The New Jersey Devils are eager to take the ice at Yankee Stadium for their Coors Light NHL Stadium Series matchup against the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon. But there's the little matter of a game against the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center to take care of first.
New Jersey is sixth in the Metropolitan Division but trails the second-place Rangers by only four points and can catch their biggest rival by beating the Capitals and winning in regulation Sunday. The Capitals have fallen to seventh in the division with 52 points and have dropped six games in a row, the past four in regulation.
Here's a look at all of the action Friday:
Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils -- The Capitals don't know whether they'll have NHL goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin available. He sat out a 2-0 home loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday with a lower-body injury sustained Sunday night against the Rangers. Ovechkin didn't practice Thursday. Joe Whitney, a 5-foot-6 forward called up by the Devils from Albany of the American Hockey League on Thursday, is expected to make his NHL debut, giving the Devils four players who attended Boston College. That list includes goaltender Cory Schneider, who is scheduled to start.
Montreal Canadiens at Detroit Red Wings -- It's been more than three years since the Canadiens have played in Detroit, and this will be their third visit to Joe Louis Arena since October 2002. The Canadiens shook up their defense pairings at practice Thursday after a 5-1 pummeling by the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before; Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban played with Douglas Murray. The Red Wings continue to battle injuries, but are coming off an emotional 5-4 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
Colorado Avalanche at Florida Panthers -- The Avalanche haven't come to South Florida in more than three years; three of the past four games between the teams have been in Denver, including the Panthers' 4-1 win Nov. 16. Colorado begins a three-game trip looking to rebound after a 5-2 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. This is Florida's only home game during a seven-game stretch. The Panthers return to BB&T Center after back-to-back wins on the road against the Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.
Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames -- Nashville comes to Scotiabank Saddledome with a 4-1-0 record in its past five games, including a 2-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Nick Spaling set up Craig Smith's tying goal and scored the game-winner in the third period. Calgary won at home for the first time in a month by beating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Wednesday. The Flames had dropped a franchise-record seven straight home games since beating the St. Louis Blues in a shootout Dec. 23.
Phoenix Coyotes at Edmonton Oilers -- Back-to-back losses have dropped the Coyotes six points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. But they've won all three games against the Oilers this season, including a 6-2 blowout Dec. 3 in their previous visit to Rexall Place. The Coyotes have struggled to score, managing 14 goals during a 2-6-0 slide that includes the loss in Calgary on Wednesday. The Oilers are in a slump of their own: Edmonton is 0-4-1 since beating the Penguins two weeks ago and is coming off a 2-1 home loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
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