NHL: 5 things to know for Thursday night

The Leafs go for seven in a row, the Canadiens honour Saku Koivu and the Penguins get Marc-Andre Fleury back. Here's more on what you need to know for Thursday night hockey.

Leafs go for longest winning streak in 10 years; Pens' Fleury back in net

Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs will try to earn the team's longest winning streak in more than 10 years with a win over the Hurricanes Thursday. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The Leafs go for seven in a row, the Canadiens honour Saku Koivu and the Penguins get Marc-Andre Fleury back.

Here's more on what you need to know for Thursday night hockey.

Leafs try to make it 7

After an incredible turnaround for the Toronto Maple Leafs (19-9-3), the team has a chance at its longest winning streak in more than a decade if it can beat the Carolina Hurricanes (8-19-3) on the road. A win for Toronto would be its seventh in a row, the longest streak for the team since it won eight straight between Nov. 22, and Dec. 3, 2003. The Leafs have won six in a row three times since then, once in the 2005-2006 season, once in the 2013-2014 season and the current streak. Interestingly, the winning streaks have all come between November and January.

Lucky for the Leafs, the Hurricanes have played poorly this season, sitting dead last in the NHL with only 19 points. Carolina has lost six straight games and six of seven home games while scoring only 62 goals this season. The Leafs are a much different story, scoring 107 goals, the second-highest tally in the NHL.

Phil Kessel scored two goals in the final five minutes of a 6-2 victory over the Ducks on Tuesday, giving him six goals over the last eight games, and Nazem Kadri had a beautiful goal worth a second look.

Canadiens honour Koivu

The Bell Centre will be full of energy tonight as the Montreal Canadiens (20-10-2) honour former captain Saku Koivu before their game against the Anaheim Ducks (21-7-5). Koivu was Montreal's captain for nine seasons from the 2000-2001 campaign until 2008-2009. He spent his last five seasons with the Ducks before retiring in September.

Koivu has always had a special place in the hearts of Habs fans because of his courageous battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that forced him to miss much of his second season as captain. He returned for the final three games of that season.

Watch his return to the ice on April 9, 2002 in the video below:

Details on how the team plans to honour Koivu are not yet known.

Montreal is on a three-game winning streak, coming off a 4-1 assault of the Hurricanes on Tuesday that featured Alex Galchenyuk scoring his first hat trick.

Anaheim will be looking to rebound after being downed by the Leafs 6-2, ending a seven-game winning streak for the Ducks.

Penguins' Fleury back

The Pittsburgh Penguins (20-6-4) will have some extra players when they face off against the Colorado Avalanche (10-13-7). Coach Mike Johnston has confirmed that goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start after testing negative for the mumps and defenceman Scott Harrington will get to play in his first NHL game.

Sidney Crosby is a "game-time decision" but is past the infectious stage of the disease. Crosby would be a welcome boost as he has eight points in five career games against the Avalanche.

Colorado has dropped five of it's last six games.

Oilers looking for rare win

The lowly Edmonton Oilers (7-19-6) will play the San Jose Sharks (17-11-4) for the third time in less than two weeks. Edmonton has won only once since Nov. 11, but the team they beat was the Sharks. That victory came on Dec. 7 by a 2-1 margin before the Oilers lost to the Sharks 5-2 in their very next game. 

The Sharks are going for a fourth win in a row and will be a challenge for Edmonton and interim head coach Todd Nelson, whose first game behind the Oilers' bench saw the team earn a point in a  2-1 overtime loss to the Coyotes on Tuesday.

Goal scoring has been a problem for Edmonton, which has only 66 this season and 18 over its last 13 games. Jordan Eberle hasn't had a point in four games but has done well against the Sharks, with nine points over a six-game streak against San Jose.

Blue Jackets go for 8th straight win

The Columbus Bluejackets (13-15-2) will aim to match a franchise-record eight wins in a row when they host the Washington Capitals (14-10-6). This would be the second season in a row where Columbus has won eight straight.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, has started all seven wins, posting a 1.63 goals-against average over that stretch, and will get the start tonight.

There are two other games tonight, featuring the Blues taking on the Kings and the Panthers visiting the Flyers.


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