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Canadiens visit Ottawa for HNIC doubleheader

Saturday, 01.17.2009 / 4:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Canadiens clash with the Senators (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US) and the Flames host the Coyotes (10 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US) in a Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader in one of 10 games Saturday night.

Four other early games feature the struggling Hurricanes facing the Sabres; the Devils playing their second game in two days against the Islanders; the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins playing the Capitals and the Panthers visiting Tampa Bay in a Southeast Division showdown.

Later, the Thrashers make a rare trip to Nashville; the Blues host the Blackhawks; the Ducks continue their four-game road trip in Minnesota, and the two best teams in the Western Conference meet when the Red Wings take on the Sharks.

Here's what to keep an eye out for:

* Carolina center Tuomo Ruutu, who was acquired at the trade deadline last season from the Blackhawks, is third on the team with 21 even-strength points. Ruutu, who hasn't scored 20 goals since his rookie season of 2003-04, has 13 goals in 42 games and is on pace to finish this season with a career-high of 24 goals.

* Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges, who leads the team with a plus-15 rating and is second on the team with 102 hits, has a plus-9 rating in 20 road games this season. Gorges, who averages the third-most shorthanded ice time on the team at 3:02, has played 22 minutes in six of his last nine games.

* The Islanders, who have the fewest points in the League with just 28, have scored more goals in the third period (38) than in any other period. The Islanders, who have a 6-11-4 record in one-goal games, have a 5-19-3 record when being outshot.

* Bruins left wing Blake Wheeler, who signed with Boston as a free agent last summer after the Coyotes failed to sign him to an entry-level contract, is second on the team with a plus-27 rating. Wheeler, who averages just 13:12 of ice time per game, is one of six Bruins with 28 points.

* Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier, who has been the subject of many trade rumors, has 2 goals and 5 points in his last four games. Lecavalier, who averaged 22:57 of ice time last season, is averaging, 20:01 this season.

* Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who has started five of Nashville's last six games, had his three-game winning streak -- during which he gave up just two goals -- snapped Thursday in Nashville's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens. Rinne, who has played and won the second-most games among rookie goalies, won his lone previous game against the Thrashers this season.

* St. Louis center David Backes, who has 38 more hits than any player on the team, has just 2 assists and a minus-3 rating in 12 career games against the Blackhawks, including no points in two games this season. Backes, who already set a career-high of 14 goals through just 43 games this season, leads the team with 117 penalty minutes.

* The Wild, who are coached by defensive mastermind Jacques Lemaire, are one of just three teams in the League that haven't allowed 100 goals yet this season. Minnesota, which has scored the fewest goals in the Northwest Division with 108, has a 14-1-1 record when entering the third period with a lead.

* Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who leads Coyotes defensemen with 21 points, is tied for the second-worst plus-minus rating on the team at minus-11. Jovanovski, who averages the second-most ice time on the team at 22:21, played a season-high of 26:10 Thursday in Phoenix's 4-1 win against the Canucks.

* The Flames, who are in first place in the Northwest Division with 58 points, are the only team in the League to only to have been involved in just one shootout this season. Calgary, which has scored its most goals in the third period with 52, has a 15-0-2 record when entering the third period with a lead.

 
 
* Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who has won the Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman six of the last seven seasons, is third on the team with 25 assists. Lidstrom, 38, leads the team with an average ice time of 24:41.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com 

Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic