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Teams putting streaks on the line

Friday, 01.18.2008 / 12:00 PM / Drive Time

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Florida Panthers head coach Jacques Martin will go for his 500th career win tonight against the New Jersey Devils.
There are seven games on Friday’s slate, including an 8 p.m. ET clash between Western Conference powers Anaheim and Minnesota.

Also on the docket are a pair of 7 p.m. matches, as the Florida Panthers continue their tour of the Northeast with a stop at the New Jersey Devils, and the Edmonton Oilers at the Carolina Hurricanes.

A half-hour later, the Sabres will try to right their ship when the Atlanta Thrashers visit Buffalo, and the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In a pair of 9 p.m. meetings, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Colorado Avalanche, while the Los Angeles Kings face the Flames in Calgary.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for tonight.

* Whether the game is at the Meadowlands or the new Prudential Center, New Jersey has been an unkind state for the Panthers to visit. Florida hasn’t won a game in the Garden State since Oct. 22, 2003.

Zajac

* Travis Zajac has keyed the Devils offense recently with four goals and two assists in his last seven games.

* Panthers coach Jacques Martin is one win shy of becoming the 10th coach in NHL history with 500 wins. He enters with a career coaching mark of 499-394-139 in 1,063 games.

* This marks the Oilers’ first visit to North Carolina since Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final was won by the Hurricanes.

* Carolina goalie Cam Ward’s play has mirrored his team, which has lost four straight and fallen from the top of the Southeast Conference for the first time since Oct. 11. Ward has played all four games of the skid, and posted a 4.86 goals-against average.

* The Oilers, who have played in (18) and won more shootouts (11) than any team in the League, couldn’t find the back of the net on 12 tries against Washington on Thursday night.

* The Sabres’ current 10-game losing streak is the longest in club history, but they have been competitive in that string, losing five by shootout, just once by two or more goals – to Atlanta, 5-2, on Jan. 6.

* The Sabres hope to have Derek Roy, tied for second on the team with 30 points, back in the lineup after a four-game absence due to a shoulder injury.

Garon

* Mathieu Garon, signed during the summer to back up goalie Dwayne Roloson, has supplanted him recently, powered by a 5-2-0 record and 2.10 GAA in seven consecutive starts before sitting out Thursday’s game.

* Despite a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal, the Thrashers continued their amazing ascent to the Southeast Division lead. Since starting the season 0-6, Atlanta is 22-16-3.

* Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen, who likely will start tonight, has allowed two or fewer goals in four straight starts.

* During the Penguins’ current six-game home winning streak, they’ve outscored their opponents 23-6.

* Powering Pittsburgh has been its 1-2 scoring punch of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby has five goals and 15 assists in his last 12 games, while Malkin has 12 goals and three assists during that same span.

* Despite winning its last two away from home, the Lightning are a league-worst 5-14-3 on the road.

* Tampa All-Star center Vincent Lecavalier has 20 goals and eight assists in his last 24 games against the Penguins.

* The Ducks haven’t lost since the New Year, going 7-0-1 in 2008, outscoring their opponents 26-12.

* The Wild haven’t lost at home to the Ducks since Jan. 18, 2003.

Getzlaf

* Ducks All-Star forward Ryan Getzlaf, who leads the team with 51 points, has a point in 12 straight games, during which he’s totaled five goals and 12 assists.

* Wild forward Marian Gaborik, who also will take part in the Jan. 27 All-Star Game, has four goals and five assists in his last four games. And in 20 career games against the Ducks, he has six goals and six assists.

* Colorado will try to extend its winning streak to a season-long four games, but they’ll have to do it without All-Star forward Paul Stastny, who had surgery Thursday to remove his appendix. He’s expected to miss about three weeks.

* Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore has been in net for all three games on the team’s current streak. Included was a shutout of Tampa Bay on Tuesday, his first in 109 games, dating back to Feb. 28, 2004.

* Chicago’s Patrick Kane, who leads all rookies in scoring, notched his first goal in nine games in Wednesday’s win over St. Louis.

* The Kings have won three straight to pull within a point of Tampa Bay for 29th in the League standings.

* Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera has started all three games of the current streak, going 3-0 with a 1.95 GAA.

* Jarome Iginla has gone a season-high five straight games without a regulation goal – he notched the shootout winner Wednesday at Minnesota – but he could get better in a hurry against the Kings. He has two goals and 10 assists during a five-game scoring streak against Los Angeles.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com

Quote of the Day

When somebody goes out and is there to score goals, but is also there to make some big hits, fight, do all of those things, and he has a great mustache, it was great to see him get that hit and get everybody going.

— Colin Wilson on teammate Eric Nystrom, who scored a goal in Predators' win vs. Kings
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