Next week, Crosby will be playing for Canada, Malkin will be doing the same for Russia, and Bylsma will be behind the bench for the United States as their countries chase Olympic gold. But on Friday, they'll be trying to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to one last pre-Olympic victory when the New York Rangers come to Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
It's the final game before the break for each team. The Rangers and Penguins each will have seven players in Sochi.
Here's a look at all of the action Friday:
Edmonton Oilers at New Jersey Devils -- The improving Oilers will play across the Hudson River after a 2-1 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night gave them a 2-1-0 record on their four-game road trip. Nail Yakupov's goal with 1:38 left in regulation snapped a 1-1 tie. The Devils have had three days off after seeing a late 1-0 lead against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday turn into a 2-1 overtime loss. New Jersey has surrendered game-tying sixth-attacker goals in each of its past three games and lost two of them in overtime.
New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins -- Despite the loss to the Oilers, the Rangers are 10-4-0 in their past 14 games and are second in the Metropolitan Division, though they're 17 points behind the first-place Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal for the Rangers after Cam Talbot played against Edmonton. The Penguins reached 40 victories faster than any team in franchise history; Pittsburgh is 40-15-2 after a 5-1 road win against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. The previous record was 65 games in 1995-96, prior to the NHL's adoption of the shootout.
Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes -- The Hurricanes are one team that can't afford to look ahead to the Olympic break, not with back-to-back home games against the Panthers and Montreal Canadiens on back-to-back nights. The Panthers will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after losing 3-1 at home to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday despite a 30-save effort by Tim Thomas. The Hurricanes have won five of seven to move within five points of the second wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and have games in hand on everyone ahead of them.
Chicago Blackhawks at Phoenix Coyotes -- After going 2-0-1 in California, the Blackhawks head for the desert to finish their pre-Olympic schedule. Chicago is 3-0-2 on a road trip that ends in New York after the Olympic break and is coming off a 2-0 victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday in a battle of the two best teams in the Western Conference. The Coyotes have been up and down for the past few weeks, but a win against the Blackhawks would move them into the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference. It's the 41st meeting between Chicago coach Joel Quenneville and his Phoenix counterpart, Dave Tippett; the two were teammates for eight seasons during their NHL careers. Tippett has a 22-15-3 lead.
Columbus Blue Jackets at San Jose Sharks -- The Blue Jackets had to settle for a single point in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, but a win in San Jose will move Columbus into third place in the Metropolitan Division. San Jose is one of the NHL's toughest teams at home (21-4-3), but the Sharks have been struggling to put the puck in the net. They've lost four of six games and haven't scored more than two goals in any of them, although San Jose did beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 in overtime Wednesday.
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