable return to the lineup in Philadelphia – which saw the Spectrum faithful applaud their longtime foe’s triumphant return from treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This time, Penguins fans set the rivalry aside to recognize Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom in his first game in Pittsburgh since being diagnosed with, and subsequently overcoming, Ewing’s sarcoma.
RANGERS EARN WIN IN BACK-AND-FORTH AFFAIR
The Rangers (00:28) and Sabres (00:55) exchanged goals in the opening minute of the game, but Chris Kreider scored the game winner with his team-leading 10th tally of the season as New York earned a win in its 20th contest of 2020-21. It marked the first time two teams each scored in the first minute of a regular-season game since Los Angeles (00:16) and Edmonton (00:38) did so on March 26, 2016.