Both teams will try to continue the winning series on Saturday in the double head of "Hockey Night in Canada".
In the first match, Toronto Apple Lifes (18-8-0) will try to win the fourth win in a row when they visit the Minnesota Wild (7:00 ET, PS, CH1, FS-H +, NHL.TV) . The Xcel Energy Center is rarely a pleasant stop for Maple Leafs, who lost in the last five visits and are 2-6-1, as Wild went into the NHL in 2000. Minnesota (14-9-2) lost the last two games (0-2-0).
The Golden Knights of Vegas, one of the hottest NHL teams, are visiting Edmonton Eilers in the second game (10:00 ET, PS, CH, CH1, CH360, CITY, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TT). The Golden Knights (14-12-1) began a slow start after the best season of the NHL expansion team (51-24-7) and the Stanley Cup final but looked much more like their 2017-18 in their winning last five matches. Eulers (12-11-2) won matches of 3-1-1 after Ken Hitchcock replaced Todd McLean as coach on Nov. 20.
Here are 5 stories to keep an eye on:
Toronto Center Austin Matthews returned on Wednesday after missing 14 matches with a left-hand injury and did not show bad effects, scoring two goals with a 5-3 win over San Jose Sharks. He has 19 points (12 goals, seven assists) in 12 matches. He said he really did not get his legs up to the third period against San Jose, so he should be even better in his second game. Having Matthews in the composition is particularly useful for the powerful game; Toronto was happy on Wednesday against the team that entered with the NHL penalty from 1st place. Matthews played against Minnesota twice in three NHL seasons, scoring one goal.
Video: Looking at what Matthews is doing as a threat
Andersen is working for Maple Leafs
For all of their firepower, "Maple Leafs" gives opponents many chances of achieving results. That's why the goalkeeper Frederick Andersen is so important. He faces an average of more than 33 strikes per goal for 60 minutes in 21 starts, but divides the NHL with 14 wins (14-7-0) with Mark-André Flerie (14-8-0) of the Golden Knights. He also has goals – an average of 2.26 and a saved percentage of .932. Andersen does not have the same attention as team-mates like Matthews and John Tavares but he is on his way to go through his career in the NHL with 38 wins set last season and moved to the top level of goalkeepers for his performance and durability.
Video: CBJ @ TOR: Andersen denies an offer to break Anderson
Boudreau wants more sand from wild
Minnesota coach Bruce Budro was not happy after losing Diego 4-2 to Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, saying his team was overwhelming in the majority of the match. "We are not a team that can be a sympathetic team," he said. "We are a rough-it-out, blue-collar group. When we try to be sympathetic at the end of shifts, it costs you all the time." This is a great game for the Wild, who will spend the next week of the race in West Canada with three games.
Flirry carrying the Golden Knights
The biggest reason for a twist from Vegas is simple: Fleury has found its game. He won eight goals in winning all five matches during the Golden Knights. His GAA has improved to 2.39, his saving percentage is up to 0.911 and he leads the NHL with five closures, including two for the winning streak. It's the type of goal they gave last season. With a backup Malcolm Suban struggling (0-4-0, 4,03, .859), the Golden Knights know they will go as far as Fleury can take.
Video: VGK @ VAN: Flyer retains lead with heavy savings
Oilers are turning things around
Hitchcock, born in Edmonton and the third coach of the NHL history coach (1,541 wins), already has an impact on the Ellers. They looked more responsive defensive, avoiding a style of escape and a gun for a firmer style. Oilers scored 11 goals in five games under Hitchcock, but allowed 12, including two goals with 5-2 in Los Angeles. Hitchcock gave enough time for ice to his best player, a two-time NHL champion for scoring Connor McDavid. Edmonton's No. 1 center played at least 23:25 in each of the five matches of the coach after seeing a lot of time for ice once in the previous 13 games. Hitchcock also gave more time for the goalkeeper to play Mikko Koskinen (7-2-1, 2.26 GAA, .924 save percentage), which has exceeded Cam Talbot and may end up with taking the job number 1.