* The two teams responsible for the last three Stanley Cup championships will be featured tonight on ESPN, TVA Sports, Sportsnet and Sportsnet 360 when the Avalanche visit the Lightning.
* Players age 23 or younger played a crucial role in a Rangers victory, including a career-high three assists from defenseman K’Andre Miller.
* Jamie Benn reached the 20-goal mark for the 10th time in his career to help the Central Division-leading Stars collect their 30th win of 2022-23.
BATTLE OF RECENT CUP CHAMPS SET FOR ESPN, SPORTSNET, TVA SPORTS
The only two teams to claim a Stanley Cup championship since 2020 will face off nationally in the U.S. (ESPN) and Canada (SNO, SNE, SN360, TVAS) when the Avalanche (27-18-4, 58 points) visit the Lightning (32-16-2, 66 points) in the first contest between the clubs since meeting in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.
* The Avalanche dethroned the two-time defending champion Lightning in six games in the 2022 Final to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history (also 1995‑96 and 2000‑01) and prevent the Lightning from becoming the first three-peat winners since the Islanders (1980-83). Colorado claimed its championship by going 16‑4 in the playoffs, becoming the sixth team since 1987 (when all four rounds went to the best-of-seven format) to capture the Stanley Cup with four or fewer postseason losses.
* Sixteen Avalanche players who appeared in the Cup-clinching Game 6 are still with the team (10 forwards, 5 defensemen, 1 goaltender) while the Lightning also have 16 players remaining from the contest (10 forwards, 4 defensemen, 2 goaltenders).
* The Lightning are led offensively by Nikita Kucherov (20-55—75 in 50 GP), who has reached 75 points in 50 games or fewer for the second time in his career. He previously hit the 75-point mark in 45 games in 2018-19, a season in which he captured the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy after finishing with 41-87—128 in 82 GP.
* Nathan MacKinnon (14-41—55 in 38 GP) has been Colorado’s catalyst offensively while averaging 1.45 points per game in 2022-23. Since the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995-96, only one player has finished a season averaging a higher point-per-game rate (min. 30 GP): Joe Sakic (1.46 in 1995-96).
* The game will also pit two of the League’s most decorated active defensemen against each other, in Colorado’s Cale Makar (13-32—45 in 45 GP) and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman (4-30—34 in 47 GP). Since Makar’s first regular season in the NHL in 2019-20, the pair rank second and third in regular-season points by a defenseman (Makar: 2nd; Hedman: 3rd) and first and second in postseason points by a blueliner (Hedman: 1st; Makar: 2nd).
* Before the game, fans can relive Colorado’s memorable 2021-22 season and 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs run with the ESPN+ premiere of 2022 Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup Film. CLICK HERE to watch the trailer.
HORVAT SET TO FACE FORMER TEAM THREE GAMES INTO ISLANDERS TENURE
After playing parts of nine seasons with the Canucks to start his career and captaining the club since the 2019-20 campaign, Bo Horvat will be facing his former team for the first time since being acquired by the Islanders in a trade Jan. 30.
* Horvat departed Vancouver ranking among the top 10 in multiple all-time franchise lists, including goals, points, power-play goals, shorthanded goals and overtime winners. Should Horvat find the score sheet Thursday, he would join Ottawa’s Claude Giroux (1-0—1 vs. PHI on Nov. 5, 2022) as the second player this season to record a point in their first game against the former team they captained.
YOUNGSTERS LEAD RANGERS TO THIRD STRAIGHT WIN
Twenty-three-year-olds K’Andre Miller (0-3—3) and Filip Chytil (1-0—1) each had notable performances to help the Rangers (29-14-8, 66 points) earn their third straight victory and move within three points of the idle Devils (33-13-4, 70 points) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
* Miller assisted on each of New York’s first three goals to record his first career three-point game. Miller (23 years, 18 days) became the fifth different Rangers defenseman age 23 or younger to post a three-assist performance since 1990-91, with Adam Fox (21 years, 319 days on Jan. 2, 2020) last achieving the feat.
* Chytil (23 years, 156 days) found the back of the net for the fifth straight game to match his career high (also 5 GP in 2018-19). He became just the second player in Rangers history with multiple goal streaks of that length at age 23 or younger, joining Tomas Sandstrom (5 GP in 1984-85 & 1986-87).
* Alexis Lafreniere (1-0—1; 21 years, 120 days) and Kaapo Kakko (0-1—1; 21 years, 360 days) also found the score sheet as the Rangers received six points from players age 23 or younger in their win.
BENN AND SEGUIN LIFT STARS TO 30TH WIN
Jamie Benn (1-0—1) scored to reach the 20-goal mark and Tyler Seguin (0-1—1) collected his 600th career point with Dallas as the Central Division-leading Stars (30-13-10, 70 points) improved to 15-5-6 at American Airlines Center this season. Dallas, 15-8-4 as the visitor in 2022-23, joined Boston and Carolina as just the third team with at least 15 home wins and 15 road wins.
* Benn, the third Stars skater to reach the 20-goal mark this season, hit the plateau for the 10th time in his career and first since 2018-19 (27-26—53 in 78 GP). Buffalo (4) and Edmonton (4) are the only teams with more 20-goal scorers in 2022-23.
* Mikael Backlund talks charity work, ALS awareness in Q&A with NHL.com
* Avalanche Stanley Cup film to debut Thursday on ESPN+
* NHL Trade Deadline difficult time for players, coaches, GMs
* NHL All-Stars marvel at No. 1-ranked Draft prospect Connor Bedard
* Morgan Frost, Travis Konecny play football during Flyers practice