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Weekend Preview: Matthew Tkachuk poised to meet Calgary Flames

Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk will come up against the Calgary Flames for the first time since choosing to leave the Canadian outfit.

The 24-year-old was traded to the Panthers in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, who are also excited for the opportunity to get one over on their former employers.

Tkachuk poised to meet Flames

Tkachuk has had a bright start to life in Florida who are +1500 to win the Stanley Cup, scoring 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 15 games which leads the team.

His form has helped the Panthers to a 9-7-1 record which ranks fifth in the Atlantic Division.

Tkachuk spent six seasons with the Flames before refusing to sign a new contract causing the trade.

Huberdeau, 29, lead the Panthers with 115 points last season (30 goals, 85 assists) which was his tenth and best season with the organisation.

Weegar, 28, also enjoyed a career year over 2021/22, his fifth full season with Florida, posting 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) in 80 games from defence.

The pair have taken a while longer than Tkachuk to fit into their new surroundings with Huberdeau scoring eight points (two goals, six assists) in 12 games and Weegar four assists in 16 games.

The Flames are fifth in the Pacific Division with a 7-7-2 record and +1600 to win the Stanley Cup.

Sabres seek Toronto relief

The Buffalo Sabres had a strong start to the NHL season but having lost their past seven games, have slipped to seventh in the Atlantic Division (7-10-0).

On Sunday they face rivals Toronto Maple Leafs (9-5-4) at Scotiabank Arena looing to break the unwanted streak against a team who they have a strong recent record against.

Over 2021/22 the Sabres went 3-1-0 against the Leafs and outscored them 19-10.

It won't be an easy task though, with the Leafs going 6-1-2 in their past eight games and each of their core players - Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander - averaging at least a point per game over the stretch.

Positively for the Sabres, forward Tage Thompson has eight points (five goals, three assists) during a six-game point streak which has helped him lead the team with 12 goals and 22 points.

The 25-year-old was handed a 7-year, $50-million contract in the off-season and the Sabres' faith in him is being well rewarded.

Buffalo are +425 to reach the playoffs for the first time in an NHL record long 11 years, while the Leafs are +1300 to win the Stanley Cup and end a 55-year championship drought - also an NHL record.

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Dallas welcome return home

Despite playing 11 of their first 17 games on the road, the Dallas Stars sit top of the Central Division with a 10-5-2 overall record which includes 6-3-2 away from home.

The Stars ended a four-game road trip with a 6-4 win over Florida Panthers on Friday and will return home on Sunday to face the New York Islanders (11-7-0), the first of nine games in the next eleven at American Airlines Center.

With number-one netminder Jake Oettinger back from injury and in fine form, the Stars have chance to widen their lead at the top of the Central Division, which they are +300 to win.

Battle of the back-ups

There will be a battle of back-up netminders in Minnesota on Sunday as the Carolina Hurricanes (10-5-2) meet the Wild (7-8-2).

With Marc-Andre Fleury (Wild) and Frederik Andersen (Hurricanes) both recently placed on injury reserve, the pair of expectant Stanley Cup contenders (Wild +3000, Hurricanes +1300) will collide with question marks in goal.

Fleury (6-4-1) has a .906 save percentage and 2.80 GAA in 12 games this season while Andersen (5-3-0) is .891 with a 2.72 GAA.

After trading Cam Talbot to the Senators in the off-season, the Wild's options are Filip Gustavsson, 24, (1-4-0) who has a .901 save-percentage and 3.20 GAA or Zane McIntyre, 30, who has been recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League.

McIntyre is 6-4-1 with a .903 save percentage and 3.08 GAA in seven AHL games this season.

Carolina have a tandem of Pyotr Kochetkov and Antti Raanta to call upon, with both providing stability in Andersen's absence at the end of last season.

Pyotr Kochetkov, 23, is undefeated over five NHL games split between this and last season with a .927 save percentage and 1.79 GAA. Raanta, 33, is 3-2-2 with a .902 save percentage and 2.53 GAA this season.

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