As we come out of the All-Star break, a look ahead to the must-watch games on this week's NHL schedule:
Tuesday, Feb. 2: Panthers at Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN)Is it too early to start talking possible Eastern Conference Final preview? The Caps and Cats kick off the second half of the season as two of the hottest teams in the league, but the Panthers might have more at stake in this one. This will be their first nationally televised game this season, and much like the Hurricanes did last week, they’ll want to make a good impression. The Panthers have won 15 straight with All-Star Aaron Ekblad in the lineup but they’ll be up against a Washington team that had won 12 in a row at the Verizon Center before dropping its pre-break finale to the Flyers in OT. Caps coach Barry Trotz already has suggested he’ll give All-Star goalie Braden Holtby the night off, so look for Philipp Grubauer between the pipes for Washington. That’s not much of a break for the Panthers: Grubauer has won three of his past four decisions, posting a .955 save percentage in the process.
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