After a seven-game series last season that saw the Rangers win to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, New York and Washington have split their first two games in 2013-14, with each team winning in the other's home arena. They'll play for the third time Friday at Verizon Center.
Here's a look at all the action Friday:
Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins -- The Senators entered the break on a high note with a 5-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday; it was the second time Pittsburgh has been shut out all season. Currently on a three-game road winless streak (0-2-1), the Senators begin a home-and-home series against the Bruins on Friday at TD Garden, where Boston has won seven straight and is 12-0-2 in its past 14. The Bruins have won seven of nine overall and continue to get the job done despite their share of injuries. Their 52 points lead the Atlantic Division and are three behind the Penguins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils -- One point separates these teams in the Metropolitan Division standings. A win would be the Blue Jackets' third straight, which would tie a season high. The Devils, 4-4-2 in their past 10 games, are searching for consistency in a tight division. A 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday ended a run of four straight games with a point (3-0-1).
New York Rangers at Washington Capitals -- The Capitals are in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 42 points, but 13 behind the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins and only four ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and Rangers. New York arrives in Washington winners of two straight and hoping to take it to the next level after an inconsistent start to the season. Shootout goals from Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan on Monday against the Maple Leafs earned the Rangers their third victory in five games.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes -- Although Pittsburgh's seven-game winning streak and Sidney Crosby's 10-game point streak ended Monday against the Senators, team and player arrive in Raleigh on good runs. The Penguins have won seven of eight and their captain takes a nine-game point streak against the Hurricanes (seven goals, 11 assists) into PNC Arena. The Penguins have enjoyed success against the Hurricanes, winning each of the past four games by multiple goals and outscoring them 21-9.
Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Sabres showed signs of life with wins in three of four games entering the holiday break. Buffalo players enjoyed a loud reception from fans at First Niagara Center in the third period Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes and arrive in Toronto off the momentum of a 2-1 overtime win. The Maple Leafs are fifth in the Atlantic Division, but a number of competitors are closing ground. A 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Monday could have been worse if not for a stellar performance by goalie Jonathan Bernier (42 saves). The Maple Leafs are 2-5-2 in their past nine.
Colorado Avalanche at Chicago Blackhawks -- The Blackhawks will be looking for a good start to a tough three-game, four-day stretch that will see them host the Avalanche and play at the St. Louis Blues on consecutive nights before welcoming the Los Angeles Kings to United Center on Monday. They're 6-1-1 in their past eight. Colorado got the best of Chicago when they played Nov. 19 in Denver, beating the defending Stanley Cup champions 5-1, but the Avalanche have struggled recently, winning once in their past four games (1-1-2), including a 5-4 shootout loss against the San Jose Sharks on Monday. The Avalanche held a 4-3 lead against the Sharks with less than 30 seconds left in regulation.
Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets -- The Wild have won two of their past seven games, scoring nine non-shootout goals in those games. Zach Parise sat out Minnesota's 4-1 road loss to the Flyers on Monday with a lower-body injury. Coach Mike Yeo indicated afterward that Parise, who is tied for the team lead in points, had been plagued by the same injury for several games. The Jets have lost three of four, including a 6-2 defeat Monday against the Edmonton Oilers, who had lost six straight. Winnipeg has 37 points and is in danger of falling into last place in the Central Division.
Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars -- Dallas opens a five-game homestand looking to build on the momentum of a 5-2 road win against the Kings on Monday. The Stars are three points out of a Western Conference playoff spot on the strength of an impressive 4-1-1 stretch heading into the Christmas break. The Predators, who are last in the Central with 36 points, are looking to snap a four-game winless streak (0-3-1). They were outscored 17-8 in that span.
Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames -- The Alberta teams occupy the bottom two spots in the Western Conference; the Flames have 34 points and the Oilers 27. Each team snapped a long winless streak Monday. The Oilers beat the Jets 6-2 for its first win in seven games (1-6-0), and the Flames rallied to beat the Blues 4-3 in overtime after trailing 3-1 at the second intermission. Calgary is 1-2-2 in its past five.
San Jose Sharks at Phoenix Coyotes -- The Sharks have won four of six games after a tough stretch that saw them go winless in four straight (0-3-1) in early December. They'll be looking to ride the momentum of their 5-4 shootout win against the Avalanche. Joe Pavelski tied the game with 20 seconds left in the third. Phoenix, 2-2-2 in its past six games, is in fifth place in the Pacific with 45 points, seven behind third-place San Jose. Despite being 1-2-2 in his past five games, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has a .937 save percentage in that span. The Sharks and Coyotes have split their first two games this season.
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